Immunology of Mold/fungal Infection

We are exposed to mold and their myctotoxins everyday. For some of us, they don’t have too many affects on our health as our immune system is strong enough to fight them off. However chronic exposure can lead to immune dysregulation and suppression and can cause us to have severe health issues as a result. There are direct fungal issues or mycotoxic effects that occur. If we are to have mycotoxin build up, it functions in such a way that it drives destruction of self tissue (aka autoimmunity).

This paragraph explains how Fungus can cause tissue destruction and inflammation. it is a bit heavier with a lot of technical terms but the takeaway is that exposure to fungus/mold toxins can trigger a cascade of inflammation in the body or a cytokine storm. Fungi promote Th2 dominance and IDO (indolomene2-3dioxygenase) which promotes regulatory Tcells (Tregs). TGFb levels in the blood are usually high when you have fungal infection. Fungi also drive Th17 response because it is an extracellular infection in a hollow space. This drives IL17 and stat3 mediated expression and you drive innate lymphoid cells and their production of IL22. This triggers the epithelial lining to promote antifungal substance to kill the fungi. STAT3 in epithelial cells promote the inflammatory process more broadly.

What are Mycotoxins

Mycoses are when fungi grow on and in us and are either aggravating, such as athletes foot or critical such invasive aspergillosis.

Myctotoxicoses differ from mycoses in that these are toxins and are, therefore, similar to the health problems caused by heavy metal exposure or pesticides or other toxins. Mycotoxins usually enter the body by inhalation, ingestion, or dermal absorption. Studies have shown that when Stachybotrys chartarum is resent in an indoor environment, mycotoxins are also present in the sera of exposed individuals.

Mold Mycotoxins Effects

Aflatoxins are found in nuts, corn, milk, soybeans, grains, etc. Ochratoxins are found in pork, grains, coffee, wine and grapes past their prime. Excessive consumption of grain can lead to mold toxicity.

Mold toxins are also present within homes that have damp basements, have had water damage or older windows with condensation. It is also found in refrigerated foods, in dust, water bottles and anything else that holds water including indoor plants.

Innate and Adaptive Immune Response to Fungal Products and Allergens

Fungal disease represents an important paradigm in immunology, as they can result from either lack of recognition by the immune system or overactivation of the inflammatory response. In other words, either the immune system doesn’t fight at all or it fights too much leading to chronic inflammation and tissue destruction.

PB, Williams et al (205) states that: “Exposure to fungi and their products is practically ubiquitous, yet most of this is of little consequence to most healthy individuals. This is because there are a number of elaborate mechanisms to deal with these exposures. Most of these mechanisms are designed to recognize and neutralize such exposures. However, in understanding these mechanisms it has become clear that many of them overlap with our ability to respond to disruptions in tissue function causes by trauma or deterioration. these responses involve the innate and adaptive immune systems usually through the activation of nuclear factor kappa B and the production of cytokines that are considered inflammatory accompanied by other factors that can moderate these reactivities. Depending on different genetic backgrounds and the extent of activation of these mechanisms, various pathologies with resulting symptoms can ensue. Complicating this is the fact that these mechanisms can bias toward type 2 innate and adaptive immune responses.”

Th1 and Th2 Immunity

Aspergillus, candida and other fungal species want to create a Th2 dominant environment because they don’t want to be killed off by the immune system. Tregulatory cells will make TGFb and IL10 and will limit the inflammatory process and create immune tolerance. As this happens, a persons viral burden can expand when there is a shift to Th2 dominance because your Th1 response diminishes. This means you can’t clear intracellular pathogens as effectively. Also with upregulation of Tregs, you dampen all immune surveillance so the body does not scan efficiently for pathogens and invaders.

Because of the mechanisms mentioned above, it is imperative to upregulate your Th1 immune system so that you can diminish Th2 dominance to effectively kill off pathogens.


When a person is already inflamed, has high histamine and high DAO (diamine-oxidase enzyme), and is Th2 dominant (thanks to dysbiosis), they are much more susceptible to contracting mold and having it remain in their system chronically to trigger chronic conditions.

Mycotoxins can decrease the formation of glutathione due to decreased gene expression of the enzymes needed to form glutathione. Mycotoxin-related compromise of glutathione productions can result in excess of oxidative stress (not enough antioxidants) that leads to tissue damage and systemic illness.

How Chronic Stress Plays a Role

Things are about to get technical here but stick with me! Essentially what is being described below is the effects of Th1 immune cell suppression and what happens as a result. Epinephrine and cortisol elevation (AKA STRESS) drive apoptosis (cell death) of Th1 and Natural Killer cells. When there is inadequate immune surveillance against bacteria and fungi, they act synergistically to promote inflammation. Neutrophils are essential for host defense against invading pathogens. They engulf and degrade microorganisms using an array of weapons that include reactive oxygen species, antimicrobial peptides, and proteases such as cathepsin G, neutrophil elastase and proteinase. Neutrophils can secrete NETs which contain serum proteases into the extracellular environment. Serum protease skill bacteria. Neutrophil elastase (highly destructive as an enzyme) creates a cascade of events that induces NFkB gene expression. Holy basil could be used to inhibit elastase release. Diminishing neutrophil elastase can diminish the extent of tissue damage when a person has excessive neutrophil activity.

How can you tell if someone has Mycotoxicity/Fungal Overgrowth?

-persistent sinus or respiratory infections
-neurological problems (anxiety, depression, brain fog, chronic fatigue, etc)
-Renal problems you can’t account for (a person who’s GFR is 50 and has tremors)
-Vaginal issues (yeast infections, inflammation, etc),
-Digestive issues (gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, food sensitivities, etc)
-Skin issues (rashes, hives, etc)
-Hair loss/thinning
-chronic fatigue
-hormonal imbalances
-liver toxicity
-Sleep issues
-Vision loss/sensitivity to light
-Candida overgrowth
-and the list goes one

All the above and much more indicate fungal/mold issues. When you see a person entrenched in Th2 dominance or a whole family of people come in and say 2 years ago everyone was feeling bad, this indicates mold toxicity (think about what is going on in the home). Cortisol and epinephrine elevation is also possible indicator of fungal infection.

What should you do?

Below are some supplement recommendations for eradicating mold and it’s mycotoxins from the system. this process could take months to year’s depending on how toxic you are and how sensitive your body is. ALWAYS work with a practitioner before taking any supplements.

-Liposomal glutathione: Supplementing with glutathione can replenish your antioxidant stores and reduce oxidative stress.

-Adaptogens (holy basil and/or Astragalus): these can modulate the immune system while balancing your cortisol levels to improve overall inflammation in the body.

-Candida/parasite/fungal cleanse: It is important to take antifungals and antivirals to directly attack these species and kill them off.

-Downregulate Th2 dominance and upregulate Th1 immune cells and support Nrf2 pathway by taking immune modulators such as Berberine, Baicalin, sulforaphane, and Perilla.

-Antioxidants such as vitamin E, C, Acai, etc can help to boost antioxidant status in the system and improve apoptosis.

-Sequestering agents (charcoal, clay chlorella): These are important to use as a binder to help eliminate mold toxins before they re-bind to tissues and cells.

-Probiotics: Rebalancing the microflora is essential to supporting the immune system. HMF probiotics attach to the mucous membranes and create a symbiotic relationship with the immune system.

-Liver and Kidney (and perhaps lung) drainage: This is essential before attempting to clear out mold because if the emunctories aren’t being supported, the toxins will re-bind to tissue.

-Induced sweating: Using saunas, exercise, hot epsom salt baths and other techniques to sweat can help eliminate the toxic load on the system by using another emunctory.

-Castor oil packs

25 facts about mold everyone should know especially those with any gut, skin, respiratory or autoimmune issues.

  • Not everyone living in the same moldy home will have mold toxicity symptoms
  • 25% of the population is prone to mold toxicities due to the HLA-DR gene
  • Mold not only causes respiratory symptoms but also digestive, skin, immune, and more
  • Mold elevates histamine and inflammation in the body
  • Mold damages the liver and reduces liver function
  • Mold exposure elevates Th2 immune cell production
  • Mold exposure downregulates Th1 immune response
  • Mold exposure elevates pathogen burdens in the gut and increase risk of candida overgrowth
  • Mold can cause leptin resistance leading to weight gain
  • Mold can cause oxalate toxicity (by increasing oxalic acid) and all the symptoms that go with that including joint pain, gout, kidney stones and more
  • Mold toxicity can cause you to have reactions against high histamine foods, penicillin family antibiotics, cheese, dairy and more.
  • Mold toxicity can cause vision issues/sensitivity to light
  • Mycotoxins have been used in biological warfare and as immune suppressants for organ transplants
  • Mold elevates neuroinflammation as the mycotoxins are neurotoxins
  • Chronic fatigue is a very common symptom of mold toxicity
  • EMFs can make people more sensitive to mold
  • Seasonal allergies and adrenal fatigue may actually be mold toxicity
  • Black mold isn’t the only dangerous mold and most mold isn’t visible. The color of mold does not indicate how dangerous it is.
  • Eating mold cheeses can cause mold toxicity
  • Skin rashes and hives are commonly due to mold toxicity
  • Mold toxicity can exacerbate lyme disease and coinfection
  • Mold toxicity puts you at a much higher risk to develop cancer
  • Mold toxicity is worsened with MTHFR genetic SNPs
  • Hidden Mold is commonly found in drains, plants, refrigerated food, blenders, bottles, and more
  • You do not need to see or smell mold to have it in the home
  • Air testing misses a lot of hidden mold. Doing multiple tests and exams are crucial.

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