Article abstract:

When we talk with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients, we learn that before they became ill, some were exposed to water-damaged buildings (WDB) or other mold sources. This raises two questions:

  1. Are people with CFS more likely to have been exposed to WDB or mold than are healthy persons?
  2. If we reduce a CFS patient’s mold burden, would this improve their symptoms?

We can’t answer either question definitively yet. But, both questions are highly relevant – especially the first. One reason is the commercial availability of a new test that measures the amount of mold toxin (mycotoxin) in a person’s urine.

Dr Joseph Brewer’s study concluded that  chronic fatigue syndrome patients are much more likely than healthy people to have mold toxin in their urine. This suggests that mold exposure might be an important causal contributor to CFS.

An examination of that study raises questions about the validity of the comparison between CFS patients and healthy controls. Questions should also be asked of the conclusion that treating for mold helps CFS patients feel better as there was no placebo arm to the study.

For now, all we can say is that Brewer’s results are encouraging but not conclusive. And the mainstream literature is discouraging.

My Bottom Line: Dr. Brewer’s work is strong enough to justify that the CFS-advocacy community invest time and money to do a rigorous controlled study testing whether Dr. Brewer’s potentially critical findings can be reproduced.

BUT be aware that these treatments might or might not in fact be useful and evaluation for mold can be expensive.

Can Mold Cause Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Is Mold a “Breakthrough” or Just a False Lead? by Richard Podell, MD, MPH, in, 7 November 2016

Richard Podell, M.D., MPH, is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. He has been treating patients with ME-CFS and Fibromyalgia for more than 20 years.

A clinical professor at New Jersey’s Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Dr. Podell see patients at his Summit, NJ and Somerset, NJ offices. His website is

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