Navigating a Life of Chemical Sensitivities Part 1 of 2

Mold on wall surface

Reviewing and Summarizing the recent Toxic Mold Summit Session by  Gail Clayton Pharm.D., M.S.

(Read this blog series’ introduction at very end if you are catching up. Look for “SERIES INTRODUCTION”)

            Gail Clayton Pharm.D., M.S. provided insights on the connections between mold toxicity and multiple chemical sensitivity during the recent toxic mold summit.  Her summit session provided a number of take-home points:

  1. Dr. Clayton speaks as a professional and from her own experience of mold toxicity.
  2. Conventional medicine could not explain her seemingly unconnected variety of symptoms.
  3. Dr. Clayton and other mold toxic patients often experience sensitivities to a wide array of environmental chemicals, even foods and supplements.
  4. These sensitivities are the result of immune hyperactivation, often involving mast cells and histamine.
  5. Treating multiple chemical sensitivities requires a cautiously slow, multi-faceted, methodical approach and sometimes even pharmaceuticals.

Part 2 covers points 6 through 8

  • A low histamine diet and a number of herbal therapies may benefit those with food sensitivities.
  • For many patients, therapies targeting the autonomic nervous system can be keys to unlocking recover.
  • While mold toxicity can make life initially very difficult to navigate, once overcome, patients can live full lives if they avoid further exposure to mold.

Expanding on these take home points:

Those who have not traveled this road to recovery from mold toxicity often continue to deny its existence.  For Dr. Clayton and others who have traveled that road, there is no denying its impact.  At the same time, there is great opportunity for the “mold-experienced” to guide others behind them to a healthier life.  The Toxic Mold Summit collected many of these experienced guides to help you on your journey out of mold.  As you listen to the series, feel free to dialogue on these posts about your questions or your own experience.

An oft repeated story for the “mold experienced” is how conventional medicine left the mold toxic individual without answers. Sometimes it even blamed the sufferer or at best just threw up its hands.  Conventional medicine does not know where to look when a patient presents with multiple symptoms in multiple systems that lasts for months without a common explanation.

Multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome can leave a person at a great disadvantage in society’s plethora of chemicals entering by nose, mouth, and skin.  Mold toxicity very frequently arises from the darkness as the trigger setting this sensitivity process in motion.  By dysregulating the immune system, the patient unexpectedly begins responding to various chemicals that had previously caused no symptoms of any sort.  Foods may trigger local GI distress or more systemic symptoms like fatigue, rashes, or mood changes.  Odors in stores or from household chemicals may trigger dizziness, syncope, or fatigue.  Previously benign cosmetics may now inflame and irritate one’s skin. 

Treating multiple chemical sensitivities requires a cautiously slow, multi-faceted, methodical approach and sometimes even pharmaceuticals.  The obvious first steps involve avoiding the immediate triggers of symptoms, but as the list grows in number, this becomes hugely burdensome.  For the more severe reactions, pharmaceutical anti-histamine and mast cell stabilizers may be needed.  Again, this is a short-term solution without a long term hope.  Uncovering the root cause of mold toxicity and detoxing stand out as the long-term solutions for this disabling condition.  The successful recovery requires a stepwise, methodical incorporation of conventional and natural therapies guided by an experienced professional.  All the tools of a functional MD are needed in leading a patient out of the darkness.


Valtonen, Ville. “Clinical Diagnosis of the Dampness and Mold Hypersensitivity Syndrome: Review of the Literature and Suggested Diagnostic Criteria” Frontiers in Immunology vol. 8 951. 10 Aug. 2017, doi:10.3389/fimmu.2017.00951 FREE ONLINE

The mycotoxin deoxynivalenol facilitates allergic sensitization to whey in mice.   M Bol-Schoenmakers, S Braber, P Akbari, P de Graaff, M van Roest, L Kruijssen, J J Smit, B C A M van Esch, P V Jeurink, J Garssen, J Fink-Gremmels & R H H Pieters.  Mucosal Immunology volume 9, pages 1477–1486 (2016)

Autoimmune Review. 2019 Jan;18(1):107-108. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2018.08.004. Epub 2018 Nov 5. Dampness and mold hypersensitivity syndrome and vaccination as risk factors for chronic fatigue syndrome. Tuuminen T, Jääskeläinen T, Vaali K, Polo O.  PMID:  30408578 DOI:  10.1016/j.autrev.2018.08.004

Spectrum of Noninfectious Health Effects From Molds.  Lynnette J. Mazur, Janice Kim. Pediatrics Dec 2006, 118 (6) e1909-e1926; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2006-2829

Thanks to those who collaborated and contributed to the Toxic Mold Summit.   While I have a few nuanced different opinions here and there, the information one can glean from listening to this summit is empowering for those facing this disease.  While some are able to handle the recovery process without formal care by a medical provider, I do believe it is wise for most to have a “trusted guide” of some sort who stands outside the tornado of active mold toxicity.  Standing inside the mold tornado leaves one with a spinning sense of direction.  Having a stable and fixed point of reference in a knowledgeable guide serves you well.  Traveling the road to recovery is better done with someone who has walked it before.  That is what we try to do at Sanctuary is working to restore healthier more abundant lives even after the tornado of mold toxicity.

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            You may feel a little overwhelmed and stressed after the recent Toxic Mold Summit  A great line up of both clinical types and environmental remediator types took the stage for several day offering a smorgasbord of information about mold toxicity.  Now, what do you do with all that information?  Should you run out the door screaming in your underwear and leave everything behind?

            Short answer….NO!  You should simply keep coming back to Sanctuary’s Facebook Live sessions every other week about mold toxicity and read our regular blog posts about mold toxicity and a ton of other chronic health issues.  Bring your questions.  Hear from myself, Dr. Eric Potter Functional MD who has walked both sides of the mold toxicity line in caring for my family and for hundreds of patients.  While I can’t diagnose or treat non-patients by Facebook, I will do my best to educate and empower you in the journey of healing from mold toxicity. Over the coming weeks, I will review several of the Mold Summit’s sessions with additional information from our experience and study.)

Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.

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