When Your Own Defenses Go Haywire – Autoimmunity Part 3

Reviewing and Summarizing the recent Toxic Mold Summit Session by Dr. Amy Myers.  Part 3 of 3

(Read this blog series’ introduction at end if you are catching up)

            As my family works through building a “mold-safe home”, I empathize with Dr. Myers as her family is looking for a safe home and safe office.  Many argue that mold is everywhere and therefore mold toxic patients are just crazy.  My simple response is that besides the genetics previously discussed, it depends on which mold, how much mold, and air flow.  Not all mold species produce toxins that hurt humans.  The issue primarily occurs with those that grow on water damaged building materials.  It is even true that a tiny amount of those molds may not trigger the genetically susceptible.  When looking at ERMI and HERTSMI environmental testing (measures levels of bad molds in one’s home or other space), we don’t need a perfect zero, just low enough.  The final factor of air flow is obvious when comparing the outdoors with an airtight, energy efficient building.  Outside, wind drives away any possible toxins quickly lessening the chance of a reaction.  Inside modern energy efficient homes, volatile toxins may accumulate to harmful levels if air filtering or air movement is not implemented.  I do pray that her family can find a mold free oasis.  We are looking forward to our own oasis also.

            To find or create this oasis, we, both as clinicians and sufferers, must collaborate with environmental testing experts, construction experts, and remediation experts.  Other talks will elaborate on environmental testing approaches, but I do want to emphasize how important this is for mold toxic individuals.  In addition, if one is able to build their own home, preventive measures may be woven into the very construction process.  Even then, few have the resources to install every gadget and mold defense system in a new home.  Priorities are set and we all have to aim for “safe enough”.

            She briefly discusses the variety of testing options for diagnosing mold toxicity.  We would add a further explanation of how we use the Shoemaker approach rather than urine toxin testing.  She had already noted how some individuals may have high levels of mycotoxins in their blood, yet little symptoms and no other lab abnormalities.  Dr. Shoemaker looks for a specific set of symptoms combined with objective lab abnormalities in someone with exposure and appropriate genetics.  We believe his approach results in a more accurate diagnosis as well as sets the stage for an easier tracking of the therapy progress.  First, we look for a chronic illness with multiple symptoms crossing multiple body systems.  Using immune markers like C4a, MMP9, and TGF Beta 1 along with hormone markers like MSH, ADH, and VIP we work to confirm the reactive fingerprint of someone who is reacting to mold.  We also use Shoemaker’s Visual contrast sensitivity testing.  Simultaneously we work to rule out other possible explanations like cancer, hypothyroidism, Lyme, or other chronic illnesses.  Only rarely do we use the urine mycotoxin panel for the reasons she described earlier.  Sometimes we use it to confirm a current exposure might be coming from a specific mold species found on home environmental testing.  Even then, we have to consider with a grain of salt.  Then, as we move forward with treatment, these abnormal markers allow us to track improvement not only by symptoms resolving, but the underlying mechanisms as resolving. 

            Dr. Myers closes with a discussion of how nutrition/diet play a role in mold toxicity treatment.  We agree wholeheartedly  how important nutrition is for any chronic illness.  I’ll let you listen to her description of her autoimmune diet approach.   Her session is worth the time to listen in its entirety. 

            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.

To order the Summit from our affiliate link, click here (we receive a commission for this purchase):   https://toxicmoldproject.com/order/?idev_id=25016

Quick take home points:

  1. Three factors underlie most of autoimmunity:  Genetics, environment, and leaky gut.
  2. The conventional approach to autoimmunity contrasts with the functional medicine approach.
  3. Leaky gut or intestinal hyperpermeability likely contributes to many cases of autoimmunity.
  4. Mold toxicity increases the risk of autoimmunity through multiple mechanisms:  triggering leaky gut and disrupting normal immune function.
  5. While we agree that genetics affects susceptibility to mold toxicity, at Sanctuary we believe knowing those genetics is more important than Dr. Myers does.
  6. For mold toxic patients, finding a safe environment in which to live stands out as critical for recovery and maintenance of restored health.
  7. To find or create a mold safe oasis, we, both as clinicians and sufferers, must collaborate with environmental testing experts, construction experts, and remediation experts. 
  8. A variety of testing methods are available for mold toxicity determination.
  9. Healthy nutrition is critical for recovery from mold toxicity just like other chronic illnesses.
  10. My addition: Most sufferers of mold toxicity greatly benefit from having an experienced guide during their long road to recovery.


A few academic resources supporting the blogs statements.

Mold and gut
Liew, Winnie-Pui-Pui and Sabran Mohd-Redzwan. “Mycotoxin: Its Impact on Gut Health and Microbiota” Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology vol. 8 60. 26 Feb. 2018, doi:10.3389/fcimb.2018.00060

J. Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 2017;20(5):249-275. doi: 10.1080/10937404.2017.1326071. Epub 2017 Jun 21. Impact of mycotoxins on the intestine: are mucus and microbiota new targets? Robert H, Payros D, Pinton P, Théodorou V, Mercier-Bonin M, Oswald IP.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28636450

Leaky Gut and Autoimmunity

Leaky Gut As a Danger Signal for Autoimmune Diseases. Qinghui Mu, Jay Kirby, Christopher M. Reilly and Xin M. Luo*……..https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2017.00598/full

Megan Ciara Smyth; Intestinal permeability and autoimmune diseases, Bioscience Horizons: The International Journal of Student Research, Volume 10, 1 January 2017, hzx015, https://doi.org/10.1093/biohorizons/hzx015

Leaky Gut in General

Arrieta, M C et al. “Alterations in intestinal permeability” Gut vol. 55,10 (2006): 1512-20. …. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1856434/



            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.)

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