The Ultimate Guide To Mycotoxins

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What Are Mycotoxins?

It is difficult to define mycotoxin in a few words. Essentially mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by fungi that are capable of causing disease.

A paper published back in 2003 does a good job of defining them and providing a little back ground:

All mycotoxins are low-molecular-weight natural products (i.e., small molecules).

The term mycotoxin was coined in 1962 in the aftermath of an unusual veterinary crisis near London, during which approximately 100,000 turkey poults died. When this mysterious turkey X disease was linked to a peanut meal contaminated with secondary metabolites from the fungus Aspergillus flavus (which produces the mycotoxin aflatoxins), it alerted scientists to the possibility that other mould metabolites might be deadly. Soon, the mycotoxin rubric was extended to include some compounds that had originally been isolated as antibiotics (e.g., patulin), and a number of new secondary metabolites (e.g., ochratoxin A).

Now some 300 to 400 compounds are now recognised as mycotoxins, of which approximately a dozen groups regularly receive attention as threats to human and animal health

What Foods Are High In Mycotoxins?

The World Health Organisation say that moulds grow on a variety of different crops and foodstuffs including:

  • Cereals
  • Nuts
  • Spices
  • Dried fruits
  • Apples
  • Coffee beans

The risk that these food items are contaminated is greater under warm and humid conditions.

In general, mycotoxin exposure is more likely to occur in parts of the world where poor methods of food handling and storage are common, where malnutrition is a problem, and where few regulations exist to protect exposed populations. However, even in developed countries, specific subgroups may be vulnerable to mycotoxin exposure. In the United States, for example, Hispanic populations consume more corn products than the rest of the population, and inner city populations are more likely to live in buildings that harbor high levels of molds

Water-Damaged Buildings And Mycotoxins

Great Plains Laboratory have a great visual for common sources of mycotoxins in the home:

It is generally thought that the mycotoxins from water damaged buildings are far more problematic than the lower levels of exposure from food.

What Are The Symptoms Of Mycotoxins

It would be somewhat easier to list symptoms that might not be associated with mycotoxins!

Digestive System: bloating, diarrhoea, SIBO or a diagnosis of IBS.

Immune system: Both suppression and activation of the immune system. Various autoimmune diseases and cancers are also thought to potentially be associated with mycotoxins.

Neurological System: Dementia, Parkinson’s and MS.

Other symptoms/conditions may include:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Weight management issues
  • Brain fog
  • Sinusitis
  • Allergies and sensitivities
  • Skin conditions
  • Dandruff
  • Asthma and respiratory symptoms
  • Fungal nails

Mycotoxins Found In Supplements

Worryingly research has shown that mycotoxins have been detected in various plant based supplements.

The highest mycotoxin concentrations were found in milk thistle-based supplements

Red yeast rice seems to be another common supplement contaminated by mycotoxins.

Types Of Mycotoxins

The most important ones associated with human diseases include:

  • Aflatoxin
  • Gliotoxin
  • Citrinin
  • Ergot akaloids
  • Fumonisins
  • Ochratoxin A
  • Patulin
  • Trichothecenes
  • Zearalenone

Testing For Mycotoxins

There are two primary tests to consider, and perhaps a couple of additional tests that perhaps we can describe as ‘tier 2’.

The first is a urine mycotoxin test from Great Plants Laboratory, available in the UK via Regenerus labs.

The second is an antibody test which assess IgG and IgE antibidies to several mycotoxins, again available in the UK via Regenerus labs.

An organic acid test can also be considered, which assesses urinary metabolites including those thought to be produced by certain moulds. Again this is by Great Plains Laboratory and available in the UK via Regenerus Labs.

Finally stool testing can be considered – I do often (but certainly not always) find that those with mycotoxin issues have suboptimal microbiome diversity, and, have a fungal overgrowth dectetable in the large intestine. You can order a comprehensive stool test via Healthpath in the UK.

How To Detox Mycotoxins

We first need to ask the question: are you still being exposed to mould (i.e do you live, work, stay in a damp or water damaged building?)

If not, then we can move to eliminating the mycotoxins from the body.

We pee, poo, and sweat them out so these are the three things to focus upon.

How Do You Treat Mycotoxin?

Improving Air Quality If Stuck At Home

  • Keep windows open as much as possible for ventilation.
  • Keep air purifying plants in the house. Examples can be found here, here, and here.
  • An air purifier may also be super helpful. It is important it filters out particles down to 0.3. This is a sensible option that, hopefully, won’t break the bank.
  • Using an essential oil diffuser can also he helpful. We have this diffuser and there are loads of options for essential oils.

If the environment is clear we can now confidently move forward in eliminating mould/mycotoxins from the body. There are two common locations where they may set up shop (but this is a slight simplification):

  1. The sinuses.
  2. The gut.

So when looking to detoxify mycotoxins we first want to ensure we focus on both areas of the body.

Binders: Put simply these help bind mycotoxins and aid their elimination from the body. Options include:

  • Activated charcoal
  • Bentonite clay
  • NAC
  • Sacchraomyces boulardii.

There are also combination products such as GI Detox from Bio-Botanical Research.

Probiotics: Options include Just thrive. Saccharomyces Boulardii. Culturelle, and broad spectrum probiotics such as Gut Pro Probiotic.

Sinus Spray: There are three options I am aware of:

  1. Nutri Biotic Nasal Spray.
  2. Some also recommend using Biocidin by Bio-Botanical Research and adding approximately 5 drops to a over the counter nasal spray made of saline solution and using as recommended.
  3. Argentyn 23

Anti-Fungals:

  • Oregano oil
  • Olivirex by Bio-Botanical Research.
  • A great broad spectrum product is called Biocidin by Bio-Botanical Research.

Lipsomal Glutathione: I have recommended:

Bitters: LCON do a great (strong!) bitters product. This is available from Amrita.

Antioxidants: Alpha-Lipoid acid, vitamin C, Co-Q 10

Anti-inflammatories: Curcumin, omega 3 (I’m a big fan of cod liver oil and like the companies Rosita, and, Vital Nutrients)

Some people have got on very well with a product called Metabolic Detox by Metabolic Balance. It’s described as “a hypoallergenic blend of pea, rice, and hemp, non-GMO proteins, beneficial medium chain triglycerides, and omega-3 fatty acids. Metabolic Detox® Complete also includes a balanced combination of vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, and other beneficial nutrient cofactors to simplify and support both Phase I and Phase II detoxification.”

Sweating

Sweating is a great option for detoxifying numerous compounds. There are different options out there dependent on price point. Options include:

Books On Mycotoxins

Practitioners to follow:

Websites on Mould Illness:

Podcasts

Research

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