cleaning up mold

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

It took me nearly 2 decades to figure out my biggest root triggers for my own Mast Cell Activation and Histamine Intolerance. I have had all the Root Triggers I discuss here. But Mold Toxicity has been one of the worst for me.

And I see it in about 80% of those in my practice who have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance.

Mold Toxins are behind most of these symptoms I see:

  • ice pick” or “lightning bolt” pains
  • supplement sensitivities
  • food sensitivities like salicylate intolerance
  • dry eyes or blurred vision
  • difficulty regulating body temperature (too hot or too cold)
  • a higher number of static shocks
  • muscle cramps from electrolyte disturbances
  • digestive issues
  • joint pain
  • cognitive issues, including mood swings
  • numbness and tingling
  • inability to detox
  • weakened immune system
  • catching every infection
  • slow or difficulty healing

I myself developed mold sensitivity as a child

When I was seven years old, my family moved into an old farmhouse in the country. At that time, my health slowly started to go downhill. 

We wouldn’t know until later that that farmhouse was full of toxic mold.

Then I had more mold exposure as an adult. 

I became so ill, I was bedridden. And you may know already – I had to use a cane to walk by the time I was 28 years old.

The health issues started as difficulty paying attention in school and a weakened immune system. Because my immune system was compromised, I ended up with Lyme disease and other co-infections. 

I also had a brain injury at age 9. And the mold toxicity prevented me from being able to heal. 

Mold toxicity can cause a huge number of seemingly random symptoms

Some of the symptoms I had were: 

  • bizarre and excruciating “ice pick” or “lightning bolt” pains 
  • really dry eyes that weren’t helped by eye drops
  • major blood sugar issues
  • elevated thyroid antibodies
  • a host of other health issues

By the time I was 12, if I didn’t eat breakfast right away, I would black out and feel like I was going to pass out.

By the time I reached my early 20s, I had to eat every two hours in order to keep my blood sugar steady. This was because of the mold’s effect on my pancreas.

Have you ever dealt with that?

The longer the mold stayed in my body, the more toxins it produced. The mold had actually colonized my body, just like what can happen with bacterial or viral infections. But a mold infection is a type of fungal infection.

Next, let’s look at what mold toxins are…

What Are Mold Toxins and How Do They Affect Mast Cell Activation and Histamine Intolerance?

The toxins produced by mold in your body are called “mycotoxins.” “Myco” comes from the Greek word for “fungus.”

As the mycotoxins build up in your body, you can develop more and more health issues. 

There are a number of different types of mold toxins or mycotoxins. These are some of the major categories: 

  • Trichothecenes — Especially toxic to the body. Black mold produces several of these. This toxin can come from Fusarium and Stachybotrys molds and others. This category includes around 170 different toxins, which grow on plant material or soil. They can cause bleeding disorders and nervous system issues. They affect the skin, GI tract, breathing, lungs, and sinuses. They can damage blood producing cells.
  • Ochratoxins — One of the most common mycotoxins in food. Includes aspergillus and penicillium species. Also common in water-damaged homes and in heating ducts. It’s toxic to the immune system, liver, and kidneys. It can also be cancer-causing. They can increase UTI issues.
  • Gliotoxins — Comes from Aspergillus and Candida. This is the most common mold toxin causing disease in humans. It can significantly affect the immune system. It can also cause problems with the lungs, brain, and bone marrow. It has been linked to brain and lung tumors.
  • Aflatoxins — Commonly found in plant foods like peanuts. Meat or dairy from animals who have eaten aflatoxin-contaminated feed may also contain this mycotoxin. Aflatoxin exposure has been linked to kidney problems and liver issues, including jaundice and hepatitis. It has also been associated with lung cancers.
  • Mycophenolic acid — Produced by the Penicillium mold. It suppresses the immune system and increases a person’s risk for infections like Clostridia and Candida. Exposure during pregnancy may lead to birth defects or miscarriage.
  • Citrinin — Produced by a few types of mold like Aspergillus and Penicillium. Exposure suppresses the immune system. It may also cause damage to the kidneys. Animal studies indicate it could cause cancer.

You can see how dangerous these mycotoxins are for the body in general. 

They also act as a trigger for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance. This is how:

  • They dysregulate and dampen the immune response
  • They disrupt hormones
  • They significantly disrupt the nervous system
  • They clog up detox pathways

Each of these areas affects the others because each of these body systems is affected by mold and because each affects the others, mold toxins can create complex problems in the body. 

The body also starts to enter something called the “Cell Danger Response.” This is where a bunch of pathways in the body start to shut down to prevent the mold from spreading. 

The body moves from “fight or flight” to FREEZE. 

As a result, you may have been told you have methylation issues, or sulfur issues, or mitochondria issues. Everything’s just been shut down. The body is trying to protect itself.

These changes happen in the body:

  • Vitamin D activation reduced
  • Glutathione production reduced
  • Methylation pathway dysfunction
  • Increases of histamine and mast cell activation
  • Dysregulation of the heme pathway
  • Decrease of serotonin and melatonin production
  • Reductions in heavy metal clearance
  • Disruptions to the GI tract
  • Cell wall hardens 

One of the major problems happening in healthcare is addressing these upstream issues before addressing the ROOT Factors.

Some practitioners will want to jump in and help you with methylation or processing sulfur, or clearing metals. However, if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance, you might actually get worse!

It’s important to address the root trigger (mold in this case) before tinkering with these pathways.

These changes from the Cell Danger Response are ways the body keeps pathogens like mold from spreading.

If you start working upstream on fixing methylation or taking a lot of mast cell stabilizing medications, the Mold infection now has an easier time spreading.

And this just causes the mast cells to become more imbalanced and to produce more and more inflammation. 

And then you get more and more Mast Cell symptoms. Examples include:

  • Respiratory issues like sinusitis, bronchitis, coughs, aggravation of asthma
  • Neurological issues like sleep problems, brain fog, headaches, fatigue, and nausea
  • More food sensitivities
  • Worse GI issues

All things you don’t want.

How do you Get Mold Toxicity?

I’ve talked a lot about other triggers for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance in the past. However, mold toxicity is a trigger that we need to focus on much more.

I didn’t even realize until a couple years ago how big of a problem this is.

But first, you need to now…how do you even get mold toxicity?

The main way is through environmental exposure. This could be from living in a moldy house, working in a moldy building, or even attending a moldy school.

Why are buildings so moldy these days? Well, partly because building codes changed in the 1970s. 

During that time, efforts were made to make buildings more energy-efficient. To accomplish this, buildings were constructed to be more air-tight. 

The changes were great for reducing energy use and energy cost. However, with all the cracks and crevices sealed, condensation and moisture were also sealed in the walls and in the home. 

This increased the tendency for mold to grow. 

Other potential contributing factors or sources of mold exposure include:

  • Living in a humid area (the coast, the South… anywhere besides the desert)
  • Leaking pipes (even very slow leaks of a drop a minute or so)
  • Air conditioning units (especially window units and evaporative cooling aka “swamp coolers”)
  • Humidifiers attached to furnaces
  • Water exposure in a car (windows left down)

And children are much more susceptible to mold toxicity. We’ve seen a big uptick in the past 20 years in young kids with mold toxin issues.

Now, people also ask me about mold toxins in foods.

It’s not as common to get mold poisoning from food, particularly in Western countries. 

A few hundred years ago, mold poisoning through food was more common. 

In the 1500s and 1600s, a fungus called ergot was found in rye. When people ate the contaminated rye, they would have brain symptoms like hallucinations, convulsions, and irrational behavior. 

In fact, some people got charged with being witches –simply from the effects of mold poisoning.

Our foods are now tested thoroughly for mold. However, it’s possible that something could occasionally slip through testing. Additionally, if you’re really mold-sensitive, you could react to certain foods that have trace amounts of mold. 

Some of the foods to look out for include:

  • peanuts
  • coffee
  • grains
  • nuts
  • beer and wine
  • hard cheeses

But in general, Western foods are going to be pretty safe.

Keep in mind that if you are traveling to less developed countries, you’ll have to be much more careful. Their mycotoxin food testing is not going to be as accurate or consistent.

Next, let’s look at how to find out whether you have mold toxicity.

How do you Test for Mold Toxicity if you have Mast Cell Activation or Histamine Intolerance?

We can test for mold toxins in a number of different ways. However, the two main types that tend to be used are blood testing and urine testing.

The blood testing will look for whether you have antibodies to mold toxins in your bloodstream. This is great for determining whether you have current exposure to mold. 

It shows the immune system’s response to the mold species and toxins. It can be helpful if urine testing is negative.

Urine testing shows what levels of mold toxins are currently being excreted by the body.

Urine gives us an idea of where to start for the mold and mycotoxin detox. Because you can start with supports targeted at the highest levels of mold toxins.  And the urine testing can help with how the supports may need to be increased or decreased overtime. 

Unfortunately, there’s no single panel that is excellent at detecting all the mold markers in one test.

For that reason, I use two urine lab tests side by side: The Great Plains Mycotoxin test and the RealTime Mycotoxin test.

  • The Great Plains Mycotoxin testing method seems to be better at detecting ochratoxins, mycophenolic acid, and citrinin. 
  • The RealTime Mycotoxin test is more sensitive for trichothecenes, gliotoxins, and aflatoxins.

The two tests complement each other. So, when they are used together, we can get a more complete picture of the molds and mycotoxins affecting the body. 

Let’s look at both of these tests in more detail.

Great Plains Mycotoxin Test

Here’s a sample of a Great Plains Mycotoxin test:

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

Here is where you can get the test:

>>>>Order Great Plains Mycotoxin (US) here 

>>>>Order Great Plains Mycotoxin (Canada) here

This test checks for 11 different types of mycotoxins coming from 40 species of mold. The mycotoxins tested include the following:

Mold Toxins Being Tested:

  • Aflatoxin M1 (AFM1)
  • Ochratoxin A (OTA)
  • Sterigmatocystin (STG)
  • Roridin E
  • Verrucarin A
  • Enniatin B1
  • Zearalenone
  • Gliotoxin
  • Mycophenolic Acid
  • Citrinin
  • Chaetoglobosin A

Fasting is not required and the turnaround time is usually 21 days. 

RealTime Mycotoxin Panel

Here’s a sample of a RealTime Mycotoxin Panel:

Realtime Sample Mycotoxin Test Mast Cell 360

Not available in New York, New Jersey, or Rhode Island

>>>>>Order the RealTime Mycotoxin Panel here

This test checks for the following mold toxins:

  • Ochratoxins
  • Trichothecenes:
    • Satratoxin G
    • Satratoxin H
    • Isosatratoxin F
    • Roridin A
    • Roridin E
    • Roridin H
    • Roridin L-2
    • Verrucarin A
    • Verrucarin J
  • Aflatoxins:
    • Aflatoxin B1
    • Aflatoxin B2
    • Aflatoxin G1
    • Aflatoxin G2
  • Gliotoxin 

Fasting is not required and the turnaround time is usually 7-10 business days.

How to Provoke a Mycotoxin Test if you have Mast Cell Activation or Histamine Intolerance

Now, to make sure the testing is accurate, it’s helpful to gently provoke the mold detox pathways.

Again, I really want to emphasize, this MUST be done GENTLY.

With Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance, we never want to push detox pathways too hard because we can trigger a major flare.

However, we can start to gently provoke.

The reason we need to provoke is because mold toxins tend to be stored in our tissues –particularly, our fat tissues. These mold toxins are not good for the body. So, the body doesn’t want the mold toxins circulating in the urine. That’s why they’re safely stored away.

But, we can get more reliable results by gently provoking by either sweating (if tolerated) or by taking some glutathione. Or both if possible.

But, you don’t want to do anything that you know triggers you. So, if you know that sweating is a trigger for you, then skip that part. If you know you don’t do well on glutathione, then skip that part.

If you could do both, that’s ideal. But you have to do what’s tolerable for your body.

Here are guidelines I use for provocation for Mycotoxin testing. But you have to look at it and see what would work for you.

***Be sure to discuss with your healthcare provider***

MycoToxin Provocation Guidelines – Great Plains Mycotoxins

If you are testing both Great Plains and RealTime Mycotoxins tests, you want to do the Great Plains first.

Here are the steps.

  1. Be sure to stop taking all binders 3 days before you do the urine collection.

Binders are things like Activated Charcoal, GI Detox, Bentonite Clay, Humic/Fulvic Acid, Diatomaceous Earth, Chlorella, etc.

  1. If you can tolerate heat, then you can do Sauna (10-30 minutes) or hot bath (30 minutes) to sweat. If tolerated, sweat 2 to 3 times throughout the week. And your last day of sweating would be the day before collection. Then collect your first morning urine.

If you feel worse- achiness, fatigue, brain fog or any increase in symptoms not explained by something else, stop and collect first morning urine the next day.

MycoToxin Provocation Guidelines – RealTime Mycotoxins

If you are testing both Great Plains and RealTime Mycotoxins tests, you want to do the RealTime provocation after you finish the Great Plains test.

Here are the steps.

  1. Be sure to stop taking all binders 3 days before you do the urine collection.

Binders are things like Activated Charcoal, GI Detox, Bentonite Clay, Humic/Fulvic Acid, Diatomaceous Earth, Chlorella, etc.

  1. If you can tolerate heat, then you can do Sauna (10-30 minutes) or hot bath (30 minutes) to sweat. If tolerated, sweat 2 to 3 times throughout the week you are on glutathione. And your last day of sweating would be the day before collection. Then collect your first morning urine.

If you feel worse- achiness, fatigue, brain fog or any increase in symptoms not explained by something else, stop and collect first morning urine the next day.

  1. For the RealTime Test ONLY: Add S-Acetyl-Glutathione. I use this kind:
  • Start with a tiny amount of glutathione, like ⅛ tablet. See if you can gradually increase this to 100mg 1x/day, then if tolerated 100mg 2x/day. Find the amount you tolerate without an increase in symptoms.

The maximum would be 500mg 2x/day. Very few people with Mast Cell Activation can go that high. And it is NOT necessary at all to go that high. Just go to what you tolerate. DO NOT push into a flare.

  • Continue the amount of S-Acetyl-Glutathione for 5-6 days, then collect next morning urine.
  • If you feel worse at any point – achiness, fatigue, brain fog or have any increase in symptoms not explained by something else, stop the glutathione and collect first morning urine the next day.

Many people ask me about Reduced Glutathione. It has been shown in research to not be as well absorbed. Liposomal Glutathione may be ok, but often has citrus oils or potassium sorbate that can trigger mast cell activation.

Glutathione IV can be used as well. But only if you know you tolerate it – many with Mast Cell Activation don’t tolerate Glutathione IVs when they have mold toxicity.

What if your Urine Tests are Negative?

So, you may find that you are certain you have mold toxicity. But your urine tests are negative.

If you’ve had mold exposure, the urine tests can be negative if your body can’t excrete them yet. This often happens in people who are really sick.

When this happens, then I turn to the blood testing. The best lab for the Mycotoxin Blood Testing is MyMycoLab.

It tests for 24 IgE and IgG antibodies to different mold toxins.

Bottom Line on Mold Toxins and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome

We covered a lot of ground in this post:

  • How mold toxicity is a MAJOR trigger of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance
  • Symptoms associated with mold toxicity
  • How you can get mold toxicity
  • What are mold toxins
  • How to test for Mold Toxins

Have you had Mold Toxicity? If so, did it affect your Mast Cell Activation or Histamine Intolerance? Share with us in the comments below. 

More on Mold and Mycotoxins:

Download your free report for the 7 common root causes of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome here:

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References on Mold Toxins for those with Mast Cell Activation and Histamine Intolerance

Anyanwu, E. C., Campbell, A. W., & Vojdani, A. (2003). Neurophysiological Effects of Chronic Indoor Environmental Toxic Mold Exposure on Children. The Scientific World JOURNAL, 3, 281–290.

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:

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.


  1. Melanie

    I listed to your talk about mold and you were going to link the test to see if there is a mold colony in the gut but I don’t see that

  2. mira lire

    Beth – you said you were going to post a link to ur favorite dehumidifier, but I don’t know where to find that. Thx for ur last fb live presentation, looking 4ward to the next.

  3. Cindy

    If you have mast cell activation due to mold , and you do not recommend medication for MCAS how do you fix this if you are out of mold and still have brain fog?

    1. Beth O'Hara

      Hi Cindy,
      I’m not against medication for MCAS. I do want people to know the problems of long term use and not addressing the root causes. Keep an eye on your inbox – our blog post on how to structure mold protocols will come out soon.

  4. Rachel

    I am doing both tests (Great Plains and RealTime). Is it possible to do one provocation week and then collect for Great Plains one morning and RealTime the next morning? Would taking the Acetyl-L-Glutathione be OK prior to the Great Plains collection?

    1. Suz, Mast Cell 360 Team

      Hi Rachel,
      For clients, Beth will usually recommend only provocating for RealTime. It isn’t needed for Great Plains. If you are doing both, it might be a good idea to do the great plains first and then start provoking for RealTime.

  5. Brooke

    Hi Beth, thank you so much for this amazing info!!! My daughter 6 has MCAS (self diagnosed) and asthma, Harlow 4 has asthma, my husband is in a terrible histamine flare amongst many other symptoms and I have been experiencing wheezing and burning mouth. I would like to order both test but who would be the best person to test? I’m thinking my 6 year old or my husband? I’m also going to give Jeff a call for a virtual assessment. Thanks so much for all the love you have poured into this! In Gratitude, Brooke

    1. Suz, Mast Cell 360 Team

      Hi Brooke,
      Thank you for reaching out! We appreciate hearing from you!
      For testing, everyone is different, so it’s hard to say. While it is possible you are all experiencing the effects of mold, it is also possible that you are experiencing different things. Without knowing your case, we really can’t advise much on this. There are provocations that are usually recommended with the mycotoxin test, and this might be easier to do with an adult. But again, it is possible you are all dealing with different things and your follow-up in addressing the issues may be different per person. You might want to run this by your doctor to see what he/she might recommend.

  6. Laura

    If I’ve been taking glutathione, can I not take the great plains mycotoxin test? Should I stop taking it for a while before taking that test? Also, do you see patients in Cincinnati- I live in Cincinnati. I’ve really been struggling for about 7 months and really need some help and guidance.

    1. Suz, Mast Cell 360 Team

      Hi Laura,
      Great Plains recommends not doing a glutathione challenge, but generally, if someone is taking glutathione regularly, they could potentially continue that for the test. You might want to check with them, though, to be sure. We are located in Cincinnati, but all of the appointments are conducted via video conferencing regardless of the client’s location. If you would like more information about the practice, you can contact us here:

        1. Suz, Mast Cell 360 Team

          Hi Samantha,
          The testing for MCAS isn’t very reliable at this time. About 90% of people with MCAS are missed by the testing. 10-17% of the population have MCAS, and over 50% of people with chronic health issues have MCAS. Some good clues can be found looking at health history, symptoms, and root triggers. The higher your score from the survey (link below) is above 50, the more likely you have MCAS. Beth’s approach is a root trigger approach and often helps with a variety of issues. You can read more here:

    1. Jamie, Mast Cell 360 Team

      Hi Sarah, a massage does promote detoxing but typically for a mold detox you want sweating from heat – At Mast Cell 360, we would suggest following the lab test directions for provoking at a level that you tolerate. You don’t need to do more than that and certainly shouldn’t push through symptoms.

  7. Beki

    Would rebounding count as a gentle provocation if you can’t handle supplements or heat?

    1. Jamie, Mast Cell 360

      Hi Beki! Yes, you could do some rebounding or a gentle lymphatic massage would also work if you can’t tolerate heat or supplements. There are many good YouTube videos that will show you how to do a self massage.

  8. James

    What does it indicate if eating glutathione and s-acetyl-glutathione cause intense constipation? And is there a way to fix this while continuing glutathione?

    1. Jamie, Mast Cell 360

      Hi James, glutathione is not often well tolerated in the MCAS population and some are unable to use it to even provoke for the mycotoxin test for this reason. If glutathione is causing intense constipation for you, you may need to look at additional digestive supports and discuss what is right for you with your licensed medical provider to address constipation prior to attempting a detox.

  9. Maria R.

    My story with mold has been so complicated. I got exposed in 2017 and from there my health deteriorated fast. My worst symptoms where severe cough attacks that send me to the hospital in numerous occasions with no oxigen and lungs overinflated. In 2018 I starting to notice I was reacting to food, vegetables, fruits, and everything with processed. My anaphylactic/anaphylaxis reactions started happening constantly, I only had 4 safe things I could eat. My ige was over the roof as well as white blood cells and other things I can’t remember now. Had to be with oxygen 24/7. In this year I did the urine test for Micotoxins, the later one you mention above and showed 4 types of mold. The treatment was cholesteramine but my cholesterol was extremely low and started causing other issues so it was stopped. In 2019 I was in a coma with tons of blood in my lungs and my body was shutting down. God is good and that’s why I’m here telling my story. Up until now Drs don’t recognize my root cause is mold as they don’t accept the urine test as a valid one. I have about 20 different diagnosis now but none is mold toxicity. I’m still dealing with severe allergic reactions to all plant food and can eat only meats. I have to use inhalers all the time plus take tons of different types of allergy meds. Life it’s so hard and has been since 2017. I’m still looking for help but feel like I’m running out of time. You mention your patients, how could I get an appointment with you? Thank you for you’ve shared here.

    1. Jamie, Mast Cell 360

      Hi Maria, Thank you for sharing some of your story with us, we are so sorry to hear what you have been through. We are not a medical facility and don’t have patients, we are a health consulting practice and do accept clients. If you are interested in seeking 1:1 support with one of our practitioners, you can learn more about applying to the practice here:

  10. Shannon

    In regard to the mold and mycotoxin testing, would it be easier to just do the blood test and skip the urine? It seems to be simpler in terms of prep and if it’s more reliable I would think that’s the preference. Also, even if more expensive, at least it’s one test instead of paying for urine tests first. What are your thoughts?

    1. Jamie, Mast Cell 360

      Hi Shannon, Beth has found the urine mycotoxins the most helpful testing however she has used blood testing as a starting point when someone is unable to excrete mycotoxins due to Cell Danger Response. It’s a good thing that there are various approaches, but our practitioners prefer starting with the urinary tests for a more comprehensive view of a client’s case since mold toxicity can be from a past exposure. The important thing is to find the approach that what will work best for you. Beth covers some of this info in the MC360 Precision Mold Master Class in the testing modules, and you can learn more about that course here:

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