Northern Virginia-CIRS-Mold-Diagnosis and Treatment Program

CIRS is Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (aka biotoxin Illness, aka mold illness, aka mold toxcity). It is an acute and chronic systemic inflammatory response syndrome acquired following exposure to mold and other biotoxin producers typically from water damaged buildings. CIRS and mold illness are growing at epidemic rates thanks in part to accurate diagnosis of the issue.  Most (80%) of CIRS/Mold cases are caused by indoor air contaminated with mold toxins and other inflammagens, but CIRS also includes biotoxin producers like cyanobacteria and a marine dinoflagellate that produces the Ciguatera toxin that is found in certain fish. Recently, there is emerging evidence to support the case of mold illness induced by failed/leaking breast implants and front-loading washing machines.  

The inability to process mold/biotoxins (regardless of source of the mold/biotoxin) leads to a series of biochemical alterations called the Biotoxin Pathway. Based on genetics research, we know that 24% of the population has the genetic profile that makes them susceptible to developing a biotoxin or mold-related illness whereas the other 76% of the population will generally be able to detoxity biotoxins and avoid creating the Biotoxin Pathway that leads to multple disease processes.

CIRS and mold exposure symptoms overlap with many other chronic illnesses making diagnosis challenging and leading to missed diagnosis of CIRS. In my practice and in the research, CIRS is frequently misdiagnosed as one or more of the following: Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Lyme disease, Multiple Sclerosis Parkinson's disease, Menopause/Andropause, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic Pain Syndrome, Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and even allergies.  

Lyme disease misdiagnosis is particularly common as we have treated a number of patients whose symptoms had been attributed to Lyme Disease but we subsequently were able to confirm a case of CIRS/Mold and have been able to treat them effectively based on the CIRS/Mold diagnosis. Frequently these patients are on long-term (9-18 months) antiobiobics.  Patients should be aware that both a 2001 study and a recent 2016 study both show conclusively that long-term treatment with antiobiotics is not effective for treating Lyme Disease.  In fact the 2016 sutdy concluded, "In conclusion, the current trial suggests that 14 weeks of antimicrobial therapy does not provide clinical benefit beyond that with shorter-term treatment among patients who present with fatigue or musculoskeletal, neuropsychological, or cognitive disorders that are temporally related to prior Lyme disease or accompanied by positive B. burgdorferi serologic findings".  The full study can be found here,  


CIRS-Mold Symptoms


Decreased assimulation of new knowledge


Memory Impairment


Difficulty concentrating

Light sensitivity

Decreased word finding

Joint pain


A.M. Stiffness



Shortness of breath

Unusual skin sensitivity

Unusual pain

Excessive thirst


Appetite swings

Difficulty regulating body temperature

Increased urinary frequency

Sinus congestion


Red eyes

Night sweats

Mood swings

Ice-pick pain


Tearing of eyes


Metallic taste


Abdominal pain

Blurred vision

Static shocks



Take our quick assessment. If you have at least 8 of the mold symptoms listed above and have other unexplained illness, you may need to be evaluated for a biotoxin illness.

CIRS and Mold Sickness Diagnosis

Diagnosing CIRS and Mold Exposure is a multi-phase process to first identify/confirm if the patient is being impacted by CIRS and secondly to identity the cause/source of the biotoxin. The core diagnostic tools used to diagnose CIRS and Mold Exposure include the following:

  • Visual Contrast Sensitivity Test (Screening test. If positive, then high probabilty of biotoxin illness)
  • Lab tests including HLA (genetic susceptibility), MARCoNS, MSH, TGF Beta 1, C3a, C4a, MMP9, Leptin. We also use other labs to support our differential diagnsis as needed
  • MRI with NeuroQuant is helpful for the diagnosis of CIRS and to differentiate from Lyme disease. Uses a software program to measure the brain volumes of specific brain structures. Research has shown that CIRS patients have a particular signature that is very different from Lyme patients.
  • Genomics (Emerging reasearch has shown several identifiable irregularies in CIRS patients. Helps to personalize the diagnosis and treatment.  Click here to learn more about genomic testing for CIRS.
  • Environment Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) is a highly specific DNA-based method for quantifying mold species in an environment such as home or office. It is used to test the environment to determine what environment is creating the bioboxins that the patient is being exposed to and which specific mold species are in the environment and the extent of the mold problem in the environment

CIRS and Mold Sickness Treatment Program

Our treatment protocol uses a highly personalized, functional medicine approach.  Using the advanced diagnostics listed above, we first need to confirm the presence of CIRS then determine which environment the patient is exposed to is causing the continued exposure to the biotoxins. From there, we follow a stepwise approach to stop the progression of the diseaes process, remove the biotoxins from the body, reverse the damage done to the cellular structures where possible and help the patinet to make a full recovery. The steps we follow are listed below.

1.    Remove patient from exposure to biotoxins. To start the healing process, the impacted areas need to be remediated where possible and if not, then the patient needs to move out of that environment. Continued exposure will compromise the treatment program and make healing very dificult.

2.    Remove the biotoxins from the patient's body using "binder" agents. Welchol and Cholestryamine are two of the bindng agents that are typically used.  Cholestryamine in particular readily binds bioxoxins that are processed in the bile duct in the liver and helps to carry them out of the body and has been proven in placebo-controlled studies to reverse many aspects of the inflammatory process of CIRS.

3.      MARCoNS Eradication. MARCoNS (Multiple Antibiotic Resistant Coagulase Negative Staphylococci) is an antibiotic resistant staph infection that resides deep in the nose of 80% of people suffering from Biotoxin Illness and other chronic inflammatory illnesses. It must be removed for the patient to return to health.

4.   These steps will vary for each patient depending on which areas have been impacted and the severity of the CIRS process. With each step, re-testing is needed to confirm that the imbalance has been corrected.

a.       Antigliadin

b.      Androgen Imbalance (balance the hormones)

c.      ADH/Osmolality

d.      MMP9

e.        VEGF

f.       C3a

g.      C4a

h.       TGF Beta 1

i. VIP

5.     Diet.  To help stop the growth of the mold fungi, the patient should avoid mycotoxin causing foods including corn, rye, peanuts, wheat, barley, cottonseed, some cheeses, rice, oil seeds, black pepper, dried fruits, figs coffee, beans, bread and alcoholic beverages including wine and beer.  

At Proactive Wellness, we have successfully treated many patients that came to us with a history of severe, unexplained health issues. The diagnosis process leads to a confirmed diagnosis unlike many other "syndromes" where the diagnosis is made based on other diseases being ruled out but without specific diagnostic tests to actually confirm the specific diagnosis. Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Chronic Fatigue and Chronic Pain Syndrome are examples of diseases that are diagnosed without the benefit of specific confirmatory tests. If you have been exposed to a water damaged building or have severe, unexplained health issues, CIRS could be the cause. The good news is that we can successfully diagnose and treat this disease and get you healthy again.

Ready to get started? Click here to contact us on our quick contact form  or  Click here to begin the online enrollment  and someone will get back with you shortly.  If between the hours of 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Monday through Friday, feel free to call us now on (703) 822-5003.

Helpful Resources for mold symptoms, mold illness, mold treatment

Medically sound investigation and remediation of water-damaged buildings in cases of chronic inflammatory response syndrome.  

Breast implant illness resource page

CIRS Resource Center -- Surviving Mold by Dr. Shoemaker

Mold exposure from front-loading washing machines

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CIRS is frequently misdiagnosed as Lupus, Mold Symptoms,mold symtoms, mold symptoms
CIRS is frequently misdiagnosed as Lupus,

CIRS is frequently misdiagnosed as Lupus


Success Stories

Doctor's Note
For this patient, we implemented a bioidentical hormone replacement program combined with focused patient education and a functional approach to wellness to help this patient reverse the symptoms of aging and regain their youthful vitality.
Patient Response
I was dealing with muscle cramps while exercising, increasing irritability, fatigue and lethargy, decrease in muscle mass and increase in body fat; all being written off by others as ‘normal’ symptoms of aging. Not yet 50 I was not ready to accept this. Dr. Lawson saw these as symptoms of treatable conditions enabling me to regain the quality of life that others had all but told me were part of my past. With her I not only get answers to my questions, but a better understanding of how those answers fit into the ‘bigger picture’. This allows me to make better informed decisions as I go forward.

JM - Centreville, VA