Citrinin: The Ultimate Guide (a mycotoxin)


After writing the master blog called The Ultimate Guide To Mycotoxins I thought I would write smaller blogs on each of the main mycotoxins. Let’s look at Citrinin.

You may like to also read my article 5 Things To Know When Living In Mould.

What Is Citrinin?

Citrinin (CTN) is a mycotoxin. Mycotoxins are naturally occurring toxins, often referred to as secondary metabolites, produced by certain moulds (fungi).

What Moulds Produce Citrinin?

Citrinin is produced by Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Monascus.

What Foods Are High In Citrinin?

Dietary exposure may be one way we get citrinin. According to a paper published in 2019, data available for citrinin levels in food are insufficient for reliable estimates . However foods that have been mentioned in the research include:

  • Rice
  • Wheat
  • Oats
  • Rye
  • Corn
  • Barley
  • Pomaceous fruits
  • Black olive
  • Roasted nuts
  • Spices
  • Naturally fermented sausages (in one study from Italy)

The same paper however states that: “It is reasonable to believe that humans are much more frequently exposed to CTN than generally accepted, because it is produced by the same moulds as ochratoxin A, which is a common contaminant of human food all over the world.”

It is for this reason that citrinin is usually found together with ochratoxin A.

What Supplements Are High In Citrinin?

Another way we may get citrinin is via supplements, that’s right! Red yeast rice can contain the mycotoxin citrinin and several other substances that are not yet toxicologically evaluated. Even our supplements may be contaminated with mycotoxins. One paper showed milk thistle to be the most common to be contaminated.

Citrinin Free Red Yeast Rice

Cytoplan have a guaranteed citrinin free red yeast rice. Click here.

Interview with Dr. Jill Crista

Dr. Jill is author of the must read book Break The Mould.


Citrinin And Human Health

Citrinin has been shown to be toxic and carcinogenic in animals. Other adverse effects include:

  • Immunotoxicity/immunosuppression
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction by inducing oxidative stress even at low concentration/dose. Mitochondria are often described as the ‘powerhouses of cells’, due to their role in energy production.
  • Genotoxicity (damages the genetic information within a cell causing mutations, which may lead to cancer)
  • Nephrotoxicity (toxicity in the kidneys)


How Do I Avoid Exposure To Citrinin?

There are three common exposure routes to Citrinin are through ingestion, inhalation, and skin contact.

The World Health Organisation advise the consumer to:

  • Carefully inspect whole grains and nuts for evidence of mould, and discard any that look mouldy, discoloured, or shriveled.
  • Buy grains and nuts as fresh as possible; that have been grown as close to home as possible, and which have not been transported over a long time
  • Buy only reputable brands of nuts and nut butters – aflatoxin moulds are not entirely killed by processing or roasting, so can show up in products e.g. peanut butter
  • Make sure that foods are stored properly and are not kept for extended periods of time before being used
  • Try to ensure his/her diet is diverse; this not only helps to mitigate aflatoxin exposure, but also improves health and nutrition. Consumers who lack dietary diversity need to pay extra attention to minimize the risk of high exposure to aflatoxins. For example, extensive aflatoxin exposure has been reported from areas where people get a major part of their daily calorie intake from maize; this foodstuff is commonly contaminated with aflatoxins and needs to be handled properly both before and after harvest.

However, this is not considering the mycotoxins that might be produced from water-damaged buildings – really the most common cause of mould illness. In these situations, leaving the property may be needed. There are other considerations that be considered also, as I appreciate this is sometimes just not achievable. Check out my article The Ultimate Guide To Mycotoxins for more information on this.

Testing Your Property

I recommend Pure Maintenance UK who have a great service around mould inspection and remediation.

Pure maintenance - black mould treatment

Improving Air Quality When Living In Mould

Two essential products are a good quality air purifier and dehumidifier. I recommend Amazing air and this dehumidifer: click here.


Cleaning Products For Mould

Conscious spaces have some brilliant products including a spray, a detergent and cleaning wipes. All powered by their lab-tested and proven blend of citrus seed extracts.

How Do You Successfully Detox Citrinin?

Check out my article The Ultimate Guide To Mycotoxins which discusses interventions to support the detoxification of mycotoxins.

But over a decade of supporting clients with mould related illness, attributed partly by citrinin this is what I have found works (some of these come from Dr. Jill Crista’s work too):

Use code ‘alexmanos10″ to get 10% off your supplements at Healthpath.

Liposomal Glutathione

Studies have shown that the genes involved in the metabolism of glutathione were preferentially expressed upon citrinin exposure, indicating that the antioxidant function of glutathione was necessary to palliate the toxic effect of citrinin. (source)

If you can’t tolerate liposomal glutathione initially then you can consider products such as NAC, or alpha lipoic acid.

Mitochondrial support

Several research groups have contributed to the identification of possible molecular mechanisms of citrinin toxicity, finding, among other consequences, the increase of oxidative stress in connection with alterations of mitochondrial function. Mitochondrial support may also be needed. There are numerous products that can be helpful here.

  • Recommended Product (U.K): CoQ10.
  • Recommended Product (U.S.A): CoQ10


Resveratrol has been shown in the research to inhibit citrinin-induced reactive oxygen species generation, loss of mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP), among many other things.


α-tocopherol has been shown to abolish citrinin-stimulated intracellular oxidative stress and apoptosis.

Green tea

Green tea extract has been shown to significantly promote cell survival and up regulate antioxidant enzyme activities as well as endogenous glutathione (the master antioxidant). In the same study the researchers also fund that the gene and protein expression levels were significantly restored through green teas effective antioxidant mechanism. (source) The present study results suggested the antioxidant properties of green tea extract as a herbal source in ameliorating the citrinin-induced oxidative stress.

Biliary support


When using food as a natural binder, we can consider things like ground flaxseed. Use code ALEXMANOS10 to get £10 off your order when you spend £50 at Welleasy.

Dietary changes are often helpful as well such as going grain free, and focusing on adequate dietary fibre.

Dr. Crista has also mentioned that Butyrate-rich foods seem to help her patients – ghee, cabbage, radicchio, white part of spring onion, broccoli,
Brussels sprouts

Listen to Dr. Ann Shippy share her knowledge on mycotoxins and mould related illness:


How Do I Test For Citrinin

You can test for Citrinin with a urinary mycotoxin test from Mosaic Diagnostics.

Understanding Mycotoxin Test Results

Watch this short video where I explain mycotoxin testing.

When You Can’t Tolerate Supplements

I often work with clients who are so sensitive to their environment that that react to almost every supplement, and often most foods making the healing process extremely challenging. In these cases, I find The Gupta Program a brilliant option.

The Gupta Program

Watch my interview with the founder of the program, Ashok Gupta below. It really helps us understand what’s going on when we are so sensitive and the important in taking a brain focused approach.

Books On Mycotoxins


Share this post