Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)

What is CIRS?

CIRS is a term used to describe chronic upregulation of the innate immune system.

Dr Richie Shoemaker in the 1990s described CIRS when he was supporting individuals who developed multiple symptoms, after being exposed to toxic fish. Since then CIRS has been associated with exposure to water damaged buildings, algae blooms, spider bites and exposure to Lyme disease from tick bites. The toxins responsible for CIRS are biotoxins – toxins created in nature.

Dr Shoemaker has devoted his life to the study of biotoxin illness, and continues to advance research on this topic. Keeley is one of four of the Shoemaker Proficiency Partners in Europe and UK.

The Shoemaker 12 step protocol is part of the process undertaken at The Emporitum of Health to support CIRS resolution.


CIRS leads to multiple symptoms, because the biotoxins can have an impact on many different body systems. Those who do not understand the multisymptomatic impact of CIRS may consider their patients to be hypochondriacs, or have a somatising disorder because surely one person cannot have so many different symptoms, impacting on so many different body systems. Well, they can… and they do.

Some of the symptoms of CIRS include : –

  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Headaches
  • Cognitive issues such as brain fog or memory loss
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Stiffness
  • Tingling, numbness, tremors
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sinus issues
  • Excessive thirst, or excessive urination
  • Red eyes, watery eyes or blurred vision
  • Night sweat
  • Unusual pain
  • Dizziness, vertigo
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhoea
  • Static shocks
  • Cough

There are 37 common symptoms seen in those who experience CIRS.

At The Emporium of Health, a thorough history, and a 37 Symptom Cluster questionnaire is undertaken to ascertain the probability of CIRS being at the root of your symptoms. This, and a simple eye test, indicates a 98.5% probability of CIRS being causal of symptoms.

Genetic susceptibility to CIRS

In order to develop CIRS, one needs to be genetically susceptible. This is why one or two people in a household may be affected, but not all.

About 25% of the population have a genetic propensity towards CIRS illness. At The Emporium of Health we can undertake a blood test to check whether you are in the 25% of the population who do not possess the genetics enabling biotoxins to be processed and eradicated from the body.

Innate and adaptive immune system in CIRS

The innate immune system is the non-specific part of the immune system which kicks in when an invading pathogen is identified in the blood stream. The techniques used are general, and not specific to the invading pathogen. If the pathogen is not removed and destroyed by the innate immune system, a message will be sent to trigger the adaptive immune system, to create specific antibodies  to the pathogen to destroy it.

In those with CIRS, the genetics are not present to trigger the adaptive immune system to the presence of biotoxins. The adaptive immune system remains ‘unaware’, antibodies are not produced and the specific immune destruction of the pathogen therefore does not occur. The innate immune system ramps up in an attempt to destroy the pathogen – hence the chronic inflammatory immune response (CIRS).

Exposure to water damaged buildings

In the UK, the most common reason for the development of CIRS is exposure to a water damaged building.

Many people will often refer to being exposed to mould, but the biotoxins from water damaged buildings are a milieu of different toxins, mycotoxin, bacteria, and inflammagens, which go far beyond the realm of mould.

In fact, if you are searching for obvious signs of mould in your home, you may be overlooking the underlying cause of biotoxin production.

What to look for

  • Water damage
  • Flaking paint
  • Cracks
  • Mould (black mould)
  • Peeling wall paper
  • Condensation

1) Indoor Environmental Consultant

The best way to identify if your home has issues of water damage is to contact an Indoor Environmental Consultant who understands the complexity of biotoxin illness. The IEP will spend time assessing your home, for ventilation, condensation, and moisture issues. The identification of mould/biotoxins can be assessed with specific environmental tests, which can be ordered specifically, depending on findings. Please speak to us about our recommendations.


These are environmental tests undertaken in the home, to assess the presence of mould. In order for recovery to occur, or for specific steps to be considered on the healing journey, the HERTSMI 2 score should be less than 10.

Tests for CIRS

There are further tests which can be undertaken to assess which markers of the innate immune system are upregulated by biotoxins, and the specific role CIRS is having for an individual. This can help with the strategy for resolution.

We also have access to transcriptomic testing, to assess which genes are being upregulated by biotoxins, and volumetric brain analysis software, which can help identify brain atrophy, and monitor recovery.