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Mold: How it is hiding in your home and affecting your body

Are you suffering from anxiety?  Maybe asthma, headaches, fatigue, leaky gut syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, or even psoriasis? Do you experience more than one of these health-sapping symptoms?  You may have gone to your family doctor, an environmental specialist, a rheumatologist, a gastroenterologist or some alternative practitioners to seek treatment.  Are you still suffering these symptoms despite seeing all these professionals? Unbelievably, you may be suffering from a chronic inflammatory immune system response to mold (and the contents of a water damaged building).    

Many holistically oriented health care practitioners are recognizing syndromes such as leaky gut syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivities and systemic candidiasis. Your holistic doctor may conclude that your leaky gut syndrome is causing your fatigue or that your systemic candidiasis is contributing to your multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS). You may then ask, “What is causing my leaky gut syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivities or systemic candidiasis in the first place?” A very common (yet poorly recognized) cause of much suffering (including MCS, systemic candidiasis and leaky gut syndrome) is a chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS) related to immune system malfunction as the result of exposure to the contents of a water damaged building (WDB).  However, because CIRS-WDB (mold susceptibility) is still such a new concept, your doctor/healer may not be educated enough to provide a proper diagnosis and treatment.

If mold is causing my problems, why are other people ok?

Seventy six percent of the population will have minimal response to mold (WDB).  However, if you are one of the twenty four percent of the population genetically predisposed (HLA susceptible) to biotoxin illness your chances of having a mold illness (or other biotoxin illness) goes up enormously. In fact, research by Dr Shoemaker, a leader in this field, has found that 95% of his biotoxin illness patients have one or more of these defective genes.   

Your immune system works just fine……..for awhile

Your innate immune system does respond to biotoxin exposure and will unleash an attack on the biotoxins in your body. This primitive and imprecise part of your immune system will attempt to burn up these biotoxins by releasing inflammatory chemicals known as cytokines. Normally your innate and adaptive immune systems work together to eradicate biotoxins. However, if you are one of the 24% with genetic susceptibility to biotoxin illness, you never make the antibodies needed to destroy these biotoxins. Consequently, your innate (primitive) system keeps producing inflammatory chemicals known as cytokines, wreaking havoc on your body. Over time, these cytokines produce a chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS), which resembles flu-like symptoms.

You may be thinking to yourself, why did I get sick now?

If I have had these genes my whole life, why was I well for so many years, yet I am so sick now?  The key concept to explain this phenomenon is gene activation. Your genes coding for these inflammatory responses were relatively dormant for your entire life, but were triggered by some immunologically stressful event. These triggering events could be high levels of mold exposure, a tick bite, a viral illness or a multitude of other stressful circumstances. Once your genes have been activated, you will become much more sensitive with each subsequent exposure to biotoxins. 

Differential Diagnosis

A big priority as your doctor is to try to identify if you are indeed suffering from a biotoxin mediated chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS). In other words, “What are the possible different underlying causes of your symptoms and are you indeed “a case” of biotoxin illness (CIRS)?”

The Case Definition for CIRS

Symptoms – CIRS involves many systems in your body and is the root cause of many symptoms. Typical symptoms of CIRS include, unexplained fatigue, brain fog, muscle aches, joint pains, headaches, multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS), rashes, chronic infections, food intolerances, frequent urination, static electric shocks, temperature fluctuations, insomnia, dizziness, memory problems, light sensitivity, asthma-like symptoms (cough and shortness of breath), abdominal pains, nausea, diarrhea and other chronic unexplained symptoms. The average CIRS patient will experience a large proportion of these symptoms

  • History of exposure to water damaged buildings (WDB), tick bites, poisoned fish or toxic blue-green algae. 
  • Evidence of genetic predisposition – seen with HLA-DR genetic testing

If you do indeed show symptoms of biotoxin illness and have an exposure history and genetic predispositions, Dr. Rothman will want to complete a full workup by ordering a battery of additional tests. These special investigations include blood markers for inflammation and immune system dysregulation, a special culture to look for antibiotic resistant, biofilm producing organisms in your sinuses, a visual test measuring contrast sensitivity, and possibly a special computer interpreted MRI of your brain to look for volumetric changes. When combined with symptoms, exposure history and genetic testing, this battery of tests can confirm if you do have CIRS.

Treatment for CIRS

The Surviving Mold Protocol based on the work of Dr Ritchie Shoemaker consists of 12 steps that facilitate the removal of biotoxins from your body. This scientifically proven method also addresses co-infections and hormonal, immune and nervous system dysfunction that complicate CIRS. For a full discussion of The Surviving Mold Protocol click here.

Is there anything I can do in the meantime to feel better?

The more good things (and the less bad things) that you do for yourself, the better you will be able to handle the stress of biotoxin exposure. You need to make your health a priority. If you do too many bad things to yourself, you will put too much stress on your immune, neurological and endocrine systems. This stress will contribute to dysfunction to the control centers of your body.  Bad health habits can really destroy your health and sabotage your recovery. Improve the following habits and increase your chances of recovery from biotoxin illness.

  • You should not: Consume metabolic poisons like sugar, aspartame, Sucralose, monosodium glutamate (MSG), pesticides and insecticides (used on conventional produce), GMOs, antibiotics, growth hormones, and unnatural diets (used on conventional farm animals), toxic inflammatory oils like soy and canola.
  • You should: Eat foods that are as natural, healthy and organic as possible. Use only organic butter, coconut oil or olive oil.
  • You should not: Over consume carbohydrates (breads, rice, pastas, starchy vegetables) this will increase your insulin levels. High insulin contributes to every chronic degenerative disease by increasing inflammation in your body. High insulin also changes your androgens (like testosterone and DHEA) into estrogens by stimulating your aromatase enzyme.
  • You should: Eat plenty of healthy vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, chicken and cheese – preferably organic.    
  • You should not: stay up too late at night and/or sleep in a room exposed to light.
  • You should: get to bed early, turn off your lights and TV and sleep in pitch black.
  • Most importantly: You should spend as much time outdoors as possible, exposed to the healing power of fresh air and sunshine.

What is the Bottom Line? Can I get Better?

Prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Unfortunately, if you are genetically susceptible to biotoxin illness, you are at risk for getting sick. You must have a higher level of vigilance regarding exposure to moldy, water-damaged buildings. If you see or smell mold (or “musty, mildew” odors, avoid exposure immediately. Be especially wary of antique stores, libraries, gyms and other places that tend to have dusty, or moist environments. Contact an Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) who understands CIRS-WDB to inspect your home environment and identify any problems or potential problems. Your home must be a “safe haven” where you can be assured of healthy air quality.

You must work with a doctor, like me that is trained and experienced in The Shoemaker Method who is able to diagnose and treat this highly complex and poorly understood illness recently identified as CIRS-WDB.

Have you been exposed to mold?  Do you have weird symptoms or have been diagnosed with a disease without any or little relief of symptoms?  Contact Dr. Rothman by calling 732-268-7663 and establish a better plan guaranteed to help you get to the root of your symptoms. 

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To learn more about Michael Rothman MD contact us today by giving us a call at (732) 268-7663, emailing us at [email protected] or by requesting an appointment online.

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