David Holland, MD
Dave Holland is the co-author, with Doug Kaufmann, of the
new book, "The Fungus Link, Volume 2." Inside
this follow-up to their book "The Fungus Link,"
you'll not only learn about the dangers of antibiotics.
You'll also learn about the ins and outs of natural and
prescriptive antifungals. Additionally, Doug and Dave share
with you the role fungi and their mycotoxins play in what
are unfortunately everyday diseases such as prostatitis,
ear-nose-throat disorders, weight problems (including obesity
and anorexia), autoimmune diseases, hormonal disorders,
neurologic diseases, hair loss, and eye problems.
order either of these books, call 972-772-0990, M-F 8:00
AM to 5:00 PM Central, or go to causesandcures.com.)
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, one of several non-profit
organizations dealing with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research
funding and patient assistance, raised almost $74 million
dollars in the fiscal year 2001. It spent $64 million, of
which $54.8 million went toward program expenses, and $6.6
million was directed at fundraising efforts. Two million goes
toward administrative costs. The CEO alone makes over $300,000.
Still, in the 57 years of the society's existence, no
cause for MS has been assigned. I use the word "assigned"
and not "found," because I believe a cause has already
been found. In our book, "The Fungus Link, Volume 2,"
Doug Kaufmann and I discuss the role of fungal toxins, called
mycotoxins, in the etiology of MS. The evidence brought forth
by various scientists over the years and compiled in a small
section of this book is quite compelling. It is so compelling
that, at this point, I believe scientists will be forced into
a position of proving that mycotoxins are NOT the cause of
MS, a task at which, I believe, they shall not succeed.
MS is characterized by destruction of the protective sheath-
called the myelin sheath- around nerves in the brain and the
spinal cord. As a result, the transmission of nerve impulses
to other nerves, muscles, and vital organs is interrupted.
This impaired nerve function translates into symptoms such
as difficulty in walking, abnormal, "pins and needles"
sensations throughout the body; pain and loss of vision due
to inflammation of the optic nerve, tremors, incoordination,
paralysis, and impaired thinking and memory (2). In addition,
muscle wasting, bladder dysfunction, fatigue, osteoporosis,
and a host of other problems may develop either directly or
indirectly due to this nerve damage.
Although there is a genetic predisposition toward MS, as
proven in studies of twins, only a third of those that are
genetically susceptible will get MS, indicating there is still
an outside factor involved (3). MS is more common in those
born and raised above the 37th parallel (a line extending
from Newport News, VA to Santa Cruz, CA); however, if a person
moves to an area of low risk (i.e. below the 40th parallel)
prior to adolescence, they assume the lower risk of their
new location. These last points support the idea of an environmental
exposure link to the disease.
If outside causes are to blame, then Oppenheim, an early
1900's researcher, was the closest in his assertion that
MS is caused by an environmental toxin. Other researchers
of his day thought that there was a defect in the blood vessels
or in the glial tissues. Pierre Marie, in the late 1800's,
felt that MS was caused by an infectious agent. However, despite
all of the "infection" theories that have been tested
over the past 150 plus years, not one- whether bacteria, virus,
Chlamydia or scrapie-like agent- has proven to be the culprit.
So, let's apply what we already know about MS and see
if we truly know the cause of MS or not. Mycotoxins are chemicals
made by fungi. They are found in grains that have been contaminated
with fungi and mold. Some mycotoxins are used for medicinal
purposes. Antibiotics, such as penicillin and the cephalosporin
drugs, are fungal metabolites- they are mycotoxins. Alcohol
is a mycotoxin. Aflatoxin, the most carcinogenic substance
on earth, is a mycotoxin. The most commonly contaminated crops
are peanuts, corn, and wheat.
Often, other foods such as barley, apples, sorghum and rye
can be contaminated as well. Some mycotoxins are produced
in our body by the yeast in our intestines or vaginal tract.
In one study, 3 women severely symptomatic for vaginal candidiasis were found to have vaginal fluid samples with significant
levels of a mycotoxin called gliotoxin (4). From our environment,
we can be exposed to mycotoxins through countless routes:
ingestion, inhalation, skin contact, etc. The question is,
once inside the body, can these mycotoxins damage nerves?
Let's answer that question now.
We already know that, in MS, there is a loss of molecules
called sphingolipids from the white matter in the central
nervous system (5). What is not well known is the fact that
mycotoxins can actually disrupt sphingolipid biosynthesis
(6). Specifically, gliotoxin, as we mentioned above, on a
slightly larger scale can induce nerve cell death (apoptosis).
Gliotoxin is a heat stable chemical made by Aspergillus,
Candida, and other species of fungi. (7). Not coincidentally,
scientists have recovered a heat stable toxin from the cerebrospinal
fluid (CSF) of MS patients. In this particular study, they
took the CSF from MS patients, heat-treated it to destroy
any infectious germs, and then exposed it to nerve cells in
a laboratory culture. What happened? The nerve cells died!
They called this heat-stable toxin "gliotoxin."
The source of gliotoxin appears to be, again, primarily from
the yeast and fungi within the human body. As such, gliotoxin
is less important as an agricultural scourge than are other
mycotoxins such as fumonisins, made by Fusarium and Aspergillus
fungi, and the penetrim D toxin made by Penicillium crustosum.
Fumonisins are a group of mycotoxins that happen to be neurotoxic
as well as carcinogenic. They are "universally present
in corn and corn-based products." (8). Penitrem mycotoxins
are found in things such as moldy apple products. Penetrem
D can cause tremors, convulsions, limb weakness, and ataxis
(unsteady gait), "not unlike the symptoms observed in
As there are different classes of MS (chronic progressive,
relapsing-remitting, etc.) it may very well be that the different
classes are being caused by different classes of mycotoxins.
In addition, the regional differences in the prevalence of
MS might be explained by the particular agricultural products
that dominate the most affected areas. For example, the part
of America that lies above the 37th parallel also happens
to encompass the cornbelt. Remember that corn is universally
contaminated with mycotoxins (7). This area is also represented
by much of the wheat belt. Is this just a coincidence, or
good evidence of an environmental exposure risk factor?
Let's talk about some of the latest treatments for MS.
Dr. Mercola has already stated in a previous article that
most MS drugs are a waste of money (10). The new buzz on the
town, however, is that statin drugs (cholesterol-lowering
drugs) have proven effective in slowing the progression of
MS (11-13). Their effectiveness should not surprise us, in
light of the fungal/mycotoxin theory, when we also learn that
statin drugs are antifungal (14).
Dr. Mercola has also mentioned in previous articles that
Vitamin D as well as plain old sunlight can reduce mortality
from and positively influence the immune system in MS (15,16).
Other researchers have explained that the reason why these
work is, once again, Vitamin D, whether taken in the form
of a cod liver oil supplement or made naturally by our body
from sunlight exposure, is anti-mycotoxin (14).
Finally, let's talk about diet again. Last year a German
researcher claimed that eating smoked sausage in childhood
was responsible for causing multiple sclerosis later in life.
(16). Dr. A.V. Costantini, retired head of the World Health
Organization's collaborating center for mycotoxins in
food, helps us out here by explaining that smoked and aged
meats are often contaminated with mycotoxins (18). Thus the
cause of MS, according to these and other researchers, is
right in our food.
In another of Dr. Mercola's articles, he talked about
how starving mice with an MS-like condition resulted in fewer
symptoms and decreased progression of the illness (19). Why
does starvation work? In our humbled opinion, it could be
as simple as: the fewer foods taken in, the fewer mycotoxins
that enter the body. You see, if we are following the standard,
food pyramid, grain based American diet, we are consuming
on average from 0.15 to 0.5mg of aflatoxin per day (8). Aflatoxin
is the only regulated mycotoxin in America, so what level
of exposure we have to the other, known mycotoxins in our
diet that we've discussed is a guess, at best. So starvation
diets not only deprive us of calories. They also "deprive"
us of disease-causing, carcinogenic mycotoxins.
If indeed mycotoxins cause MS, then there are a number of
steps one must take to minimize exposure to fungi and their
mycotoxins. We just finished talking about diet. Since mycotoxins
are commonly found in grain foods (7,8), then it would be
wise to minimize grains in our diet. Doug Kaufmann outlines
his Initial Phase diet in our book, The Fungus Link, Volume
2. As well, Dr. Mercola has published his book, The
No-Grain Diet, which offers equally valuable information.
Secondly, we should minimize our exposure to antibiotics.
Antibiotics are, for the most part, derived from fungi and
are therefore classified as mycotoxins. If we've taken
lots of antibiotics in the past, we should attempt to correct
the damage done by these by taking a good probiotic supplement.
Lastly, if we have any obvious signs of fungal infection in
our body, and to us, simply having MS might qualify as an
obvious sign, it might behoove us to take natural or prescriptive
antifungals for a period of time. Remember that gliotoxin
can be made by fungi and yeast that are already in the body,
not necessarily by fungi that reside in contaminated foods.
Doug and I hope that we've given you some insight to
this "mysterious" disease of MS. It seems, according
to the research we've pointed to, that the cause for
this disease is right before our eyes. Now, we just need to
apply this knowledge. Future research should be directed at
treating the disease as if it were caused by fungi and their
- The Charity Navigator. Charitynavigator.org. July 2003
- Nationalmssociety.org. Sept. 2002
- Murray, J. Infection as a cause of multiple sclerosis:
theories abound because no one knows the answer yet. Editorials.
British Medical Journal. Vol 325:1128. 16 Nov 2002
- Shah, D.T, et al. In situ mycotoxin production by Candida
albicans in women with vaginitis. Gynecol. Obstet. Invest.
- Harper. Review of Physiological Chemistry, 16th ed. 1977
- Miller-Hjelle. PKD: an unrecognized emerging infectious
disease? Emerging infectious diseases. 3(2):113-127. 1997.
- Council for Agricultural Science and Technology. Mycotoxins:
Risks in Plant, Animal, and Human Systems. Task Force Report
139. Jan 2003. Ames, IA
- Etzel, R. Mycotoxins. Journal of the American Medical
Association. 287(4): 425-427. Jan 23/30, 2002.
- Bouchez, C. Cholesterol drug may offer hope for MS patients.
HealthScoutNews, April 2003;
- Edelson, E. Cholesterol drugs may treat multiple sclerosis.
HealthScoutNews. Oct. 7, 2002,
- Verrengia, J. Statin drugs show M.S. promise. Associated
press. Yahoo News. Nov 7, 2002
- Costantini, A.V. Fungalbionics Series: Etiology and Prevention
of Atherosclerosis. Johann Freidrich Oberlin Verlag. Freiburg,
- Murphy, D. German researcher claims smoked sausage linked
to multiple sclerosis. Meatingplace.com. Sept. 2002
- Costantini, A., et al. Prevention of Breast Cancer: Hope
at Last. Fungalbionic series. Freiburg, Germany. 1998