CIRS/Mold/Biotoxin illness Explained

This page contains educational material about Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome due to a water-damaged building (CIRS). This is a biotoxin illness that is caused by mold and the interaction between mold, bacteria and chemicals used in building materials. Other biotoxin illnesses have similar signs and symptoms. They are also treated similarly. Some of them are discussed on this site. This information is for educational purposes only. Nothing in this text is intended to serve as medical advice. All medical decisions should be made only with the guidance of your own personal medical authority. I am doing my best to get this data up quickly and correctly. If you find errors in this data, please let me know.

Your donation supports the free infromation provided on this website and helps other people in need of assistance. Even small donations are appreciated. Thanks, for your support.


The person with Mold Associated Illness/CIRS due to water-damaged building, does not usually awake refreshed. (Thought to be partly due to low MSH.) They will have good days and bad days or at least better days and worse days.When they have a good day and try to get extra work done or push themselves in some manner, they often pay for it by feeling worse. (This can be due to capillary hypoperfusion.) Usually they have achey muscles and migratory joint pain, stiffness in the morning, muscle cramping at night, poor memory, cognition issues, trouble with body temperature control, static shocks, resting tremor.

For additional signs and symptoms, check out this page.

Mold Associated Illness or chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) due to water-damaged buildings is the term used to describe an illness that is a response to unhelathy buildings. Although, there are other biotoxin illnesses that can cause a CIRS reaction, that caused by moldy/bacterial ridden buildings made with toxic materials is the most common. CIRS is an inflammatory response of the innate immune system when a person is exposed to the air and dust in water-damaged buildings.

On this site, I talk about CIRS due to water-damaged buildings or "mold illness" a lot without mentioning the microbes and toxic chemicals that accompany it. You should know there is more than mold in water-damaged buildings that cause this biotoxin response. This is also why it is technically more appropriate to call it CIRS due to water-damaged building, rather than Mold Illness. Water-damaged buildings have a variety of nasties growing in them and releasing biotoxins. They contain a variety of pathogens inflammagens and toxigens.Secondary metabolites of mold and bacteria have been found in carpeting, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, wallpaper and dust. Some of the nasties you can find in a water-damaged building are mold, bacteria, amoebas, actinomycetes and mycobacteria. Additionally, the chemicals in the building materials can create an environement that alters these oranisms as well as add to the release of toxins. You can have a release of mycotoxins, bacterial endotoxins, beta glucans, mannans, proteinases, hemolysins, c-type lectins, spirocyclic drimanes, and volatile organic compounds. It is thought that the combination of these various toxins from a variety of organisms is what causes the illness. Indeed, mycotoxins have been identified in body fluids as well as tissue samples of people exposed to water-damaged buildings. Indeed in one clinical study Ochratoxin A (a mycotoxin) was found in 83% of over 100 individuals tested with chronic illness and a history of water-damaged building exposure. Since it is so hard to test for all of the offending organisms and their biotoxins they release into the enivironemnt and there are not tests to test for many of them in body fluids, it is easier to test for the inflammatory reaction to these toxic elements.

Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) starts when a person is exposed to a biotoxin and the body is unable to remove it. CIRS is most often found in people sickened by exposure to the interior environment of water-damaged buildings (WDB). These people are exposed to a mixture of molds and bacterias and the toxins they produce as well as chemicals in the building materials. This exposure to mycotoxins and chemicals is the main reason for CIRS. Many of these people live in a moldy environment without noticing major issues until a precipitating incident takes place. The incident can be anything that causes severe physical, mental, and or emotional stress. There are other causes of biotoxin illness besides exposure to water damage buildings. Some people have more than one biotoxin illness going on at one time. Additionally, there are additional factors that can muddy the picture or make it worse such as heavy metal accumulation, bacterial or viral illness, exposure to herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals. Here are a few examples of other known biotoxin illnesses.

Borrellia (Lymes) - May create a toxin that creates signs and symptoms very similar to CIRS.

Post Lyme Syndrome - The Borrelia spirochete creates biotoxins such as Bbtox1 that causes a chronic inflammatory response syndrome. However in many cases the person may have a reaction to mold that was stirred up from the stress of the Lymes illness in addition to the Borrelia infection and the Borrelia biotoxins. If a person has been treated with antibiotics appropriately and early on, yet continues to be sick, consider either an additional CIRS due to water-damaged buildings, which has the same symptoms and chronicity of Lymes or that the bacteria Borrelia has been killed (or they could be encysted or otherwise hiding out) and the person is still reacting to Borrelia biotoxins that they can not remove from their body. See Lyme Borreliosis

Less common biotoxin reactions can be to the dinoflagellate Ciguatera causing Chronic Ciguatera Seafood Poisoning, dinoflagellates such as Pfiesteria piscidia, Gulf War toxins, Spiders such as Brown Recluse, Scorpian bites, Cyanobacteria (Blue Green Algae) Exposure, and other biotoxins.

Also realize that many of these people who have biotoxin illness, also have additional problems with envionmental chemcials, drugs, viral/bacterial disease, heavy metals, polluted water, soil, air and, stress. Just because these thing are so ubiquitous and an issue for us all, do not dismiss them.

These bacterias,and fungi in water-damaged building also react to each other when they come across each other in the environment. They also react to chemicals in buildings. This can ramp up the amount of biotoxins they are putting out into the environment. Chemicals in building materials or chemicals used as fungicides can add to the problem. Not only can the cause a person to become sick upon contact with the volatile organic compounds from these chemicals or other exposures, but they can create super fungi and bacterial communities in the building materials. Beaware that fungicides do not usually kill all the fungus off. Some fungus will remain and become immune to the fungicide. The fungicide basically kills off the weakest and only the strongest fungus remains.

There is also the fact that multiple exposures to different things can effect the person who is exposed. For example, mouse research has shown that a bacterial toxin such as lipopolysaccharide can amplify the reaction a mouse will have to a mycotoxin such as deoxynivalenol. So, it is quite possible that a person with a viral or bacterial infection will have an increased reaction when exposed to both a bacterial toxin and a mycotoxin. It is also possible the person with a bacterial infection in their body may react more intensely to a water-damaged building.

Usually when a person is exposed to a biotoxin the bodies immune system will identify the toxin as an antigen and it will be removed from the body by a mix of the immune systems tagging it and with the help of the biotransformational system transporting it out of the body via the urine or the feces. However, some people do not have fully functioning immune system response genes (HLA-DR haplotypes) required to remove these foreign items and they remain in the body to circulate. This causes an over-reaction of the innate immune system without a full reaction of the adaptive immune system which leads to various over-reactive inflammatory responses. In this case these biotoxins need to be removed with some outside assistance. Additionally, some peoples biotransformational systems do not work as well as other peoples due to genetic differences, or due to their biotransformational system becoming overwhelmed by a toxic environment that their body can't keep up with.

As you can see CIRS due to watero-damaged buildings is a reaction of the innate immune system which reacts in a broad and non-specific sense to viruses, bacteria and fungi and there is broad inflammation and damage. We are not talking about an allergic reaction which is a more precise response of the adpative immune system.

The person with CIRS is unable to remove the biotoxins properly and therefore these circulating biotoxins are able to bind to surface receptors of most of the cells of the body with no relief in site. There is constant upregulation of the iflammatory pathways. including cytokine production, split product of complement and TGF Beta-1. Cytokines bind to receptors causing release of MMP9 into the blood. They also bind to leptin receptors in the brain, blocking the leptin receptor from working. This keeps alpha melanocyte stimulatilng hormone from being produced.

To make this even more complicated, the mycotoxins can additionally harm or decrease the activity of the immune system and the biotranformational system of the body. A person in this situation can end up in a viscous circle, sensitive to everything around them and feeling like the world is caving in on them. They can have a wide range of symptoms and problems.

People who have immunes systems that can not identify these antigens adequately and therefore can not properly remove the biotoxins, can be identified via testing of HLA DR genes.

Tests can also be used to identify if a person is having a reaction to biotoxins such as mold. There are a variety of biotoxins that all create similar responses in susceptible people. Since these responses are similar, you can test in a similar manner for biotoxin illnesses and treat in a similar fashion. Special testing needs to be undertaken to diagnose biotoxin illness and CIRS.

Some people are overwhelmed by the idea that they have a varient in their HLA DR haplotypes that predisposes them to becoming sick from a "moldy" environment. However, I would like to point out that most health conditions in society today are multifactorial in nature. In essence, there is an underlying genetically determined risk that requires a significant infectious or environmental “trigger” to initiate the process. A certain threshold or body burden needs to be met for each of these factors in order for multifactorial disease to occur. Taking control of these environmental triggers and supporting your bodies biotransormation (detoxification) processes can go a long way in supporting a healthy and happy body and a healthy and happy person. I find the folks who get CIRS usually have multiple problems that need to be addressed and by addressing them, their body is stronger, more flexible and able to endure some of the assaults our environment can throw at us from time to time. Additionally, it goes without saying that we all have to perservere in cleaning up the environment and live in ways that does not include the use of toxins. You an best do this by simply refusing to buy and use toxic items. Additionally, you can refuse to purchase items grown or made with toxic growing/manufacturing processes.

Dr. Tilgner's Book: Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth is Available Here!






If you found this information helpful, I would appreciate your support in keeping the site going. If you would like to donate to my work, I thank you in advance and send you my deep felt gratitude.


Home Page | Wise Acres Farm | Classes
Herbal Reference | Book Store | Links | Contact Information


Copyright 2014 by Wise Acres, LLC - all rights reserved.