Aristo Vodjani, PhD

Toxins: Pathway to Autoimmunity

Episode Description

Up to ten percent of the population has an autoimmune disease, and this percentage is increasing. Dr. Vojdani explains the cause of the increase in autoimmune disease. Environmental conditions contribute approximately seventy percent of autoimmune conditions. Genetics account for only thirty percent. This unrelenting process starts with environmental toxins. Every year, there are 2,500 new chemicals in 6 billion different products. These toxins accumulate in our bodies and bind to our tissues forming a new antigen (that is an unrecognizable substance in the body resulting in a immune response). The immune response initiates inflammation and an autoimmunity response as the body attacks this unrecognizable substance. This sets off a storm of inflammation that can enter the brain causing neurodegeneration in the brain. This can result in depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, memory problems. Toxins in food and the toxins resulting from infection suffer a similar fate.

Past Speakers have pointed out that

  • Some countries will not accept some of US food due to poor quality
  • 80 % insecticides come from meat
  • other countries send moldy and toxic coffee to the US due to a lack of regulatory standards
  • Gluten sets the body on fire (called inflammation)
  • Any undigested fool can lead to an autoimmune disease

Definition autoimmune diseases

  • An autoimmune disease occurs when the body mistakenly attacks its own tissues
  • Normally the body can differentiate between self and non- self
  • This is programmed as child learns to learn to differentiate between self and non-self
  • An autoimmune disease occurs when this mechanism makes a mistake and attacks its own body


  • Autoimmune Disease affect 53 million people
  • 7-10 % world population suffer from autoimmune disease
  • There are 100 different types of autoimmune diseases
  • Autoimmune Reviews seriously on the rise
  • This is not because of an improvement in diagnostic capabilities
  • Gender Ratios
    • The ratio for women to men is 18-20 for one autoimmune disease
    • Typically the ratio is 2-3:1 for the ratio of females to males
    • This is likely due to the fact that women are exposed to more environmental toxins (eg. In cosmetics)
    • A woman can have 120 chemicals on her before she leaves the house

Genetics vs. Environmental Factors

  • Vojdani believes autoimmune diseases are caused primarily by the environment
  • NIH reports that one third of autoimmune diseases are associated with genes
  • The other two thirds are caused by the environment
  • Twin studies:
    • 30 % of identical twins of a twin with an autoimmune disease develop and autoimmune disease
    • 5 % of non identical twins develop and autoimmune disease when the other twin has an autoimmune disease
  • The primary environmental triggers fall into three categories
    • Infections
    • Toxic chemicals
    • Foods that we eat
  • As an example, his mother rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis more than 47 years. This was related to gingivitis, and none of her ten children developed rheumatoid arthritis.
    • When a toxin is released into the body, it sets off an inflammatory reaction.
    • when immune system does not like ità immune disorders including autoimmune conditions


  • 2500 new chemicals are developed each year
  • These are in 6 billion different products
  • Any synthetic material bad to health particularly to immune system
  • tea bags have 20 different toxic chemicals
  • There are even chemicals in paper cups.
  • Chemicals get into body and combine with tissue form neo antigens. These are responsible for autoimmune diseases as these neo antigens look foreign.
  • These bind to fat cells
  • Many scientists think chemicals are in and out, yet we only excrete 80 % through the urine
  • The other 20 % stays in the body.


  • lemon juice, ketchup, vinegar in plastic will dissolve the plastic meaning the plastic will be in our food.
  • Water dissolves plastic
  • A piece of salmon in plastic container will absorb a significant amount of plastic even when placed in the refrigerator

BPA Plastics

  • BPA crosses the blood brain barrier and binds to enzymes so the enzymes won’t work.
  • Plastics developed since BPA (eg. BPF3) are just as bad
  • Both of these plastics compete with thyroid hormone receptor resulting in thyroid autoimmunity in may.
  • The chemical structure BPA and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) are almost identical
  • BPA interfere with estrogens and progesterone (another possible explanation for the increase in autoimmune disease in women)
  • Antibodies made against BPA cross blood brain barrier can bind with brain tissue such as myelin basic protein, myelin oligodendrocyte basic protein


Tetrabromobisphenol A  a fire retardant spray to slow a fire burning by 5 minutes

Tetrachloroethylene  dry cleaners

Parabens  in women’s products

Aflatoxins peanuts molds release aflatoxins

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) disrupt the blood brain barrier and promote brain metastases


  • In amalgams, fish, water, organic vegetables
  • Heavy metals first bind to membrane of cell
  • They penetrate the cell membrane
  • Bind to DNA and RNA so our body makes Ab against our RNA, DNA
  • These are called anti nuclear antibodies
  • We pee out 80 % of heavy metals, but 20 % of the heavy metals go into our cell nuclei where the generate antibodies against our genetic material (DNA, RNA)

Dyes and Colouring

  • Tandoori chicken has dye attached to it
  • Our enzymes cannot digest dyes leading to an autoimmune disorder.
  • Only 80 % Tetrazine Yellow 8 Dye is digested.
  • Children paint faces, cakes with food colouring. This is not good as the skin is the largest organ, and the chemicals in the paint are absorbed.

Similarity of Blood Brain Barrier and gut:  

  • They have a 75 % biochemical similarity.
  • Gut microbiome affects and release toxins such as lipopolysaccharides (LPS) which open the blood brain barrier and induce inflammation in brain
  • This released bacteria is called endotoxin and can come from Enterobacter, E coli, salmonella, shigella, klebisella, camplobacteria jejueni, and H pylori
  • You are what your mothers ate when she was pregnant
    • Plastic bottles, dental procedures, fish
  • The gut affects wiring brain
    • Natural birth vs. C section
    • breast feeding vs. bottle feeding affect the integrity of gut and microbiome. These are important times because the child’s immune system is in the process of developing.

Effect of Gluten on Microbiome

  • Gluten not digested directly open gut barrierà inflammationà opens blood brain barrier
  • Certain components of gluten cross react with brain tissue (eg the Purkinje cells in the Cerebellum which affect balance).


  • ½ of persons with GERD may have too much acid
  • ½ of persons with GERD have too little acid. Antacids will make these people worse.  Undigested food due to little stomach acid can lead to autoimmune diseases
  • As we age we make fewer enzymes and cannot digest our food. This compounds the situation of having too little stomach acid.



  • Look at triggers in food, toxic chemicals, infection
  • All affect integrity of gut microbiome.
  • Consume fish with min toxic chemicals
  • Toxins affect microbiome and set the stage for autoimmune diseases
  • Each bacteria loves different types of food
  • Go green as much as possible
  • Eat organic foods
    • When children are switched to an organic diet in a week they have 80 % fewer chemicals in their bodies.
  • Avoid plastic and Teflon coated materials in cooking
  • Avoid chemicals in personal care products such as shampoo


  • There is a window of opportunity 1 – 10 years
  • Detect as early as possible
  • Developed antibody assays to detect antibodies as biomarker of autoimmunity of future at Cyrex Labs


  • Have to change the integrity of microbiome
  • Change diet to include more vegetables and fruit
  • Use less sugar; bad bacteria in the microbiome love sugar
  • Use probiotics
  • Drink out of and store food in glass
  • Glutamine and N-acetylcysteine

Fecal transplant

  • Replace bad bacteria with good bacteria
  • Can result in weight loss and a reduction of inflammation.


  • There are daily environmental triggers which will trigger autoimmune diseases
  • These triggers include infections, toxic chemicals, foods
  • These toxins affect microbiome and set the stage for autoimmune diseases
  • Disturbing the gut microbiome can result in opening the blood brain barrier thus causing neuro inflammation in the brain
  • Bad bacteria release toxins affect integrity of gut barrier and opens the blood brain barrier
  • Give probiotics significant improvement in many conditions including depression