Fungi: Clavicipitaceae / Hypocreales / Sordariomycetes

Fungi and the microbiome finally got on my radar. Apologies to some, but there is a lot of different items on the microbiome radar screen.

“Small intestinal fungal overgrowth (SIFO)… Two recent studies showed that 26 % (24/94) and 25.3 % (38/150) of a series of patients with unexplained GI symptoms had SIFO. …. but evidence for eradication is lacking.”Small intestinal fungal overgrowth [2015]

As I did with taxa years ago, I will be writing a blog on each one reviewing the literature. If there is sufficient data at the end, I may add it as a feature to Microbiome Prescription. See also:

One of my reader’s results motivated this choice. The data from a Thorne Microbiome Test. Almost 17 out of 20 people have less of it. The person also has a Crohn’s diagnosis (with SIBO and IBS earlier).

Preventive for Fungi

The following are suggestions:

  • Reduce and keep your living space humidity at 50% or lower (typically done by dehumidifiers). EPA recommends 30-50% [EPA]; we set our dehumidifiers for 35%.

Moisture parameters and fungal communities associated with gypsum drywall in buildings [2015]

Remember, all fungi are not the same. Antibacterial and Antifungal Activities of Spices [2017] does not mention all fungi that I am reviewing. Additionally, some spices are known to have Fungal Contamination of some Common Spices [2022] and Fungi and aflatoxins associated with spices in the Sultanate of Oman [2002] which included cloves (often deem an antifungal).

Basic Information

Ergot alkaloids are highly diverse in structure, exhibit diverse effects on animals, and are produced by diverse fungi in the phylum Ascomycota, including pathogens and mutualistic symbionts of plants. These mycotoxins are best known from the fungal family Clavicipitaceae and are named for the ergot fungi that, through millennia, have contaminated grains and caused mass poisonings, with effects ranging from dry gangrene to convulsions and death. However, they are also useful sources of pharmaceuticals for a variety of medical purposes.

Ergot Alkaloids of the Family Clavicipitaceae [2017]

Bottom Line

This is an interesting fungi with little known ill-effects and some potential good effects for IBD and colitis. Thorne does not identify the genus leaving us with more uncertainty. With no clean human adverse effects (apart from Ergotism this is specific to some members of this family only).

There are two types of ergotism. The first is characterized by muscle spasms, fever and hallucinations and the victims may appear dazed, be unable to speak, become manic, or have other forms of paralysis or tremors, and suffer from hallucinations and other distorted perceptions.[16] This is caused by serotonergic stimulation of the central nervous system by some of the alkaloids.[16] The second type of ergotism is marked by violent burning, absent peripheral pulses and shooting pain of the poorly vascularized distal organs, such as the fingers and toes,[16] and are caused by effects of ergot alkaloids on the vascular system due to vasoconstriction, sometimes leading to gangrene and loss of limbs due to severely restricted blood circulation.


Unless there are symptoms of ergotism, I would suggest ignoring it. Some genus may do good and other may do harm. We lack sufficient information and I do not advocate taking action without evidence to warrant it.