ILADS and “Surviving mold” doctor Keith Berndtson: Disciplined

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Keith Berndtson is a doctor who practiced in a questionable manner in Illinois before moving to North Carolina. In 2012, Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation placed him on probation “for prescribing controlled substances for family members and in excessive quantities to some patients.”  The North Carolina Medical board issued a “letter of concern” about the disciplinary action.

Berndtson is also listed on the “Surviving Mold” web site as being trained by Ritchie Shoemaker. Shoemaker is a doctor who stopped practicing medicine after disciplinary action by the Maryland Board of Physicians. Berndtson is known for diagnosing and treating Lyme disease and Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). CIRS is a diagnosis invented by Ritchie Shoemaker and not recognized by any mainstream medical organization. Shoemaker believes that CIRS is caused by “biotoxins,” which are often produced by mold.

Berndtson is also associated with the pseudoscience groups International Society for Environmentally Acquired Illness (ISEAI) and International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS).

In 2010, the Healthcare Protection Agency of UK–after noting the vulnerability of patients “desperate for an explanation and possible cure for their illnesses”– issued scathing conclusions about guidelines issued by ILADS:

  • The ILADS guidelines are not evidence-based and are poorly constructed.
  • Application of the ILADS guidelines’ poorly defined case definitions will result in a very high risk of misdiagnosis.
  • Use of ILADS guidelines’ vague treatment recommendations, including prolonged use of antibiotics, has potentially serious consequences.
  • Patients misdiagnosed with Lyme disease risk losing opportunities for diagnosis and treatment of other conditions. They also risk serious physical, psychological social and financial adverse events.

In a 2014 article in the AutismFile, the quackery-promoting publication created by notorious anti-vaxxer Polly Tommey, Berndtson wrote an article called “Autism and Mold Toxicity.” In the article, Berndtson states that mold toxicity syndrome “can complicate efforts to treat people with ASD.” He suggests various treatment approaches that have no compelling scientific rationale.

According to Dr. Farah Khan, who wrote about beliefs in unsubstantiated mold diagnoses,  “The scientific evidence to back up CIRS is severely lacking, and if you search for more details on specific clinical descriptors, you will end up empty-handed.”

Dr. Khan says not to worry about “toxic mold”:

Mold worries are generally unfounded. There is no evidence that otherwise healthy individuals have any reason to fear falling ill from building mold, mold inhalation, or any other type of exposure to so-called toxic mold (PDF). Even when it comes to water-damaged buildings, any medically proven associations with health issues have come with long-term occupational exposures—not household exposures.

Read more about dubious mold diagnoses on the LymeScience Coinfection page.


Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation: Keith Berndtson discipline, 2012

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation: Keith Berndtson disciplinary record

North Carolina Medical Board: Keith Berndtson Letter of Concern

Dr. Farah Khan: Why is the Internet so obsessed with “Toxic Mold”?