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Mycotoxins and Your Brain: How Invisible Fungus Can Cause Brain Fog and More

0 2 years ago

What are mycotoxins, anyway?

Mycotoxins are created by microfungi. They’re the secondary metabolites which can make you very sick. Some mycotoxins are mildly annoying, like athlete’s foot, while others can be life-threatening.

When you’re made sick by mycotoxins you’re basically being poisoned. This is called mycotoxicosis. The symptoms of mycotoxicosis differ depending on the type of mycotoxin you’re exposed to, how long you’re exposed to it, the amount of the exposure, and your personal attributes such as age, gender, and health.

There are hundreds of factors that can impact how a mycotoxin exposure presents in your body, including:

  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Genetics
  • Microbial disease
  • Malnutrition
  • Other diseases or conditions
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Low-caloric intake

How mycotoxins can impact your brain

Neurotoxicity refers to brain or peripheral nervous system damage. As you can imagine, it’s incredible dangerous and even deadly in some cases.

Toxins that cause neurotoxicity, or neurotoxins, can alter your brain activity through disrupting or even killing neurons.

This important review examined four mycotoxins known to induce neurotoxicity in rodent models, including:

  • T-2 toxin – Known for inducing neuronal cell death in both fetal and adult brains.
  • Macrocyclic trichothecenes – Causes neuronal cell death and inflammation in the olfactory system.
  • Fumonisin B1 (FB1) – Causes neuronal degeneration in the cerebral cortex and disrupts ceramide synthesis (and important lipid in the brain).
  • Ochratochin A (OTA) – Induces acute depletion of striatal dopamine, which has shown to cause cell death in the hippocampus, substantia nigra, and striatum (different parts of the brain).

These mycotoxins cause neurotoxicity, especially in oxidative stress-associated pathways. Oxidative stress-associated pathways are areas in your body that are particularly vulnerable to the imbalance between damaging free radicals and neutralizing antioxidants.

Because each of these mycotoxins are dangerous to your brain, let’s take a closer look at where they exist, how you can avoid them, and what they do to your body.

T-2 Toxin

T-2 Toxin is mostly found in corn, wheat, barley, and rice. It can infect these food items both while growing in the field and in storage. The only way to completely prevent exposure to T-2 toxin is to limit your intake of these crops.

This particular toxin has been linked to a number of diseases including alimentary toxic aleukia and red mold disease.

Symptoms of T-2 toxin mycotoxicosis usually occur within minutes to up to two hours after exposure, and how they present varies depending on the route of exposure. Symptoms of T-2 toxin mycotoxicosis include:

  • Weakness
  • Prostration (extreme weakness resulting in near or complete collapse)
  • Dizziness
  • Ataxia (loss of control over bodily movements)
  • Loss of coordination

Symptoms by route of exposure:

  • Transdermal exposure: Burning sensation, blistering, skin necrosis
  • Gastrointestinal exposure: Anorexia, nausea, vomiting, bloody diarrhea
  • Inhalation: Itching, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, blood tinged saliva
  • Ocular: Blurred vision, eye pain, tearing, and redness

Ingesting T-2 toxin can result in alimentary toxic aleukia, which is a clinical syndrome. Symptoms of alimentary toxic aleukia include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin irritation, rash or itching
  • Bleeding and hemorrhaging
  • Dyspnea (labored breathing)
  • Death

T-2 toxin inhibits protein synthesis through binding to peptidyl transferase. Enough of this binding can trigger a ribotoxic stress response. T-2 toxin also interferes with membrane phospholipid metabolism. T-2 also increases liver lipid peroxides or oxidative degradation of lipids, which is linked to all sorts of diseases.

This powerful and deadly toxin is bad news.

It also suppresses your ever-important glutathione S-transferases, which is needed to metabolize drugs.

And it messes with your mitochondria, leading to dysfunction. You need healthy mitochondria because they are the powerhouses of your cells. You could live weeks without food and days without water, but if your mitochondria are starved, you’ll die in seconds. This is how T-2 toxin is so dangerous.

You can be tested for T-2 toxin through your functional medicine doctor. You can have a complete panel of urinary mycotoxins through Real Time Labs or Great Plains Labs.

Macrocyclic trichothecenes

Macrocyclic trichothecenes is emitted from a fungus Stachybotrys chartarum, which grows on wet cellulose-containing building materials. Water-damaged wallboard, ceiling tiles, and cardboard commonly contain S. chartarum.

Chronic exposure to macrocyclic trichothecene has been linked to debilitating respiratory symptoms, damp building-related illnesses, immune system dysfunction, and neurological impairment.

Macrocyclic trichothecenes work by inhibiting protein synthesis and binding to proteins and other macromolecules. Exposure to macrocyclic trichothecene mycotoxins results in chronic inflammation and cell death, which damages neurological and pulmonary tissues and cells.

Symptoms of macrocyclic trichothecene exposure include:

  • Weakness
  • Ataxia (loss of control over bodily movements)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Death

You can be tested for macrocyclic trichothecene mycotoxins with the guidance of your functional medicine doctor. A complete panel of urinary mycotoxins can be taken through Real Time Labs or Great Plains Labs.

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