Antioxidants To The Resuce

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Mycotoxins Cause Oxidative Stress

Mycotoxins have been implicated in causing damage through creation of oxidative stress from induction of reaction oxygen species by the toxins. Some of the mycotoxins shown to have negative health effects caused by oxidative damage are patulin, fusarochromanone, ochratoxin A, aflatoxin B1, deoxynivalenol, nivalenol, fumonisin B1, and zearalenone.

Addition on 9-21-21: Since I orignally wrote this there is even more research with additional mycotoxins shown to cause damage due to oxidative stress. It appears all the dangerous mycotoxins act in this manner.

Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) Are Normal In Bodies

In aerobic organisms, oxidative activity is normal, and produces reactive oxygen species (ROS)  (we also produce reactive nitrogen species) which are a part of the bodies homeostasis (). Reactive oxygen species are kept in check by the activity of antioxidants made by our body that include glutathione, catalase and super oxide dismutase, and if they are not made ROS are known to cause damage to the DNA, proteins, and lipids (). Some ROS are produced in the body through normal body processes, while others are derived from our bodies reaction to outside forces such as those formed by ionizing radiation or mycotoxins.

How The Body Makes ROS

Our body makes ROS through mitochondrial activity when it is in defense mode, cytochrome P450 metabolism, peroxisomes, and inflammatory cell activation (). The mitochondria-produced ROS are the superoxide anion (O2), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), and the hydroxyl radical (⋅OH). It is  normal for cells to have a balance between ROS production and antioxidant defense activity.

Excess ROS Are Unhealthy

An excess of ROS directly modifies or degenerates cellular macromolecules, causing lipid peroxidation, protein oxidation, and DNA damage.

The Nervous System: Redox regulation is now recognized as an important factor in acute and chronic neural dysfunction. In neural tissues, excess ROS  can ultimately lead to brain injury. In neurodegenerative diseases, the increased ROS leads to neuronal dysfunction. In the early events of Alzehimers's Disease, ROS are related to Aβ-induced nerve injury, as well as the abnormal phosphorylation of tau proteins. Accumulation of  ROS exacerbates dopaminergic neuronal death in the substantia nigra of PD patients. In neuronal excitotoxicity, stroke, and neurodegenerative disease, increased extracellular glutamate levels bring about calcium overload, as well as mitochondrial dysfunction. Many of the mycotoxins studied have been shown to cause accumulation of ROS and indeed many mycotoxins affect the nervous system.  Here are some of the neurologic signs and symptoms seen with mold illness.

  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or Light headed
  • Mental confusion
  • Spaciness
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor short term memory
  • Forget what you are doing
  • Can't remember names or words
  • Poor word recall
  • Disorientation
  • Brain Fog
  • Decreased learning ability
  • Real thirsty
  • Low blood pressure
  • Poor temp regulation
  • Numbness, Tingling
  • Vibrations or buzzings in one place or mobile
  • Static electricity zaps more than other people
  • Tremors
  • Vertigo
  • Parkinson's like symptoms
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Irritable
  • Body temperature regulation issues
  • Difficult concentration
  • Lack of sex drive
  • POTs or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome is seen in some people.

Schisandra - Schisandra chinensis is an antioxidant herb that specifically enhances gluathione antioxidant response which is very helpful in mycotoxin illness as well as many other toxins. Neuroinflammation has been proven to contribute to the etiology of hypoxia-ischemia neural injury and neurodegenerative diseases. Neural dysfunction shares common molecular mechanisms that include inflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction, and endoplasmic reticulum stress. All issues with mold illness. Schisandra and its constituents have been shown to have a neuroprotective effect on nerual dysfunction by alleviating inflammation.

How The Body Protects Against ROS Damage

The antioxidant mechanisms that regulate the ROS levels, are based on enzyme and non-enzyme systems. Enzyme systems rely mainly on super oxide dismutase, catalase, peroxiredoxin, thioredoxins, and glutathione S-transferase , while non-enzymatic systems would include many dietary compounds as well as body made substances such as carotenoids, tocopherols, flavonoids, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and melatonin (, ). Primary enzymatic antioxidants are supreoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione reductase, and glutathione preoxidase.

Cause Of Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress is created wthen there are more ROS's than there are antioxidants. Oxidative stress causes a wide number of diseases, including obesity, atherosclerosis, heart failure, uremic cardiomyopathy, kidney pathologies, hypertension, neurological disease, and cancer. Antioxidants need co-factors, that activate enzymes by binding to their catalytic sites to be able to work. In case of antioxidant enzymes, these co-factors may include the following:

  • Coenzyme Q10
  • B vitamins
  • Carnitine
  • Selenium
  • Transition metals Cu, Mn, Fe, and Zn ().

Some aluminosilicate clays have also been associated with antioxidative effects. I mention this as they are also useful in binding some toxins such as aflatoxins (varying degrees bind to other mycotoxins) and heavy metals.

Antioxidant Herbs

Many herbs used to decrease the inflammation of mold related illness are antioxidants. In fact most of them. A few of my favorites include, but are not limited to the following:

Green Tea - Camellia sinensis
Turmeric - Curcuma longa
Milk Thistle - Silybum marinaum
Schisandra - Schisandra chinensis

Healthy Mitochondria Are Our #1 Protection Against ROS Damage

Our mitochondria, when operating optimally are making ROS as a response to danger (all stress), but they are also making the antioxidants glutathione, catalase and superoxide dismutase as needed to take care of oxidants. So keeping them healthy is a job we need to take seriously. This can be done best through hormetic stress, where we create periods of stress such as through endurance exercise, sprint training, breath holding (easiest for someone who is sick and can't exercise), thermal stress in saunas or hot baths, cold stress of ice baths, and  fasting. Individuals start low and slow in the beginning and build up. Hormetic stress is about pushing our limits and for some 2 minutes of an exercise might be all they can do initially, but later it might be an hour that is needed to push their limits.  Sometimes you have to change up what you are doing also as an exercise may no longer change your limits. Keep in mind that most of these should not be attempted if you have any disease processes. It is best to check with your practitioner before attempting any type of hormetic stress. You can learn more about breath holding by listening to this podcast with Ari Whitten.

Additionally, we need to take time to rest and relax which is also healthy for our mitochondria. Do something that feeds your soul and is relaxing as often as you create hormetic stress. Sometimes you can enjoy an activity and feed your soul while getting hormetic stress. An example would be walking briskly on mountain pathway in a beautiful wooded area. Another example would be surfing on a beautiful day.

Additionally, eating nutritious, organic food and making sure you have all the nutrients your mitochondria need will help your body become more resilient to mycotoxins.

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