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

FatigueDecreased assimulation of new knowledge
WeaknessMemory Impairment
Aches/headachesDifficulty concentrating
Light sensitivityDecreased word finding
Joint painTingling
A.M. StiffnessTremors
CrampsShortness of breath
Unusual skin sensitivityUnusual pain
Excessive thirstConfusion
Appetite swingsDifficulty regulating body temperature
Increased urinary frequencySinus congestion
CoughRed eyes
Night sweatsMood swings
Ice-pick painNumbness
Tearing of eyesDisorientation
Metallic tasteVertigo
Abdominal painBlurred vision
Static shocksDiarrhea


Hi Lynese — Great news – seems a fibroid has disappeared! The ultrasound revealed only one fibroid this time, and it is just a little teensy bit smaller than before. So it hasn’t gotten any bigger at all. And the other fibroid didn’t show up on the ultrasound. smile

Thank goodness I did not get that hysterectomy, huh? and thank goodness I came to you to start the bio-identical hormone therapy. I believe that the progesterone is working. And I’m so glad I’m not on the birth control pills anymore. BTW, haven’t had a period since September, and haven’t had any hot flashes either! Life is good.

AK - Germantown, MD

Hi – hope you are doing well. Are you ready for Thanksgiving? I’m getting there. I wanted to let you know I hit the 30 lb loss today!!! Yeah! So excited! Clothes that didn’t fit are fitting. Clothes I used to wear are too big. Feeling great! A little nervous about tomorrow’s feeding frenzy- but hoping to not overindulge too bad.

LJ - Arlington, VA

My update. I feel pretty good!!! My bleeding is under control and I am now regular for the most part. Sometimes I will have a strange menstral bleed (long and slow), but I will take it compared to my old “normal”. I still love the progesterone and testosterone I am on. They leave me with no side effects.

I was very happy at my recent (Feb 6th) annual doc appt (physical). After the standard blood draw work up, my numbers were:
Vitamin D= 66.9 (down a bit from your work up which was 77, but still good)
Cholesterol=123 (down from 150 in Sept 2011)
Triglycerides=91 (down from 129 in Sept 2011)

So… I am the new spokesperson for HCG! I love that stuff!! smile The second round for me was amazing. I was very disciplined and determined and after about the 3rd day, it become very easy for me. I was able to drop 14lbs in an 18 day cycle!!!! AND….I am keeping that off with very little effort! OMG I couldn’t be happier! I am in the body that I am comfortable in once again! That feels so good. I am continuing to eat clean and exercise, it is a great life change!

JG—Vienna, VA

June4, 2009. “Good morning! I have to tell you that I weigh 157… down from 191!!! OMG…thank you so much! I feel incredible!”

KB – Reston, VA

You are so great! I truly appreciate all you are doing for me. Phyllis and I are so fortunate to have found you.

TB - Pottstown, PA

“So far I have lost 30#’s in 6 weeks and have the energy of a 40 year old. Am so thankful to be able to handle unpacking and shelving 6000 books. I am up and down stepladders and extension ladders with books in tow. The awful arthritis pain is there but the energy isn’t depleted from the pain like before and I keep going like this for hours.”

LL - Winchester, VA

Hi Lynese – In an old file I found a print out from an online longevity calculator I had used in 2007 ( I thought I was doing well because it said I would likely live to 86! But I just re-took the survey. Basically by cutting out the coffee, carbs and sugar, increasing my exercise and losing weight, I’ve apparently added 13 years to my life!! The calculator now says I could live to be 99!! With a little more exercise and a little less work, I could live to 106!! Thanks for all the added years Lynese!!!

All the best.

P.S. – I saw Diane over the weekend – she’s looking great, and is so happy with her weight loss.

AP - Falls Church, VA

Dare I say it out loud? It sure is looking as though Semorelin has given me my life back. I was so worried about skiing – afraid I’d ski one day and be in bed the rest of the week. But I was just fine. This past Saturday I prepared, served, and cleaned up (with help) dinner for 14. Sunday I was just fine.

SJ - McLean, Virginia

Dear Lynese,

Words cannot describe how happy I am with your anti-aging program. I have not felt this good in YEARS. Since getting pregnant in 1995 I have been overweight. Between 1992-1995 I was being treated for infertility and had to take all sorts of hormones that made me bloated and tired.

Now, at the age of 46 I have more energy and I look better than I have in YEARS. I actually THRIVE on exercise and do it religiously because I know it is the key to keeping the weight off and enjoying the foods that I love.

As a successful businesswoman, you often feel that you can’t have everything and I put my weight and health on hold to grow my business. You have given me the gift of being able to run a business AND look good. I am getting so much attention for my weight loss and it has helped my confidence and self esteem greatly.Since I do a lot of speaking engagements, I know that image is more important than what you say or how you say it. By looking better and appearing fit and healthy, I am a more powerful public speaker!

I can’t say enough about this gift you have given me and I hope you know how much I appreciate you.

On top of all of this, you are truly a beautiful person inside and out who provides a level of caring I have never seen from a doctor, weight loss clinic or other health professional.

HAVE A GREAT DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

KB - Reston VA

Hi Lynese – Just had to share this with you. I have appeared in an online newsletter (Legal Bisnow) twice – the first time a year ago and the second time today. Look at the difference in my photos!

It’s an absolute miracle! In the older photo even my eyelids look fat! I can’t get over how much I now look like my old self – of 20 years ago! I certainly don’t look like I’m closing in on 59, do I??

The best thing anyone has said to me so far was a comment made by a neighbor who saw me today for the first time in over a year. At first he didn’t recognize me. Then he just stared intently into my face for a few minutes and said “How is your mother?” (I was confused because he doesn’t know my mother). Then he said “I had to ask that because you look like your own daughter!” Wow!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

AP - Falls Church, VA

“With that said, I have been getting incredible compliments:
“You look like a movie star”
“What have you been doing”
“You look amazing”
“You look ten years younger”
I feel incredible”

KB - Reston, VA

Anyway – just had to tell you that my size 12 pants have been falling off of me! I went to Target this weekend to get some cheap crop pants and shorts for the summer – still not wanting to invest much in clothes that are not my “target” size. (I’ve blown past the size 14 shorts I couldn’t fit into for years). And wouldn’t you know – the 12s were too big – I fit best in the size 10!!

I’M A 10!!! I’m amazed!!

I broke the 170 barrier too – I’m now 168. Just 13 pounds to go to my goal weight. I can’t believe it. The meds have been working like a charm. I think the extra thyroid has really boosted me past a plateau. I’m cleaning out my closet like a madwoman; I can’t believe how much clothing I have for donations.

I’m still getting double takes and amazed looks from people who haven’t seen me for awhile. And after remarking how great I look, a girlfriend recently peered suspiciously at me and said – “And have you had something done to your face too? You look younger!” And I do!

AP - Falls Church, VA 6/2010

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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 probability 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 diagnosis 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 research has shown several identifiable irregularities 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 biotoxins 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

Why we don’t use urine mycotoxin testing as a primary diagnostic tool

  1. The presence of mycotoxins doesn’t mean that disease is present. It only proves that exposure to a mycotoxin production source has occurred.
  2. Urine mycotoxin test only tests for mycotoxins but there are several other problematic pathogens in mold illness including fungi, bacteria, actinomycetes as inflammagens such as endotoxins, beta glucans, hemolysins, proteinases, mannans and possibly spirocyclic drimanes; as well as volatile organic compounds
  3. The studies that the pro-urine mycotoxin test group relies up didn’t have proper controls.  They only had controls that were not exposed.  A proper test design would have had controls that had exposure but no symptoms of illness. This would have shown the presence of mycotoxins in urine without regard to the presence of illness.
  4. Urine production and concentrations of pathogens is variable and influenced by fluid intake and other conditions unrelated to the level of exposure to the toxin.  Since the labs doing urine mycotoxin testing are only requesting a single sample, this introduces variability into the test results unrelated to the amount of toxin present in the body.  If they used a 24 hour sample, the result would be more predictable and reliable.
  5. Nonetheless, there are some limited situations and cases where urine mycotoxin testing may be useful with respect to ensuring the optimal binder is being used.

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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Clean up the “terrain”.  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
  • 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.

Does our program work?  Read here to learn about the success of one of our recent CIRS patients.

During 2017 I lived in a house with a rampant black mold problem. The mold was completely hidden in a laundry room and I didn’t know it was there until the ceiling collapsed from water damage. Over the 8 months I lived there I felt progressively worse and started experiencing symptoms I’ve never had, which was strange as an active and healthy 27 year old.

My research eventually led me to connecting my health problems with black mold, and after confirming it existed in the house through air testing I immediately visited a local doctor.

The first three doctors I met with completely discounted black mold and had me tested for various auto-immune diseases (all which tested negative) based on my symptoms. They eventually shrugged their shoulders and told me to come back in a few months if I didn’t feel better.

I was having trouble breathing, my legs were randomly losing circulation and turning purple, I developed three new allergies I’ve never had, I was hopelessly tired all day with zero energy, my skin developed random rashes and skin problems I’ve never seen and I felt nauseous constantly…even though I have no history of nausea whatsoever.

After our negative experiences with the local doctors, my fiancee and I found the Shoemaker protocol and Dr. Lawson was our #1 pick of all the Shoemaker certified practitioners.

We met with Dr Lawson in her office shortly after. I went in discouraged and I came out extremely hopeful and REALLY believing I was going to get better. Dr. Lawson listened to my entire story and whacky list of symptoms then explained CIRS to me and showed me how the symptoms I have are common of mold illness.

It’s been about a year since I first met with Dr. Lawson, and now I’m even more confident that my health won’t just recover, but become better than it was before I got sick.

Today I thought about how rock bottom my health was when I met Dr. Lawson. It’s easy to take good health for granted once you start feeling better, so to look back and see how far I’ve come is really incredible.

A year ago I felt like I was dying. Not in a dramatic way, my body literally felt like it was shutting down on me. I just wasn’t sure that it was going to ever get better because of how bad it was every hour of every day.

I’m amazed by what one year with a great doctor can do for you. I feel almost as good as I did before I got sick, and that was as a physically active, strong 27 year old man.

My energy has come back and is as good as ever on most days. My stomach pain and nausea have gone away almost entirely. My circulation has returned to normal. The patchy dryness and redness on my skin has gone away and is starting to look healthy again. I just feel like my body is on the right track because Dr. Lawson figured out exactly what I needed.

It wasn’t easy to get to that point though. I was REALLY sick. Because of my wide my range of symptoms Dr. Lawson had to do a lot of investigating, thinking and testing of different approaches as we went based on what was working or not working in my treatment.

I’ve never had a doctor that was so resilient in helping me, the second she knew something wasn’t going to work she was already laying out next steps and other options.

Half the time when I talk to her she’s returning from some kind of new innovative conference where she learned all about new methods of treatment and other options for any lingering problems I might have. It’s really amazing knowing that if there’s a treatment out there that can help me, Dr. Lawson will know about it first.

It terrifies me to think of where I would be if I followed the advice of the other doctors I saw. Dr. Lawson changed my life when the others told me I was insane, and I will never forget it.

This Saturday I will marry my fiancee who went through all of this with me, and I will proudly stand tall next to her as the man she fell in love with. The sick, tired and beaten down person I was just a year ago has quickly become a memory of a horrible time in my life. I owe that to you Dr. Lawson. Thank you so much.

TL – Battle Creek, MI

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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.  

Think mold isn’t harmful.  Has your primary care or other physician advised that mold illness isn’t real.  Just read this article and share this with those doubting the dangers of mold exposure.

Breast implant illness resource page

CIRS Resource Center — Surviving Mold by Dr. Shoemaker

Mold exposure from front-loading washing machines