The term Biotoxin Illness refers to a chronic illness that is caused by exposure to toxin producing organisms. Often this illness is caused by toxic mold associated with water damaged buildings and sewer systems but many people have also fallen ill from exposure to other toxin producers like cyanobacteria (blue-green algae).
It is a poorly defined and understudied condition. Because of this it can go by many different names such as CIRS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Mold Illness, Mold Toxicity, Mold Poisoning, Sick Building Syndrome etc. It’s all basically the same.
Biotoxin Illness is a multi-system multi-symptom disease. Sufferers often experience crippling fatigue and pain, nausea, multiple chemical sensitivity, mast cell activation, food allergies and intolerances, EHS, brain fog, headaches, depression, gastrointestinal problems, heart palpitations, and neuropathy. For a more extensive list of symptoms click here.
The best way to get a diagnosis is to do a mold sabbatical where you get away from your home and possessions to spend some time in a place with pristine air.
Some people feel better outdoors in the pristine air right away, but that does not always happen. The real confirmation comes when you return home and feel worse. Oftentimes your home and possessions become intolerable because the break allows your body to begin to recognize biotoxin exposure and respond more quickly. A mold sabbatical is not a bad idea for anyone who is suffering from a chronic multi-symptom disease.
There are also tests that can be done to identify a serious mold problem in your home, such as the ERMI test that many mold doctors recommend. Air sampling is not advisable as it can often miss even a serious mold problem.
There are labs too that can check for inflammatory markers that are characteristic of this disease and genetic testing that can identify whether you have an increased propensity towards becoming ill from biotoxin exposure.
Unfortunately, researchers have not given this illness adequate attention and treatment options are still pretty limited. Some sufferers have successfully decreased their reactivity through strict mold avoidance and neurotic-seeming decontamination procedures. This approach is often combined with the protocol developed by Dr. Shoemaker.
The Shoemaker protocol is a multi-step process that involves getting out of exposure and taking medication that binds to biotoxins in the GI tract. I am pursuing a combination of these two approaches to give myself the best shot at recovery.
If you want to delve deeper into the topic of Biotoxin Illness, some of the resources I recommend are listed below.