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Mold: An Insidious Invader and Destroyer of Health

cholestyramine chronic fatigue cirs environmental illness fibromyalgian inflammation mold mold toxicity multiple sclerosis parkinsons Apr 09, 2024

The Insidious Culprit in Invisible Illness

by Phil Kaplan

In 2005 my life changed.  I was thrust into the unfamiliar world of being “the patient.”

It started during the 2005 Hurricane Season, when a fierce storm named Wilma blew the roof off of my Corporate Headquarters.  It was flooded and everything within the four walls was ruined.

Two weeks after the storm, contractors were busy in the building tearing out rotting drywall and carpet and a new roof was being constructed.  Eight months later, the space looked phenomenal, everything brand new.

Well, almost everything.*

Weeks after the building was repaired, weird things started to happen.  It started with an unusual cough.  I wouldn’t feel it coming on, but when it hit it literally felt as if my lung wanted to come out of my mouth.  It would sometimes knock me off of my feet.  Literally.

I went to a pulmonologist.  He told me I had emphysema.  He prescribed an albuterol inhaler.  The diagnosis was both disturbing and puzzling.  I didn’t smoke, and weeks earlier I was riding my bike 50 or 60 miles a week.  The doctor didn’t seem to like my skepticism.  He referred me to an allergist.

The results of the allergy test showed that I was allergic to dust, ragweed, and cats.  Allergy shots were suggested.  I decided to keep searching.

The  crazy symptoms began to amplify and within weeks I had tremors, loss of balance, stuttering, and the inner workings of my thoughts  seemed to go to sleep.  I wasn’t all that familiar with the term brain fog at that time, but this was a severe case.

I won’t share the long story right now, as my intention is to enlighten people who might have gotten stuck at diagnosis, but one day I’ll share the “all of it,” a story that will blow you away.

I will tell you this.  After 7 different diagnoses, I found the issue, the source, the root cause.

It was Mold Toxicity. 

Not only did I finally discover the cause of my odd and debilitating symptoms, I got rid of it!  Through a series of steps and a “follow it to the tee” protocol, I was restored to optimal health.  

Prior to meeting Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, who diagnosed me correctly and guided me to resolve, I had been given 12 different prescriptions, from the first, Albuterol to Actos, Lexapro to Gabapentin, Xanax to Lyrica.  I didn’t take any of them.

My sister, who’s a long-time RN, my well-intentioned relatives, and close friends who witnessed my struggle urged me, “just take the meds.”  I didn’t.  Most of them wrote me off as crazy.

It was that odyssey that led to the creation of “Infinite Impact, a Human Betterment Center.”  The therapies I used to recover included Hyperbaric Oxygen ($225 per use, three times per week) and high doses of IV Glutathione ($200 per infusion twice per week).

The entire experience, “being the patient,” being urged to take “meds,” the chain of misdiagnoses, and spending every penny I had on treatments, gave me the highest levels of empathy for anyone suffering “an invisible illness” or getting sucked into the rabbit hole of conventional medicine.

At the time I had a significant presence in South Florida and within the fitness field internationally and I started getting calls from folks who heard a bit about my story.  Most were beyond distressed.  They were at their wits’ end.   

They had fallen into the rabbit hole and every one had a story.  I began to understand how far-reaching environmental illness is, and with that, I came to recognize the impotence of the medical field in identifying “cause.”


When a man or woman begins to sense a decline in health, recognizes abnormalities categorized as symptoms, and seeks an answer by following the road of “Medicine as we Know It,” the  hunt for “an answer” begins.  Unfortunately the hunt, rather  than being about  a solution, becomes focused on a diagnosis.

Is a diagnosis an answer?  Not always, in fact, when the diagnoses is in error, it more often than not leads to a series of missteps that make things worse.  At time, much worse.

Here’s the Paradox:

  • People want diagnosis (they believe it’s the predecessor of treatment)
  • Doctors seek diagnosis (they know its what their patients want)
  • Insurance carriers require diagnosis (so they can justify paying for meds)

The statistically alarming frequency of misdiagnosis or what is referred to as “over-diagnosis” is in great part because of two near-universal beliefs,  the first one that the doctor is right, the second, “the drug is the answer.”

I’ll cover this at length in upcoming talks and articles, but  for now, I want to inform anyone with chronic concerns that don’t seem to fall cleanly into the bucket of commonly diagnosed diseases to begin a course of exploration.

As of the date of this article, Infinite Impact has been open for just over a year, and each month we meet scores of local people who suffer, who struggle, and who haven’t found answers, and thanks to my personal experience, the insights of our medical team, and the beliefs that I and my business partner, Dr. Kristin Comella hold true about “the power to heal,” we’re rescuing them.

When there’s “smoke,” the symptoms treated  by meds and the  conventions of allopathic medicine, the true resolve must lie in identifying and extinguishing the fire from which the smoke emerged.

By treating the  body as the whole of six points, Brain, Immune System, Gut, Mind, Spirit and Cell, and by integrating exercise, nutrition, energy therapies, and medicine, we often identify the fire conventional medicine missed, and in that, we restore the  patient to excellence.

Mold was the source of my challenge.  There’s always a “stressor,” an event or an insult to body system, that begins the onset of clues (symptoms).  That stressor may be emotional, environmental, or physical, and it begins a series of maladaptations, flawed adjustments in biochemistry and function.  Unlike acute injuries, chronic conditions that escalate along a continuum cannot be “treated” with a momentary intervention.  They require a strategy for recovery.  We’ve mastered that strategy.

I’ve come to understand that once the underlying process, CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome) begins to impact hormonal responses, environmental toxins such as those found in cleaning supplies, paint, carpet, new furniture, flame retardants, fragrances, and some cosmetics become irritants furthering the distress.  While all of these potential stressors merit discussion, I want to zero in on mold.

“Mold” is not a diagnosis, but a cause.  The proper diagnosis, CIRS, isn’t identified or healed in a moment.  There are tests that individually provide strong clues that mold toxins may be causing symptomology, but we’re careful in our assessment and it requires a bit of time and exploration.

Because CIRS is a multisystem and multi-symptom illness, a series of assessments are of paramount importance before landing on diagnosis and a full course of treatment.  Here are the factors that play into in certainty.

  • the patient has had ‘documented exposure to biotoxins, usually in the form of a water damaged building’
  • testing indicates the patient has a number of ‘abnormal biomarkers”
  • the illness responds to designated therapies, the main one being use of a compound proven effective at removing biotoxins, cholestyramine

The prevalence of mold toxicity in South Florida should drive our doctors and medical leaders to better understand biotoxin diagnosis and treatment.  Biotoxins are the living pathogens that colonize within the body when mold exposure becomes problematic.  Based anecdotally on the stories of our patients and clients, misdiagnosis is more the rule than the exception.

By the time they find us, many of our mold-exposed patients have been through what they commonly describe as a nightmare.  They’ve sought answers, followed protocols based, not on evidence of betterment, but on the diagnosis itself, and losing hope.

We know misdiagnosis is alarmingly common and moreso in what the BMJ calls The Big 3

Based on info I shared over the past few weeks, we’re also aware of overdiagnosis.

So here’s the problem we face.  65% of American adults will come to you with a diagnosis.  90% plus of those people will be on some intervention or treatment protocol, and you’re asked to accept that the diagnosis and care are correct.

But are they?

I can hold up, as evidence of the need for us to start from a place of informed uncertainty, the real-life examples I’ve personally seen of people who were exposed to mold and became breeding grounds for mycotoxins.

We begin with a series of “intakes,” first with our Medical Fitness Director, then with the proper member of our Medical Team.  With every patient we explore every diagnosis, every treatment suggested, and examine outcomes by re-visiting biomarkers (lab tests) and expressed levels of “worsening” or “alleviation” over time.

The critical questions that should be asked.

  • How did previous practitioners arrive at the diagnosis?
  • Based on what?
  • Is the data conclusive?
  • How was “the condition” treated thus far?
  • What were the quantifiable outcomes of treatment?
  • How, at this point in time, do we begin the process of complete restoration?

 I put this out there as a flag, as a “maybe.”  If you’ve been challenged by an invisible malady, if you’re just not at your best and you aren’t sure why, if you live in South Florida and have been exposed to damp or musty buildings or spaces, call me.  Let’s see if we can elicit some clues.  Whether or not the source is mold related, we can do some simple tests to at the very least begin a path of betterment.

As a final note, I want to list the most common “misdiagnoses” often concluded by practitioners who failed to question whether there’s a biotoxic condition at play.

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson's
  • ALS
  • Depression
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Attention Deficit Disorder

I’m not in any way dismissing these diagnoses as false, but I am opening a door to those who might be in that realm of confusion, where things don’t seem to match up, and where there’s a gut feeling or some real evidence that nobody else seems to acknowledge, that “something else” might be going on.



 * When the contractors disassembled my office and demolished the walls, they never removed the air ducts.  Black furry mold lined the ducts as we "moved back in" to the "newly renovated space."


If you aren't feeling up to par, or more importantly, if you've started a cascade of symptoms including fatigue, aches, and brain fog, set up a complimentary visit at Infinite Impact.  Email me, [email protected] or call 844 IMPACT9 and reference this article



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