When Your Own Defenses Go Haywire – Autoimmunity

Reviewing and Summarizing the recent Toxic Mold Summit Session by Dr. Amy Myers.  Part 1 of 3

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

            Autoimmune diseases bear many names like Lupus, Hashimoto’s, Sjogren’s, vitiligo and more.  Despites the variety of fancy names, they share the common mechanism of your body’s immune system turning its guns on your own tissues and organs.  In this session of the recent Toxic Mold Summit, Amy Myers MD discussed her own experience with autoimmunity and mold toxicity as well as the connections between these two medical epidemics.  While a speaker can only fit so much into any given presentation, she hit on several important points.  We’ll review those take home points and expand on them from Sanctuary’s experience in caring for mold toxic patients and autoimmune patients.

            Dr. Myers first tells her story of autoimmune Graves disease in which misdirected antibodies attacked her thyroid in a way to cause hyperthyroidism.  Rather than destroying her thyroid in Hashimoto’s disease, Graves upregulates the thyroid, causing it to produce more hormone.  Metabolism is sped up and hyper – type symptoms ensue.  At the time of her diagnosis, she was left with conventional options.   We would add that Graves is more difficult to treat than Hashimoto’s in our experience.  Graves can be more life threatening in the short run than Hashimoto’s and often requires an integrated approach versus the latter.  From a functional standpoint, both necessitate looking for root triggers and leaky gut in hopes that the immune dysfunction can be reversed.

            She describes how in functional medicine we learn to look for root causes in specific categories when presented with a chronically ill patient.  At Sanctuary we approach every patient with a comprehensive evaluation considering these same areas, but like Dr. Myers, not all patients have problems in all the areas.  I would add that even when patients do present with multiple root causes, certain root causes often lie deeper than others. For example, leaky gut may be a root cause underlying autoimmune disease but mold toxicity may lie deeper, being the primary cause of that leaky gut.  We have to address both the deeper and the more shallow root causes if we are to lead the patient to restoration. 

            The interplay of genetics, environment, and leaky gut is emphasized by Dr. Myers.  We can’t agree more heartily.  Each of these factors contributes to varying degrees in each patient.  As we learn more about the genetics of autoimmunity, we both recognize the vast array of genetic pathways that contribute to ultimate autoimmune disease and the reality that genetics alone do not guarantee the disease.  A cliché in functional medicine summarizes the issue:  genetics loads the gun, but environment pulls the trigger. Some exposure to a toxin, a particular food, or a specific infection interacts with the genetic factor to result in the immune system attacking itself.  Without the trigger, the genetics sit idly and innocently by.  The leaky gut serves as the door for many of these triggers. Whether the leakiness arises from toxins or food sensitivities or simply an inflammatory diet, the food triggers that would normally remain safely in the gut’s inner tube, now enter the tissues and blood stream.  In those locations, immune reactions may lead to simply more inflammation or to the autoimmune process itself.  Ultimately, even if we can’t separate the chicken from the egg in each autoimmune patient, we can all agree that multiple factors contribute to the actual disease in our patients.

Return soon for Part 2 and the Take Home Points in Part 3.

Until then … 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: 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


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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  1. Avatar
    Leslie C Crowson

    Im looking forward to treatment. Ive had issues for awhile since i lived in mold contaminated apartment
    Ive been now diagnosed with asthma caused by mold and no1 can figure out why my ammonia levels are high. I do believe the mold toxins are trapped in my body and lungs.

    1. Dr. Potter
      Dr. Potter

      We look forward to God’s using our team to lead all our patients out of the mold darkness. We look forward to meeting you and beginning that journey.

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