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MOULD ILLNESS (also known as CIRS)

What You Need To Know




It's likely that no one has looked at markers directly associated with CIRS.

Conventional doctors might test for mould allergies if you suspect mould is causing your illness, and many functional medicine practitioners mistakenly use urinary mycotoxin tests to investigate mould illnesses. However, none of these tests look at on the innate immune system, which is where the core issue lies.

Tests for CIRS specifically look at how your innate immune system is responding to a biotoxin and the biological changes that take place with this immune activation

These markers include: TGF Beta, MMP-9, aMSH, VIP, VEGF, C4a, leptin, anti gliadin antibodies/tissue transglutaminase antibodies, ADH/ Osmolality, ACTH/Cortisol, MARCoNS.

Testing for one of the HLA genes associated with CIRS is also really helpful as the vast majority of CIRS cases do carry one of the susceptible genes.

People facing mould-related illness often encounter significant challenges within the healthcare system.

The difficulties arise due to a significant gap between practitioner understanding and published literature regarding mould exposure and its management. 

One of the biggest challenges faced by people sick from mould is the fact that doctors, friends, and family members dismiss their symptoms simply because they do not get sick when exposed to mould.

Many victims of mould sickness are labelled as hypochondriacs which is so sad as these people have no control over their sickness because their bodies have a genetic predisposition to mould illness.

Understanding the basics of mould illness is crucial. Mould thrives in damp environments, commonly found in buildings with water damage and high humidity. Individuals with chronic illnesses often report feeling worse in specific environments, such as their homes, where they experience symptoms that improve when they are away. 

Have you heard of Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)?

If not, please read on! Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) is a multifaceted condition first identified and elaborated by Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker in the late 1990s. It is also called mould biotoxin illness. Currently, there are over 1,700 scientific articles discussing this syndrome.

CIRS is characterised as a multi-symptom illness triggered by exposure to biotoxins or neurotoxins from biological sources. 80% of CIRS cases are mould illness cases. 

In simple terms, about 25% of the population cannot effectively mount an immune response to clear mould toxins from their bodies. Instead, their immune systems continuously produce cytokines in an attempt to eliminate these toxins.


This persistent but inefficient response leads to chronic inflammation and tissue damage over time. Whilst approximately 25% of the population is genetically predisposed to developing Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) when exposed to significant amounts of biotoxins, as estimated 2% of people have genes that make them highly susceptible to severe symptoms from prolonged or recurrent biotoxin exposure.

The huge problem sadly for these individuals with CIRS is that their bodies become severely compromised and weakened from the vicious cycle of invading biotoxins, immune response, and inflammation. Theirs bodies are damaged and they are left with a wide range of health conditions, some life threatening.

What about the remaining 75% of the population you ask? These individuals' immune system, when exposed to mould toxins, respond by binding with the invading poison that allows its cells to filter the biotoxins through the liver, kidneys, and other organs. No ongoing symptoms persist and the inflammatory process returns to normal.

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The Shoemaker Protocol - Treatment Steps


The 37 Symptom Cluster Questionnaire


Here are the 37 symptoms associated with CIRS. Most people with CIRS, especially when being exposed to mould or with repeated exposures will typically present with some of these symptoms:

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What is the VCS test?

Mould can have devastating effects on different systems throughout the body, including neurological functions.

The visual contrast sensitivity test (VCS test) indicates how certain biotoxins, such as mould, affect the brain and retinal artery blood flow.  This interferes with the ability to discriminate between white and gray contrast as seen in the test.

If you have a multi-symptom, multi-symptom illness and a failed VCS test, the likelihood that you have CIRS is 98.5%.

See below an example of what the VCS test looks like.

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This is an inexpensive and easy screen to tell us whether we need to further investigate CIRS.

VCS testing not only aids in the initial diagnosis of CIRS but also serves as a valuable tool for tracking the effectiveness of treatment protocols over time.

Be warned however that this is not a diagnostic tool for CIRS, and so if you pass your VCS test but believe that you may have CIRS, get in touch with us to discuss


The VCS test can be done online for $15 here:

Please send a copy of your test results when booking your appointment with us. 


CIRS has been associated with several health conditions, such as:

  • CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME: Some individuals with mould-related illness report symptoms similar to chronic fatigue syndrome, including severe fatigue, muscle pain, cognitive difficulties, and sleep disturbances.

  • FIBROMYALGIA: Mould exposure has been suggested as a potential trigger or exacerbating factor for fibromyalgia, a condition characterised by widespread pain, fatigue, and tender points.

  • MAST CELL ACTIVATION SYNDROME (MCAS): MCAS is a condition characterised by an abnormal and excessive activation of mast cells, leading to the release of inflammatory mediators. Mould and mycotoxin exposure can be triggers for mast cell activation in susceptible individuals.




Don't be on this journey on your own. CIRS is poorly understood by many and it is a complex area.

The main issue with CIRS is the fact that there are so many symptoms associated with the condition that many struggle to connect the dots. 

  • Are you someone who is constantly seeking medical help but get nowhere?

  • Have you been feeling sick for an extended period of time?

  • If you think you may be sick because of mould, you are probably right.


Work with someone like us who actually understands mould illness. We can help you understand what is actually going on.

  • Is it CIRS?

  • Is it an allergy (which is not the same thing as CIRS)?

  • Or is it something else? 

You can get in touch via email on to enquire about our services and availability, or you can book a discovery call with Muriel to discuss your symptoms and the best way forward. 

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