Mold, Toxins, Thyroid Disease and Autoimmunity

The Thyroid Secret Summit 2017

these are my notes from the speakers in this summit. For further information please visit the speakers web pages linked below.

The Truth About Toxins

Dr. Izabella Wentz PharmD, FASCP
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Your probably wondering how we winded up with this epidemic of thyroid disease, I have to warn you this may enrage you. When you see what’s been done to our world, corruption, greed and unchecked motives have led us into a world that’s simply not safe for all of us who live in it. We’re constantly bombarded by toxins and there’s no other way to be healthy today than to be informed by the lies that have been embedded into our minds. Whether it’s the food you eat, the water you drink, or the products you put on your skin and face, you need to know the truth about what’s in these products and the devastating impact they can have on your health and the health of your thyroid. Toxins can play a paramount role in autoimmune disease and especially thyroid disease. We know that the thyroid gland is designed to accumulate substances, this is to ensure that we get the proper amount of the building blocks that are required for making thyroid hormones. Sadly, in todays world instead of making thyroid nutrients the thyroid accumulates toxins.

Your body wants to survive and so it adapts to it’s environment. Autoimmune disease and Hashimoto’s becomes the bodies defense mechanism from overwhelming stress and threats. Essentially if the body believes we’re not in a safe place it’s going to want to slow us down. We know that in times of famine, in times of war or in times of high toxicity, it’s really not beneficial for us to reproduce and it’s really not beneficial for us to be running around, it’s not beneficial for us to have a lot of energy and be out into the world. It’s a funny world we live in, have you ever bought products in hope they would make your life better? Some of these products seem like just the miracle you’ve been hoping for, they make everything more efficient and so convenient. Life becomes easy, beautiful and perfect, just like the commercials. I’m not sure you’re buying that story anymore, the truth is some of these products that are marketed to make your life better can actually make you significantly worse by making you sick. The reality is that many products out there are full of toxins. There are so many connections to diseases related to the thyroid and toxicity, so why do the toxins have such a profound effect on the thyroid.

If you have thyroid disease chances are your family members may also be effected especially if they are living in the same environment as you. I don’t just mean your human family members, the truth is it’s not just our species that’s effected by toxins. Numerous studies have found that the rates of thyroid disorders can be correlated to toxins in our environment. But many people suffering with thyroid disease are completely oblivious to the fact that the root cause of their conditions could be due to toxins. People may experience subtle signs and symptoms that they may be toxic such as, headaches, fatigue, storing more fat on their body, having a metallic taste in their mouth, or having multiple chemical sensitivities. Others may not have any obvious signs of toxicity.

Some of the products that are marketed to make us better on the outside by appealing to our inner vanity are actually making us worse on the inside. The use of lipstick in particular has been connected to the development of Lupus. Absorption of toxins from the lips is more likely than from other cosmetics because the lips are a mucus membrane and because we may inadvertently ingest the product by licking our lips. As lipstick is often applied as well we have a high chance of getting exposed to these toxins over and over again every time we apply the lipstick. Cosmetics in general are especially problematic with regard to heavy metal contamination, a May 2001 report from the Environmental Defense of Canada tested a total of 49 pieces of makeup from six Canadian women for heavy metals and found some startling results. Among these toxins, arsenic, lead, nickel, beryllium, some in the amounts that would be banned if they were in food products. Skin care products are another source of toxicity, most people don’t realize that whatever they put on their bodies gets into their bodies. As a pharmachologist I can tell you that these substances may be even more toxic when they are applied to the skin than they are when consumed internally. That’s because absorption through the skin bypasses the liver allowing for a higher potency and more chemicals to get into our bloodstream, Do we realize that we are putting chemicals and toxins directly into our bodies by applying these products.

Mold can be a trigger for asthma, allergies, and a host of other problems. I have even seen it be a trigger for thyroid disease and many people who don’t get better with medications or changing their nutrition. Did you know that 45 million people may be effected by mold toxicity

Michelle Corey CNWC, FMP
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We are living in an increasingly more toxic world and our bodies were not designed to handle all of this stress, stress from a fast paced lifestyle, toxins we ingest in food substitutes, food that’s supposed to be food but they’re really just junk. The average American comes into contact with 80,000 chemicals on an everyday basis. From off gassing of your car to your play plug ins, your personal care products, and a tremendous amount of stress. We know that we weren’t built to handle this kind of stress and autoimmune disease is an obvious consequence, in fact the full spectrum of chronic inflammatory disease is a natural consequence of living out of sink with our nature.

Robert Scott Bell DA, Hom
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Going beyond that we are also seeing a lot of diagnosis of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and how does it get to an autoimmune condition. Autoimmunity in my experience is not an aberrant response to the immune system, it’s an appropriate response to extraordinary circumstances. What are those circumstances? Very mineral deficient cells, cells that are overwhelmed with toxicological burdens, heavy metals, mercury, etc. These alter the integrity of those cells, the integrity of self to the point of the immune system begins to look at those cells as foreign, not of self. Immunology 101 is self versus non-self and the immune system knows the difference. I don’t believe the immune system has suddenly gone awry and suddenly lost it’s mind and needs to be put in a straight jacket. I perceive the ideal goal here would be to remove the interference, remove the toxins give the body what it needs to restore integrity to itself, to those cells. And thus cool the inflammatory response, the autoimmune response, but this can be a very daunting task for someone who’s been dealing with this condition, perhaps for years sometimes even for decades.

Mark David MA
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When you think of our physiology the most sensitive tissues in our body are our glands, they are so sensitive. And what happens is I believe these days we are living in a massively sensitive world, we have created toxic chemistry, toxic cleaning products, toxic cars, toxic carpets, toxic furniture, cleaning stuff for your face has plastic in it, hormone disruptors. We don’t realize we are poisoning ourselves, and these substances, there are literally thousands of endocrine disruptors. Chemicals that we’ve identified that mimic hormones in the body that will break us down and the only time we will start to get it is when the body yells at us with a disease. In this case with a thyroid condition, so if you’re sensitive to food, to chemicals, good for you because that’s a sign of intelligence, your body is intelligent, your brain is intelligent, you’re taking care of yourself because we’re living in a toxic world and we have to change that.

Tom Malterre MS, CN, CFMP
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An interesting piece about the thyroid gland is it’s an environmental sensing gland. There are receptor sites in every single cell of the body with a thyroid hormone in it ramps up the metabolism. If something is going wrong in the body you don’t want to ramp up metabolism and use up your resources. What normally will happen is you’ll kind of shut down the thyroid gland in times of toxic stress. There is something called the danger response that happens when you’re exposed to a chemical, you’re exposed to electrical magnetic frequencies, radiation or anything. The self will say lets be conservative, the thyroid gland is one of the first things to respond to that. What I find is there’s that factor, and heavy metals will accumulate there. We don’t know what other of the 87,000 plus chemicals we’re using in our society might be accumulating or causing adverse effects in the thyroid gland. Let’s take a step back and say isn’t it interesting that thyroid disease has been skyrocketing in the last few decades, it’s not genetics, we know that. It’s partially diet but, it’s not the biggie, there is only one thing I have seen in the literature that seems to correlate nicely with that climb and it’s not just Hashimoto’s but all autoimmune diseases and that’s chemicals.

If you’re going to take in some in your skin in the way of a lotion or sunscreen, or you’re going to be using toothpaste or deodorant or shampoo or hair gel, you’re going to inhaling some dryer sheets, the wonderful smells, perfume or after shave on men. Anytime you come across anything that says fragrance, that says perfume or phthalate you have to know that you are increasing your estrogen content in your system. Looking at the studies coming out of northern Mexico was as these women were applying more personal care products the levels of phthalates went up in their urine, they had more in their body and were peeing it out. As their levels of phthalates went up in their urine their level of breast cancer increased, we know a lot of types of breast cancer is estrogen positive meaning, the estrogen levels will feed the growth of the cancer. What we saw was if they were post menopausal and they weren’t producing much of their own estrogen but they were getting a lot of these environmental estrogens in through their personal care products they had a 220% increase risk of breast cancer. If they were pre-menopausal, they still had their own estrogen being produced and they had this environmental estrogen as well, then they had a 413% increase risk for breast cancer. It just makes sense that we would have an increase risk of dis-ease if we’re introducing toxic chemicals into our bodies.

Dr. Steven Eisenberg DO
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You have to always take into consideration the genetics and the environment and they’re very interrelated. Certain environmental toxins, certain stressors might turn on certain genes and that’s how we’re getting much deeper into what’s causing different cancers. We don’t have thyroid completely figured out with every single gene in the human genome for thyroid but we’re getting there. It’s environmental pollutions, it’s toxins and you are teaching people to get to the root cause anyway possible. Their diet, nutrition, their stress, the way they interact in the world, to look and see do I have exposures to different toxins in my life.

Dr. Ann Shippy
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The particular interest in thyroid I always thought of them as the sensitive organs, but for most people if they have a thyroid problem it’s a sign we have to go look at toxicity. Because part of what I have observed over the last eleven years with patients is that it will start with, when I’m doing the initial interviews, they started with one autoimmune disorder and the immune system is so out of kilter that they then developed additional one’s. But usually thyroid is the first for most people though it can be Lupus or autoimmune arthritis or others, but the most common initial autoimmune disorder is thyroid. I think the thyroid is just very sensitive to what is going into our bodies through our lungs and our skin and our food. Many people will have little genetic glitches where they don’t optimally have the environmental toxins just go through them so it’s like a barrel that’s filling up because the little spickets aren’t open enough to really let it through. The analogy I give my patients is you can have one person who has been smoking for sixty years and they don’t have a wrinkle and they don’t have heart disease and they don’t have lung disease and then there’s on the other extreme the person who just had a little bit of second hand smoke and gets lung cancer.

First step for relieving toxic mold exposure is leaving the place where the exposure is, which can be very expensive. It depends on how sick you are, if you’re really sick with neurological symptoms I prefer that people try to be someplace else for a period of time to see if they start to get better, and then deal with their residences if possible. The next step is to at least get the base nutrients, I find that most people are nutritionally depleted. There’s things like magnesium and B vitamins, it’s just basic things especially if your body’s been challenged you have to replenish. And the cut which for me is the center of the universe. Methylation is one of the ways that we clear things out of the body and to do repair. A lot of us have little methylation defects where our bodies need a special form of folic acid, higher amounts of B6 or trimethylglycine and other nutrients to help our pathways and our cells to work properly. I found that a lot of times the people who are a little slower at getting better when we address methylation it will give them a jump start in healing. It’s an important piece in learning what needs to be for people to recover, not just from mold toxicity but autoimmune issues. The important piece of getting well for most people is to find some things that open up the spickets and help them detoxify better. Some practitioners use cholestyramine, which is a medication that has to be prescribed. I prefer to use the natural things like bentonite clay and PectaSol which is a citrus pectin, activated charcoal. Those are things you could get through very good supplement companies not just at the drug store

Dr. Jean Dodds DVM
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The number of pets with autoimmune diseases, with thyroid being the most common or diabetes in older cats, is 10-15 times what it used to be in the 1970s, there’s no question. I think part of that is pollution, depletion of the ozone layer, the environmental effect. It’s feeding foods that come from livestock that are fed on grasses that are treated with glyphosate, the chemical that’s used as a week killer everywhere. Glyphosate is very very dangerous because when you forage these crops they’re getting some of the toxins as well, even from the water run off. There is a huge issue now about the exposure of humans and other animals to glyphosate and promotion of cancer, that just came out in the last six months. There is a very good study that shows all these things change the body chemistry and that’s probably part of the increasing frequency.

Wendy Myers FDN-P, CHHC
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I wake up every morning now and I feel happy and I’m in a good mood, I don’t have the anger and depression that I used to have when I had low thyroid function. I wake up with energy which is a big change because it wasn’t that way for many, many years. Many years leading up to my pregnancy and several years after, I was tired and exhausted every morning when I woke up. I would use coffee to stimulate myself and other things as well, sugar I was drawn to sugar and carbs, naturally to try to stimulate myself and wake up try to wake my brain up. Now I feel like I have natural energy in part because my thyroid is working well and that feels really, really good. When I finally learned my problem wasn’t will power it was really a huge relief because I can be very hard on myself, overachiever, perfectionist. When I realized I had control over my biology and in my research I found out all the things that were controlling my biology, namely toxic metals interfering with my thyroid function, interfering in my energy production, interfering in my hormones, that was very empowering.

Dr. Datis Kharrazian DHSc, DC, MS, FACN, CNS
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Chemicals like fire retardants, BPA plastic products containing benzene and smoke, these are all potentially triggers. There is a paper that we published in the Journal of Toxicology two years ago where we took four hundred healthy population samples and we wanted to see what happens. We found that these chemicals that we get exposed to they actually bind to our own proteins. We checked in our study albumin being the most common protein, the chemicals would bind to the albumin and you have albumin in every major organ, every major tissue protein. When they bind to that tissue protein that albumin shifts it’s protein conformational change and it now becomes a foreign invader. You could have BPA or benzene bind into albumin and now this is a neutral target protein for attack. So the immune system thinks it’s foreign and attacks the albumin when these chemicals bind to our tissues, and if it’s adrenal albumin you make antibodies against that and a potential for that to cause autoimmunity.

What we’ve done is we’ve gone through the chemicals that people react to, we checked about twenty different chemicals that people commonly get exposed to. Now we are releasing research which of those have correlations with people who have TPO antibodies and we’re finding there is a list of them. Some of the research is in publication, for the most part I can tell you if you have Hashimoto’s we know that plastics, BPA is a problem and BPA free is worse that contains BPS. They are more immune reactive, much more inflammatory so just plastics in general, get glass everything. With plastics the key thing is not to get exposed to heat because heating dissolves the plastic. If you have a plastic bottle and it’s holding something acidic, orange or apple juice or vinegar, you’re going to have high amounts of BPA in that product. Plastics are everywhere but it depends on how much of it leaches into your food, if you heat it it gets into your food. The microwave, even paper plates things like that that are coated with plastic, people who put a paper towel over their food there’s BPA all over that so you get that all over your food. People who heat up coffee cups or drink through a coffee lid it’s the heat that releases all that BPA, you’re loading yourself up with BPA. It’s going to be around carrying different food items if it gets heated it’s a problem and if it’s acidic like ketchup in a plastic bottle, coffee and tea are acidic. A lot of times we’ll have patients with Hashimoto’s or autoimmune diseases it’s their morning ritual, once or twice a day to get that hot beverage and drink through the lid. We look at their labs and they have very high BPA antibodies, you can measure it, and this is a trigger for your autoimmunity.

Dr. Trevor Cates ND
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The skin care manufactures can make a lot of money off of skin care products, and I don’t think anybody wants to hurt anybody, but I do honestly think that a lot of people think that they’re safe. A lot of people aren’t aware of the research, they haven’t dug in and looked at what these chemicals can actually do in the body and the molecular structure of them and how they might impact our health. I don’t think that anybody wants to hurt anybody but people want to make money. Sometimes that means making products that last longer so that they have a longer shelf life, they don’t have to throw them out. It also means that they smell better so people will keep using them and there’s a certain feel that people want when they use products, it’s just the overall experience. Most manufacturers are more concerned about getting customers to keep using their products, what can they do to improve the customer experience and keep customers coming back. They’re not looking at the health implications to that, and that’s what I do as a doctor, that’s what I was doing first is concerned about my patients health.

When I created my skincare line that’s what I was looking for, is how can I still create those same kinds of effects that customers want, that enjoyable fragrance, that luxurious feel of products, that feel that they make us feel more beautiful and more confident. So I talked to my patients and told them to focus on their food and their personal care products when it comes to hormone disrupting chemicals. I know that the personal care industry talks about the fact that these products are safe, these ingredients are “safe” because of the small amounts. But, if we’re using them every single day what’s happening then, we’re getting that constant exposure our bodies are never fully able to remove those parabens, phthalates, and the other chemicals that we’re getting exposed to on a daily basis our body doesn’t get a break. Plus, we’re getting pesticides in our food, air pollution, all these chemicals, what is happening in our bodies, we don’t know, those studies have not been done. I don’t want to wait until we get more information, I want to be practical because we know things like parabens are zenoestrogens and that means they have estrogenic activity in the body, they have been detected in breast tumor tissues. I know that some skin care companies say that it doesn’t mean that they cause breast cancer, but the fact that the body takes them into our skin, into our bodies, and they’re taken up into breast tumor tissue, that’s not a good sign.

Dr. Mark Hyman
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When I see someone with any disease, especially autoimmune disease, I think to myself what’s causing it. Im less interested in the name of the disease than what the cause is whether it’s colitis or psoriasis, Hashimoto’s or whatever it is, what I’m more interested in is how do we get to the root of why. It’s the medicine of why instead of what disease, why is this happening. And when you look through the lens of functional medicine you see there’s really only five causes of all disease and whatever is going on with somebody those are the things I want to know about. I want to become an expert in each of these areas, that’s what a good functional medicine doctor does. They look at the roll of toxins, and microbes, and allergens, and stress, and poor diet, those all interfere with normal functioning. They influence your gene expression and they combine with your life experiences to create imbalances in the body. Depending on your unique genetics and your history and your problem it will attack a different area.

In one person it could cause rheumatoid arthritis, another person it could cause Hashimoto’s, depends on you, that’s what’s unique about you. The factors are the same, my job is to be a detective and find out what kind of toxins are they, mercury, lead, pesticides, the average person when they’re born today has 287 known toxins in their umbilical cord blood before they take their first breath. Mercury, lead, arsenic, pesticides, DDT, phthalates, parabens, flame retardants, BPA, you name it. These chemicals are ubiquitous and they’re effecting us, in fact one of the emerging concepts over immune disease is this concept of autigens, these autoimmune inducing toxins that are in our environment. The thyroid is sort of the yellow canary in the body, it’s very sensitive so it often is the first thing to get effected. I think there is good evidence that environmental toxins have a significant impact on thyroid dysfunction so I really take a deep look in there and their story, what chemicals they’re exposed to, and it could be mold toxins, you can’t always tell what they are.

Dr. Jill Carnahan MD, ABFM, ABIHM, IFMCP
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The two biggest ones are mold and glyphosate known as roundup, both of those have a profound effect on damaging the tight junctions, the little trap doors between the cells that line the gut. In those cases it’s either mold exposure in a genetically susceptible individual or roundup which sadly is everywhere in our food and our land. They just recently did a study on organic wines from California, 80% of them had detectible residues of glyphosate. It’s everywhere, it’s pervasive, we’re swimming in a toxic soup so we all need to learn daily methods of detoxifying. And mold exposure, people have no idea this little black mold in my condo or apartment, for some people genetically there’s about 75% that isn’t effected. They might have a sniffle or congestion but they’re not autoimmune or systemically effected. The 25% of the population that is, they can have profound inflammatory immune responses. There’s a certain metabolite called TGF Beta that can totally trigger the autoimmune cascade that’s directly related to mold exposure. So there’s a whole sub-population of Crohn’s, Colitis and MS that are mold toxin exposure toxin in gut. These two tend to be the worse and have a bad effect on the permeability of the gut, causing leaky gut. In my book if I’m treating a patient with mold exposure we really can’t heal their gut, we can give them herbs and probiotics but if they continue to have mold exposure and they’re genetically susceptible they won’t give up.

Dave Asprey
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I decided I was going to do fewer of the things that made me weak and more of the things that make me strong. There are so many little things, it’s kind of like death by a thousand cuts, it’s not just one thing you can blame. When I really zoomed in on what was effecting me I knew that I lived in several houses with toxic mold and I also found research that said toxic mold directly triggers autoimmunity to the thyroid and parts of the adrenals as well as parts of the hypothalamus in the brain. All involved when your thyroid isn’t working properly and I said I’m going to aggressively remove food from my diet. I developed a diet that reduced all the things that trigger autoimmunity including foods that are likely moldy and I quit exposing myself to moldy environments. When I did that my thyroid function improved. It turns out that some of these foods like nuts that are paleo are very contaminated, peanuts are well known for having aflatoxin. But it goes deeper than that, coffee is a major problem, chocolate is a major problem, beer is a major problem. In fact anything made out of grain, whether or not it contains gluten, is a very high likelihood of having these mold toxins. What we’re learning is different people respond differently to different mold toxins. The scary thing is that if you have three different mold toxins they amplify each other so just because you have “allegedly” safe amounts of one doesn’t mean you’re actually safe, especially if you tend to have autoimmunity. There is a hint from these foods, after you eat a meal and your eyes are running, you’re coughing, that’s a pretty good sign that something wasn’t right. What’s more nefarious is you have this two hours later like I’m really tired or just a really strong craving for dessert after the end of the meal or a couple hours after the meal.

The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems you may be experiencing.

M. Scherker medical researcher