You may not be aware of it, but mold is probably affecting your health. So even if it’s not on your mind, “how to detox your body from mold” should be something we all need to be asking.
Even if mold is making you sick, you might not know it’s the source of your symptoms. That’s because mold toxicity can act like many other conditions, so it often goes misdiagnosed and untreated. Exposure can cause many different symptoms, including:
- Shortness of breath
- Joint pain
- Memory problems
- Sinus infections
- Trouble concentrating
- Sensitivity to light
- Skin rash
- Digestive problems
One of the main reasons mold toxins can cause so many different symptoms is this: These toxins can suppress or damage your immune system. Not only can they bring on symptoms themselves, they can make you more vulnerable to other illnesses.
Surrounded by Mold
Mold exposure is shockingly common. It’s found in the air, damp or water-damaged buildings, even the food you’re eating. Foods that commonly contain mold include cereal grains, nuts, spices, coffee, bulk foods (like the kind you buy from bins to save money) and dairy products.
You come across mold inside and outside, and it can travel around with you. Mold spores can attach to things like:
- Reusable grocery bags
That means it can come home with you from just about anywhere. And if it ends up somewhere even slightly damp, it will grow and multiply.
Mold Produces Toxins
In nature, mold speeds up the break down (decomposition) of things like dead trees and fallen leaves. Some molds are used to make cheese or create antibiotics.
But many types of mold can be hazardous to your health. These molds produce mycotoxins, poisons that can cause severe health problems and a wide variety of symptoms.
The two most common harmful mycotoxins are aflatoxin and ochratoxin, and exposure to either (or both) of these can trigger substantial health issues — from chronic allergies to cancer.
What’s more, if your body can’t remove these toxins on its own, they can slip into long-term storage to cause lasting or recurring damage.
Mycotoxins Damage Your Health
Mycotoxins are sneaky. While mold itself can’t enter your bloodstream — though it can hang around and colonize in spots like your nostrils and lungs — mycotoxins can get into your bloodstream and circulate throughout your body.
These opportunistic toxins can hijack your immune system, making you more vulnerable to infections. If your immune system is already compromised (such as people with autoimmune conditions or undergoing cancer treatment), mycotoxins take advantage. If you’re healthy, they can make you very sick.
Studies show that mycotoxins can:
- Cause lung inflammation that can make it harder to breathe
- Disrupt your gut health by reducing beneficial bacteria and encouraging pathogens
- Trigger chronic fatigue syndrome
- Affect brain function and cognition
- Cause liver damage, including cancer
- Worsen allergy and asthma symptoms
Unfortunately, mold toxicity is frequently misdiagnosed. Because of its wide-ranging effects, it’s typically mistaken for other conditions including depression, multiple sclerosis, or autoimmune conditions. Plus, because mycotoxins are opportunistic, they’re often connected with debilitating diseases such as Lyme disease, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and fibromyalgia.
Your Genes Can Make You More Vulnerable
Around 25% of people are genetically predisposed to get sick from mold exposure. A simple test, called the HLA-DR, can tell you if you’re in that more susceptible population.
If you are, it means your immune system can’t easily identify and get rid of mycotoxins. That can allow them to build up in the body, causing harm wherever they end up. On top of that, because of that genetic twist, even relatively small exposures to mycotoxins can affect you.
And even if you’re not genetically susceptible to mold sickness, it can still impact your health. Healthy people can get sick from chronic or intense mold exposure. People with already compromised immune systems — even if their bodies can identify mold — are also extra vulnerable to mold toxicity. If that’s you, be sure should to double down on how to detox your body from mold.
How to Detox Your Body from Mold
Even if you’re not especially sensitive to mold, your body still needs help safely clearing out mycotoxins. When these aren’t removed properly and completely, they can cycle back around, and cause ongoing damage and symptoms.
The best way to clear out these toxins is with proven toxin-binders. It’s important to make sure you’re working with safe, gentle detoxing agents so they don’t overtax your body’s clearance system (mainly your liver and kidneys). At the same time, you must use proven binders that don’t allow toxins to be reabsorbed in the intestines rather than excreted from the body.
One prescription cholesterol-lowering medication called Cholestyramine binds strongly to some mycotoxins — especially ochratoxin — and keeps them getting reabsorbed.
On the natural front, modified citrus pectin (MCP) has been extensively researched as an effective detoxifying agent. Because MCP works so gently, it’s safe for long-term use, which is often necessary for completely removing mycotoxins from your system. MCP works especially well when paired with another natural detoxifier: seaweed-derived alginates, natural gel-like substances that bind tightly to toxins.
The combination of MCP and alginate prevents toxins — including mycotoxins and heavy metals — from being reabsorbed in the intestines. And although they make a strong detoxifying team, MCP and alginate are easily tolerated and their gentle action won’t strip essential minerals from your body.
Equally important, MCP offers additional benefits that are essential when combating mold:
Breaking the biofilm — By blocking galectin-3 and disrupting the biofilm backbone structure, it makes it easier for the body to identify the mold hiding in these areas and clear it, along with fungal infections that produce mycotoxins.
Removing heavy metals — Fungus thrives on mercury. MCP as well as alginate are superior binders that safely remove mercury as well as lead, cadmium, uranium, arsenic and other heavy metals from the body.
Calming inflammation — MCP reduces the excessive inflammatory response that is responsible for many of the mold-driven symptoms.
Other mycotoxin detoxifiers include:
- Activated charcoal
- Bentonite clay
In addition to utilizing detoxifiers when answering the “how do I detox my body from mold” question, it’s also important to strengthen your gut microbiome (the trillions of bacteria that live in your gut) with a high-quality probiotic and prebiotic combination.
And, whenever possible, avoid mold exposure. This can be tricky, as mold can be tough to detect (if it’s inside walls, for example) and remove.
Most important, if you’re concerned about mold toxicity, it’s critical to work with an experienced health practitioner who knows what to test for and which therapies are most appropriate for your situation. With the right support, you can identify—and resolve—any long-standing mold issues, and experience greater long-term health and vitality.
Isaac Eliaz, MD, MS, LAc has been a recognized expert in the field of integrative medicine since the early 1980s, with a specific focus on cancer, immune health, detoxification and mind-body medicine. He is a respected formulator, clinician, researcher, author and educator. As part of his commitment to the advancement of integrative medicine, Dr. Eliaz partners with leading research institutes and has co-authored numerous peer-reviewed papers on innovative therapies for immune enhancement, heavy metal toxicity and cancer prevention and treatment. He is founder and medical director of Amitabha Medical Clinic and Healing Center in Santa Rosa, CA, where he and his team of practitioners pioneer individualized treatments for cancer and chronic illness.