We’ve come a long way in our understanding chronic inflammatory response syndrome, also known as CIRS. Though we still have more to understand, living with mold toxicity and CIRS is no longer without solutions. I have some great tips for surviving and thriving after a mold exposure.
Though it may take more time for some doctors to fully recognize this condition, there are enough practitioners making a true difference in their CIRS patients lives to give anyone with this condition hope. If you want to learn more, I suggest checking out the new International Society or Environmentally Acquired Illness for up to date clinical research and education on this timely topic. See more details at end of article.
Sure, living with a chronic condition does mean you’ll have to make some adjustments and lifestyle changes. But when you finally get a system in place, it’s my sincerest hope that the richness of life returns to you. Many of you know I had my own experience with mold-related illness and CIRS when my office building was found to have stachybotrys and I became very ill. Fortunately I recovered and you can too!
In an effort to provide you with support in wrestling your CIRS into submission as much a humanly possible, I’ve compiled my best tips for living with mold toxicity and CIRS.
You’ll notice right away that many of these have to do with avoiding mold and mycotoxins. This is because not only have I seen the the dramatic impact to health when one cannot avoid mold exposure, but I have seen the significant toxic and immune damage that occurs with persistent and chronic ongoing exposure. This is a much bigger problem than most people realize.
Mold and its mycotoxins have even been indicated as a major cause of Alzheimer’s disease! But I digress…
Imagine your mold toxicity and CIRS as a bucket – with each exposure and toxin we remove from your bucket, the lighter and easier your life will be. When your bucket fills to overflowing, illness will ensue and the path to wellness is all about decreasing total toxic load… bailing water out of your bucket!
1. Check your home and office for mold
We now spend about 90% of our time indoors and mold is estimated to be in about 50% of homes. Together these two statistics create a perfect storm for causing or aggravating CIRS symptoms. This is why I always recommend anyone with mold toxicity or CIRS has their home and office checked.
You should have an ERMI mold test completed by a trusted inspector. If you find your home or office contains mold spores, you must find the source and get a certified specialist to properly remediate. This includes removing yourself temporarily from the environment, remediation, and removal of any porous items from your abode.
Look, I get it.
Finding mold in your home or office can be scary. And the prospect of having to uproot your life can seem like a nightmare, but I assure you it’s essential if you want a full, healthy life.
When I discovered our office was moldy, I was unable to remediate so I left immediately. I left all of my belongings behind and moved on. It was tough to lose all of my twenty years of medical books I had acquired but regaining my health was worth it in the end. The benefits to the health of my staff and myself (I’m the canary in the coalmine when it comes to mold) FAR outweighed the loss of belongings or cost of remediation.
Life is too short to let the fear of finding mold in your home or office keep you from finding solutions to your illness! Your health is the most priceless thing you own.
2. Clean up your air
It’s a little known fact that most indoor air is actually worse than the pollution outside.
Even if your home and office pass the mold inspection, there are tons of other indoor air contaminants worth worrying about, including volatile organic compounds, gram negative and positive bacteria, glucans, endotoxins, microbial particulates, non-microbial volatile organic compounds, and microbial volatile organic compounds.
We haven’t evolved to live in contained spaces with recycled air and poor ventilation. So, one of the best things you can do for yourself (and your family) is invest in a high quality air filter. I recommend Austin Air purifiers because they filter ultra tiny particles and I’ve had personal success with them. Though, there are other great options out there, just makes sure you find something that filters at least 0.3 microns in size.
You’re in your home between 8 to 12 hours each day and in your office between 6 to 10 hours. That’s most of your life – don’t you think it’s worth it to clean up your air? If you’re interested in an Austin Air purifier, you can call the office at 303-993-7910 and get a 10% discount.
3. Get on a low mold diet
A low mold diet reduces the likelihood that you’re going to be exposed to inflammation causing foods. Even if your CIRS isn’t directly caused by mold exposure, this is a beneficial diet regardless.
In general, the low mold diet looks like this:
- Eliminate sugar in all forms.
- Avoid processed foods – canned, boxed, bottled etc.
- Avoid mold and yeast containing foods – cheese, alcohol, condiments, fungi, cured and smoked meats, dried fruits.
- Avoid gluten and grains.
- Choose a mold-free coffee.
- Organic, pasture raised animal products.
- Low carbohydrate vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, chard, cabbage, arugula, peppers, tomato (fresh only), cucumber, onion, kale, asparagus, spinach, leeks, garlic, artichokes, etc.
- Raw nuts and seeds – sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, almonds, and other low mold nuts (No peanuts, cashews, walnuts, pecans,brazil nuts).
- Healthy Fats – extra virgin olive oil, coconut milk, coconut oil, ghee, avocado, organic butter.
You can read my full article on The Low Mold Diet here.
4. Use detox binders
Binders like charcoal and bentonite clay are great for pulling toxins out of the gut. Anyone living with CIRS, should be working to support processes like this and reducing the buildup of toxins, heavy metals, and other chemicals. Binders can also be effective in reducing the impact of mold exposure and other unknown impacts.
My two favorite binders are GI Detox and Upgraded Coconut Charcoal. These are effective and can safely be taken daily (but not with other supplements). You can read more about these in my article, Safe and Effective Detox Binders that Actually Work.
5. Adopt detoxifying techniques
Incorporate detoxifying and anti-inflammatory techniques and lifestyle changes. An added bonus is most of these improve health overall and some feel downright great. Detox support can include:
- Infrared saunas
- IV detoxification support (Meyer’s cocktails, IV glutathione, NAD, PC)
- Supplements may including:
- Liposomal glutathione
- Milk thistle
- Alpha lipoic acid
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Dry brushing
- Epsom Salt baths
- Mineral or alkaline waters
CIRS is a war of attrition and the less you you feed the inflammatory pathways, while supporting detox – the better off you’re going to be.
Other factors you might want to consider include:
- Reducing chemical exposures – think plastics, cosmetics, cookware, and cleaning products
- Reducing EMF exposure
- Filtering drinking water
Introducing the International Society of Environmentally Acquired Illness
As a prominent educator about environmental toxicity and mold-related illness and board-member of the organization, I am delighted to introduce the NEW professional society International Society of Environmentally Acquired Illness (ISEAI) whose mission is to “raise awareness of the environmental causes of inflammatory illnesses and to support the optimal health of individuals affected by these illnesses through the integration of clinical practice, education, and research.”
You can find them at their ISEAI website and on Facebook. I’m excited for the awareness and action ISEAI will bring against environmentally acquired illness!
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The product mentioned in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is not intended to replace any recommendations or relationship with your physician. Please review references sited at end of article for scientific support of any claims made.
Thanks so much for spreading the word about the new International Society for Environmentally Acquired Illness (ISEAI) Dr Jill! And for all the other great tips – extremely helpful advice.
I have detected mold and sulfa in my rental home and the landlord refuses to fix thing that goes wrong when I am so sick from this he’s never fixed or kept this home up. Witnesses… Please contact me via email address provided. I’m in bad shape breathing this I’ve told him too many times I’m sick please help!
I would move out as soon as is possible to save my health rather than waiting until the landlord is willing to change.
Dr. C, You’ve written about low-mold coffee, but do you have any recommendations for low-mold tea (regular or decaf)?
Try Organic India or any organic green or herbal teas. Black tea is usually the worst culprit
I am on Cholestyramine for CIRS detoxification. What are your thoughts? What do you think of the Austin Air Health Mate Plus? Also, are you familiar with the IQAir Health Pro Plus Air Purifier? It supposedly filters air down to .003 microns?
CSM works well for mold detox. I prefer the Austin Air Healthmate Plus but IQAir also ok
I am a member of A4M/MMI. I took Module VI with you in Charleston. I have been learning about mold toxicity over the last 8-12 months out of sheer need and desperation. I discovered I have mold toxicity from my home. I have just recently gotten out of my home but feel I still have exposure from patient’s charts I have had to take home before. My question to you is…have you seen new onset Afib to be associated with mold toxicity? I was just released from the hospital with this. I had to be cardioverted. I feel since the mitochondria is poisoned by the mold, surely the heart beginning to act erratic from it is not far fetched. Other than the mold causing some autoimmunity and an EBV flare, I am an otherwise healthy 45 year old. This should be studied.
I have seen unusual cardiovascular arrhythmia related but not atrial fibrillation specifically. I agree! We need more research… stay tuned with the new professional organization https://iseai.org
I have CIRS , hashimotos and a melodramatic response to chemical sensitivities. Im finding I’m clenching jaw and grinding teeth in my sleep and have tmj flareups. Dentist is suggesting mouth guard and possibly Invisalign “braces”. In the context of avoiding plastics and toxins I’m wondering your thoughts on having this kind of dental plastics in my mouth?
I recommend avoiding BPA as much as possible if you have a choice
My family has been exposed to mold in our rental for the last 7 months, unknowingly, and are moving in a few days. As we begin to detox, what is safe for young children and myself (I am currently breastfeeding) as we try to flush our bodies from mold?
Jill, I heard about you from my NP who has recommended some of your treatments. I am overwhelmed with what to do with fairly new diagnosis of CIRS on top of chronic EBV. I am on so many supplements and wonder if that could be attributing to weight gain. The supplements you recommend for EBV – can they be taken every day and will they help with CIRS as well? I am fascinated as I read your blogs and follow Dr Shoemaker advice – I wish I could make an appt with you? Thank you kindly for your advice.
Yes, they will help EBV in someone with CIRS
Hi Dr Carnahan, I noticed you mention infrared saunas to assist in detox and recovery from CIRS which I have. I wanted to know if I would get similar benefits from something like the JOOVV. From what I understand there is no heat from the JOOVV so obviously no sweating. So I wasn’t sure? I do live in a very tropical climate. Thanks 🙏 in anticipation
yes, it may also help detox!
Amazing things here. I’m very satisfied to peer your article.
Thanks a lot and I am looking ahead to touch you. Will
you kindly drop me a mail?
Thank you, D.r Jill, for sharing these important tips because mold has become an important and major issue noways. Mold can be found in the home, bathroom, on wall, office, in a garden and elsewhere. It is necessary to remove the mold as soon as possible.
Hello Dr Jill,
I live in a unit that we’ve found out has a rather large amount of water damage and sample testing confirmed the presence of black mold. Long story short, I’ve found out that our shady landlord is a notorious slumlord who knowingly left the water damaged material in place before I moved in and tends to just kick people out instead of fixing anything.
It would really help me to get info about black mold mycotoxin exposure testing options near the San Francisco area. I’m working on finding someplace else to live, but one of my main concerns is that I may need to take the building owner to court and I was wondering if you had a ballpark idea of how long after I move out would the blood or urine test show a result that reflects years of exposure? I’m feeling a bit caught between my wanting to relocate immediately and my wanting a test that will reflect the true degree of exposure.
No test will prove exposure unfortunately – it is far more complicated to prove exposure 😟
Hi Dr Jill,
Sorry about a second message so soon.
Do you happen to have specific information about the genetic susceptibility to black mold mycotoxins? I’m wondering if a 23&me profile might shed light on that for folks.
i don’t think 23andMe contains HLA typing information
There seems to be ALOT of contradicting info on “mold safe” foods on the internet. Even your list above includes some contradictions. I am trying to find a safe sweetener while avoiding mold and I have read several sources that say raw honey is not only safe, but it is actually an anti-fungal. You and a few others claim it is not safe. Why the opposing viewpoints, and if honey is not safe what is a better alternative?
best to avoid sweeteners altogether
Didn’t really answer my question as to the mixed opinions on raw honey. If it is really an anti fungal, how can it not be safe to eat for mold avoiders?
Hi there Jill.
I lived in a toxic home for a few years and saw the decline in memory, breathing, Anxiety, sickness, dizziness, Brain function in typing, writing, word finding, muscle shut down and ect..and so many other scary “ticks” from being exposed to this for so long.. I have had difficulties trying to bounce back and heal. I am 38 and feel like I’m 78!! I left the building a couple months ago and am hoping I’ll recover.. However, I find that I am still not my old self.. How long does it take for the body to get back to normal after this exposure? I have lost jobs, and have difficulty holding them down as well.. Its scary not being ones self and having an internal battle to keep myself “aware” .. Feeling “checked” out most the time…. Ill have good days and bad days.. But mostly off days still… Any help would be greatly appreciated..
Hello Dr Jill, from your practice and experience, can levels of mycotoxins far above “normal positive range” be related to a contamination 15 or 20 years ago or does that necessarily mean there is a more recent source of contamination ? Thanks a lot.
If you have been colonized (sinus, gut, lungs, etc) with mold it is possible but more likely a recent exposure.
Very helpful article! If my home test for mold is negative (and I work from home), should I assume that the mold/fungus overgrowth in my system is from dietary sources (coffee, red wine, fruits/veggies, oats, cheese, etc?) Would every patient with systemic mold be in the CIRS category, or could the mold/fungus be limited to digestive tract only? Finally, is the online mold visual acuity test accurate for diagnosing CIRS or mold exposure?
Fungal dysbiosis can be many causes either dietary or environmental. A negative test of the home does not rule out exposure. Not every patient with mold exposure has CIRS. Fungas may be in sinuses, digestive tract or anywhere in the body. VCS testing is highly accurate for exposure to biotoxins or nutritional deficiencies but about 8-10 % will test normal even after exposure.
Hello Dr Jill,
I am about to start a new job. I visited the building this morning and I assume there is some mold on the last (5th) floor. The ceiling as a lot of spots, including black spots, and my future boss told me they had suffered from leaks due to excessive rains.
I will work on the 4th floor which seems clean. My office looks clean.
My big question is : should I accept the job or not? Would it be sufficient if I get an air filter in my office?
I as live in france, an ERMI testing is a bit complicated…
If you are symptomatic in the building or there is know mold exposure, I would not recommend choosing to expose yourself daily. An air filter will not be enough remove all harmful compounds and VOCs to eliminate any risk
I was diagnosed with mold toxicity by my dr. Last year right after I got pregnant but luckily my symptoms subsided while I was pregnant (strange!) Mu daughter is now 4 months and the symptoms have returned with a vengeance (fatigue, body aches, headaches). What is a safe binder + detoxed while breastfeeding?
Since clay and charcoal are not absorbed both could be safe in breast feeding
i suggest trying GI Detox
Great. And would GI Detox be for both a binder + detox? Thank you SO much!!! I really appreciate it.
Hi Dr. Jill,
I was recently diagnosed with CIRS after years and years of symptoms (same old story for many of us) and plenty of mold exposure. My CIRS literate doctor directed me to your blog for, in particular, a mold avoidance diet. Also, I started the Shoemaker protocol 50 days ago and I’m on mast cell stabilizers. My very scariest and most worrisome symptom is systemic swelling, with the face and around the eyes and eyelids acutely affected, and now it’s getting worse FAST (my left hand and fingers resemble a balloon, like a latex glove air was blown into so that it looked fat, starting 5 days ago). I’m out of the latest moldy environment save a few hours every couple of days packing up salvageable items, and sleeping in a rental designed for people like me, but my swelling gets worse and worse (started end of April 2019). I’m horrified as, even with daily professional lymphatic drainage, the swelling seems to worsen before my eyes. Is this a symptom of CIRS? Are others affected this way? Could I be detoxing now that I’m no longer sleeping in the moldy environment and the cholysteramine has a chance to catch up? Or maybe this is a sign of off the charts exposure from somewhere. I’m so worried and alone. Thank you so much.
It is likely that either you have ongoing exposure or that you are pushing your detox too hard … as you mobilize toxins you may be moving too quickly for your body to eliminate them and getting re-exposure. I suggest stopping or decreasing doses on your protocol and going much slower. You might also try my new Miracle Mold Detox Box.
I would like to voice my affection for your kind-heartedness giving support to persons that should have help with this important topic. Your very own commitment to getting the solution along came to be unbelievably important and have allowed folks just like me to arrive at their desired goals. Your personal valuable tutorial means a whole lot a person like me and extremely more to my office colleagues. Many thanks; from all of us.
Hi! Thank you for all your work. We recently found that my daughter and I have mycotoxin issues and our home was contributing to this. It is only three years old so we are trying to get to the bottom of it. My question is can how much can short exposures (1-2 hrs) once a week contribute to this mold toxicity issue? My husband is a pastor and our church is very old and built on rock so always damp. There is visible mold in the downstairs of the building. Like a lot. I know it’s not good at all but it is a very hard situation to just leave. I know the best would be to not go in the building. But have you seen short exposures causing major issues? Thanks❤️
Hi, thanks for sharing this useful information. I’ve been recovering for 8 months now, still on the shoemaker protocol. I feel pretty good, except I have lingering neuro symptoms. I notice these symptoms especially after eating a high carb meal, and histamine foods. Is it possible to fully heal from this? It’s frustrating this is the only lingering symptom left. :-/
I have mold toxicity and other issues. I am renting and mold for n crawl space and plates test positive for mold. I need to find new place how will I know if there is mold if not visible. Thank you Linda
My question is, can people pass mold illness back and forth in a clean space and/or contaminate the space from detoxing. I feel like we are getting worse.
There is no way to “pass” mold illness. However, it is possible to react to mycotoxins on another persons body, hair or clothing.
The link to the Low Mold Diet doesn’t appear to be working. Any chance you could update that, please? Thank you.
Hi Dr. Jill,
I am a teacher and I have had issues in places I have lived and work places. I just started in a new school and I am having symptoms that are new and really hard to deal with. I made a huge effort to change my whole life so that I could come to work and have a normal life and now I find myself in a more challenging environment. I have a supervisor and she will not move me and I must work to support myself and my two kids. I am doing DNRS and taking detox supplements from my dr. This has been a real disaster. I have no choice. Can I get better in this environment?
Hi Dr. Jill,
Mold exposed from my home and we thought we had it fixed. I did a mold detox with a functional provider who had me take Detox + with two other supplements and go off grains and dairy for 9 months. Things got much better but I still had a terrible dust mite allergy that was causing me issues. Then I got the covid vax and it caused my ears to plug up, itch, and ring really bad. After that my functional provider started me on homeopathic LDI for my allergy. The LDI worked awesome for dusty situations and everything was looking up. She also convinced me to try a DHEA supplement. That was amazing, for a few months. Then it caused my hormones to become very imbalanced. Suddenly I was having anxiety, ears plugged up and ringing so loud, and my bp shot up. It was controlled via a med, but the med stopped working. I went off the DHEA and she took me off the LDI. I spent all last summer regaining my lost ground and things were looking good again. Now suddenly I’m back to reactions at home and in stores and church. My ears get plugged up, itch, burn, and ring. My toes burn and itch. My mouth burns and itches. My eyes… I’m exhausted and now my bp is back up again. I feel like I should do another detox but have no medical support. I can do the dietary changes and sauna and I can get the detox supplements on my own. My question is about the Myer’s cocktail. When in the process should I do that?
Please help me find someone who can help me with black mold exposure. I’ve given up gluten, fairy, carbs and sugar. But I don’t know what to take to help me in this fight for my life.