Mycotoxin illness results in chronic inflammatory response syndrome, aka CIRS. Mold is not the only culprit, although it is often involved. The cause of chronic inflammation is biotoxin illness, which may result from any pathogen with a biofilm.
Biofilm is the sticky byproduct that many pathogens form to adhere to tissues in the body and hide. Many studies now show that mold joins another biofilm “frenemies.” These pathogens work together to overtake the hormonal and immune systems.
In other words, CIRS can be caused by mold or it may be triggered by a multitude of pathogens capable of forming biofilms in the body. They hide and fool your body’s own defenses. Dr. Shoemaker, who developed guidelines and protocols for dealing with mycotoxin illness, formulated this theory.
Typically, biofilm illness results from exposure to a water-damaged building or leak. This is the first place to look when you feel poorly or worse when first exposed to a potential source of mold. And it’s not always in plain sight either. Many of the triggers listed above are found in areas with water damage or leaks.
It would seem to make sense. Remove the exposure to mold, and the patient heals. This is not always the case. Nearly 25% of the population has a certain type of immune gene called a haplotype that makes them more susceptible to immune damage and chronic inflammation.
This has to do with our genes. At the same time, it has much to do with our environmental exposures, heavy metals, and overall toxic burden, which interferes with a body’s natural ability to detox through the correct pathways. This genotype requires significant exposure, a compromised immune system, or a trigger when sets off the immune system. This may be an infection, an emotional response, or a perceived stressor that activates the biofilm illness.
When yeast, mold, or another pathogen with a biofilm comes into play, you may have an extremely difficult time healing from such a high toxic burden. Your skin, liver, kidneys, respiratory system, and bile are exceptional detoxifiers. Still, we can overburden them with the toxic world in which we live.
If you have any of the following symptoms, find a functional medical doctor, naturopath, or osteopath who is literate in treating mold, biotoxin illness, and its counterparts.
Most importantly, you need to remove yourself from the exposure, even if that means selling your home. This is the hardest part of the treatment.
Biotoxin illness can wreak havoc on your body. And, it may stay hidden. Many patients experience lowered immunoglobulins, or soldier cells, due to these hidden infections. Eventually, the body becomes chronically fatigued from fighting a hidden infection without success. Both chronic stress and lowered immunity lead to further infections. Your hormones and libido experience problems. Eventually, this leads to autoimmune conditions and a body with much more pain and much less vitality. Serum biomarkers are consistent with the neuroimmune, vascular, and endocrine abnormalities that characterize CIRS.
Another way to screen for mold is by using the visual contrast test at http://www.survivingmold.com.
Over 90% of patients who have a mold or biotoxin illness test positive with a visual contrast test. (fail the test).
The first VCS test is available at Dr. Shoemaker’s website, Surviving Mold. Dr Shoemaker is a pioneer in the field of biotoxin illness and continues to support this community with research. This is a Functional Visual Acuity Test (FACT) that uses a scoring algorithm developed by Drs. Shoemaker to determine the likelihood that a patient is being adversely affected by biotoxin exposure. The second VCS test is available at VCSTest.com. The raw (unconverted) scores and the contrast sensitivity curve are provided for free, and a $10 donation is requested (but not required) for the upgraded results with detailed analysis and interpretation and a PDF that can be downloaded and shared.
If you test positive, another testing is necessary for a confirmation that you have biotoxin illness.
Dr. Shoemake has a panel of blood tests for diagnosis. I do not use all of these tests; however, they can be very useful. These include:
I personally prefer http://www.greatplainslaboratory.com Mycotox urine test or the new Vibrant mold panel, which also has a successful track record of catching mold combined with an astute, detailed history from the patient.
Most likely, you will need to move. Testing a home for mold is difficult. A preferred method to test your home is the ERMI test.
ERMI stands for Environmental Relative Moldiness Index. It utilizes quantitative polymerase chain reaction (MSQPCR) technology to identify mold in dust that has settled in buildings. It is much more accurate as it uses DNA.
If an ERMI test comes back positive, my advice is to move out of the house, which is often the most difficult thing to convince the patient to do for their health. Mold can hide behind walls or crawl spaces so it is very challenging to fully eradicate.
Dr. Shoemaker further refined the relevance of ERMI testing to CIRS patients by creating the HERTSMI-2 scoring system. This is a weighted score that takes the relative levels and danger of particular mold species into account.
The advantage of the ERMI is that it can identify the exact species of various molds present, and it will identify spores that are not airborne. However, it is crucial to understand that not all labs that perform the ERMI test are using the correct methodology. Check out the EMMA test by Real-Time labs which put the ERMI in an easy to understand the context.
In order to ensure reliable and accurate results, labs that perform ERMI testing must follow the EPA patent and laboratory procedure guidelines exactly. Otherwise, whatever results in the test returns will not be confirmed
First, remove the offending agent. You may opt to get tested for co-infections like Lyme Disease as you prepare for the potential of healing detox reactions. This is better known as Herxheimer reactions, and they occur as toxic byproducts, and biofilms are dislodged from tissues. This can cause a huge inflammatory reaction in the body which feels terrible for the patient. Herxheimer reactions usually include a generalized worsening of the symptoms-headaches, fatigue, nausea, or even fever that lasts temporarily.
To prevent this:
Keep the faith. Find a physician you can trust. You can heal.