Biotoxin Illness


The Problem


Biotoxins are a common cause of chronic, complex illness. We see this condition fairly frequently in patients with multiple symptoms that are seemingly unrelated because they involve different systems in the body. Depending on the primary symptom, patients may see any number of specialists, but because of the vague symptoms and the lack of awareness of this condition in the medical community, the problem may go undiagnosed for many years.


Another possibility is that someone may be diagnosed correctly with one condition, but treatment does not get at the root cause.


Symptoms of biotoxin illness typically include eight or more of the following:




  Learning difficulties

  Muscle aches


  Light sensitivity

  Memory impairment

  Decreased word finding

  Difficulty concentrating

  Joint pain

  Morning stiffness


Unusual skin sensitivity


Shortness of breath

Sinus congestion


Excessive thirst


Appetite swings



Urinary frequency

Red eyes

Blurred vision

Night sweats

Mood swings

Ice pick pain

Abdominal pain



Tearing of eyes


Metallic taste

Static shocks



The underlying problem is a genetic variant involving the HLA gene family. It is estimated that 25% of people carry this genetic predisposition. If you have this genetic predisposition and are exposed to one of these biotoxins, your immune system will begin to attack the toxin with your innate immune system in an effort to neutralize it.

In a properly functioning immune system, the innate immune system will target the toxin and prepare it for definitive elimination by the adaptive immune system. When this fails to occur, the innate immune system continues to produce inflammatory substances that cause indiscriminate damage, much like what land mines do. The adaptive immune system, which can be likened to a team of snipers, is never engaged in the fight so the toxins are never eliminated. Needless to say, there is a lot of collateral damage throughout the body accounting for the wide range of symptoms.

We are seeing a dramatic rise in this condition for several reasons. Climate change and the associated flooding cause water damage in homes made of porous building materials, with poor air circulation creating a perfect breeding ground for mold. An estimated 50 percent of American homes and office buildings have sustained water damage and contain mold which then contaminates household materials, clothing, bedding, books, and furnishings.

Lyme and tick-borne diseases, the next largest trigger of immune activation, are also increasing in frequency and spreading across the country. We are even seeing Lyme disease in New York City parks. There are many other biotoxins, but mold and Lyme account for 80% of biotoxin illness.

The IMNY Solution

Our approach is based on the contributions of Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, Dr. Andrew Heyman, and Dr. Neal Nathan. There is no single accepted approach, so it is important for us to help our patients identify their unique situations and exposures. Education and active involvement on the part of patients is the key to successful treatment.

Our Biotoxin Illness Program provides a customized lifestyle protocol that involves reducing exposure to toxins and environmental inflammogens, reducing toxin load in the body, modulation of an overactive immune response, and the repair of damaged tissue including the hypothalamus.

The hypothalamus is the link between the nervous and endocrine systems through the action of a neuroregulatory hormone called MSH (melanocyte stimulating hormone). MSH in turn can be reduced by the presence of colonies of staphylococci that are present deep in the sinuses. The treatment plan requires a sequential approach that addresses the complicated interactions between immune dysregulation and the downstream effects.

We begin with testing for specific genetic markers, abnormalities in signaling pathways, immune “hyperactivity,” and a structural assessment of the brain when cognitive systems are impaired. We can identify specific structural changes in the brain associated with mold-related illness. Treatment is then directed toward the specific areas that are most affected.

Most importantly, there is no single “recipe” for treatment and success depends on adaptability, a working partnership with our practice team, and a motivated patient.