Ochratoxin is commonly thought of as a food mycotoxin.
But, as you will see, this mycotoxin is also found in water-damaged buildings/homes.
What are mold mycotoxins?
Mycotoxins are the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines released by mold in order to insure its survival. Mold has been around a REALLY long time. Mold knows how to survive.
We do the most extensive urine lab testing in the world. And just about everyone is affected by environmental and food sources.
As a cardiologist, I think mold (and bacteria) from water damaged buildings is one of the biggest causes of cardiovascular disease.
What is Ochratoxin?
Ochratoxins come in a variety of forms- with ochratoxin A being most commonly associated with toxic effects. This form is produced by Aspergillus and Penicillium species.
Ochratoxin A is recognized as a major health detractor in the agricultural world of cattle and pig farming as well as the production of various grains. In third world countries, ingestions of these foods have been linked with cancer, kidney failure, and deaths.
Is this toxin in your coffee?
Coffee, spices, cereal grains, dry fruit and wine may be affected. Most research comes from animal studies addressing the ingestion of these agricultural commodities showing carcinogenic effects and kidney damage.
(Buy our Cardiology Coffee that does NOT contain mycotoxins, based on 3rd party testing).
But water damage can also lead to mold and ochratoxin A production. Studies and case reports bolster the position that water damaged buildings with high levels of the mold species behind this toxin could impact on individuals health.
Ochratoxin has been found in dust samples.
Ochratoxin has been found in wallpaper.
In a study comparing the urinary levels of ochratoxin in humans who had or hadn’t been exposed to water damaged buildings, the levels were statistically higher in those exposed.
Some studies indicate that this ochratoxin may be absorbed efficiently through the lung. In a rat study, rapid appearance of ochratoxin in the blood occurred with inhalation.
What Health Problems Come from Ochratoxin?
At Natural Heart Doctor, we see patients who often become quite ill upon moving into a home or changing jobs or maybe after a water damage event in their home. The change in health status is usually gradual with an accumulating variety of symptoms and progressing severities.
Tests on our patients indicate immune reactivity along with the presence of elevated urinary levels of the toxins (Buy your urine mycotoxin test here). Tests on their homes demonstrate elevated counts of mold spores with a presumption that mold toxins are also present (Buy a home test kit and perform yourself).
In our patients, we see a variety of symptoms from these ochratoxin exposures. Others do not have obvious symptoms, yet suffer heart attacks, strokes, Afib and heart failure. I think abnormal lipids and inflammation often have mold mycotoxins (and bacterial toxins from water damage) as a root cause.
As more research comes out, we will see that ochratoxin (and other mycotoxins) leads to:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attacks
- Coronary artery calcification
The first thing that ochratoxin does is damage the gut microbiome and lead to leaky gut. This leads to inflammation, oxidative stress and immune system activation. Simultaneously, there is damage to the cell membrane and mitochondria.
Ochratoxin A has been studied for a variety of disease processes affecting the kidneys and bladder, the reproductive system, cancer, the nervous system, and the immune system. The most studied system would have to be the kidneys, so all can agree that ochratoxin damages the kidneys.
Various cancers have been linked with ochratoxin including renal and testicular. Epidemiologic studies show that populations with higher ingestion of potentially contaminated foods like pork and coffee have higher rates of testicular cancer. In one study, animals exposed to this mycotoxin were found to have elevated levels of the toxin in the testes as well as higher DNA adducts (mutations) that could lead to cancer. Ochratoxin is linked to testicular cancer and low testosterone production.
The nervous system as a target of ochratoxin damage has come up in many studies. Various brain regions have been found to be affected including the cerebellar and hippocampus and in one study six areas were affected: “the cerebellum, hippocampus, caudate putamen, pons medulla, substantia nigra, and cerebral cortex”.
This study found that ochratoxin A is linked to Parkinson’s. Dopamine levels were decreased in the striatum with one exposure. In another study, “in vitro experiments have shown decreased proliferation of neural progenitor stem cells in the hippocampal region of mice after exposure”. They suggest that this could account for deficits in memory experienced by those exposed to ochratoxin.
Ochratoxin A has also been found toxic to the immune system in various studies. In studies, immune organs including spleen, the thymus, and lymph nodes have been found to be smaller. Antibody production to fight infections has also been decreased with alterations in the number of immune cells and the levels of their messengers, cytokines. Another study demonstrated a complex relationship between T regulatory cells of our immune system with Aspergillus and candida. Clearly, ochratoxin affects the immune system in adverse ways.
Test yourself for mycotoxins, if you have not done so, ASAP.
Please test your home ASAP, if you have not done so already, with the #8 swiffer HERE.
If you think you may be affected by living in a water-damaged home, we can help.
Start with a free discovery call to learn the next steps to heal and achieve the 100 Year Heart with clarity and vitality.