Gliotoxin: The Ultimate Guide (Updated 2023)

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 Gliotoxin.

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

What Is Gliotoxin?

Gliotoxin is a sulfur-containing mycotoxin. Mycotoxins are naturally occurring toxins produced by certain moulds (fungi).

What Moulds Produce Gliotoxin?

Gliotoxin is both the major and the most potent toxin produced by the fungi Aspergillus fumigatus. It’s ubiquitous in nature, found in air, soil and organic matter. As a result humans normally inhale the spore form of the fungi.

What Foods Are High In Gliotoxin?

There doesn’t seem to be an easy-to-find list here, unlike other mycotoxins I have blogged on such as Citrinin, Alfatoxin and Ochratoxin. I’ll keep looking.

It is thought that the main exposure would be via water damaged buildings however, such as a water leak of a damp property with poor ventilation.

Gliotoxin And Human Health

The immune system plays an important role not only in recognizing inhaled mold and controlling growth but also in regulating the body’s allergic and inflammatory response to the infection.

Gliotoxin penetrates and impairs the integrity of the human blood-brain barrier in vitro

The toxin is known to be:

  • Immunosuppressive: inhibits phagocytosis, inhibits the transcription factor NF-κB thereby blocking inflammatory response and cytokine production and blocks mast cell degranulation.
  • Antibacterial
  • Neurotoxic: it can penetrate the blood–brain barrier, and damage the astrocytes.

As a result it has been associated with multiple sclerosis (source).

How Do I Avoid Exposure To Gliotoxin?

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, either remediating the property, or, leaving the property is often 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.

Are You Being Exposed?

Based on my experience supporting clients it is incredibly important to work with a company that knows what it’s doing when it comes to this. I have three companies I trust:

  1. Pure Maintenance UK
  2. Action Dry.
  3. Building Forensics.

What do I tell my clients?

I tell them to check out all three companies and go with who they like/resonate with. They are all excellent at what they do.

What would I do if I had a mould issue in my home?

I think I would go with Pure Maintenance these days, partly because it feels like a well thought through process. But I have had Action Dry round to investigate my house and can whole heartedly recommend them too. Hence I don’t think it matters that much which of these companies you choose!

Improving Indoor Air Quality

I recommend investing in a good air purifier and dehumidifier.

Products

The dehumidifier I use and recommend can be found on Amazon, here.

Understanding Mycotoxin Testing

In this video I explain key principles to understand when interpreting a mycotoxin test.

How Do You Detox Gliotoxin From The Body?

To successfully detox gliotoxin we need to consider diet, gut health, physical exercise, breathing patterns, supplements, detoxification, and overall health. Let’s look at some of these and how they relate to gliotoxin.

Check out my article The Ultimate Guide To Mycotoxins which is my most comprehensive blog discussing interventions to support the detoxification of mycotoxins.

Nutrition And Gliotoxin

An important consideration when it comes to supporting the bodies detoxification of mycotoxins is including dietary fibre as this can act as a binder (more on this in the supplement section).

It’s recommended to consume things such as ground flaxseed. Use code ALEXMANOS10 for a £10 discount on all orders over £50 at Welleasy (a great place to get things like your organic ghee!). Psyllium husk is also a great option to support binding of these toxins.

It’s also recommended to reduce or remove your intake of sulfur-containing foods, such as garlic, onions, eggs, fish, and the Brassicacea family (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts).

My Interview with Dr. Jill Crista

Supplements For Gliotoxin

Get 10% off your supplements at Healthpath using code ‘alexmanos10’.

Key supplement when detoxing citrinin may include:

Bitters

Bitters support detoxification and digestion. Bitters support bile flow, a kay aspect on optimal detoxification, and bile is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and thus is protective against conditions such as small intestine bacterial overgrowth, and small intestine fungal overgrowth. They also stimulate the production of digestive enzymes/juices.

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

Phosphatidylcholine

Dr. Crista says if there was one edit she could make to her book Break The Mold it would be to add phosphatidylcholine to her recommendations. It aids the detox of mycotoxins as it helps stimulate and thin bile. It also supports cellular health.

Sequestering Agent (Binders)

Sequestering agents, often referred to as binders, are non-absorbable materials capable of binding toxins in the gastrointestinal tract, thus reducing enterohepatic recirculation and ultimately the body burden of toxins.

The binder with most evidence behind it is cholestyramine, but this a medication and conventional medicine is years behind when it comes to the health consequences of toxic mould. Practitioner for decades have found that natural hunters such as charcoal and chlorella, can be really effective too. Additionally, these agents are nonspecific and can bind additional toxins, helping to lower ‘total body burden’ of toxins. Dr. Nathan in his work has found specific mycotoxins have an affinity for specific binders and thus if you know what mycotoxins you have been exposed to, you may be able to personalise treatment in regards to which binder is most appropriate.

Probiotics

The ability of Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GAF01 to degrade or bind aflatoxin M1. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Lactobacillus casei have a significant hepatoprotective effect against aflatoxin B1. Mycotoxins have also been shown to disrupt the integrity of the gut lining (i.e cause leaky gut) – another reason why probiotics might be helpful.

Omega 3 Fats

Omega 3 fats are helpful at ‘diluting’ the toxins which build up in the fatty parts of our mitochondria, cells, organs and body. This tip came from my conversation with Dr. Jill Crista, a specialist in mycotoxins.

  • Recommended Product (U.K): Omega 3
  • Recommended Product (U.S.A): Omega 3

Liposmal Glutathione

Glutathione is frequently recommended to support detoxification of mycotoxins. Research has shown how we need an ‘on demand’ source of glutathione to help detoxification of mycotoxins. The issue is that mycotoxins have been found to inhibit the enzymes which regulate the endogenous production of glutathione!!

Other anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidant compounds such as resveratrol, curcumin, NAC and alpha-lipoic acid.

Molybdenum

This can also be really helpful as it can reduce the servility of sulfur reactions when they are taking place (remember we said that gliotoxin is a sulfur based mycotoxin).

Sweating: Sauna therapy, is a fantastic way of reducing our body burden of toxins and I have seen incredible results by clients using the company Get-Fitt. I’d recommend giving them a call, sharing your health situation and they will happily discuss what product may be most appropriate for you. As well as their products being so effective, they offer a renting scheme to make it more accessible. Human sweat has found to contain mycotoxins!

So, What’s The Best Binder For Gliotoxin?

This is such a common question I get asked. The answer is that there isn’t a consensus on what the best binder may be. It is important to appreciate that a binder may not be essential to successful treatment, especially if we are considering how dietary binders, as discussed above, can support toxin elimination.

Having said that, Dr. Nathan suggests that charcoal may be one of the more effective binders for gliotoxin.

How Do I Test For Mycotoxins And Gliotoxin In The UK

There are two tests that are available to test gliotoxin. One is by Real Time Labs, and the other is from Mozaic Diagnostics. They both have their own pro’s and con’s but it seems the most popular of the two is the Mosaic Diagnostics test.

Books On Mycotoxins

Research

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