Could Your Symptoms be Caused By This Surprising Culprit?: A Look Into Mold Biotoxins

By Georgia Tetlow, MD

Did you know that it is possible that some of your symptoms could be coming from an ongoing exposure to mold biotoxins? As we understand it, when people are affected by mold, the problem is their immune system's reaction to both the mold itself and the tiny enzymes released by the mold. The work of these enzymes is breaking down material (like paper, wood, and food) so that the mold can consume the nutrients that the material contains instead of your body.

Your immune system recognizes these enzymes (also referred to as biotoxins) to be a threat and mounts a powerful inflammatory response. The problem is that in some people, the immune system is reacts quickly and forcefully, but it is not good at inactivating the toxins.  

When you are exposed to mold, you will be more or less affected depending on several factors.

Your genetics partially determine your ability to clear mycotoxins—and in part determine whether your immune system is able to rapidly recognize and inactivate the biotoxins.

Whether or not your immune system is adept at rapidly clearing mold biotoxins, uncleared toxins will continue to affect your body. Those whose immune systems do not clear these biotoxins must clear them through other methods. There are many ways your body resolves these toxins. They can be "hidden" in the tissues between cells, called the interstitial space, where their damage is lessened. They can be processed by the liver, stored in the gallbladder or excreted in the bile. They can be removed through the skin in sweat or in the urine. There are probably other mechanisms as well. In any case, when the toxins coming in exceed the toxins being neutralized and removed, you will have symptoms.

When toxins are removed by the liver in the bile, there is a substantial problem with re-circulation of those toxins. Part of digestion include reabsorbing bile. If there are toxins bound to the bile, they will be reabsorbed as well. Having a daily bowel movement is essential. Many practitioners believe, and my patients' experience tends to confirm, that the biotoxins that are excreted in the bile can be bound in the intestines by using one of several substances to grab them and keep them in the stool. Here are three ways to remove mycotoxin—including binders and sweating/exercise. There are specific binders for the specific mycotoxins you have been exposed to, your Philadelphia Integrative Medicine provider can tell you more and prescribe testing to identify if you have been exposed.


·    A morning whole food smoothie contains powerful binders in the form of fiber, with plentiful anti-oxidants to facilitate detox. Key ingredients—add tsp of each with organic juice or non-dairy milk and fruits and veggies of your choice. You can purchase the supplements in our online dispensary, fullscript.

a.     Fresh cilantro ¼ cup per serving (or organic cilantro oil):

b.     Wild blueberries (not just organic)—powder or tablets

c.      Barley grass juice powder

d.     Sea Dulse, organic—health food store or we suggest liquid kelp via the online store (one daily dose per serving of smoothie)

e.     Hawaiian Spirulina—powder or tablets

Magnesium, Adeno/methyl B12, Zinc, Vitamin C are essential for mold detox, get amounts and specifics from your provider. Some of these can be added to your morning smoothie so you don't need to take as many pills!



·    Activated charcoal:  6 capsules taken on an empty stomach. Charcoal will bind not just toxins, but any medicines or nutrients taken with it. It is also a bit constipating. You can use vitamin c or magnesium to help move your bowels. Charcoal seems in animal studies to bind more types of mold biotoxins than any other substance.  Do this for 2 weeks.

·    Chlorella: up to 12 pills, 4 times per day. This is algae and is perfectly safe, a food. Occasionally someone will develop vomiting after being on it for a while. If this happens, stop using it!


1.     Toxins are also removed through sweating, so if you have access to a sauna, use it. Start with just a few minutes a day and see if you can comfortably increase to 40 minutes. Obviously do not do this if it makes you feel worse. Stay well hydrated by drinking lots of water before during and after the sauna.  Exercise warms the body and increases sweat, so can have a similar effect.


All toxins that are removed by the liver are transformed using pathways that require good energy and many nutrients. For this reason, a nutrient dense diet, containing many servings of colorful vegetables and fruits every day is essential. Eating healthy lean protein is also important. Organ meats are packed with nutrients, so eat some liver. If you are worried about mold toxins, spare your liver by avoiding fumes, food coloring, food additives and unnecessary medicines, particularly acetaminophen. To be clear, by fumes that means anything that you can smell, from deodorant to laundry soap to cleaning products to perfume.

Examine your HVAC System

Immediately it would be wise to turn off your HVAC system and have someone look at the coils to be sure there is no dust or other evidence of mold growth on the condensing surfaces or in the duct work.  A HEPA filter (for example Rabbit and Blue Air filters) and a HEPA Vacuum are important (for example: Pullman-Holt or  Swiffer dry mops are great for dusting surfaces). Because the biotoxins are in the air as fine particles, a dust free environment is critical to having a mold toxin free environment. You will need to live like a person with significant allergies.  When you are exposed to mold, you will be ill or well depending on several factors.  Some factors concern the genetics of your immune system and whether your immune system is able to rapidly recognize process and inactivate the toxins that molds release into the environment.

Remember it is critical when thinking about mold to think about water intrusion. Where there is no water there is no mold. Water enters our homes schools and work through four paths: leaky roofs, basements that are not tight, air handling systems that are over-sized or contaminated, and leaking pipes or pipes that create condensation. But there can be odd sources of hidden mold also: in Virginia just the humidity in the summer is enough to create condensation – and therefore mold growth - on furniture and clothing. One can find mold growing on your mattress.

Getting rid of mold can be a tedious and expensive task. Do NOT trust someone who intends to re-mediate your mold problems by cleaning the AC vents or replacing some damaged carpet. You need someone who understands how mold forms and the steps needed to remove it. Mold should be handled like asbestos, with airway protection and strong ventilation during the remediation.

Besides removing mold exposure, eating well and having the morning smoothie recommended above, having daily BM’s (no problem if you are having your smoothie!), and exercising/sweating, we strongly recommend you start the Dynamic Neural Retraining system, a well-respected intervention which has helped many, many patients:

PIM wants to hear from you! Do you have an experience with mold exposure or recovery? Do you find this article helpful? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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If you or your loved one are tired, not sleeping well, or perhaps are suffering from the effects of ongoing stress, mood or hormone imbalance, including thyroid imbalance schedule your a 20 minute free consultation or an appointment with Annmarie McManus, MMSc, PA-C, PT, IFMCP or Lauren Houser, MS, MSN, CRNP today. Not quite ready to schedule and have questions, quickly get in touch here. Many of our patients are educated health care consumers who may already be working with a practitioner but want a more comprehensive, empowering approach--and to partner with a provider who listens, cares and gets the root cause.



Consumer Education: everything you want to know about mold: 6/14/18


CDC: Mold Cleanup Resources:


PA Mold Management Task Force—FYI:


EPA Resources—FYI:


Filtering out mold spores and used with a personal air purifier can help a great deal. Plus they make you LOOK amazing.


These sites have lots of good information about staying safe as you move toward a safer environment.


Wonderful blogs—mold toxin recovery on a budget! Info on kids:




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