Understanding Mold Illness

Mold is a type of fungus that can cause illness in humans, including asthma, allergic fungal sinusitis, bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (affecting those with asthma and cystic fibrosis), and other disorders. Adverse reactions to mold exposure may be due to direct infection with the microorganism, allergic/hypersensitivity immune response generated by the host, and/or exposure to toxic mold byproducts called mycotoxins (Bush 2006). While testing for mycotoxins is the most common way to indicate a person’s probably issue with mold exposure, there is considerable misunderstanding with mold illness.

The toxic component and greatest source of ill-health associated with mold exposure is the ingestion and absorption of mycotoxins, the poisons that these fungi produce. Mycotoxins produced by mold may be absorbed through the nose, lungs, and skin, can also cause serious adverse reactions and even cancer. An estimated 15% of the workforce, as well as 15% of school children may be affected by mold exposure. However, symptoms and adverse effects depend on the intensity of exposure, individual medical history, physiological and psychological stress factors, and nutritional status, especially vitamin D insufficiency (Theoharides 2018).

To summarize, the three primary issues with mold exposure are:

  1. Mycotoxins: Exposure to mold toxins, mycotoxins, that can remain in the body to cause illness. Mycotoxins are poisons and they are toxic to everyone. The level of tissue mycotoxins may be proportionate to the chance of the patient exhibiting ill-health. As toxins, mycotoxins need to be removed from the body through normal detoxification pathways. They are NOT living organisms needing to be killed by the immune response. Intracellular antioxidation through glutathione, superoxide dismutase, and other pathways support clearing mycotoxins from cells, while liver phase 1-3 pathways help the exit of mycotoxins from the blood. One doesn’t take anti-fungal nutritional supplements to get rid of mycotoxins, one supports detoxification. Proper testing for mycotoxins would be to run a urinary MycoTOX profile.
  2. Fungal infections: Exposure to mold spores can cause a fungal infection, like Aspergillosis. Most people breathe in Aspergillus spores every day without getting sick. However, people with weakened immune systems or lung diseases are at a higher risk of developing health problems due to Aspergillus exposure. These people will experience acute respiratory distress and should use anti-fungal nutritional support.
  3. Mold Allergies: One can have low levels of mycotoxins, no acute fungal infection, yet have developed IgE antibodies from past mold exposures that give them a hypersensitivity to mold. These are the individuals who can walk into a room that has an undetectable level of mold by others and immediately become sensitive to the environment, begin to have allergic type symptoms, and have learned to exit quickly. This is an allergic, IgE reaction to mold exposure.

The treatment for these three mold illnesses are radically different even though mold exposure is the common cause. While the above is generally describing environmental exposure due to moldy buildings, different varieties of mold can be found in foods and other sources. I recommend getting a mycoTOX test as the toxins from mold can accumulate over time and can be deadly.

image png Mar 15 2023 10 07 04 9143 PM 1