There is currently no direct research to support this connection. However, I’ve spent the day pulling on a long and interesting thread that has fungus all over it.
I talk about oxalates in my book on LS, since some people report relief from a low oxalate diet. I briefly mention Aspergillus. It came up during my research on oxalates. It’s a fungus that can produce oxalates in the body.
It’s also used in fermenting foods (why, perhaps, some can’t tolerate miso?)
Wide-spread use of fungicides in our farming create resistant strains of fungi. TO BE CLEAR, I’M NOT SAYING LS IS FUNGAL. Stay with me.
What caught my attention this morning was aflatoxins (I was geeking out on food nutrition and farming practices). I’m always fascinated by the fact that mushrooms can be both friend and foe. I was checking up on the arugula I added to my morning eggs and mushrooms.
Arugula is rich in chlorophyll, which can help to prevent liver and DNA damage from aflatoxins… (1)
What are aflatoxins?
They are a family of toxins (awww, how sweet) produced by certain fungi. Two strains that produce the most aflatoxins are both strains of Aspergillus.
Here’s what I found interesting (thank you for your patience). According to Cancer.gov:
Aflatoxins are a family of toxins produced by certain fungi that are found on agricultural crops such as maize (corn), peanuts, cottonseed, and tree nuts. (2)
Aflatoxins produced by the Aspergillus species are highly toxic, carcinogenic, and cause severe contamination to food sources, leading to serious health consequences. Contaminations by aflatoxins have been reported in food and feed, such as groundnuts, millet, sesame seeds, maize, wheat, rice, fig, spices and cocoa due to fungal infection during pre- and post-harvest conditions. Besides these food products, commercial products like peanut butter, cooking oil and cosmetics have also been reported to be contaminated by aflatoxins. (3)
Don’t be too quick to blame.
While attending a weekend seminar on Ayurveda years ago in Albuquerque, my teacher, Dr. Vasant Lad, said, “Don’t blame the plant.”
When corn triggers us, we quickly blame the plant. And while lectins or fructans in the plant may not be easily digested by some, it may be the fungi on these crops (especially if their resistance is growing due to fungicide use) that is the problem.
I see corn, peanuts and tree nuts come up as triggers for some with LS. Again, I’m not saying this is the cause of LS. In autoimmune conditions, it’s typically a soup of causes. But if oxalates are an issue for you, or corn, rice and nuts seem to aggravate your symptoms, perhaps fungi is part of the problem. Our aim is to reduce symptoms.
Our bodily systems typically deal with issues like oxalates and Aspergillus. But if our body is out of balance, stressed, experiencing immune issues or predisposed to disease, this fungi may not be so fun after all.
He didn’t set out to hurt anyone. In fact, he’s got a rather important job on the planet:
In nature, Aspergillus fumigatus serves as a clean-up crew. It encourages the decay of vegetation, keeping the world from being submerged in dead plants and autumn leaves. (4)
I do believe industrial farming has created a sizeable imbalance in our ecosystems and that we are seeing the effects of this in our health. The earth’s microbiome and the gut’s microbiome are connected.
I’ll be looking into this more and expanding this section of the book, however, I wanted anyone who already has the book or who also likes to follow the research breadcrumbs on autoimmune and health to have this info.
While no direct link has been researched between Aspergillus and lichen sclerosus, there is a link in oral lichen planus:
Aspergillus was identified as an “OLP-associated” fungus because of its detection at a higher frequency than in the healthy controls. (5)
In LS, we see many people benefit from not only anti-inflammatory therapies but also anti-fungal. Some get relief from borax baths, coconut oil, aloe vera or essential oil of lavender. While there is currently no research on LS and direct fungal involvement, it seems as though this avenue needs investigation and attention. Perhaps it’s not so much direct… more of a side-eye.
It is often explored in functional medicine and autoimmune disorders.
It might be time to up the raw garlic, turmeric, oregano and other anti-fungal herbs!
Pick up your copy of Lichen Sclerosus: Body, Mind & Spirit Practices to Heal the Stress of LS.
**This blog is meant to inform, not diagnose or treat specific health conditions. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. Always consult your doctor or health care practitioner.