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Unraveling the Ticking Time Bombs of CIRS: Mold and Ticks

Written by Portland Clinic of Natural Health on July 27, 2023

Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), also known as mold illness, is a challenging, multi-faceted disease that develops in response to exposure to certain biotoxins, particularly those produced by mold, that is, mycotoxins. On the less trodden trails of this illness, we encounter a surprising twist: many patients with mold illness are also dealing with tick-borne diseases. While this may appear as an unrelated happenstance, a deep dive into the naturopathic perspective unveils profound interconnections that highlight the need for a holistic approach to these conditions. (1)

Molding the Understanding of CIRS

Mold illness or CIRS is an immune response triggered by exposure to the toxins produced by certain types of mold. People with a specific genetic susceptibility are unable to eliminate these toxins efficiently, leading to a chronic inflammatory response that affects multiple systems in the body.

The range of symptoms experienced in CIRS is vast and can include fatigue, joint pain, cognitive issues, sinus problems, and others that often lead to a merry-go-round of misdiagnoses. To further complicate matters, a subset of these patients also grapple with tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease and Babesiosis. So, how are these conditions connected? (2)

When Ticks Add Their Two Cents

Tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease, caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, and Babesiosis, a malaria-like illness caused by protozoa, have been found to coexist with CIRS in some patients. Lyme disease, much like CIRS, is characterized by a range of non-specific symptoms, making it challenging to diagnose and treat. (3)

From a naturopathic viewpoint, this dual affliction isn't a mere coincidence. When someone is dealing with a chronic inflammatory condition like CIRS, their immune system is already taxed. This lowered immunity can make them more susceptible to other infections, including those transmitted by ticks. Additionally, the immune dysregulation caused by tick-borne illnesses can exacerbate the body's response to biotoxins, leading to a vicious cycle of inflammation and illness.

Synchronizing the Clocks: A Naturopathic Approach

The intertwined nature of mold and tick-borne illnesses underscores the need for a comprehensive, integrative approach. Naturopathic medicine's philosophy, rooted in treating the whole person and identifying underlying causes, is ideally suited to this challenge.

Key Aspects of a Naturopathic Treatment Plan

Bio-Toxin Removal

Using binders like activated charcoal or chlorella can help the body eliminate toxins more efficiently.

Immune Modulation

Various botanicals and nutraceuticals can help balance and support the immune system.

Gut Health

A healthy gut is central to a robust immune system. Probiotics, dietary changes, and other interventions can aid gut health.

Stress Management

Chronic illness can be stressful, and stress can exacerbate symptoms. Techniques like mindfulness meditation or yoga can be helpful.

Addressing Co-Infections

In cases where tick-borne illnesses coexist, it's vital to tackle these infections using antibiotics or herbal antimicrobials, depending on the individual's needs and philosophy.

Understanding Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome

Understanding and treating CIRS, in conjunction with tick-borne illnesses, involves complex detective work. It's about untangling the tick-tock of the clock, the intricate web of symptoms, causes, and effects. As we continue to delve into these connections and refine our approaches, we strengthen our potential to effectively break the mold.


  1. Hamilton D. Understanding Mycotoxin-induced Illness: Part 1. Altern Ther Health Med. 2022 Jul;28(5):8-11. PMID: 36069791.
  2. Empting LD. Neurologic and neuropsychiatric syndrome features of mold and mycotoxin exposure. Toxicol Ind Health. 2009 Oct-Nov;25(9-10):577-81. doi: 10.1177/0748233709348393. PMID: 19854819.
  3. Parveen N, Bhanot P. Babesia microti-Borrelia Burgdorferi Coinfection. Pathogens. 2019 Jul 31;8(3):117. doi: 10.3390/pathogens8030117. PMID: 31370180; PMCID: PMC6789475.

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