In my last article/podcast, Could Mold Be Affecting You?, I discussed the most frequent symptoms of mold exposure and the resulting mold toxicity, and I offered a roadmap for how to know if you should consider doing mold testing on yourself.
Today, I’m going to dive into the best tests to use for that, and what they can tell us.
In my clinical experience, the most accurate way to assess if mold is affecting your body and your health is to do a combination of 2 tests – Great Plains Lab’s Organic Acids test and MycoTox test.
Organic Acids Test (OAT)
The comprehensive and informative OAT measures 76 different markers, providing in-depth information on your whole system, including several markers that can indicate exposure to mold, and the degree to which this exposure is affecting you.
The OAT also gives us loads of other helpful information, including the health of your gut microbiome, your vitamin B, C, D and mineral status, how well you are handling the digestion and utilization of fats, carbohydrates and protein, how well you are producing energy (ie. how good is your mitochondrial function), your neurotransmitter balance, and much more.
The OAT is an excellent starting place if you suspect mold is affecting you, and it is also very useful for anyone wishing to get more concrete, measurable information on how to customize their efforts towards optimizing overall health.
For more information on the OAT, including a sample report, and to order the OAT for yourself, visit: https://dremilyfranklin.com/shop/GPL-OAT-Test-p489051930
At the same time that you get your OAT done, if you’re concerned about mold, you’ll also want to get the MycoTOX test done (order yours here). These 2 tests can be ordered as a combo and completed with one urine sample.
Great Plains Lab’s MycoTOX test screens for 11 different mycotoxins, from 40 species of mold, and is the most comprehensive and competitively priced mycotoxin test available.
The MycoTOX test detects lower levels of fungal toxins than many other mold tests; it is the best choice for accurately determining your level of mold contamination, as well as for ongoing assessment of the efficacy of your chosen treatments.
Many different mold toxins (mycotoxins) can be produced by the strains of mold that are evaluated by the MycoTOX test; this test provides the most extensive coverage available, allowing us to detect almost all mold exposures.
The following mycotoxins are tested for by the Great Plains Labs MycoTOX test:
Aflatoxin is a mycotoxin produced by different species of the genus Aspergillus. Aflatoxins are some of the most carcinogenic substances in the environment. Aflatoxin can be found in beans, grains, nuts, seeds, and milk, eggs, and meat from animals fed contaminated feed (a good reason to avoid CAFO animal foods!)
Aflatoxin can cause many health problems, including liver damage, cancer, mental impairment, abdominal pain, hemorrhaging, coma, and even death. Aflatoxin has been shown to inhibit immune function, and the toxicity of aflatoxin is increased in the presence of the mycotoxins ochratoxin and zearalenone (see below).
Ochratoxin is a nephrotoxic, immunotoxic, and carcinogenic mycotoxin, meaning it is damaging to the kidneys and the immune system, and can cause cancer. It is produced by molds in the Aspergillus and Penicillium families.
Exposure happens primarily through contaminated foods, particularly grains, but also grape juice, wine, dried fruit, spices, and coffee, and dairy products from animals who have consumed contaminated feed.
Exposure to OTA can also come from inhalation exposure in water-damaged buildings. OTA can lead to kidney disease and adverse neurological effects. Studies have shown that OTA can cause significant oxidative damage to multiple brain regions and the kidneys.
Sterigmatocystin is a mycotoxin that is closely related to aflatoxin. STG is produced from several types of mold, including Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Bipolaris. It is carcinogenic, particularly to the cells of the GI tract and liver. STG is often found in damp carpets. It is also a contaminant of many foods including grains, spices, coffee, soybeans, pistachio nuts, and dairy products from animals who have consumed contaminated feed (very common with CAFO animals).
The toxicity of STG affects the liver, kidneys, lungs, and immune system. Oxidative stress becomes measurably elevated during STG exposure, which causes a depletion of antioxidants such as glutathione, particularly in the liver, making it more difficult for our bodies to clear toxins.
Roridin is produced by multiple mold genera, and is frequently found in buildings with water damage, but can also be found in contaminated grain. This is a very toxic compound; even low levels of exposure can cause severe neurological damage, immunosuppression, endocrine disruption, cardiovascular problems, and gastrointestinal distress.
Verrucarin is another mycotoxin that is produced by multiple molds, and that is frequently found in buildings with water damage and in contaminated grain. It is also a very toxic compound, causing similar problems as Roridin.
Enniatin is a fungal toxin produced by the molds of the Fusarium species. These species are common grain contaminants. Grains in many different countries have been found to be contaminated with high levels of enniatin. The toxic effects of enniatin are due to its impairment of our mitochondrial function, which has many, widespread detrimental health effects.
Zearalenone is a mycotoxin that is produced by the molds Fusarium and Gibberella. It has been shown to be hepatotoxic, hematotoxic, immunotoxic, and genotoxic, meaning, damaging to the liver, blood and bone marrow, the immune system, and DNA. Zearalenone is commonly found in grains throughout the US, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Zearalenone has hormone-disrupting effects, and exposure to Zearalenone can lead to reproductive system harm. Zearalenone exposure can also result in immune system impairment through damage to the thymus and spleen, which leads to increased susceptibility to many other diseases.
Gliotoxin is produced by the mold Aspergillus (and possibly also by Candida). Aspergillus infiltrates the lungs, and evades the body’s defenses by releasing gliotoxin, which inhibits the immune response, and can lead to the worsening of existing bacterial, viral or parasitic infections. Gliotoxin exposure can also lead to multiple neurological syndromes.
Mycophenolic Acid is produced by the Penicillium fungus, and is an immune-suppressant. Mycophenolic Acid exposure can increase the risk of opportunistic infections, including Clostridia and Candida, and is associated with miscarriage and congenital malformations when the woman is exposed in pregnancy.
Dihydrocitrinone is a metabolite of Citrinin, which is a mycotoxin that is produced by mold species Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Monascus. Citrinin exposure can lead to nephropathy – damaged kidney function – because of its ability to increase permeability of the mitochondrial membranes in the kidneys. The three most common exposure routes are through ingestion, inhalation, and skin contact, and causes a suppression of the immune response.
Chaetoglobosin is produced by the mold Chaetomium globosum, which is commonly found in homes that have experienced water damage. Up to 49% of water-damaged buildings have been found to have Chaetomium globosum, which is highly toxic, even at minimal doses.
Part of why I wanted to go over all of that detail with you is to help you understand not only what testing can tell us, but also to emphasize the potential seriousness of mold exposure, and the many damaging effects it can have, so that if there is any chance that this is an issue for you, that you look into it and address is sooner rather than later!
Once you decide to have these tests done, and you’ve gotten your OAT and MycoTOX results, then I can walk you through exactly what your results mean, and formulate a comprehensive treatment plan for you, based on your results.
If you are an existing patient of mine, you can schedule yourself a consultation to discuss your results by going to DrEmilyFranklin.com/services.
Or, if you haven’t done any testing yet and would like to discuss which tests would be best for you, I am happy to consult with you and advise you on that, as well.
And if you aren’t a patient of mine yet but would like to be, you can schedule yourself a free initial phone call with me, to discuss your situation and see if you we are a good fit for each other!
Test Your Environment
If you test positive for mold and mycotoxins, the next step after consulting with me and getting a treatment plan is to investigate your surroundings to answer this crucial question: Where did the mold come from?
At this stage, if you don’t the source of your mold exposure and suspect it could be from your current home or work environment, then mold inspection of your home and/or office is highly recommended.
To learn more about testing your home or office, check out my next article/podcast, “Mold Testing: Your Environment”.