If you have been doing everything ‘right’ yet feel your Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) recovery journey has taken a standstill, you may actually have a long-standing, stubborn sinus infection capable of contributing to CFS/ME.
“Researchers have determined that extreme fatigue is more likely an indicator of a sinus infection.” -Vanderbilt University Medical Centre
Such a sinus infection may be due to one or both of the following ‘biotoxins’:
- A fungal infection of the sinuses that’s producing mycotoxins (toxins created from living fungus or mould). Mycotoxins cause ‘mould illnesses. Although often found from water-damaged buildings, they can be found in the sinuses of many CFS patients.
- A bacterial infection (often antibiotic resistant staph) found deep within the nose and sinuses. Some practitioners prefer to name this as ‘MARCoNS: a stubborn bacterial infection that can take up residence in the nasal and facial sinuses. MARCoNS stands for Multiple Antibiotic Resistant Coagulase Negative Staphylococci’ .
Just like our gut has a microbiome (an entire colony of different microbes that keep us healthy), our nasal sinuses have their own microbiome: bacteria and fungus colonise the nose in normal healthy people. They aren’t problematic until a mould stress/mycotoxin or another ‘biotoxin illness’ such as reactivated Epstein-Barr virus and/or Borrelia, Bartonella etc (Lyme disease) come along and lowers a hormone called ‘Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormone’ (MSH) as well as compromising the immune system. MARCoNS, in particular, resides in 80% of people with low MSH.
What have hormones got to do with sinus infections?
Having a balance of this particular hormone, MSH, is very important as it is anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial – it protects the mucous membranes in the nose from colonisation of more serious strains of bacteria like MARCoNS.
When other biotoxins stressors are present (such as moulds, Lyme pathogens and viruses, the mucus membranes in the nose go virtually unprotected and MARCoNS takes up residence. The natural fungal colonies in the nose may also overgrow, and other fungal species may produce large amounts of mycotoxins and wreak havoc on your health.
To complicate things further, biofilms (the ‘shield’ that bacteria produce to protect themselves) are often present with such resistant Staph bacteria. Other pathogens, particularly Lyme bacteria can also hide under this shield of biofilm. If you’ve been struggling to get well from Lyme disease, this sinus infection may be why.
MSH generally rises in the initial period of a biotoxin stress (e.g. mould, Lyme pathogens such as Borrelia, or reactivated Epstein-Barr virus) and will then drop significantly after 5+ years. This can often distinguish an initial, acute exposure to a long-term/chronic exposure.
Lowered MSH (from sinus infections) can lead to fatigue, chronic pain and inflammation. Eventually hormone imbalances, leaky gut, and lowered melatonin (leading to poor sleep) can inevitably lead to adrenal fatigue and further the exhaustion you may already feel. Just like mitochondrial damage in CFS, this cycle can be a viscous and tricky one to break without help.
The location of the sinuses (right next to the brain) likely play an incredibly important role here too. If there’s a fungal infection of the sinuses that constantly producing dangerous mycotoxins right next to your brain, it’s no wonder symptoms such as chronic fatigue and brain fog set in.
How to test for MARCoNS and fungal infections of the sinuses
In addition to testing within my clinic, depending where you are in the world, the following labs offer the nasal swab test:
If you have both MARCoNS and a fungal infection, the good news is there are effective therapy options to deal with both issues.
How to clear MARCoNS and fungal infections of the sinuses
Before we get started, know that if you have a dog, their noses may also have MARCoNS. If you’re working on treating yourself, have your dog tested and treated by their vet!
Clearing MARCoNS and/or a fungal infection of the sinuses must be done only after you remove yourself from the mouldy environment like your home or work, and would also ideally be done after taking ‘binders’ for 6-8 weeks. These help to pull the mycotoxins out of your body by ‘binding’ to them so they can excrete via the bowels. Binders like charcoal, bentonite clay such as Toxaprevent, chlorella, silica, and diatomaceous earth should be chosen based on the specific species of mould and mould toxins involved. Certain binders can be constipating, so take magnesium citrate, hydrolysed guar gum, or even my Detox cocktail to help promote bowel irregularity.
From a naturopathic perspective, following these steps, targeted nasal sprays, probiotics and herbs can further help clear stubborn bacterial and mould toxins in the sinuses. Talk to your practitioner to determine which dosage and formula(s) may be right for you, particularly if you are sensitive.