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Which Toxins Cause Autoimmune Conditions

Which Toxins Cause Autoimmune Conditions?

Which Toxins Cause Autoimmune Conditions And How To Avoid Them

Studies have shown that toxins cause autoimmune conditions. This is because certain chemicals in our environment trigger an overactive immune response, leading to the development of autoimmune conditions. Toxins include heavy metals, endocrine disruptors, pesticides, persistent organic pollutants, and toxic solvents. These compounds have been found to trigger oxidative stress, disrupt T cell functioning, and change the functions of immune cell signaling pathways.1

Exposure to a cocktail of autoimmune-inducing environmental toxins increases in the generation of lymphocytes, upregulating systemic inflammation. These chemicals increase the production of interleukin-6, a proinflammatory compound.2

Exposure to toxins also weakens our immune system, making us more susceptible to developing autoimmune diseases. This is because these toxins disrupt the balance of bacteria in our gut, which plays a crucial role in regulating our immune system. 

For instance, toxins decrease populations of Bacteroides fragilis, a type of bacteria that produces Treg cells. Treg cells are responsible for regulating our immune response and preventing unnecessary inflammation. Therefore, toxins indirectly reduce the number of Treg cells, leading to an overactive immune system and autoimmune diseases.3

Toxins have also been found to directly attack and damage our body’s cells and tissues, leading to inflammation and an autoimmune response. For example, mercury has been linked to the development of autoimmune thyroid diseases.4

Read more about other toxins that cause thyroid disease.

Which Toxins Cause Autoimmune Conditions – Heavy Metals

One of the ways heavy metals contribute to autoimmune diseases is through their ability to disrupt the immune system’s balance. Heavy metals stimulate the production of inflammatory cytokines and trigger a cascade of events that lead to chronic inflammation. This constant state of inflammation then leads to the development of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis.5

Mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic are among the heavy metals that have been linked to autoimmune conditions. These toxins accumulate in the body over time, often without noticeable symptoms until significant damage has already been done.6


Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that is commonly found in the environment. It enters our bodies through contaminated seafood, dental fillings, and even from the air we breathe. Shockingly, mercury is even present in tattoos. Studies have shown that mercury exposure can trigger autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis.

One of the mechanisms by which mercury contributes to autoimmune diseases is through its ability to bind to proteins and disrupt their function. This leads to the production of autoantibodies, which target healthy cells and tissues in the body.7

Mercury poses serious health risks when it enters the body and accumulates in tissues such as the pituitary-hypothalamus. This area of the brain serves as a critical control center for hormone function throughout the body. Comparatively, it can be thought of as an airport control tower that directs and regulates all flights. However, when mercury impairs its functioning, problems result, just like pilots being unable to take off or land safely without proper guidance.

I personally experienced this disruption firsthand as a result of mercury accumulation in my own brain due to dental fillings and contact lens solution. It led to various health issues and took me on a journey to discover the root cause of my illness. Read more about my story.


Lead is a highly toxic heavy metal that has been used in various industries for centuries. Studies have shown that lead exposure increases the risk of developing autoimmune conditions such as SLE and multiple sclerosis.

Lead causes damage to the immune system by suppressing its function and altering the balance of immune cells. It also contributes to chronic inflammation, which is a common feature of autoimmune diseases.8


Cadmium is a toxic heavy metal that is commonly found in industrial processes such as battery production, mining, and smelting. Certain foods like chocolate and Himalayan sea salt have high levels of cadmium. Cadmium is known to disrupt the immune system by stimulating the production of inflammatory cytokines. Studies have shown that cadmium exposure can trigger autoimmune diseases such as SLE and rheumatoid arthritis.9


Arsenic is a toxic heavy metal that is commonly found in groundwater and agricultural products. Studies have shown that exposure to arsenic increases the risk of developing autoimmune conditions like psoriasis. Arsenic disrupts the immune system by altering the function of immune cells and promoting the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.10

Removing Heavy Metals From The Body Is The Only Solution

Heavy metal toxicity is a significant risk factor for autoimmune diseases. These metals must be removed for a lasting health solution. In order to facilitate effective detoxification, it has to take place at the cellular level. I have developed my 5Rs approach that specifically focuses on removing heavy metals and other toxins from the cells.

The first step, R1, involves identifying and eliminating the source of toxicity from one’s life. This could be anything from mercury fillings to exposure to environmental pollutants. Without addressing this initial source of toxicity, detoxification efforts often prove to be ineffective in the long run.

Cellular membrane regeneration is at the heart of R2 in my approach. Heavy metal toxicity, such as mercury, causes inflammation of the cellular membranes. As a result, essential nutrients are unable to enter the cells and waste products are unable to exit.

R3 focuses on rejuvenating cells by replenishing cellular ATP production and other essential pathways that are depleted by toxins. ATP is the vital energy source for cells to function optimally. To achieve this, it is crucial to enhance cellular detoxification pathways and upregulate overall cellular activities. Adequate levels of cellular ATP also enable the synthesis of glutathione, a potent antioxidant that aids in eliminating toxins such as mercury from the body.

In R4, the emphasis lies on reducing inflammation in the cellular membrane. As toxins are eliminated from cells, one would assume that cellular membrane inflammation would naturally decrease. However, something known as the NO/ONOO cycle maintains this inflammatory response. Specific nutraceuticals are utilized to finally break this cycle and reduce cellular membrane inflammation.

R5 involves restoring proper methylation. Heavy metals have an adverse effect on methyl groups, which are crucial for detoxification, removal of toxic hormone metabolites, and regulation of epigenetic factors. By supporting proper methylation, we activate beneficial genes and suppress harmful ones that were triggered by exposure to toxins.

Chelating agents are essential in the process of detoxification, especially when it comes to removing heavy metals after they have exited the cells. Additionally, gut binders are utilized to help ensure that heavy metals are properly removed from bile and expelled from the body. Realize that successful detoxification often takes several years to fully eliminate accumulated heavy metals from the body.

Which Toxins Cause Autoimmune Conditions – Aluminum

Studies have shown that aluminum exposure plays a role in triggering or exacerbating autoimmune conditions. One study found that individuals with autoimmune diseases had higher levels of aluminum in their bodies compared to healthy individuals.

One way that aluminum contributes to autoimmune conditions is by stimulating an immune response. When aluminum enters the body, it activates certain immune cells and causes them to release proinflammatory substances. This leads to chronic inflammation.

The immune system has a delicate balance between attacking foreign invaders and leaving healthy cells alone. Aluminum exposure disrupts this balance, causing the immune system to attack healthy cells and tissues.11

Which Toxins Cause Autoimmune Conditions – Endocrine Disruptors

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that mimic or interfere with the body’s natural hormones. They are found in everyday products such as plastics, personal care products, and pesticides.

Exposure to endocrine disruptors has been linked to a variety of health issues, including autoimmune conditions. These chemicals disrupt the delicate balance of hormones in our bodies, leading to inflammation and dysregulation of the immune system. This makes individuals more susceptible to developing autoimmune disorders.

Some common endocrine disruptors that have been linked to autoimmune conditions include bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, and parabens. It is important to be aware of the potential sources of endocrine disruptors and take steps to minimize exposure. This can include avoiding plastic containers with BPA, choosing natural and organic personal care products, and opting for non-toxic cleaning products.12

Which Toxins Cause Autoimmune Conditions - Endocrine Disruptors - BPA

Read more about the toxins in cleaning products.

Which Toxins Cause Autoimmune Conditions – Pesticides

Pesticides are a common type of toxin that leads to autoimmune conditions. There are many different types of pesticides, but some of the most commonly used include organochlorines, organophosphates, carbamates, and pyrethroids. These chemicals have varying effects on the body, but all of them disrupt the immune system and contribute to the development of autoimmune conditions.

One way that pesticides cause autoimmune conditions is through their ability to trigger inflammation in the body. Additionally, some pesticides have been found to be directly toxic to certain cells in the body that play a role in regulating immune function. 

For example, organochlorines have been shown to target and destroy white blood cells, which are responsible for defending the body against foreign invaders. This weakens the overall immune response and increases susceptibility to developing autoimmune conditions.

Furthermore, pesticides have been linked to disruptions in the gut microbiome, which plays a crucial role in maintaining a balanced immune system. The use of pesticides has been found to alter the composition of bacteria in the gut, leading to an imbalance, contributing to the development of autoimmune conditions.

Exposure to pesticides has been linked to the development of specific autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Studies have shown that individuals who work with pesticides or live in areas with high levels of pesticide use are at a higher risk for developing these conditions.13

Glyphosate, an organophosphorus pesticide used on nearly all crops and lawns, makes the blood-brain barrier (BBB) more permeable, allowing larger quantities of mercury and aluminum to permeate deeper into the brain and accumulate in the hypothalamus. The combination of even a small amount of both mercury and aluminum in the brain is even more detrimental than a higher dose of either aluminum or mercury.

To protect against the harmful effects of pesticides, it is important to limit exposure as much as possible. This includes choosing organic produce and products whenever possible, using natural pest control methods, and being cautious when using household products that contain pesticides.

Read more about the toxic effects of Roundup.

Which Toxins Cause Autoimmune Conditions – Persistent Organic Pollutants

Another type of toxin that has been linked to the development of autoimmune conditions are persistent organic pollutants (POPs). POPs are a group of toxic chemicals that have a unique ability to resist environmental degradation. This means that they persist in the environment for a long time, even after they have been released into the air, water, or soil. POPs are mainly man-made chemicals and are commonly used in industrial processes, pesticides, and other products.

Studies have shown that exposure to POPs has been linked to the development of various autoimmune conditions, including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. This is because POPs disrupt the normal functioning of our immune system, causing it to attack our own cells and tissues.

One way in which POPs trigger autoimmune conditions is by acting as endocrine disruptors. They also cause inflammation and oxidative stress. Moreover, POPs alter the composition of our gut microbiome. This disruption in the balance of bacteria in our gut leads to immune dysfunction and increased susceptibility to autoimmune conditions.14

Reducing exposure to POPs is key in preventing and managing autoimmune conditions. Some ways to limit exposure include avoiding products with harmful chemicals, consuming organic and locally grown food, and using natural household cleaners.

Which Toxins Cause Autoimmune Conditions - Persistent Organic Pollutants

Which Toxins Cause Autoimmune Conditions – Toxic Solvents

Toxic solvents are chemicals used in many industrial processes and products, including paints, adhesives, degreasers, and cleaning agents. Once inside the body, these chemicals cause damage to organs and tissues, including the immune system. They have been shown to disrupt normal immune function, leading to autoimmune conditions. These chemicals have also been linked to the exacerbation of symptoms in individuals with pre-existing autoimmune conditions.15

Which Toxins Cause Autoimmune Conditions And How To Avoid Them

Now that you know which toxins cause autoimmune conditions, it is important to be mindful of what we put in and on our bodies. This includes eating a healthy diet full of organic, whole foods, using natural cleaning and personal care products, and avoiding harsh chemicals in our homes. Moreover, it is crucial to increase the activity of cellular pathways, optimize cellular detoxification, and halt inflammation of the cellular membranes. By doing so, we can effectively enhance the body’s detoxification processes and focus on removing the toxins that cause autoimmune conditions.

Read more about the connection between inflammation and disease.


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2 Liu Y, Zhang Z, Han D, Zhao Y, Yan X and Cui S (2022) Association between environmental chemicals co-exposure and peripheral blood immune-inflammatory indicators. Front. Public Health 10:980987. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2022.980987

3 Cheng H, Guan X, Chen D, Ma W. The Th17/Treg Cell Balance: A Gut Microbiota-Modulated Story. Microorganisms. 2019 Nov 20;7(12):583. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms7120583. PMID: 31756956; PMCID: PMC6956175.

4 Pamphlett R, Doble PA, Bishop DP (2021) Mercury in the human thyroid gland: Potential implications for thyroid cancer, autoimmune thyroiditis, and hypothyroidism. PLoS ONE 16(2): e0246748.

5 Witkowska D, Słowik J, Chilicka K. Heavy Metals and Human Health: Possible Exposure Pathways and the Competition for Protein Binding Sites. Molecules. 2021 Oct 7;26(19):6060. doi: 10.3390/molecules26196060. PMID: 34641604; PMCID: PMC8511997.

6 Rahman Z, Singh VP. The relative impact of toxic heavy metals (THMs) (arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr)(VI), mercury (Hg), and lead (Pb)) on the total environment: an overview. Environ Monit Assess. (2019) 191:419. doi: 10.1007/s10661-019-7528-7

7 Pollard KM, Cauvi DM, Toomey CB, Hultman P, Kono DH. Mercury-induced inflammation and autoimmunity. Biochim Biophys Acta Gen Subj. 2019 Dec;1863(12):129299. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2019.02.001. Epub 2019 Feb 10. PMID: 30742953; PMCID: PMC6689266.

8 Dai J, Zhang L, Du X, Zhang P, Li W, Guo X, et al. Effect of Lead on antioxidant ability and immune responses of Crucian carp. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2018:1–8.

9 Ebrahimi M, Khalili N, Razi S, Keshavarz-Fathi M, Khalili N, Rezaei N. Effects of lead and cadmium on the immune system and cancer progression. J Environ Health Sci Eng. 2020 Feb 17;18(1):335-343. doi: 10.1007/s40201-020-00455-2. PMID: 32399244; PMCID: PMC7203386.

10 Abdollahzade N, Majidinia M, Babri S. Melatonin: a pleiotropic hormone as a novel potent therapeutic candidate in arsenic toxicity. Mol Biol Rep. 2021 Sep;48(9):6603-6618. doi: 10.1007/s11033-021-06669-3. Epub 2021 Aug 28. PMID: 34453671.

11 Gherardi RK, Eidi H, Crépeaux G, Authier FJ, Cadusseau J. Biopersistence and brain translocation of aluminum adjuvants of vaccines. Front Neurol. 2015 Feb 5;6:4. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2015.00004. PMID: 25699008; PMCID: PMC4318414.

12 Kharrazian D. The Potential Roles of Bisphenol A (BPA) Pathogenesis in Autoimmunity. Autoimmune Dis. 2014;2014:743616. doi: 10.1155/2014/743616. Epub 2014 Apr 7. PMID: 24804084; PMCID: PMC3997912.

13 Parks CG, Costenbader KH, Long S, Hofmann JN, Beane FLE, Sandler DP. Pesticide use and risk of systemic autoimmune diseases in the Agricultural Health Study. Environ Res. 2022 Jun;209:112862. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2022.112862. Epub 2022 Feb 4. PMID: 35123967; PMCID: PMC9205340.

14 Lee DH, Jacobs DR, Jr. Hormesis and public health: can glutathione depletion and mitochondrial dysfunction due to very low-dose chronic exposure to persistent organic pollutants be mitigated? J Epidemiol Community Health. 2015;69(3):294-300 PMID:25271248

15 Pollard KM, Cauvi DM, Mayeux JM, Toomey CB, Peiss AK, Hultman P, Kono DH. Mechanisms of Environment-Induced Autoimmunity. Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2021 Jan 6;61:135-157. doi: 10.1146/annurev-pharmtox-031320-111453. Epub 2020 Aug 28. PMID: 32857688; PMCID: PMC8166384.

Disclaimer: All rights reserved. Information provided is for general purposes and not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult your healthcare professional for medical concerns. About Dr. Pompa

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