Addressing Mold Toxins when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance

Addressing Mold Toxins when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance

Addressing Mold Toxins was a game-changer for my Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance.

In fact, Mold Toxicity is the #1 Mast Cell Trigger I see in my practice. Over 80% of people in my practice have Mold Toxicity.

When I was really sick with Mold Toxicity, I truly struggled to just make it through the day. For a long time, I was barely working.

And just barely hanging on.

I couldn’t socialize because lights and sounds were painful. I had so many food intolerances that eating out was a no-go.

There were years when I had to sleep 12-14 hours a night. And then still struggled to get anything done in the day.

But when I started addressing my Mold Toxicity, I started getting my brain back. My energy started coming back.

I was able to handle talking to people again. Lights didn’t bother me so much. And I got my life back! I was able to build Mast Cell 360, something I dreamed about for years.

And I want this for you too. I want you to be able to get your health back. So that you can enjoy your life and follow your dreams.

Mold Toxins are one of the biggest root triggers of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. We need to be looking at this more carefully!

This article is on How to Address Mold Toxins.

For more about what mold toxins are and how to test for them, be sure to see Part 1 of this topic:

Mycotoxins and Mold: One of the Biggest Root Triggers for Mast Cell Activation | Histamine Intolerance

Why Mold Toxins (Mycotoxins) are Such a Big Trigger in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome

Some of the reasons why mycotoxins are a trigger for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome include their tendency to cause:

  • Immune Dysregulation
  • Mast Cell Activation
  • Parasympathetic and Vagus Nerve Disruptions
  • Methylation Dysregulation
  • Hormone Dysregulation
  • Low immunity – Inability to fight off infections
  • Gut Disruptions

This happens due to mold triggering something called the Cell Danger Response. This metabolic response in your body happens in order to protect your cells and you from harm.

This harm can also come from chronic infections from viruses and bacteria. And from toxins and chronic stress.

When these types of threats overwhelm your ability to adapt, the body pulls out all the stops.

Mold, viruses, and bacteria can hijack many processes in your body. Basically, they take over these processes for their own survival.

To fight back, the Cell Danger Response starts to

    • Reduce Methylation
    • Lower Vitamin D levels
    • Slow down methylation
    • Harden the cell membrane
    • Increase inflammation
    • Increase histamine
    • Increase mast cell activation
    • Slow toxic metal excretion
    • Alter the heme pathway
    • Change the gut balance (contributing to leaky gut)

The result is inflammation, immune reactions, a breakdown of tissues, and an all round state of emergency. This is all to prevent the mold, viruses, bacteria, toxins, etc. from killing you.

This is also why if you have Mold Toxicity, so many things can backfire.

Like addressing methylation right away – many people with Mold Toxicity don’t do well with methylation supports. Because this is going against where your body is in its protective process.

This is also why many people with Mold Toxicity have high metals. And low nutrients.

Also, this is why, if you take a bunch of medications to knock out your mast cell and histamine response, you often get much worse down the road. Because the medications will stop your mast cell defense response.

This is like knocking out the guards of a castle gate. Because that’s what the mast cells do. They protect you. And if you knock them out, then mold, viruses, and bacteria have free reign in your body.

This is why, if you have Mold Toxicity, you have to address mold toxins first. Before addressing methylation. Before knocking out all the histamine and mast cell responses.

If you have Mold Toxicity, it is very hard to get these things in check before you address the mold:

  • Chronic EBV infections
  • Chronic Lyme and coinfections
  • SIBO and other gut issues
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Sleep issues
  • Mast Cell Activation
  • Histamine Intolerance
  • Salicylate Intolerance
  • Subclinical Porphyria

Let’s look next at how to address mold if you have Mast cell Activation Syndrome.

Addressing Mold Toxins Has to Be Done Differently in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome

Practitioners will often start out by putting people with chronic illness on some type of detox or antimicrobial protocol.

This may be to deal with parasites, Lyme disease, or Mold Toxicity.

One of the major issues I see with those protocols for people with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome is that these protocols are often done too aggressively.

This can set up for even further mast cell activation.

The reason for that is that when you kill off a pathogen like mold with antifungals, more mold toxins are then released.

Those mold toxins are very harmful to the body and tend to trigger mast cell activation. Particularly if the detox pathways haven’t been supported properly.

I often see this with patients who come into my practice: They’ve had really bad results with detox and antimicrobial protocols in the past.

I often also see people put on antimicrobials without any binders on board first. Or without addressing constipation first.

This all can cause mold toxins to build up in the body. And cause what is often called a Die-off or Herx reaction.

Many times people are told to push through a Die-off or Herx reaction. But that is a bad idea when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.

These Die-off or Herx reactions are an indication that your body is in a toxic state. And can set off months of mast cell flares. So, let’s look at what to do differently.

Microdosing

First, a very important part of detoxification protocols for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome is the concept of microdosing.

For those with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, we want to start any type of supplement in very tiny quantities, like a sprinkle of a supplement powder instead of starting with a half or a whole capsule.

This is for two reasons:

  1. A person with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome can react to anything. So, if you are going to react, you would rather have the level of a reaction to a sprinkle of that supplement, rather than the level of reaction you would have to a whole capsule.
  2. When mast cells get dysregulated, like in Mold Toxicity, they will start firing at anything new. So, if you’re adding in a new supplement, it’s often much more effective to start with tiny quantities, like a sprinkle in a glass of water, and slowly build from there. That way, you can get the new supplement on board without the mast cells targeting it as an enemy.

Right Order for Detox

Detoxification protocols have to be done in the right order for those with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.

In the paragraphs that follow, I’ll lay out steps that will help guide you in doing a mold detox protocol in the right order.

However, these protocols need to be tailored specifically for your case, including:

  • your symptoms
  • your specific mold toxins
  • your genetics
  • your detox pathways
  • your ability to eliminate toxins

Make sure to discuss all of this with your healthcare practitioner.

This isn’t something to DIY because mold toxin protocols can be quite complex.

I want to lay this all out so that you can start a dialogue with your healthcare practitioner.

I also want to help you understand what might have gone wrong if detox protocols have not worked well for you in the past.

The 7 Stages of Mold Detoxification in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome

After working with hundreds of people with Mold Toxicity, as well as addressing it for myself, I’ve found these 7 stages to be most effective when dealing with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and corresponding issues like Histamine Intolerance.

I want to thank Dr. Neil Nathan who’s been a huge contributor to this area, especially in teaching practitioners how to work with those with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and significant sensitivities.

This information came out of an extensive research project on the Detoxification of Mold toxins by Dr. Neil Nathan, Emily Givler, and myself.

Here are the 7 Stages of Mold Detoxification in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome:

1. Identify which Mycotoxins you are dealing with – It’s important to know which specific toxins you’re dealing with (through testing) because this changes which supplements are used at which stage.

2. Nervous System Supports — Mold toxins cause vagal nerve, parasympathetic, and limbic system disruptions. We need to support the nervous system from three different angles:

    1. Active/Conscious support like The Gupta Program
    2. Passive/Receptive support like BrainTap
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    3. Structural Vagal Nerve Supports like the exercises in the book, Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve by Stanley Rosenberg. Also, modalities like craniosacral therapy can be very helpful. Sometimes people need multiple types of modalities here.This is the single most important beginning phase. So, if this phase is skipped, the mold detox protocol will not go as well or be as effective. This is because mold toxins significantly affect the nervous system. And if the nervous system is still dysregulated, you will likely have trouble getting supplements on board.

3. Elimination – Addressing Constipation and Water Consumption – All toxins are eliminated both through the urine and through the stool, which is why it’s extremely important to drink enough water and to have regular daily bowel movements.

  • Water consumption during detoxification should be at least half your body weight in ounces.
    • For example, if you weigh 150lbs, you’re going to want to drink 75 ounces of water a day.
    • Any caffeine containing drinks won’t count toward that, because caffeine actually uses up water to be processed. So, it needs to be pure water or herbal teas.
  • Addressing constipation as neededMagnesium Oxide works as a natural laxative. (15% off of all supplements in the Fullscript store when registering with the link above.)With vagal nerve issues, Parasym Plus™ can be helpful. (Coupon code mastcell360 for 10% off Parasym Plus)

4. Supporting Mast Cells – Mast cells become so dysregulated from mold toxins. This is what contributes to all the Mast Cell Activation type symptoms in Mold Toxicity. So, we want to use some things that help calm the mast cells down.

You can learn more about these in the Top 8 Mast Cell Supporting Supplements MasterClass here:

Click Here to Register for the Supplement Master Class

Once you’ve worked on the nervous system, optimized elimination, and have given the mast cells some support, then you can move into the binder phase.

5. Targeted Binders – Certain binders bind different types of mold toxins better than others. This is why it’s really important to make sure that you have tested your mycotoxins and that you know what you’re dealing with – the two tests we talked about in the last blog post.

Some of the more common toxins that we see, along with their binders, are listed below:

  • Saccharomyces Boulardi binds:
    • Gliotoxin
  • Bentonite Clay Binds:
    • Gliotoxin
    • Aflatoxin
    • Trichotecene

Great Plains Bentonite

  • Activated Charcoal Binds
    •  Aflaxton
    • Ochratoxin
    • Trichothecene
      Chlorella Binds
    • Aflaxton

  • Glucomannan Binds
    • Aflaxton
    • Ochratoxin
    • Trichothecene

It’s important to note that Zeolites will also bind metals. So, we often have to be careful, particularly with the zeolite. I always recommend adding zeolite after other binders are on board.

And I recommend starting everything slowly. If you start feeling worse, back off. This is because, if you start to have a Herx reaction or a “die off” reaction, that’s an indication that you’re moving into a toxic state where your body is overwhelmed with more toxins than it can handle and you’re having a mast cell flare.

Those mast cell flares can turn into a cascade that goes on for several weeks or months. So, we want to go slowly.

My motto in any type of detox in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome is, “Slow is Fast, but Fast will be slow.” If we try to go fast, it’s going to be slow because you can set yourself back several months if you try to go too fast.

So, when you’re thinking about the timeline for mold detoxification, it’s all dependent on a few things:

  • How much you have going on
  • How much exposure there’s been
  • How sensitive you are
        •  

You’re looking at anywhere from 3 months on the very short end to 6 months or possibly a year or more – depending on what’s going on.

Another thing to keep in mind with binders is that they don’t necessarily bind strongly. Meaning that they don’t just bind these toxins and then never let them go.

Binders have different strengths for different toxins. They may bind some toxins more strongly and others more weakly.

Those that are bound more weakly can be dropped in the body where they end up circulating again. This is why binders can cause reactions for some people.

So, this is why you want to go slow – only doing what you can tolerate.

And sometimes you may have to do just a little sprinkle of a binder once every other day, or every third day, and that’s okay.

Everyone has to find their way through. This is why it’s a very good reason to work with a practitioner who can help you troubleshoot these things.

6. Supporting Needed Detox Pathways – Different types of mycotoxins are eliminated through different types of detox pathways.

You might have heard of glutathione – it’s often used for different types of detoxification protocols. Glutathione does work for a few mold toxins, but it’s not the primary detoxification method for most mold toxins.

Most mold toxins are actually detoxed via a pathway called glucuronidation.

Glucuronidation is the detox pathway for these mold toxins:

  • Alternaniol
  • DON
  • Mycophenolic acid
  • Ochratoxin
  • Riordin E
  • Sterigmatocystin
  • T-2 Trichothecenes
  • Verrucarin A
  • Zearalenone
        •  

Whereas, glutathione will detox:

  • Aflatoxin B1
  • Ochratoxin

And then there are some more minor detox pathways, like sulfation, methylation, conjugation, acetylation, and amino acid conjugation that may be involved as well.

Because glucuronidation is the most common detox pathway for mold toxins, I like to support it with:

  • Calcium D-glucarate – May help increase glucuronidation. It needs to be used cautiously in people who have low estrogen and have hot flashes. If you do start to have hot flashes, it’s important to lower the dose because it can also bind estrogen.

  • Dandelion – Can increase an enzyme that’s involved in glucuronidation. It also increases antioxidants in the body to fight inflammation and other important detox pathways.

  • Astaxanthin – May increase an enzyme that’s involved in glucuronidation. It also increases antioxidants in the body to fight inflammation.

  • Pterostilbene – May help increase glucuronidation activity. It also has strong anti-inflammatory activity.

These have all been shown in published research to be helpful with glucuronidation.

Again, be sure to work with your healthcare practitioner on all this.

7. Antifungals The last step you would do in a mold detoxification protocol would be to bring in antifungals. The reason to do this after you’ve gone through the previous stages is that once you start taking the antifungals, it’s going to start killing off any kind of mold colonized in your body.

Some people just have mold toxins. They don’t have mold colonization. If this is you, you will likely feel dramatically different with just binders and a little detox support. If that’s the case, then antifungals aren’t needed. But for those who don’t feel significantly better at this point, they may need to work with their health care practitioners on this last phase.

Many of these products do double and triple duty as they also kill bacteria and viruses. This is why we want to go slow with them. Some of the antifungals you can get easily over the counter are Biocidin and Argentyn 23.

  • Biocidin is a combination of herbs that have been shown in research to be very effective against mold toxins, viruses, and bacteria. Usually people start with the Biocidin liquid, then graduate to the Liposomal Formula.

  • Argentyn 23 is a form of nanoparticle silver. It’s also been effective against molds, viruses, and bacteria. It’s very important to use a nano particle silver like Argentyn 23, rather than a colloidal silver. You want the smaller particle sizes so they don’t accumulate in the body, which could cause Silver toxicity.

 

Why to Work with a Mold/Mast Cell Specialist if you have Mold Toxicity and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome

As I’ve emphasized throughout this article, detoxing mold isn’t something you want to tackle on your own.

Any type of detoxification is going to need to be done extremely slowly so that your body doesn’t overreact. You want to release the stored toxins just a little bit at a time.

Overwhelming your body with too much mycotoxin release all at once is just going to cause more Mast Cell Activation.

This is something that needs to be done with a customized plan and monitoring through each stage of the protocol.

Please seek out a Mold/Mast Cell Specialist you trust to help you through the phases of detox and keep your body in balance along the way!

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References on Mold Toxins and How They Affect Mast Cell Activation and Histamine Intolerance

Bankova, L. G. et al. (2016). The leukotriene E4 receptor, GPR99 mediates mast cell-dependent mucosal responses to the mold allergen, alternaria alternata. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 137(2).

Kritas, S. K., Gallenga, C. E., D Ovidio, C., Ronconi, G., Caraffa, A. l., Toniato, E., Lauritano, D., & Conti, P. (2018). Impact of mold on mast cell-cytokine immune response. Journal of biological regulators and homeostatic agents, 32(4), 763–768.

Nathan, N. (2018). Category: Mast Cell Activation. Retrieved from: https://neilnathanmd.com/category/mast-cell-activation/

Nathan, N. (2020). Mold & mycotoxins: Effective testing & treatment.

Nathan, N. (2018) Evaluation & treatment of Mold Toxicity with the use of mycotoxin assays.

Nathan, N. (2018). Toxic: Heal your body from Mold Toxicity, lyme disease, multiple chemical sensitivities, and chronic environmental illness. Victory Belt Publishing.

Naviaux, R. K. (2014). Metabolic features of the cell danger response. Mitochondrion, 16, 7–17. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mito.2013.08.006

Naviaux, R. K. (2020). Perspective: Cell danger response Biology—The new science that connects environmental health with mitochondria and the rising tide of chronic illness. Mitochondrion, 51, 40–45. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mito.2019.12.005

Comments

  1. Abigail

    I’ve been diagnosed with CIRS and MCAS, and I’m scheduled for my first appointment with you soon. My major scary symptom is systemic swelling, and it’s taken a sharp turn for the worst in the last week. I’m taking cholestyramine and I’m hopefully now in a mold-free environment (was exposed to mold for many many years), though I’m searching for housing guaranteed clean. I am on mast cell stabilizers— 4mg twice daily ketotifen and up to 8mg of gastrocom daily. I take pea soothe support, Low dose naltrexone, montaleucast 10mg once daily, dci, lovaza fish oil 4 daily with meals, vitamin d with k2, ortho digestzyme, magnesium l-threonate, and triple mag plus. I use compounded hydroxycobalamin transdermal cream daily. About to start a bioavailable iron supplement. Of course have a very leaky gut and am avoiding allergenic foods. I’m so worried about my swelling. I get daily professional lymphatic drainage. Yet it’s only slowing down a worsening progression. I’m extremely scared. If I’m in a safe environment now then why am I swelling more. Is my detox somehow too strong, or could my safe housing be moldy? I’m so confused and scared. I think that supporting glucoronidation would be good, but I don’t know how (I was exposed to a huge host of different mycotoxins). I’m also known to have poor glutathione detox based on genetics and available detected levels. I’m at a loss as to what to do.

    1. Beth O'Hara

      Abigail,
      It’s very hard to say without knowing your case, but it is possible you might be detoxing too quickly. I’d really recommend having someone who specializing in mold toxicity and mast cell activation step you through this, if you don’t have someone already. It’s very difficult to DIY, and it sounds like some direct support could help a lot.
      I find most people with mast cell activation do better with SPMs rather than fish oil. I don’t know if this will be the case for you, but something to consider and look into.
      Here is a link to the SPMs I mentioned, if you want to look into it. You can also get 15% off anything at Fullscript anytime when you register with this link:
      https://us.fullscript.com/product_cards/90546/redirect?store_slug=mastcell360
      I hope you are feeling much better soon!

  2. Brenda Schwieterman

    This was a very helpful article. I read Dr. Neil Nathan’s book, TOXIC, last summer. Immediately, I started using activated charcoal, bentonite clay and an infrared sauna. I made quite a bit of headway, but felt I needed legit support. I found a doctor on his website that was a 2 hour drive from my house. I had a mycotoxin test done prior to the COVID lockdown and have added compounded cholestyramine (1/32 tsp/day) as an additional binder and compounded Loratadine as an anti-histamine. Sadly, I can’t seem to tolerate the sauna with all of the binders. I am horribly frustrated with the overload of toxins and the mast cell activation and I often feel drunk, dizzy and depressed. I have so many food sensitivities and can only eat meat, fish, veggies and low-glycemic fruits. I can tolerate a little bit of vinegar in my salad dressing. Often I feel as though I will never get better. I need hope. Will this go away if I keep plugging away with these tools? I am 55 and was exposed to mold 3.5 years while teaching in a temporary school building for 1.5 years (total of 13 months, actually). I started having symptoms immediately and 2.5 years ago, Annie Hopper’s DNRS program helped calm down my nervous system. I want so much out of life and yet too often I just feel terrible. I also have high homocysteine and am taking B vitamins and folate to bring that down with the hope of eventually taking SAM-e for my undermethylation. Do you have any additional advice for me? I just want energy, focus, and the ability to eat eggs, chocolate, seeds, nuts and coffee. But, I’m losing my patience.

    1. Beth O'Hara

      Brenda, I’m really glad you found a practitioner close to you. It’s very common for people with mast cell activation to not tolerate sauna because heat is a common mast cell trigger. I had over 20 years of toxic mold exposure myself, and it look me much longer than 3 years to recover, and I’m still getting the last out of my system. If you can be patient, the vast majority of people can heal. You likely need more nervous system supports than just DNRS. People do much better when they address the nervous system from numerous angles and work on it daily. I’d recommend looking into the things below as well before you go forward on more detox.
      Brain Tap: https://braintap.com/15-day-gift/#a_aid=2004BEOH&a_bid=72e6afc5
      and Accessing the Power of the Vagal Nerve: https://www.amazon.com/Accessing-Healing-Power-Vagus-Nerve/dp/1623170249/ref=as_li_ss_tl?crid=1MY26BRUOUKCO&dchild=1&keywords=accessing+the+healing+power+of+the+vagus+nerve&qid=1589506752&sprefix=accessing+the+healing+,aps,156&sr=8-1&linkCode=sl1&tag=bethohara09-20&linkId=8dca4471673b3a274d256b65f3b691d0&language=en_US

  3. Evelyn

    Could you please advise which binders to use for mycophenolic acids and citrinin molds? Also how long does one have to wait after taking activated charcoal before taking other supplements.? Many thanks. Evelyn

    1. Beth O'Hara

      Evelyn
      The binders for Citrinin and Mycophenolic aren’t known for sure yet. It is quite probable that the other binders listed are effective, though. Binders need to be taken 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals/medications/supplements.

  4. Rachel Christenson

    What pathway does gliotoxin go through? I do not see that listed in the glucuronidation pathway or glutathione pathway. I had an equivocal result on my most recent mycotoxin test.

    1. Suz, Mast Cell 360 Team

      Hi Rachel,
      It isn’t known at this time.

  5. Michelle

    Is it possible that healing mold toxicity will heal my pet allergies or are pet allergies more genetics than toxin related? I have a dog that I’m highly allergic to. My mom said I was born with allergies and I would always get rashes to grass. When I first got him five years ago I managed my symptoms with Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra which I rotated or else they would stop working. I really wanted a dog and I wasn’t going to pet allergies get in my way but that was before I knew about the repercussions of using medication to manage symptoms: Eventually the medications stopped working and I was put on Flonase because I was wheezing when around him. I ended up starting to have sleep issues probably because of histamine intolerance since I keep exposing to him everyday. I’ve tried bathing him every week with microbe mold solution, I have an air doctor I run all day, I vacuum and still react with sneezing, congestion. I guess I’m just needing to know can I support genetic pathways and live with my dog? I have to consider this before rehoming him.

    1. Suz, Mast Cell 360 Team

      Hi Michelle,
      Beth says:
      “I’m a dog lover myself, and I understand. Often with addressing mold toxicity, allergies improve. But it can be different case by case. You may need to work on mast cell supporting supplements.”

      Did you see the Supplements Master Class yet? If not, you can check that out here:https://mastcell360.com/courses/top-8-mast-cell-supporting-supplements/

      Best regards,
      Suz, MC360 Team

  6. Debbie

    Hi Beth,

    Your website and blog postings have been invaluable to me. I have followed Dr. Nathan for about 4 years as well. Do you have a recommendation for a good brand of spirulina? I also have mold biotoxin illness which was diagnosed in early 2016. It’s definitely a journey. I just started the Gupta Brain Retraining Program and have incorporated the vagus nerve exercises in Stanley Rosenberg’s book. I am finding both of these very beneficial. I tried Brain Tap and it didn’t work as well as pure meditation does for me. Any help finding a good source to purchase spirulina would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for all you do!

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