March 14, 2023

Mycotoxins: How these invisible toxins cause chaos in your body

Check out our blog post on mycotoxins

Mold….it’s everywhere! Is this naturally occurring element really a problem for our health? In some cases….YES. We are exposed to molds in our outside environment which can cause, for some, allergy. It is when these molds grow indoors without competition from their natural environment that we can get into trouble.

Is mold the same thing as yeast and mushrooms? Mold exists along with yeast and mushrooms. It is closely related to yeasts like candida but there are differences between the two. Molds, or microfungi make mycotoxins, and mushrooms and other macroscopic fungi make mushroom poisons (Bennett, e al). Yes, some mushrooms are poisonous to humans. The purpose of this article is to discuss certain molds and mycotoxins they produce that have been identified as toxic to humans. These molds/mycotoxins that we worry about grow in damp, water-damaged buildings and homes aka Sick Building Syndrome: a situation in which the occupants of a building or home experience acute health effects that seem to be linked to the time spent in a particular building or home (Joshi, S.M.).

What are Mycotoxins?

Mycotoxins are naturally occurring toxins produced by certain molds. Are all molds/myctoxins toxic? The short answer is …. NO. While all mycotoxins are of fungal origin, not all toxic compounds produced by fungi are called mycotoxins (Bennett, et al). There are certain mycotoxins produced by certain molds that can wreak havoc on the body such as:

  • Penicillum: mycophenolic acid

  • Stachybotrys: Tricothecenes

  • Aspergillus: aflatoxin, ochratoxin, Gliotoxin

  • Chaetomium: chaetoglobosin

  • Fusarium: Zearalenone

What areas of the body do mycotoxins affect?

Mycotoxins can be classified as hepatotoxins, nephrotoxins, neurotoxins, or immunotoxins. Basically, they can affect every organ system in our bodies.

The fungi that cause mycoses can be primary (affecting a healthy immune system) and seen in acute, obviously toxic disease or they can be opportunistic (affecting a compromised immune system). The majority of human mycotoxin illness is opportunistic (Bennett, et al) and generally affects those people with a certain genetic makeup that reduces their ability to detox from the toxins, those with prolonged exposure and those who are not optimized nutritionally. Click on the PDF below to see how biotoxins affect every system in our body!

Download the PDF here

What are the symptoms of mold toxicity?

There are many symptoms of mold toxicity being that molds can affect nearly every organ system in our bodies. Here is a not comprehensive list of symptoms:

  • fatigue

  • weakness

  • muscle aches/cramps

  • headaches

  • light sensitivity

  • chronic sinusitis

  • abdominal pain/IBS

  • joint pain, tendinitis

  • cognitive impairment/brain fog

  • skin sensitivity (light touch sensitivity)

  • mood swings

  • changes in appetite

  • temperature dysregulation

  • numbness/tingling

  • menorrhagia

  • impotence

  • nausea/vomiting

  • excessive thirst

  • frequent urination

Mold toxicity may be diagnosed as anxiety, depression, OCD, fibromyalgia, cognitive impairment such as alzheimers or parkinson’s disease, asthma, chronic sinusitis, allergies, etc.

Mold toxicity can be acute and lead to acute disease and it can be chronic leading to chronic disease development. Acute toxicity generally has a rapid onset and an obvious toxic response, while chronic toxicity is characterized by low-dose exposure over a long time period (Bennett, et al).

How does the body fight back from mold exposure?

When a foreign invader such as mold enters the body, the body fights back by eliciting an immune response. With mold allergy an IgE response is stimulated bringing cells like mast cells to the area and histamine. This elevated histamine can cause symptoms of allergy, acute or chronic, such as runny nose, itchy eyes, sinus congestion, cough, itchy skin and skin rash. If you are someone who deals with these symptoms as weather changes you will be running out to your local drug store to get over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal sprays. If you live in a water-damaged home, have genetically lower detox capability, or are nutritionally inadequate with poor digestive health you can develop these symptoms chronically and become mold toxic.

Mold toxic vs Mold allergy

Patients who have become mold toxic won’t necessarily have all the symptoms of allergy. As the body becomes more toxic from the mycotoxins your symptoms that result from that toxicity are noted above. Now, there are those who continue to have high histamine and symptoms resulting from high histamine because they are allergic and toxic. As the toxicity increases from ongoing exposure and impaired detox these patients develop a wide variety of symptoms and diagnoses.

How to diagnose mold toxicity?

There are certain blood markers that a practitioner can run to suggest mold toxicity/exposure:

  • TGF beta 1

  • c4a

  • MSH

  • MMP9

  • VEGF

  • VIP

While these blood tests tell of mold exposure they do not tell us which molds are present. The best way to evaluate for mold toxicity is through a urine mycotoxin test. This test will tell you what toxins are p
resent. Once the toxins have been identified, the treatment can be done with greater precision. Urinary mycotoxin testing, along with in-depth biomarker analysis, will allow the clinician to optimize detoxification for effective removal of the toxin.

As always, ongoing diet and lifestyle intervention is key to maintaining healthy detoxification and preventing re-occurrence of disease.

If you struggle with any of the symptoms listed above or are unsure about what could be causing your symptoms or sensitivities schedule a wellness consult today so we can start your healing journey!


Bennett, J. W., & Klich, M. (2003). Mycotoxins. Clinical microbiology reviews. from

Joshi SM. The sick building syndrome. Indian J Occup Environ Med. 2008 Aug;12(2):61-4. doi: 10.4103/0019-5278.43262. PMID: 20040980; PMCID: PMC2796751.

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