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Mold Mycotoxin: Ochratoxin and Your Heart

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mold in a cup of coffee

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 air samples.

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. 

Cardiovascular

As more research comes out, we will see that ochratoxin (and other mycotoxins) leads to: 

  1. High blood pressure
  2. Heart attacks
  3. Strokes
  4. DVT/PE
  5. Afib
  6. Cardiomyopathy
  7. 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.

Kidneys

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. 

Cancer

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. 

Brain

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.

Immune

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.

Next Steps

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. 

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He heals the body, instead of just treating the symptoms!

With his professional qualifications as a certified family nurse practitioner, a doctor of chiropractic, and a fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture, Dr. Smigiel offers patients comprehensive care from a broad perspective of conventional and alternative medicine. He also has extensive experience in functional rehabilitation and chronic pain management.

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About Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

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Dr. James Kneller is one of the nation’s leading heart rhythm specialists. Dr. Kneller is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular Disease, and Internal Medicine.

As a Fellow of the Heart Rhythm Society (FHRS) and Certified Cardiac Device Specialist (CCDS), Kneller provides comprehensive patient care, combining best medical practice with invasive procedures using state-of-the-art technologies to treat heart rhythm disorders.

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About Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD, FACC

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As a Naturopathic Physician, I am trained to treat the whole person and get to the root cause of disease.

I went to Arizona State University where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a depth in physiology and minor in Spanish. After my undergraduate degree I was working on prerequisite classes towards medical school, which is when I came to learn that my values identified best with the principles of naturopathic medicine. I knew that I wanted to help patients identify the causes of disease and be able to offer treatments which would improve their health rather than simply treating symptoms.

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About Dr. Jack Wolfson DO, FACC

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Dr. Jack Wolfson is a board-certified cardiologist, Amazon best-selling author, husband, father, and the nation’s #1 Natural Heart Doctor.

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Dr. Wolfson and his wife Heather have four children and are committed to making the world a better place to live. They provide for those in need (including animals) and support natural health causes through their philanthropic efforts.

Chiropractic

Our chiropractor is an expert at adjustments and holistic chiropractic care and works closely in conjunction with the other health care experts at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

IV Therapy

We use specially formulated natural vitamins and minerals that are injected into a vein to prevent or treat dehydration. Ideal for people in Arizona.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Acupuncture

Stimulate your body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being with acupuncture at Natural Heart Doctor.

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Health Coaching

Our health coaches use evidence based skillful conversation, clinical interventions, and strategies to engage you actively and safely in health behavior changes.

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Cardio Tests

We use the most advanced testing in the world to assess heart health and to identify the root cause of your health issues.

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Office Visits

Schedule an office visit with one of our cardiologists, holistic physicians, chiropractor, or health coaches.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’d like to receive an online second opinion from Natural Heart Doctor. What do I do next?

You can initiate a second opinion online through our website at any time. To begin, select the team member you’d like to speak with and open an account.

Click here for cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Lauren Lattanza. Get details.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Tonia Rainier. Get details.

Click here for  Natural Heart Doctor Health Coach.

Alternatively, you can email health@naturalheartdoctor.com. A member of our care team will help guide you through the process of starting a second opinion.

What is the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

The cost for most second opinions varies by team member. This fee includes information collection, a phone or video consultation, a second opinion from a Natural Heart Doctor specialist and guidance throughout the process from your personal Care Team at Natural Heart Doctor.

Cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson’s Second Opinion Fee is $1500.

Holistic Physician’s Dr. Lauren Lattanza’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Naturopathic Physician Dr. Tonia Rainier’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Note: We apply the Online Second Opinion Call fee as a credit to any future consultations with Natural Heart Doctor, should you choose them.

Will my insurance cover the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

Most likely, no. Most health plans do not cover online second opinions or consultations. You are responsible for the cost of our second opinion. Natural Heart Doctor cannot file a claim with your insurance carrier, nor can we provide a procedure (CPT) code for this service.

What is the timeline to receive an online second opinion?

We do our best to schedule your second opinion as quickly as possible. Typically, it takes 5 to 7 business days after your information has been collected to receive your phone or video online second opinion.

What information do you need in advance of our call?

Our office will send you a short questionnaire to complete and return. We DO NOT need your complete medical records.

How many questions can I ask the expert during our call?

You may ask a maximum of five questions. This is to ensure that the expert has sufficient time to devote to each question. All questions must be finalized before your online meeting.

What should I expect to receive once my second opinion is complete?

You will receive a summary of our discussion along with our second opinion. The second opinion will be in written form. After you have reviewed the second opinion, a Natural Heart Doctor clinician will follow up with you by phone to address general medical questions about the information provided in the second opinion.

What if I have follow-up questions for the expert after I have reviewed my second opinion?

If you have a clarifying question about an expert’s response to one of the questions in your second opinion, and the Natural Heart Doctor clinician is unable to address it, then you may request a follow up session for an additional fee. 

Is my medical and payment information secure?

Natural Heart Doctor is strongly committed to protecting the privacy and security of all our patients. Our website meets all federal requirements for protecting personal health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All financial transactions are processed by Natural Heart Doctor securely using industry standard payment processing tools.

I would rather visit Natural Heart Doctor for an in-person appointment. What should I do next?

If you would prefer an in-person appointment at Natural Heart Doctor instead of an online second opinion, please call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Can I schedule a follow up appointment with the specialist who provided my online second opinion?

Yes, we’re happy to help you on an extended basis. Our clinician can discuss options with you when presenting our second opinion summary.