Mould intolerance is mould intolerance. ME is a discrete illness. ME is not treated by mould avoidance.
I agree that these two illnesses, although symptomatically similar, should be differentiated, not least because an incorrect diagnosis can lead to the wrong treatment.
Just recently I read this article
, in which Ryan explains how he had been misdiagnosed with ME/CFS and fibromyalgia for 10 years, when in fact he had chronic inflammatory response syndrome
) induced by mold. Once he had the correct diagnosis, and followed 3 aspects of Ritchie Shoemaker's protocol for treating mold-induced CIRS, he was back to near full health in just 5 months.
The Shoemaker protocol he followed included:
- Cholestyramine and Welchol to bind to the mycotoxins in the intestines, and pull them out of the body.
- The no amylose diet.
- The antibiotic BEG nasal spray to get rid of a MARCoN infection in the nasal and sinus mucous membranes (MARCoN = multiple antibiotic resistant coagulase negative staphylococci) infections.
The full 11 step Shoemaker protocol for mold and biotoxin induced illness (which Shoemaker calls chronic inflammatory response syndrome, or CIRS) is given here
. The protocol is described in more detail here
The difference between ME/CFS and mold-induced CIRS is that the former is typically triggered by viruses, and the latter is typically caused by the mycotoxins secreted by mold (or by other biotoxins like toxic blue-green algae, or ciguatera toxin).
Because mycotoxins are non-living, they can be removed (detoxified from the body), which is something you cannot easily do with viruses. This makes CIRS from mold probably more treatable than ME/CFS.
Shoemaker believes that people with certain susceptible genetic predispositions (based on their HLA DR type
), are unable to properly detoxify mycotoxins and other biotoxins from their body, so these biotoxins accumulate in the body, and cause CIRS. Shoemaker says that anyone with these susceptible HLA DR types will be prone to getting mold illness when exposed to mold, because their body cannot properly detoxify the mycotoxins. Shoemaker finds it requires cholestyramine to remove the biotoxins in such patients with susceptible HLA DR types who have developed CIRS from mold exposure.
Though the idea of people being genetically unable to detoxify biotoxins is controversial: this document
is critical of doctors who use cholestyramine to detoxify mycotoxins and other biotoxins, saying that the short half lives of most mycotoxins do not support the theories of doctors like Shoemaker who say that mycotoxin get "stuck" in the bodies of individuals with certain susceptible HLA DR types.
By the way, if anyone wants to test whether they have high levels of mycotoxins or other biotoxins in their body, a free online visual contrast sensitivity test
(VCS test) can give you a good indication. The online test takes about 5 minutes to complete.
This VCS test looks at your eye's ability to detect subtle differences in shades of gray. The retina has neurons in it which do the light sensing and information processing, and the VCS test checks the functioning of these neurons of the eye. This check of functioning is a way of gauging the health of these neurons — a health which may deteriorate if they are being affected by neurotoxins like mold toxins.
But in spite of the differences between ME/CFS and mold-induced CIRS, it is plausible that ME/CFS may involve both mold exposure and viruses in some cases. So it would be a good idea for ME/CFS patients to take the free VCS test linked to above, which will give some indication of whether they are currently affected by biotoxins such as mold toxins.
However, even if an ME/CFS patient is not currently affected by biotoxins, it is conceivable that during the time they first caught their ME/CFS-triggering virus, they could have been exposed to and affected by biotoxins, and these biotoxins may have modulated the immune system in such a way that it enabled the virus to trigger ME/CFS. Some mycotoxins have been shown
to increase the Th2 immune response, which may thus make it harder for the body to fight viruses.
And if an ME/CFS patient is continually exposed to mold, possibly this Th2 response may worsen their viral infections. Note that you can be exposed to mold from your environment; but Dr Joesph Brewer theorizes that ME/CFS patients may have a chronic mold infection in their nasal and sinus mucous membranes, which would constantly be creating mycotoxins.
Also, if an ME/CFS patient's symptoms are relieved by mold avoidance, then that could simply be due to a mold allergy that they have. In this case, it does not mean the mold is causing the ME/CFS, but just making you feel worse, as allergies tend to do.