Highlights from the Institute for Functional Medicine Annual International Conference

Highlights from the Institute for Functional Medicine Annual International Conference ‘Solving the Puzzle of Autoimmunity: The Interplay of Gut, Genes, and Environment’

Mark Hyman, MD opened the conference.  He emphasized that it is imperative for physicians to look ’upstream’ and evaluate why we are having an epidemic of autoimmune disorders. He introduced the term ‘exposome’ which refers to the sum total of exposures to poor diet, stress, infections, gut flora disruptions, drugs, pollution, radiation, etc that might initiate disease.


William Parker, PhD  spoke about ‘Helminthic Therapy: The Hope of Science and the Data from Reality’. He stated that our immune systems are destabilized by microbiome alteration, inflammatory diets, sedentary lifestyles, stress and vitamin D deficiency. Human ancestors had symbiotic parasites (worms) which have been eradicated. ‘Good germs’ in our microbiome are greatly diminished. A Study in 2005 of children with inflammatory bowel disease using helminthic (worm) therapy showed no side effects and 79.3% improved, 72.4% ‘cured’.

Elizabeth Mumper, MD and Julie Buckley, MD spoke about ‘Autoimmunity, Autism, Autoantibodies and Cerebral Folate Deficiency’.  They stressed the fact that ‘chronically ill kids’ is the new normal. “Learn from Sid Baker, MD - ‘Helminthic and antifungal therapies are the safest and most effective way of testing and treating diverse clinical expressions of the loss of immune tolerance.’”  Antibodies to folate receptors block folate from crossing into the brain. This has been studied in children with autism (Cerebral Folate Receptor Autoantibodies in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Frye, et.al. Molecular Psychiatry (2012), p1-13.) More than half of children with autism tested positive for anti-folate receptor Ab in the study. Dairy (including camel milk!) promotes production of anti-folate receptor antibodies.

J. Cottel, MD spoke about ‘Low Dose Naltrexone and Autoimmune Disease Therapy’. Low dose naltrexone (LDN) (1.0 - 4.5 mg per day) is thought to produce a rebound endorphin effect. It has been studied extensively and has been found to be helpful for many autoimmune conditions including multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, thyroid disease, Crohn’s disease, autism and arthritis.



Robert Rountree, MD spoke about environmental exposures. He said there is a rise in exposure to environmental pollutants which is increasing the total body burden of xenobiotics. Common xenobiotics include plastics, industrial toxins, petrochemical fuels, cosmetics, flame retardants, pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, pesticides and herbicides. Xenobiotics have been shown to disrupt healthy barriers and immune function as well as hormone function.

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Dr. Cheri Standing

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