How to Determine if a Human Health Challenge is Due to Mycotoxins
In the June 2021 BWC For Horse Lovers Newsletter I introduced the subject of how mold and their toxic byproducts, mycotoxins, can harm human health.
Dr. Andrew W. Campbell notes that molds can cause four main problems for people:
In this July 2021 BWC For Horse Lovers Newsletter I am writing to share information on how to properly determine if the body is currently being burdened by toxic reactions to mycotoxins produced by molds.
But first I will provide a little introduction as to why we should always think about mycotoxins as a possible cause of human suffering.
As Blackwell (2011) notes, molds are an integral part of nature’s recycling system. Dr. Campbell teaches us that of the more than 100,000 species of molds, thankfully, only about 2 dozen are harmful to people, most notably because they produce toxic compounds called mycotoxins (Campbell, personal communication, April 6, 2021). Mycotoxins are powerful, destructive compounds that can cause significant harm to humans and other animals even at low levels of exposure (Campbell, n.d.).
When a building (home, school, etc.) has water damage that is not remediated quickly (within 24-48 hours), mold will likely take up residence in the building materials which became wet and release mycotoxins into the building (Campbell, personal communication, April 6, 2021). Since mycotoxins are too small to see (they are 0.1 microns, versus a human hair which is 100 microns), and since they are odorless and tasteless, we are not able to detect them with our senses (Campbell, personal communication, April 6, 2021).
Oftentimes in water-damaged buildings we may not always see visible mold growth because it is hidden within an interior wall space (Hope, personal communication, April 5, 2021). But, as Dr. Campbell says, when you smell a musty odor in a room, it is likely coming from the volatile organic chemicals (VOC)s that molds release into their environment (Campbell, personal communication, April 6, 2021). Whether mold is visible or not, it is releasing toxic substances (mycotoxins, VOCs, etc.) that can pass through walls into the living space of the building (Hope, personal communication, April 5, 2021). And, as Dr. Campbell emphasizes, once inside the living space, mycotoxins can enter our body either via inhalation, absorption through our skin, or by ingestion (Campbell, personal communication, April 6, 2021). When we breathe in mycotoxins through our nose, they can travel through the Olfactory Nerve (the Cranial Nerve which helps us smell), thus entering the brain (Campbell, 2021). Breathing mycotoxins into our lungs similarly allows for their absorption into our blood circulation (Campbell, 2021). This is why we can experience a wide range of effects from mycotoxins – they can go anywhere in our body including our brains (Campbell, 2021).
A very common example of mold contamination within a building described by Dr. Campbell is when an air conditioning unit has been even slightly contaminated with mold colonies. As it runs, it can release various mold byproducts (mold spores, mycotoxins, VOCs, etc.) into the cooled air, and while the room temperature may be comfortable, we do not realize that we are also breathing in these toxic mold byproducts that are being released by the molds within the AC unit (Campbell, personal communication, April 6, 2021)!
Dr. Campbell states that being around water- and mold-damaged buildings is often very hazardous to our health, especially in children and the elderly (Campbell, n.d., p 1). Because every person is unique, Dr. Campbell explains how each person’s reaction to a mold exposure depends upon their underlying health and nutritional status, other health issues they may have, and the type of mold and the duration of mold exposure (Campbell, 2016). People who tend to get asthma, allergies, and/or skin inflammation are often very sensitive to molds (Campbell, n.d., p 1).
As Dr. Andrew Campbell says: “Molds are the gun, and mycotoxins are the bullet” (Campbell, n.d., p 2). That paints a very clear picture in my mind!
Dr. Campbell has treated thousands of patients with mold/mycotoxin illness and has seen the damage which can occur to our immune system, nervous system, liver, kidneys, and skin. He also informs us that mycotoxins can cause genetic mutations, create fetal abnormalities, disrupt our hormones, and cause cancer and internal bleeding (Campbell, n.d., p 18).
According to Dr. Campbell, many common, yet serious, health problems are linked to molds and mycotoxins. Here is just a partial list:
This is not a complete list of health challenges from mycotoxins, but as you can see, mycotoxins can create very serious health problems that are often misdiagnosed as some other condition (Campbell n.d., p 14). That is why mycotoxins are called “The Great Masquerader of the 21st Century”, according to the World Health Organization (Campbell, n.d., p 16).
Dr. Campbell emphasizes that anyone who is being exposed to mold and mycotoxins MUST be removed from the source to regain their health! This is essential to their recovery and is the ‘First Rule of Toxicology’ (Campbell, personal communication, April 6, 2021).
When mycotoxins are suspected of causing a person’s illness, I advise getting the appropriate lab testing done to verify if this is true or not. The only evidence-based method for the detection of mycotoxins in a person is a blood test through MyMycoLab, a laboratory which you can find on the internet at https://mymycolab.com (Campbell, personal communication, May 1, 2021).
Dr. Campbell teaches that testing the blood serum for mycotoxin antibodies has been in use for more than 20 years and is highly accurate in its sensitivity and specificity (Campbell n.d., p 15). Sensitivity means the test can identify truly positive results while specificity means that test can identify truly negative results (Simon, 2015).
The Mycotoxin Blood Test can be ordered through MyMycolab.com by anyone (health care provider or non-health care provider) from anywhere in the world (except not residents of New York State) (New Mycotoxin Blood Test, n.d.).
The MyMycolab test will evaluate for both IgE and IgG antibodies for the following 12 different mycotoxins, thus giving a total of 24 mycotoxin values:
One mold species may produce more than just one mycotoxin and many different molds can all produce the same mycotoxins (Campbell, personal communication, April 6, 2021).
Our immune systems are constantly on the lookout for foreign invaders threatening our health (Abbas, et al. 2020). The usual suspects are living entities such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi (such as molds which make mycotoxins) (Campbell, personal communication, April 6, 2021). When our immune system reacts to these types of foreign invaders, it retains a memory of them in the form of IgG or IgE antibodies which remain for life within the individual so that the immune system can recognize and quickly remove them if they ever happen to try to invade again (Campbell, personal communication, April 6, 2021).
In contrast to this, Dr. Campbell emphasizes that mycotoxins are toxic molecules that are not alive (Campbell, personal communication, April 6, 2021). Because of this, he wants everyone to understand that the immune system only makes antibodies to mycotoxins while the mycotoxins are present within the body. Thus, once the mycotoxins are cleared from the body, the antibodies made against the mycotoxins will ‘fade away’ (Campbell, n.d., p 10). That is why testing through MyMycolab.com is so valuable, as it can demonstrate the presence of a current mycotoxin burden (Campbell, n.d., p 10).
As the IgG antibodies interact with the mycotoxin to eliminate it from the body, a person can have a wide variety of symptoms including fatigue (often worsened by exercise), headaches, confusion, inability to learn as well as they did before mycotoxin exposure, blurry vision, seizures, loss of balance, ‘spaced out’ feeling, sleep problems, tremors, numbness/tingling of hands and feet, muscle twitches, ringing in the ears, intolerance to bright lights, alcohol intolerance, decreased libido, low testosterone, non-healing sores, easy bruising, shortness of breath, cough, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, hair loss, nosebleeds, skin rashes, chronic sinusitis, upper respiratory symptoms, recurrent flu-like symptoms, allergies, weight gain or loss, feeling hot often, low grade fever, frequent or uncomfortable urination, dry mouth and dry eyes, canker sores, cold hands and feet, thyroid dysfunction, becoming more sensitive to foods or medications, etc. (Campbell, n.d., p 10).
Alternatively, the body can mount an IgE antibody response to mycotoxins, which creates allergic reactions, including skin rash, hives, swelling, cough, sore throat, nasal/sinus congestion, eye and ear inflammation, hay fever type symptoms, difficulty breathing, or if severe enough, anaphylactic shock (Campbell, n.d., pp 12-13).
As far back as 1962, Forgacs referred to mold mycotoxicosis as “the neglected disease” because most clinicians did not recognize mycotoxins produced by molds as being causal to human disease (Campbell, Thrasher, Gray & Vojdani, 2004). Even to this day, many people and health care providers remain unaware of the harm to human health stemming from mold and mycotoxin contamination of water-damaged buildings (Campbell, Thrasher, Gray & Vojdani, 2004). As Dr. Campbell says, modern medicine and science should continue to raise the awareness of Mycotoxicosis (mycotoxin burden) and bring it from the status of being a “neglected disease” to that of being an “accepted disease” that is considered in all appropriate clinical circumstances (Campbell, Thrasher, Gray & Vojdani, 2004).
At BWC For Horse Lovers, we will always strive to keep the possibility of mycotoxins at the forefront of our minds when we are helping patients uncover the true cause(s) of their health challenges.
People are now very fortunate to have the ability to be tested for the presence of mycotoxins through the excellent laboratory, MyMycoLab. This is a breakthrough test and is far superior to other forms of testing for mycotoxins within the human body. Please visit mymycolab.com and become educated on the myriad of ways mycotoxins can impact your health. You can visit them at https://mymycolab.com.
May the Horse Be With You Always!
Abbas A. K., Lichtman A. H. & Pillai S. (2020). “Basic immunology. Functions and disorders of the immune system” (6th ed). Elsevier.
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Campbell. (n.d.). MyMycoLab IgG and IgE SERUM TESTING FOR MYCOTOXINS.
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Campbell A. W. & Watson P. (2021). Mold, Mycotoxins, and their Effects in Children. Alternative Therapies. Vol 27. No. 1. Pp. 8-10.
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the Neurological and Immune Systems in Humans. Advances In Applied Microbiology.
Elsevier. Volume 55. p 397.
“New Mycotoxin Blood Test” mymycolab.com. n.d. myMycoLab.com.
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2015 Jun 24;107(8):djv153. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djv153. PMID: 26109105; PMCID: PMC4609556.
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