What is CIRS?

Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)

What is CIRS?

CIRS stands for Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. It is also called Mold Biotoxin Illness. This is a multisystem, multi-symptom condition that occurs when mold biotoxins (like mycotoxins) attach to immune cells and don’t let go.

The immune cells keep sending signals to produce cytokines — proteins produced by your immune system. When your immune system keeps producing cytokines, it grows weakened from being overworked.

On top of that, all the excess immune response leads to your own immune system attacking benign tissues, causing inflammation.

There are three common ways you can run into CIRS:

  • Water-damaged building (home or office)
  • Tick bite-related diseases, such as Lyme disease
  • Exposure to dinoflagellates (waterborne toxin producers) like Ciguatera or Pfiesteria


So what is CIRS? Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome or CIRS is a condition with a wide range of symptoms that are triggered by a biotoxin – usually mold. The term CIRS was coined by Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker to describe when a body’s immune system is out of whack. In some people, this could mean the immune system is simply weakened, while in others it’s running rampant.

You can also get CIRS from common chronic sinus infections with MARCONS and tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease ticks, fish that’s been contaminated with ciguatera, and infections from a brown recluse spider bite.

Essentially, CIRS is a dysfunctional reaction of the body’s immune system in response to a biotoxin. In my practice, I’ve seen the symptoms range from manageable to debilitating.

The different markers that we can test for, and the differences in how symptoms present, make CIRS a difficult condition to diagnose. Though diagnostics are improving, there still needs to be a cluster of symptoms and an improvement in treatment response for a CIRS diagnosis to be made.

Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for a person with CIRS to go years, even decades, without a proper diagnosis. However, if we can pool our knowledge and spread the word about the differences in this condition, I believe we can make a major difference in awareness and treatment of CIRS. This is part of the reason I’ve begun testing most of my patients for biotoxins and CIRS markers.

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