Study Demonstrated 93% Of Patients Diagnosed with CFS Tested Positive for Mycotoxins

Each week I write about the impact mold has on health. From Allergic Fungal Sinusitis to a severely compromised immune system, mold plays a significant role in chronic illness.

Recently, I came across a published article that examines the potential role of mycotoxins in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (“CFS”), also called myalgic encephalitis.  Since fatigue is one of the key, PRIMARY symptoms for most patients suffering from mold sensitivity, this article is worth exploring further.  Before I do, though, I want to chart the evolution of the recognition of mold as a sinus inflammagen, because it parallels these findings.

The Mayo Clinic, in 1999, demonstrated that 96% of 210 chronic sinusitis patients had the presence of fungi in their sinus mucosa. There were 44 different types of fungi found and, in a subset of 101 patients, the presence of eosinophils (a type of white blood cell activated by the body’s immune system) were found in the nasal tissue and mucus of 96% of the patients as well. This was a breakthrough discovery as prior to that, fungus was believed to be the cause of less than 10% of cases. Currently, most physicians, including ENTs, still treat most chronic sinusitis infections as if they are bacterial in the absence of obvious visual fungal evidence. Thus, even though the proven scientific evidence and recognition of mold as the main cause of sinusitis now exists, patients are STILL suffering and being treated with drugs that do not address fungus at all, but rather bacteria and infection. When this occurs, an endless cycle of sickness perpetuates and lives are negatively impacted.

In my articles “A History of Unexplained Chronic illness”  and “Could Mold Have Been Your Toxic Tipping Point?”, I discussed the history of diagnosing illnesses of unknown origin and the several different diagnoses patients sometimes receive when the cause of the fatigue, pain, and chronic illness are unexplained. I also explored the concept of the body’s “toxic load,” in which the body has a maximum amount of toxins it can metabolize in a person’s lifetime.  Once reached, or if detox systems and pathways become blocked, chronic illness, severe fatigue, pain and extreme sensitivity to mold and chemicals can become common symptoms.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was formally recognized as a disease by the CDC as recently as 2006. To date, there are several theories surrounding the cause of CFS.  Infections (particularly by viruses), oxidative stress, immune aberrations and toxic exposures have all been explored as the potential cause; however, no conclusive diagnostic for the cause of CFS exists today.

The purpose of this article is NOT to suggest that CFS is caused by mycotoxins.  The purpose is to suggest to patients that they should be educated and empowered to consider asking their physicians about mycotoxin testing when a CFS diagnosing occurs.  This could provide a piece of valuable information that might lead efforts toward detoxification for the patient prior to an inconclusive diagnosis of exclusion and the cycle of medications (antidepressant, anti-convulsive, and anti-anxiety drugs) to treat symptoms are attempted.


Detection of Mycotoxins in Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome[1]

This study measured mycotoxins in the urine of 112 diagnosed CFS patients.  Tests were performed to identify aflatoxins (AT), ochratoxin A (OTA) and macrocyclic trichothecenes (MT) using ELISA assays, the current standard for testing mycotoxin levels is urinalysis.

Patients Studied:

In this article, a group of pioneers in the field of environmental illness and mycotoxins examined 300 patients with chronic illness. Of the 300, 112 met the diagnostic criteria for CFS. These patients were from diverse geographic locations in the US (most resided in the Midwest).

Additional information about the patients studied:

Surprisingly (or not), 90% of the patients confirmed exposure to water-damaged buildings or homes. In my article, “Get Your Facts Collected Before Seeing a Doctor About Mold!” I emphasized that taking the mold evaluation often uncovers facts about water damage in your home that may not be asked by physicians.  Although only a small percentage of molds produce mycotoxins, there is significant evidence linking water-damaged homes to mycotoxin poisoning.

Symptoms and Previous Diagnosis:


A remarkable 93% of the CFS patients tested positive for one mycotoxin in their urine and 44% had more than 1.  8% had all three.  In addition, 90% of the patients confirmed that they have been previously exposed to a water-damaged building.

There was also a control group of 55 healthy patients that were not exposed to water-damaged buildings.  These patients did not have the presence of mycotoxins in their urine.

Also included in the study were 2 families of 4.  The results demonstrated that exposure occurred for the entire family, resulting in chronic illness; however, family members differed in their lab results.


The authors conclude with the hypothesis that there is a strong correlation between exposure to water-damaged homes and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. They illustrate this by identifying mycotoxins in the patients’ urine.  It is also important to note the specific mycotoxins that were present. OTA, found in 83% of the patients is toxic to many organ systems, creates symptoms of toxicity, and neurotoxicity.  Symptoms are displayed as headaches, memory loss, and impaired motor function. MT, found in 44% of those tested, is toxic to many organ systems and has a high correlation with water-damaged homes. AT, was found far less than the other mycotoxins.


There are 5 distinct concepts to take away from this study:

1.    Patients should be very aware of water damage in their homes. Building materials, such as particle board and drywall absorb moisture and must be replaced or dried immediately (within 24-48 hours) to avoid mold growth.  Any damaged materials should be removed or remediated to avoid mold exposure.

2.    Mycotoxin poisoning is a real possibility for patients living in water-damaged homes.

3.    Patients suffering from severe fatigue that may be diagnosed with CFS or other chronic illnesses should also suggest mycotoxin testing to their physicians.  If you are diagnosed with something like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, realize that these types of diagnoses are often “catch all” labels of unknown cause, designed to classify, not to treat an illness.  Mycotoxin testing could actually explain chronic fatigue and eliminate the need for other treatments that would otherwise be used on a trial and error basis until some relief is found.

4.    Attempts to treat diseases of unknown cause can be lengthy with no clear path to wellness in sight.  Finding the mycotoxin answer or “Taking Mold off the Table” can save time, money, and significant suffering.

5.    If mold or mycotoxins are possible contributors to chronic illness, working with your doctor on a detoxifying process with diet and nutrition can help you find relief and hope. Practicing mold hygiene with proven antifungal products and protocols (cleaning the sinuses, home, and clothes) can be money well spent, and a cost-effective, proactive investment into wellness.

[1]Detection of Mycotoxins in Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Joseph H. Brewer, Jack D. Thrasher, David C. Straus, Roberta A. Madison , and Dennis Hooper, Toxins 2013, 5, 605-617. Http://
2 Polizzi V., et al. “Fungi, mycotoxins and volatile organic compounds in mouldy interiors from water-damaged buildings”. Journal of Environmental Monitoring 11: 1849–1858; 2009