Navigating a Life of Chemical Sensitivities Part 2 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: (covering points 6 though 8)

      The tools at the disposal of a functional MD should include dietary guidance for these patients as well as access to autonomic nervous system practitioners.  From the dietary side, assisting the acutely affected patient in finding a safe diet which still provides adequate nutrition and calories is critical.  The team should include a nutritionist who is aware of these factors.  Incorporating avoidance of obvious trigger foods is just the first step.  Helping patients rotate foods to avoid development of new sensitivities, a common occurrence, is the next step.  From there, the team must help patients identify foods which are inherently higher in histamine or which may worsen the mast cell activation.  Taking those into consideration, the nutritionist works in collaboration with the medical doctor to meet the patient’s nutrient needs with food and/or supplements.  Triggers are avoided while the body is equipped to heal and detox by this approach.

From a different direction, the overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system or the dysregulation of the limbic system may play large roles in a patient’s inability to overcome mold toxicity and chemical sensitivities.  While the mold toxins may have initially attacked from outside the nervous system, the damage left behind plus the emotional trauma patients face leaves patients unable to heal.  Their nervous system through the sympathetic (fight or flight) system and the limbic system (our deep emotions center) may become the perpetuators of symptoms rather than the targets of attack.  Several therapies upregulating the parasympathetic systems (rest and digest) and its vagal nerve may serve to release patients from harmful loops of dysfunction.  Breathing exercises, acupuncture, EMDR (Eye Movement Dissociation Response), DNRS (Dynamic Neural Recovery System), and counseling may be necessary.  A reconnection to spiritual health with God may be both the means and the end to this nervous system recovery.  In the end, the patient’s nervous system can be restored to one which contributes to healing rather than contributing to the suffering.

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.  Whether simple detox and escape from the moldy environment are sufficient or other therapies like mast cell treatment and nervous system consideration are needed, ultimately a patient’s body can be settled down into normal functioning over time.  They can feel, relate, and function with renewed normalcy, sometimes at a higher level than any time prior in their lives.  What they cannot do is forget about mold.  Lifestyle changes and habits take time to learn.  Keeping one’s home safe from a repeat infestation of mold takes ongoing time and energy.  Once mold toxic patients learn where they can safely travel on the road of life, they live healthier more abundant lives as long as the stick to their mold-safe road map.


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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