Mycotoxins are chemicals produced by moulds. Mould are able to grow anywhere where it is warm and damp. They can grow on almost any surface and are commonly found on walls (especially in bathrooms!), behind wall paper, on fibre glass insulation, on ceiling tiles, in the upholstery of vehicles, and in foodstuffs. The majority of exposure to mycotoxins occurs through food ingestion or via airborne exposure. Some of the most commonly affected foods include grains, peanuts and coffee. Unfortunately, mycotoxins are resistant to heat and survive most types of processing.
Diseases and symptoms linked to mycotoxin exposure include fever, pneumonia-like symptoms, heart disease, rheumatic disease, asthma, sinusitis, cancer, memory loss, vision loss, chronic fatigue, skin rashes, depression, ADHD, anxiety, and liver problems.
The signs and symptoms of mould toxicity include:
- Brain Fog, Memory Problems, Trouble Focusing, Headaches
- Fatigue and Weakness
- Unexplained Muscle Cramping, Aches and Pains in the Joints, Persistent Nerve Pain
- Numbness and Tingling
- Eye Problems like Red Eyes or Light Sensitivity
- Asthma and Sinus Problems like a Cough or Shortness of Breath
- Tremors and Vertigo
- Digestive Issues like Change in Appetite, Diarrhea, Nausea, Abdominal Pain
- Metallic Taste in the Mouth
- Temperature Regulation or Night Sweats
- Excessive Thirst and Increased Urination
Common types of mould that produce harmful mycotoxins include:
- Aspergillus moulds – these are the most common types of mould in the environment. The black variety of aspergillus, aspergillus niger is commonly found in bathrooms. The aspergillus species produce the mycotoxins aflatoxin and ochratoxin which are toxic to the liver. These toxins have been found in crops including peanuts, corn, cotton, millet, rice, sorghum, sunflower seeds, wheat, and a variety of spices. They are also found in eggs, milk, and meat from animals fed contaminated grains.
- Penicillum moulds – there are over 200 species of penicillum moulds. It is often found in indoor environments and is responsible for many allergic reactions. In the home, Penicillium can be found in wallpaper, carpet, furniture, and fibreglass insulation. Many different types of citrus fruits can also become contaminated with Penicillium, as can seeds and grains. The most common mycotoxin produced by Penicillium is ochratoxin which can damage the kidneys. It is also carcinogenic.
- Stachybotrys mould – a greenish-black mould that can grow on materials such as gypsum board, paper, and ceiling tiles. Stachybotrys is known for its production of the highly toxic macrocyclic trichothecene mycotoxins. Two of the more common mycotoxins produced by Stachybotrys are roridin E and verrucarin. In addition to these mycotoxins, the fungus produces nine phenylspirodrimanes, as well as cyclosporine, which are potent immunosuppressors.
- Fusarium mould – these fungi grow easily on grains such as corn and wheat. The major mycotoxins fusarium produce are called zearalenone and fumonisin. Exposure to mycotoxins from Fusarium can lead to abdominal distress, malaise, diarrhoea, and sickness. Zearalenone has also been implicated in reproductive disorders.
The mycotoxin screen is a urine test that can detect 11 different mycotoxins from 40 different species of mould.
This test is recommended for people who:
- Are concerned about mycotoxin exposure from their home or professional environment
- Have the signs and symptoms of mould toxicity
- Suffer from asthma, sinusitis or unexplained respiratory symptoms
- Suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome
- Have a mood or neurological disorder that may be linked to mycotoxin exposure