Understanding Individuals Experiencing Unexplainable Symptoms
Normally when we investigate for MOLD, we start with accepted protocols for testing the air or surfaces to identify mold spores. These protocols are very helpful in establishing a baseline of what could be occurring in a home or a building. It’s also the quickest and most reasonable investigative approach.
However, when individuals are experiencing unexplainable symptoms and request a deeper investigation, mycotoxin exposure testing could unveil a potential causality.
What symptoms are related to mycotoxin illness?
Mycotoxin Symptoms can include:
- Chronic Fatigue
- Skin rashes
- Brain fog
- Static shocks or vibrating sensations
- Ice pick like pains in different areas
- Muscle weakness
- Cognitive impairment
The first indicators are generally:
- Difficulty with digestion.
- Difficulty digesting proteins.
- Damage to the immune system.
- Damage to the lungs.
You may ask, what are mycotoxins?
Mycotoxins are very toxic compounds given off by certain types of mold. While the vast majority of molds we encounter everyday are not dangerous, there are some molds that produce gas-like substances called mycotoxins.
If you are genetically susceptible to them, these mycotoxins can take a serious toll on your health, especially if your immune system is already compromised with an autoimmune condition¹. In fact, roughly one-quarter of the population has an immune response gene called HLA-DR² that inhibits the clearing of mycotoxins from their body. Yet, under certain circumstances, mycotoxin poisoning from toxic mold can have the same effect on people without the genetic predisposition as well.
Mycotoxin molecules are a much smaller molecule than the mold spore itself, making it easier to travel throughout a structure and ductwork. Mold spores are typically 1-20 microns, a mycotoxin metabolite is .1 micron. This means a mycotoxin is as much as 50x’s smaller than a mold spore. Because of the significantly smaller size of mycotoxins, they are not analyzed with conventional mold sampling techniques.
Which molds produce mycotoxins?
The following common types of mold can produce mycotoxins:
Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus fusarium, Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus ochraceus, Aspergillus versicolor, Chaetomium globosum, Penicillium, Verrucosum, Stachybotrys chartarum
Experiencing inflammation issues, most doctors will prescribe a steroid treatment. however, if the inflammation remains, mycotoxins could be the cause. Mycotoxins prompt the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines1 creating a cyclical inflammatory response.
Step 1: Test Yourself for Mycotoxins
A urine test is a sensible first step in investigating a mycotoxin related illness. One company that is often recommended for urine testing is RealTime Labs³. The RealTime Labs tests for 15 specific types of mycotoxins.
- Aflatoxin B1, B2, G1, and G2
- Isosatratoxin F
- Ochratoxin A (OTA)
- Roridin A, E, H, and L-2
- Satratoxin G and H
- Verrucarin J and A
Step 2: If your Urine Test is Positive
Contact a doctor that is experienced in treating mycotoxin illness. Not all doctors are familiar with mycotoxin issues and having an experienced functional medicine physician can be your best prospect for a health improvement solution.
Step 3: Our Advanced Testing Offerings
The EMMA test uses sensitive molecular detection technology to look for the presence of 10 of the most toxigenic molds. It determines their presence and determines their relative abundance. EMMA also tests directly for 16 of the most poisonous Mycotoxins using its patented Mycotoxin detection test. Testing is performed by one of our investigators extracting a small amount of dust or material from the filters in your furnaces.
Approximate Cost: $685.00
The illnesses associated with mycotoxin poisoning have become such a well-recognized issue that the Environmental Protection Agency has developed a research tool called the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI). We take surface dust samples in a home or building and DNA from mold in the dust is analyzed. The sample is then compared to the ERMI, an index or scale.
The analysis can be used to determine the amount of mold in an environment, as well as the types of mold. The results allow us to determine if the detected types of mold are the species that can produce mycotoxins. Unlike the EMMA this does not test for mycotoxins.
Approximate Cost: $680.00
MOLD-TOX Testing for Clinically Significant Mold and Mycotoxins
This test includes the top 10 most relevant mold species detected using the MSQPCR method, with a HERTSMI-2 Score included in the report. In addition the detection of mycotoxins is added and analyzed by state of the art technologies ( LC/MS/MS )
The MOLD-TOX combined test is important since it can detect a broad range of mycotoxins. Mycotoxins: Turn around time (TAT) 3 weeks. Our technicians take this sample using a vacuum cone.
Approximate Cost: $ 690.00
Step 4: Immediate Air Improvement
If you are living or working in a building that may be the cause of mycotoxin exposure and you cannot move or improve the environment, we recommend using a professional-grade High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtering device to scrub the air you are breathing.
Mold spores can vary tremendously in size, but the size range is generally between 1 microns up to about 20 microns. This means even the smallest mold spores fall well within the HEPA specification (0.03 microns), allowing a HEPA filter to trap most mold spores. Mycotoxins are much smaller than spores and are generally 0.1 microns in size which also means a true HEPA will filter them out of the air you breathe.
One way mycotoxins wreak havoc on your health is by adversely affecting your cells’ mitochondria. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of your cells, making them essential to nearly every bodily function. They provide your cells with energy. That’s why you can experience chronic fatigue or weakness when dealing with mycotoxin poisoning.
When mitochondria are not functioning optimally, they release free radicals, which are unstable atoms that can cause cell damage. This cell damage, in turn, causes inflammation. The more inflammation you have, the higher up on the autoimmune spectrum (3). This is why it’s so challenging for autoimmune patients to reverse their symptoms while dealing with mycotoxin poisoning.
¹ Autoimmune Condition – is an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake.
² HLA-DR The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system (the major histocompatibility complex [MHC] in humans) is an important part of the immune system and is controlled by genes located on chromosome 6. It encodes cell surface molecules specialized to present antigenic peptides to the T-cell receptor (TCR) on T cells.
³ RealTime Labs for urine testing – located at 2540 King Arthur Blvd. Suite 200 Lewisville, Texas 75056