Mold Illness and Chronic Inflammatory Response

The consequences of mold and other biotoxin exposures are becoming more and more clear these days and how they contribute to often times debilitating illness and chronic inflammation can be tested for. Imagine living your life feeling completely healthy and without warning you become progressively sick to the point of no longer being able function at work or enjoy simple daily activities. Worse than this, imagine going from doctor to doctor who are unable to explain why you feel the way you do, because all your lab and imaging tests are normal. Unfortunately, there are many people out there who are experiencing this with no better treatment offered than an antidepressant, when the real cause is mold illness.

How Mold and other Biotoxins Lead to a Chronic Inflammatory Response

Biotoxin illness is becoming more and more common in my practice. Biotoxins are ultra-small fat soluble chemicals released from microorganisms, ticks, spiders, and molds that can circulate through our cells and blood for years after being exposed. In a normally functioning individual the immune system would identify the biotoxin, produce an antibody to neutralize the toxin, and eliminate it from the body. Due to genetic differences not all people possess the ability to produce antibodies to biotoxins. This leads to a chronic biotoxin infection which results in inflammatory products being produced from the immune system for a long time. It is these inflammatory products that produce the wide variety of symptoms you see in biotoxin illness and is why this condition was named “Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome” (a.k.a., CIRS) by its founder Ritchie Shoemaker, MD.

Risks & Symptoms of CIRS

Those more at risk of having this condition are people who have lived in water damaged buildings, hunters and hikers (tick bites), fisher men/women (toxic algae blooms), and gardeners/landscapers (spider bites, fungus). Ultimately, you’re at most risk if you are susceptible to chronic biotoxin infection (i.e., genetic predisposition). The exact symptoms of CIRS can depend on which inflammatory products are being over produced, however, the following are the most common examples:



blurred vision

muscle cramps

light sensitivity

brain fog


tingling in extremities


shortness of breath

joint pain

night sweats

temp. dysregulation

sinus congestion



Please see our CIRS Questionnaire for additional symptoms that are not listed above.

Visual Contrast Sensitivity Test

If you have been exposed to biotoxins and can claim to experience several of the symptoms above, it would be worth your while to take a visual contrast test. Dr. Shoemaker found that those reacting to biotoxin illness have a diminished ability to see fine edges, this diminished ability may not be evident by the sufferer of this illness, which makes testing necessary.

At this point it’s essential that you find a practitioner that has experience in diagnosing and treating chronic inflammatory response syndrome. While biotoxins are not easy to find on a blood test, the dysregulation of inflammatory compounds can be measured reliably. Treatment is individualized based on biotoxin exposure and specifics of immune dysfunction.

If you’re looking for Naturopathic, Holistic, and Alternative Health Care options come see us in the beautiful Fairhaven district in Bellingham, WA.