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Dr. John Whitcomb

on Mold-Related Illness

John Whitcomb, M.D.

John Whitcomb, M.D.

John Whitcomb, M.D., director and founder of Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic, had always fostered a passionate curiosity for discovering the “why” behind illness. Four years ago when a family member got sick with asthma, he tried helping his loved one through traditional health care, which yielded no results. It wasn’t until the person’s home was diagnosed with mold that Whitcomb was able to get to the root of the problem and heal the asthma. Inspired to learn more about mold-relates illness, Whitcomb dove into the studies of Ritchie Shoemaker, M.D., a renowned pioneer in the field of biotoxin-related illness.

Last year, Whitcomb became a mold-qualified doctor through the Shoemaker Protocol, expanding his toolbox of integrative therapies at Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic which includes integrative cancer care, Alzheimer’s prevention, weight loss, anti-aging medicine, vitamin C intravenous therapy and more.

“Mold exposure is the reason why half of the populace need to see a doctor, and they’re frustrated because they’re not getting answers,” Whitcomb says. Mold is a subset of a larger family called chronic inflammatory response syndrome, or CIRS. Lyme disease, blue green algae exposure and pfiesteria are also forms of CIRS, but Whitcomb says that 75 percent of people suffering from CIRS are ill because of regular black household mold. “What happens is that regular household mold dries out, desiccates and turns into tiny little pieces that float around in the air, and those particles settle into the dust that accumulates on undisturbed surfaces.”

Any home with a water leak is prone to mold, and Whitcomb indicates that older homes are particularly susceptible to mold growth. However, mold toxins do not affect everyone, which further complicates diagnosis of mold illness in mainstream medicine. “Three quarters of the population could sleep in a bathtub with black mold up to their noses, and their immune systems are able to handle it and they don’t get sick,” Whitcomb notes. “But the other quarter of the population has vulnerable immune systems that are unable to process the toxins from mold. Two percent of that population is explosively sensitive.”

Mold can cause a merry-go-round of toxins circulating throughout the body, setting off inflammatory fire alarms. “The liver detects the toxins and puts it into the bile,” Whitcomb explains. “Then you eat a meal and the bile goes into your gut and mixes with food, and the toxins go into the gut. Your immune system can’t see it, so you reabsorb it. Then it goes through your body again and sets off fire alarms, gets put into the bile again and goes into your gut and colon, and around and around you go.”

Symptoms of mold exposure include everything from extreme fatigue, unusual pain, severe aches, muscle pain and memory issues, to unusual nuisances like temperature dysregulation, where one can’t stand being too hot or too cold; extreme thirst; static shocks; metallic tastes; and light sensitivity. “When patients present the latter symptoms to mainstream medicine, they’re often faced with the indignity of being told that they need to see a psychologist,” Whitcomb relates.

Whitcomb recommends starting with a home testing kit to determine if mold is affecting one’s health. He says sophisticated testing kits such as the HERTSMI 2 test cost about $140 and can measure proportionate levels of how many different molds are present in the house.

Mold toxins do not affect everyone, which further complicates diagnosis of mold illness in mainstream medicine.

For people that suspect mold exposure or toxins are making them ill, Whitcomb uses several types of therapies to help patients clean and detoxify, including cholestyramine, an older cholesterol-lowering medication that’s been used successfully by Shoemaker to treat patients with CIRS. Cholestyramine binds mold toxin in the gut and carries it out of the system. “You’ll get better, as long as you’re living in a clean home,” Whitcomb says. “Some people get better just by moving out of the moldy environment, and some people get better by cleaning up and detoxifying.” Whitcomb follows Shoemaker’s 11-step treatment protocol to treat mold-related illness.

Whitcomb says we’ve just begun to scratch the surface of mold-related illness, but he’s optimistic that ongoing research will bring the issue to light. “If you have a mystery illness and have seen more than two doctors, you probably have mold exposure and CIRS,” he affirms.

Brookfield Longevity & Healthy Living Clinic is located at 17585 W. North Ave., Ste. 160, Brookfield. For more information, call 262-784-5300 or visit

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.

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