It’s a “Gene-Environment-Immune Complex”….How Mycotoxins impact Lyme, Autism and PANS
Mycotoxins from mold can invade the body thru exposure to contaminated food and water, respiratory inhalation of spores and through contact with mucous and cutaneous membranes.
Decades of data link mycotoxins as a neurotoxic and immunotoxic inducing agent. In fact, several studies that examined the neurocognitive impact of mycotoxin exposure in children show a higher incidence of neurotoxic mold in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Additionally, children exposed to mold for more than two years show a statistically significant drop of 10 IQ points when compared with their mold free counterparts. Extensive exposure in both children and adult show increased pain syndromes, movement disorders like Chorea and Parkinson’s disease as well as neurocognitive disorders akin to dementia and delirium.
Knowing the neurological and immunological effects of mycotoxins from mold exposure, how does it affect those with behavioral, neurological disorders like ASD, autoimmune encephalopathy and pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome (PANS)?
Multiple studies link pathobiology of mold/mycotoxins specifically to Autism and other symptoms that mimic Autism like PANS and autoimmune encephalopathy. Mycotoxins play a gene-environment interaction that is thought to contribute to dysfunctional progression of neurodevelopment.
The mycotoxins once in the body elucidates a strong immune reaction leading to significantly elevated cytokines. These cytokines permeate throughout the body and often cross over the blood brain barrier. Those exposed can experience increased GI permeability or “leaky gut”, elevated oxidative stress responses and inflammation. This appears to stem in the gut where the mycotoxins provoke a reactive oxygen species release in the epithelial cells which line the inner gut wall. The mycotoxins will colonize in the GI system, disrupting the healthy normal flora. As a result of this disruption, a chronic inflammatory response occurs.
Many studies show the link between chronic gut inflammation and neurological and psychological ailments like depression, anxiety, OCD all common symptoms of ASD, neuro-Lyme and PANS/Autoimmune Encephalopathy.
Other studies link mycotoxins to increased autoimmune disorders and development of autoantibodies in the brain. When this occurs, the nervous system is inflamed leading to significant cognitive struggles, brain fog, mood disorders and involuntary tics and movement disorders. This is the typical progression of Autoimmune Encephalopathy, PANS and some components of ASD.
So how does this connect with Lyme?
Applying the inflammatory, immune and GI effects of mycotoxin illness to Lyme simply adds another layer of symptom severity. Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses are known to provoke an inflammatory cytokine response. Borrelia Burgdorferi specifically provokes anti-neuronal antibodies which can travel peripherally causing brain inflammation. The inflammatory response of tick-borne illnesses like Lyme can further trigger leaky gut and blood brain barrier permeability. More circulating cytokines begets increased inflammation and the vicious cycle continues.
Any significant trigger of chronic inflammation in the body can trigger neuroinflammation and leaky gut. Most individuals can weather the storm with intact immune systems. Those unfortunate to house genes linked to ASD, methylation dysfunction and/or those afflicted with Lyme, Mold or both struggles to clear the inflammation, compounding the symptomatic response.
A study by DeSantis and others studied 52 Autistic children compared to 58 neurotypical children. Results showed the ASD children had a significantly higher mycotoxin load, specifically Ochratoxin A.
Many integrative providers believe in the Gut-Brain and inflammation connection. This study like many others support this theory and what we as providers see in clinical practice.
We welcome you to contact our office 212-288-8832 for more information and to schedule your one-on-one evaluation and treatment option appointment with one of our clinicians.
A September 2020 meta-analysis concludes there is a significant relationship between autism and concentrations of lead and mercury in the body
According to the researchers, mercury concentration is a pathogenic cause for autism, meaning it’s a causative factor
According to a 2014 review, there is evidence of malfeasance and conflicts of interest in studies claiming that thimerosal in vaccines is safe
Serious flaws and errors also plague studies that claim aluminum in vaccines is safe. A mathematical error found in a key FDA study has reignited concerns about the safety of aluminum in vaccines
Glutathione is the dominant agent that binds to and helps move mercury and other heavy metals out of your tissues. Part of effective detox involves upregulating your biochemistry to facilitate the mobilization and elimination of metals
The controversy over whether mercury overexposure can trigger autism is a long-standing one. A new meta-analysis of previous studies sheds much needed light on the matter, concluding there’s a “significant relationship” between the two.
The review,1,2 published in the September 2020 issue of Pediatric Health, Medicine and Therapeutics, looked at 18 studies conducted between 1982 and 2019 that examined the relationship between concentrations of copper, lead or mercury in blood, plasma, hair or nails and the prevalence of autism. While no relationship was found between autism and copper concentrations, a high degree of correlation was found for mercury and lead.
According to the authors,3 the relationship between mercury and autism is so strong that “the concentration of mercury can be listed as a pathogenic cause (disease-causing) for autism.” This held true even when outlier studies that might unduly influence the results were removed.
Mercury Is a Causative Factor
In the introduction, the authors point out that studies carried out in this area suggest mercury and other toxins are involved in the cause of autism, which include abnormal brain development that affects social interaction and communication skills.
“Metals’ biological effects are associated with their chemical properties, suggesting that excessive metal exposure can cause brain abnormalities around the world,” the researchers state.4
“Mercury is considered as a risk factor for autism since, according to previous studies, it has been recognized as a neurotrophic toxin. Reduction in mercury content in hair and teeth of the children with autism aroused the low disposal of mercury hypothesis.
Blaurock-Bush et al found that heavy metals are effective in the development of autism disorder. The role of mercury in the pathogenesis of autism has also been proven in other studies …
According to points raised in the present study … it would be quite reasonable to advise prevention of exposure to mercury and lead in children and provision of suitable conditions during the sensitive period of mothers’ pregnancy as vital measures to prevent the disease …”
A 2017 review paper,5 “The Toxicology of Mercury: Current Research and Emerging Trends,” details the “kinetics of this metal,” including “its metabolism, interaction with other metals, distribution, internal doses and targets and reservoir organs.” The paper cites several studies linking mercury and autism among its references, noting that:6
“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been demonstrated to be accompanied by distorted metal homeostasis. The degree to which people are affected by the metals seems to be largely influenced by the individual genetic makeup.
Especially Hg [mercury] exposure has become a suspected causative factor for many pathological conditions, and several sources of exposure to Hg compounds can be listed, including dental amalgam fillings, seafood, vaccines and increasingly from energy saving light bulbs as well.”
Malfeasance in Research Showing Thimerosal Safety
In the video above, the University of Calgary faculty of medicine illustrate how mercury causes neuronal degeneration in your brain. While there are many environmental sources of mercury exposure, some of the most prominent ones include high-mercury fish,dental amalgam and thimerosal-containing vaccines.
Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative used in certain vaccines. While it has been removed from most childhood vaccines, it is still used in some multidose vials, meaning vials that contain more than a single dose of the vaccine.
Remarkably, while the fact that mercury is neurotoxic is noncontroversial, health authorities still insist injected thimerosal is perfectly safe and has never been linked to neurological dysfunction. How could that be?
In 2014, a review article7 in the BioMed Research International journal titled, “Methodological Issues and Evidence of Malfeasance in Research Purporting to Show Thimerosal in Vaccines Is Safe,” noted that:
“The studies upon which the CDC relies and over which it exerted some level of control report that there is no increased risk of autism from exposure to organic Hg in vaccines, and some of these studies even reported that exposure to Thimerosal appeared to decrease the risk of autism.
These six studies are in sharp contrast to research conducted by independent researchers over the past 75+ years that have consistently found Thimerosal to be harmful … Many studies conducted by independent investigators have found Thimerosal to be associated with neurodevelopmental disorders.
Several studies, for example, including three of the six studies covered in this review, have found Thimerosal to be a risk factor for tics. In addition, Thimerosal has been found to be a risk factor in speech delay, language delay, attention deficit disorder, and autism.
Considering that there are many studies conducted by independent researchers which show a relationship between Thimerosal and neurodevelopmental disorders, the results of the six studies examined in this review, particularly those showing the protective effects of Thimerosal, should bring into question the validity of the methodology used in the studies …
Importantly … five of the publications examined in this review were directly commissioned by the CDC, raising the possible issue of conflict of interests or research bias, since vaccine promotion is a central mission of the CDC.
Conceivably, if serious neurological disorders are found to be related to Thimerosal in vaccines, such findings could possibly be viewed as damaging to the vaccine program.”
Aluminum Is Another Neurotoxic Poison
Today, the most commonly used vaccine preservative is aluminum, not thimerosal.It’s unfortunate that the Pediatric Health, Medicine and Therapeutics review did not include it, because it’s likely that aluminum has a similar impact on autism as mercury.
According to a 2018 study,8people with autism were found to have high amounts of aluminum in their brains.
“The mean (standard deviation) aluminium content across all 5 individuals for each lobe were 3.82(5.42), 2.30(2.00), 2.79(4.05) and 3.82(5.17) μg/g dry wt. for the occipital, frontal, temporal and parietal lobes respectively,” the researchers noted.9
The lead author on this paper was Dr. Christopher Exley, a leading expert in aluminum toxicology. He and a team of international scientists have also published a paper10 in the (preprint) December 2020 issue of the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology.
In it, they provide evidence for their position that “the safety of aluminium-based vaccine adjuvants … must be seriously evaluated without further delay, particularly at a time when the CDC is announcing a still increasing prevalence of autism spectrum disorders, of 1 child in 54 in the USA.”
As with thimerosal above, serious flaws and errors plague studies that claim aluminum in vaccines is safe. As reported in “Major Error Found in Vaccine Aluminum Safety Calculation,” a mathematical error found in a key U.S. Food and Drug Administration study has reignited concerns about its safety.
The FDA study,11 published in 2011, compared aluminum exposure from vaccines in infants to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR) safety limit of oral aluminum, concluding that:12
“… the body burden of aluminum from vaccines and diet throughout an infant’s first year of life is significantly less than the corresponding safe body burden of aluminum modeled using the regulatory MRL.
We conclude that episodic exposures to vaccines that contain aluminum adjuvant continue to be extremely low risk to infants and that the benefits of using vaccines containing aluminum adjuvant outweigh any theoretical concerns.”
The problem, found by Physicians for Informed Consent, is that the FDA based its calculations on 0.78% of oral aluminum being absorbed into the bloodstream instead of the value of 0.1% used by the ATSDR.
“As a result,” Physicians for Informed Consent noted,13 “the FDA paper assumed that nearly 8 (0.78%/0.1%) times more aluminum can safely enter the bloodstream, and this led the authors to incorrectly conclude that aluminum exposure from vaccines was well below the safety limit.” Christopher Shaw, a professor at the University of British Columbia who has studied the effects of injected aluminum, explained in a news release:14
“We knew that the  Mitkus et al. paper modeling aluminum clearance had to be inaccurate since it was assuming that injected aluminum kinetics were the same as the kinetics of aluminum acquired through diet.
Now, in addition, we see that they did their modeling based on using the incorrect level of aluminum absorption. What is particularly striking is that despite all these errors, since 2011, Mitkus et al. is used by CDC and other entities as the basis for claiming that aluminum adjuvants are safe.”
The Dangers of Lead
Lead is a naturally occurring metal that was once commonly used in gasoline, paint and children’s toys, and is still a part of batteries, pipes, pottery, roofing materials and cosmetics. Due to environmental pollution, food and water has also become a source of this dangerous toxin.
If you live in an urban area or near a busy road, it’s probably best to assume that your soil is contaminated with lead to some extent. This is also an issue if you plan to plant a vegetable garden, as vegetables can take up lead from the soil very efficiently.
Lead damages your brain and nervous system, and has been shown to lower IQ. Even small amounts can be dangerous, as lead builds up in your body over time. Children under 6 are especially at risk, as they absorb lead more easily than adults.
As detailed in “The Heroes Who Sunk Lead,” Herbert Needleman performed much of the foundational research showing even low levels of lead were dangerous. Another crucial crusader against lead was geochemist Clair Cameron Patterson, Ph.D.
It’s thanks to Patterson’s tireless work that lead was finally removed from gasoline, thereby saving untold billions of people from serious harm.15 He’s an unsung public health hero of the 20th century that most people have never heard of.
The video below is a short summary of the evolution of leaded gas, and ultimately, its removal, which was no small feat. Unfortunately, there are many other sources of toxic metals, and unless we address them all, we’re unlikely to get a handle on the autism epidemic.
We’re Getting Mercury Out of Dentistry
As mentioned, dental mercury is one pernicious source of mercury. Here, there is good news. After years of pressure from Consumers for Dental Choice and its allies, the FDA has finally released a long-overdue safety communication on dental amalgam.16 September 24, 2020, the FDA issued a warning that mercury fillings may adversely affect:
Pregnant women and their developing fetuses
Women who are planning to become pregnant
Nursing women and their newborns and infants
Children, especially those younger than 6
People with pre-existing neurological disease such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease
People with impaired kidney function
People with known heightened sensitivity (allergy) to mercury or other components of dental amalgam
While the FDA downplays the importance of its changed recommendation by stressing that the benefits of dental amalgam likely “outweigh their risks for most patients,” this update is nothing short of monumental, and opens the door, finally, for the elimination of dental mercury for all patients in the U.S., as has been done in many other countries already.
Detoxifying Heavy Metals
Heavy metal detoxification is no simple matter. As explained in “The Three Pillars of Heavy Metal Detoxification,” glutathione is the dominant agent that binds to and helps move mercury and other heavy metals out of your tissues. Part of effective detox involves upregulating your biochemistry to facilitate the mobilization and elimination of metals. In summary, the three pillars of heavy metal detox are:
Cleanse and clear your GI tract of metals and toxins
In January 2020, I also interviewed Boyd Haley, Ph.D., is a chemist specializing in the development of chemicals to chelate toxic metals. Haley has developed a nontoxic chelating compound called emeramide or NBMI (brand name Irminix), which tightly binds to mercury and free iron (which is also highly toxic), and acts as a potent antioxidant, as it has two glutathione arms.
Emeramid is still under drug development but can be obtained via expanded access, named patient use, compassionate use or special use, depending on the country you’re in. An early access application and prescription, required by the EMA, is available on the company’s website, EmeraMed.com.17
In closing, the evidence strongly suggests exposure to mercury, lead and aluminum are significant risk factors for autism and other neuropathologies. The simplest answer to the autism epidemic is therefore to prevent children from these kinds of exposures. That includes banning dental amalgam and getting thimerosal and aluminum out of all vaccines.
When speaking with children who are chronically ill, it can be difficult to understand what is causing their symptoms.
Children, naturally, might not know how to accurately describe their pains or illness. When there are multiple symptoms, it can be even more challenging as they grow and change so quickly.
For children with autism or other language disorder, they may be limited or unable to communicate why they feel the way they feel. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Lyme disease are examples of what seem to be entirely different diseases, but they share an overlap of symptoms.
While autism is usually seen as a developmental disorder and Lyme disease and infectious disease, the two have more in common than you might think. There are interesting connections between the two, especially when diagnosed in children.
Symptoms shared by both Autism and Lyme:
Neurological symptoms that include difficulty with communication and confusion, disorientation, muscle twitching, sensitivity to light, brain fog, and delayed development.
Psychological problems that impact behaviors, obsessive-compulsive disorder, an increased sense of doom, anxiety and outbursts.
Physical health issues such as muscle weakness, arthritis, and rashes.
Gut health issues including food allergies, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
These symptoms are common features of autism and Lyme disease.
Coincidentally, many of these symptoms are also displayed in auto-immune disorders.
Tests for Lyme can be misleading, as they have a poor accuracy. A specialist is always needed in order to get a better sense of other treatment options because both autism and Lyme can have long-term issues.
However, there are treatments that benefit Lyme and autism alike. Focusing on gut health has been an important part of treatment for both conditions. This is because we are seeing the benefits of specific diets in patients with autism and/or Lyme.
Nutritional support strengthens the integrity of the intestinal membranes, balances the billions of bacteria in our gut and improves digestion and elimination.
All of this help support the immune function of the gut, which ultimately affects brain function.
An effective nutritional protocol would support the immune system, reduce symptoms, calm the nervous system and strengthen the body’s ability to fight infections.
Autoimmune conditions such as autism and Lyme disease benefit greatly from proper diet and lifestyle modifications.
Removing casein, dairy, sugar, processed foods and gluten from the diet will allow the body to heal and aid in the detoxification process, naturally.
Reducing environmental factors like external and emotional stressors are extremely important for both Lyme and ASD.
Stress responses increase the load on the immune & nervous system, which can lead to exhaustion and further relapse into symptoms.
Identifying these triggers help you to work around them and eventually train your nervous system to create new patterns and get rid of the old ones. Autoimmune conditions have very unique impacts on the immune system, especially Lyme and autism.
Consider speaking to a specialist about your symptoms, especially if they mimic other autoimmune conditions. And never be afraid to get a second or even third opinion, as it may be necessary in order to get to the root of problem.
From the UNEP Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee meeting
Neuroscientist Janet K. Kern, PhD, speaks in this video about the connection between thiomersal in vaccines and autism. Thiomersal, commonly known in the U.S. as thimerosal, is an organomercury compound. Dr. Kern gave this talk for the UNEP Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in July, 2012. She is a director of the Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (CONEM), and the chairman of the CONEM US Autism Research Group.
In 1999 studies began to surface showing that multi-dose vial vaccines, such as the MMR and hepatitis B vaccines, contained enough thimerosal to expose vaccinated children to 62.5 ug of mercury per visit to the pediatrician. This is one hundred times the dose considered safe by the Federal Environmental Protection Guidelines for infants!
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder with reported prevalence in the United States of 1 in 59 children (approximately 1.7%). Core deficits are identified in 2 domains: social communication/interaction and restrictive, repetitive patterns of behavior. Children and youth with ASD have service needs in behavioral, educational, health, leisure, family support, and other areas. Standardized screening for ASD at 18 and 24 months of age with ongoing developmental surveillance continues to be recommended in primary care (although it may be performed in other settings), because ASD is common, can be diagnosed as young as 18 months of age, and has evidenced-based interventions that may improve function. More accurate and culturally sensitive screening approaches are needed. Primary care providers should be familiar with the diagnostic criteria for ASD, appropriate etiologic evaluation, and co-occurring medical and behavioral conditions (such as disorders of sleep and feeding, gastrointestinal tract symptoms, obesity, seizures, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, and wandering) that affect the child’s function and quality of life. There is an increasing evidence base to support behavioral and other interventions to address specific skills and symptoms. Shared decision making calls for collaboration with families in evaluation and choice of interventions. This single clinical report updates the 2007 American Academy of Pediatrics clinical reports on the evaluation and treatment of ASD in one publication with an online table of contents and section view available through the American Academy of Pediatrics Gateway to help the reader identify topic areas within the report.
There were many important findings from the AAP Autism guidelines, but here are some additional key ones.
The pediatric health care provider is a resource for information and should collaborate with families
That children should be formally and regularly screened for Autism as early as possible.
Conduct developmental and behavioral observations during all well visits with children, developmental screening at the 9-, 18-, and 30-month visits, and standardized screening of patients for Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at 18 and 24 months old.
Girls may have lesser intensity of symptoms and fewer externalizing behaviors and therefore may be under diagnosed.
When developmental concerns are identified, pediatricians should refer children to early intervention (0-3 years of age) or school services to initiate services.
Constipation is common in Autism
Pediatricians often see young children with severe food selectivity and sleep problems who are later diagnosed with ASD
Individuals with ASD are at increased risk for seizures.
Almost 16% of young children with ASD have a head circumference greater than the 97th percentile
Intervention for children either diagnosed with Autism or even before a formal diagnosis, if they are at-risk, should start as soon as possible.
The research shows that the earlier intervention begins, the better their outcomes as they get older.
There needs to be better identification of co-occurring health conditions now associated with ASD including, ADHD, OCD, anxiety and sleep and intestinal disorders, seizures, etc.
That families should consider performing genetic testing that may help better understand the type of Autism a child has, which could affect what type of interventions the child is provided.
Children with ASD need evidence-based services to address social, academic and behavioral needs at home and school, with access to appropriate pediatric and mental health care, respite services and leisure activities.
There is a need for a combination of developmental and behavioral approaches, as well as parent-mediated therapies.
At school age, social skills should be addressed through pragmatic language therapy, teaching play and interaction with peers.
Wandering is a major behavioral and health risk issue and should be addressed through anticipatory guidance throughout the lifespan.
Addressing GI and feeding issues is important
Families should be supported to work on transitions to post-secondary education, work and adult health providers
Pediatricians need to inform patients and families about the evidence for interventions and give referrals to organizations and providers that can see these children quickly