There are a several tests you can run both at home and through a doctor to assess for mold and mycotoxin illness in your body, including:
- Signs & Symptoms
- Mold Toxicity Checklist
- Mycotoxin Urine Test
- Gut Testing
- Cortisol Hormone Testing
Different Ways to Test for Mold in Your Body
Test #1: Signs & Symptoms
As a refresher, here are the most common signs and symptoms of mold illness.
Basic: Insomnia, intolerant of fragrances and chemicals, nose bleeds, difficulty regulating body temperature, heart palpitations.
Gastrointestinal: IBS, nausea, bloating, pain, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation.
Hormonal: Low energy, missed or irregular periods, hormonal headaches, blood sugar imbalances, excessive thirst or urination, appetite swings
Immune: Autoimmune disease, lymph or bodily swelling, allergies, sinus congestion, sore throat, red eyes, colds or flu easily.
Musculoskeletal: Joint and muscle pain, muscle cramps, general fatigue, Fibromyalgia, morning stiffness.
Neurological: Headaches, brain fog, weakness, nerve pain, memory loss, dizziness, tremor, weakness, light sensitivity, vertigo, hearing loss, sluggish speech, coordination and reaction times.
Psychiatric: Anxiety, depression, OCD, short fuse.
Respiratory: Coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath, asthma.
Skin: Skin rashes, itching, splotchy skin.
Urinary: Urgency, incontinence
Test #2: Mold Toxicity Checklist
Answer “Yes” or “No” for the following questions (adapted from Environmental Health Center).
Yes or No?
- Do musty odors bother you?
- Have you worked or lived in a building where the air vents or ceiling tiles were discolored?
- Have you noticed water damage or discoloration elsewhere?
- Has your home been flooded?
- Have you had leaks in the roof?
- Do you experience unusual shortness of breath?
- Do you experience recurring sinus infections?
- Do you experience recurring respiratory infections and coughing?
- Do you have frequent flu-like symptoms?
- Do your symptoms worsen on rainy days?
- Do you have frequent headaches?
- Are you fatigued and have a skin rash?
If you answer “yes” to 4 or more, your CIRS-like symptoms may have some more merit.
Test #3: Bloodwork
Bloodwork doesn’t always tell the whole story of CIRS or mycotoxin illness, but certainly can point to markers of inflammation and immune dysregulation.
Unfortunately, many patients consult with their conventional medical practitioners and are told, “Your lab tests are normal”, but have not ordered more specialized tests that help look deeper into mycotoxicity and inflammation. Helpful markers and their normal ranges for assessing mycotoxin illness include:
Specialty Mycotoxin Blood Tests
Elevations in the following markers point to mold toxicity
- VIP (normal range: 23-63, only available by ARUP Labs)
- MSH (normal: 35-81)
- MMP-9 (normal: 85-332)
- C4a (normal: 0-2380)
- TGF-beta-1 (normal: <2380)
- Leptin (Male: 0.5-13.8; Female: 1.1-27.5)
- HLA-DR (the gene that 25% of the population has, making them more susceptible to mycotoxicity; can only be run by LabCorp).
Other labs that may be “off” on general lab work include:
Complete Blood Count
- Red Blood Count low (normal: 4.40–4.90 x 106/µL)
- White Blood Count low or high (normal: 5.0–0 x 103/µL)
- MMA high (ideal < 300 nmol/L)
- Folate low (ideal > 8 μg/L)
- Glucose low or high (normal fasting: 75-85, normal 1-2 hours post-meal: 110-140)
- HgbA1C high (normal 4.6–5.3%)
- AST high (normal: Male: 0–25 IU/L; Female: 0–23 IU/L)
- ALT high (normal: Male: 0–26 IU/L; Female: 0–20 IU/L)
- Zinc (often low)* (normal: 81–157 µg/dL)
- Copper* often high (excess copper can lead to low zinc) (normal: 81–157 µg/dL)
- Iron high or low (ideal: 40–135 µg/dL)
- Ferritin high (Male: 30–200 ng/mL; Female: 30–100 ng/mL)
- Vitamin D low (normal: 35–60 ng/mL)
*Urine testing via NutraEval (Order Here and search for “NutraEval FMV by Genova)
- Total Cholesterol high (normal: 150–220 mg/dL for males; 150–230 mg/dL for females)
- LDL Cholesterol high (normal: 0–140 mg/dL)
- C Reactive Protein (CRP) high (normal: 0–1 mg/L)
- BUN high or low (normal: 13–18 mg/dL)
- Creatine low (normal: Male: 0.85–1.1 mg/dL; Female: 0.7 – 1.0 mg/dL)
*Hormone markers can be a sign that something more is going on “under the hood.” Inflammation from mold toxicity and CIRS can drive hormone imbalance. Since hormones are the “key messengers” made by our glands to regulate body functions, if our hormones are “off”, they may perpetuate the symptoms of CIRS.
- PTH elevation (normal: 10-35 pg/mL
- T3 (Thyroid Hormone) deficiency (normal: 2.5–4.0 pg/mL)
- Testosterone deficiency
- Progesterone deficiency
- Estrogen dominance or deficiency
Bloodwork out of the norm in several of these areas may indicate imbalance.
Test #4: Mycotoxin Urine Testing
Mycotoxin urine testing is a relatively newer form of testing that can reveal the release of toxins in the urine. If you really suspect mycotoxin illness from molds to be at play, this test can yield highly insightful information for putting your puzzle together.
Some key detected mycotoxins include:
- Great Plains Urine Testing
- Real Time Labs Urine Testing
*Note: Sometimes false “negatives” can occur with urine testing since some patients are unable to detoxify in the first place. In order to get the most accurate results, I recommend using high dose liposomal glutathione or 5 to 7 days prior to conducting your urine test in order to encourage elimination and detoxification.
My preferred formula is Trizomal Glutathione by Apex Energetics, which includes both NAC—a precursor for glutathione production in your body—and glutathione. Take 1 tsp 3 times per day for 5 to 7 days. It is tough to find online, but if you call Apex Energetics directly at 949-251-0152, request a bottle be sent to you on behalf of Dr. Lauryn.
Test #5: Gut Testing
A bi-directional relationship exists between mycotoxins and gut microbiome—mycotoxicity can impact and worsen our gut health, just like poor gut health can make one more susceptible to mycotoxicity—creating the “perfect” storm.
On this note, it’s critical to realize, “mold illness” does not just happen from mold alone. Other pathogens that cause the same symptoms as mold illness include:
- Bacteria & bacterial infections (like Babesia and Borrelia)
- Mold spores
- Endotoxins (aka lipopolysaccharides, or LPS; cell wall components of gram-negative bacteria)
- Inflammagens (irritants that cause inflammation and edema)
- Beta-glucans (sugars that are found in the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, algae, lichens, and plants)
- Hemolysins (toxins produced by bacteria that can destroy cells)
- Volatile organic compounds
The key theme behind all of these? They affect your gut!
Your gut microbiome is home to 100 trillion microorganisms (gut bacteria). The healthier your gut bacteria, the healthier you are! The sicker or more pathogenic your gut bacteria, the sicker you are!
It’s no wonder that candida (fungal overgrowth) and sinus congestion (from fungi and mold growth in the nose—part of the nasal microbiome) are common in those with suspected mold toxicity or CIRS (2).
Given that approximately 80% of your immune system is produced and housed in your gut, a “strong” gut filled with diverse, healthy gut bacteria helps boost your immune fighting defenses to weather the storm of mold and mycotoxin exposure. However, if your gut is infiltrated by pathogens—and not enough “man power” to weather the storm, eventually your gut microbiome profile can shift, resulting in an unhealthier gut…and an unhealthier you.
Test #6: Cortisol Hormone Testing
Your CNS (central nervous system) is your “stress response system.” When functioning properly, your body is able to overcome stress. If malfunctioning, chronic illness and uncontrolled inflammation happens. Swelling of the brain and “stress response” system can lead to changes in nerve endings and interfere with the electrical signaling to all functions of the body. Enter: The unrelenting CIRS symptoms that persist for those who suffer from mycotoxin illness.
Cortisol hormone testing can give you a clearer picture of where your “stress hormones” are at, along with neurotransmitter function that play a role in controlling inflammation and stress in the body as well—such as dopamine and serotonin.
Note: NOT all hormone testing is created equal. While bloodwork is great for assessing sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone), it is not great at cortisol testing.
Cortisol is a constantly changing hormone throughout the day. Therefore you need to collect multiple samples in a given day via urine and saliva in order to see an accurate pattern for your body. In addition, not all urine and saliva tests are created equal! Most tests measure either one or the other—leaving you with only partial results. Most tests also only measure “free cortisol”—NOT metabolized cortisol. However, free cortisol only makes up less than 3% of all cortisol in your body.
For these reasons, to date, the gold standard for cortisol hormone testing is the DUTCH test—which uses both urine and saliva testing, and measures both free and metabolized cortisol.
- DUTCH Cortisol Hormone Testing (Order Here)
Several of these tests, combined, is the most effective way for identifying if you have mold toxicity.
However, although testing can be a helpful piece of the puzzle to identifying and confirming CIRS and mycotoxin illness, it’s important to remember, testing is not the “end all, be all.” As a functional medicine practitioner, I treat and empower individuals based on the person, not the numbers, and if empirical findings—such as your symptoms or lack of health improvement despite “doing all the things” (i.e. eating clean, working out, sleeping) are still present, then it is safe to assume that something is still not right “under the hood.”
Above all, working with a healthcare practitioner who “gets” and understands mold illness is one of the most important pieces to identifying mold toxicity.