Multiple Chemical Sensitivities

Multiple Chemical Sensitivities

There are has been an increase in the chemicals in our environment since WWII, leaving us now with 88 thousand unregulated chemicals in our daily lives. Women are exposed to 127 chemicals just getting ready in the morning using their regular shampoo, perfumes, hair products, lotions and makeup. No wonder it is estimated that 70 to 80% of chemical sensitivity sufferers are female1! Exposure can also come from paints, carpets, furniture, plastics, clothing, personal body products, household cleaning products, Xenobiotics, VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and pesticides. Exposure to all chemicals can trigger an increase in inflammation2 which can explain the varied symptoms that come with this syndrome. The increase of chemicals in the environment has lead to a dramatic health decline in those who are overexposed, and for those who are sensitive.

Multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) is a syndrome characterized by symptoms displayed by the affected person after low-level exposure to chemicals, or after a dramatic high exposure (such as a chemical spill). Most of us are exposed to chemicals on a low level in our daily lives, although some are more susceptible to symptoms than others. According to different studies, about 15% of the world’s population are reporting sensitivities to chemicals1,3. The full extent of why this happens to some more than others is not known. Some believe it can be linked to dramatic high exposure leading to sensitivity2, genetics4, or other illnesses or situations that leave the body toxic and weak like Lyme Disease, Heavy Metal toxicity, mold toxicity5 or other conditions. There are very few guidelines medical doctors have to treat this condition, leaving many patients without proper care or symptom management6.

Symptoms of MCS may vary from person to person, but can include fatigue, pain, fibromyalgia7, breathing and lung difficulties, electric hypersensitivity, autoimmunity8, neurological symptoms (nerve pain, seizures, etc), dizziness, nausea, skin conditions (eczema, rashes, hives, itchiness), elevated liver enzymes, thyroid problems, increased occurrence of colds and flus, noise sensitivity9, brain fog, digestive discomfort (gas, bloating, cramping)10, headaches, migraines, weight loss or gain, fainting, anxiety and depression11 and more.

This syndrome can be isolating, as some sufferers become home bound due to the amount of chemicals and fragrances in the everyday world and the severity of their symptoms. Chemical sensitivity is not always this severe, although many others find themselves avoiding certain stores that have high levels of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) that come from the off gassing of the products sold in the store. Others find they just need to avoid certain perfumes and products, or ask for some changes in their work environment. 

At Ananta Health our first approach is to make sure our environment is safe for those with MCS. We only use natural products to clean our office, and our staff avoids the use of perfumes. With half the staff also sensitive to chemicals, we take the utmost care to protect our patients. After a patient is assessed on the BioMeridian, a treatment plan is then set in place. Any factors that can be contributing to stress in the body are addressed, including digestive problems, Lyme Disease, heavy metal toxicity, mold toxicity, electromagnetic exposure and Genomics. The patient’s plan is individual for their situation, including diet and lifestyle changes as well as herbs and supplements. The management of MCS is a life long journey, but with careful care, the symptoms can be managed and reduced making living in our toxic world more tolerable. 

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(1) Lipson, J.G., Doiron, N. (2006, August 27).Environmental Issues and Work: Women with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16844671
(2) Fukuyama, T., Ueda, H., Hayashi, K., Tajima, Y., Shuto, Y., Saito, T.R., Harada, T., Kosaka, T. (2008, July 30). Detection of Low-Level Environmental Chemical allergy by a Long-term Sensitization Method. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18571882
(3) Salvador, L. ( 2011, June 11). World Health Organization Meeting on MCS and EHS. Retrieved from http://www.ei-resource.org/columns/mcs-america/world-health-organization-meeting-on-mcs-and-ehs/
(4) De Luca, C., Scordo, M.G., Cesareo, E., Pastore, S., Mariani, S., Maiani, G., Stancato, A., Loreti, B., Valacchi, G., Lubrano, C., Raskovic, D., De Padova, L., Genovesi, G., Korkina, L.G. (2010, November 1). Biological Definition of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity from Redox State and Cytokine Profiling and not from Polymorphisms of Xenobiotic-Metabolizing Enzymes. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20430047/
(5) Rea, W.J. (2016, September 1). History of Chemical Sensitivity and Diagnosis. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27383867
(6) Vishwanatha, K., Palmquist, E., Nordin, S. (2015, April 27). Extent and Orientation of Coping in Chemical Intolerance. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25921478
(7) De Luca, C., Raskovic, D., Pacifico, V., Chung Sheun Thai, J., Korkina, L. ( 2011, July 1).The Search for Reliable Biomarkers of Disease in Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Other Environmental Intolerances. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3155329/#b153-ijerph-08-02770
(8) Karlson, E.W., Watts, J., Signorovitch, J., Bonetti, M., Wright, E., Cooper, G.S., McAlindon, T.E., Costenbader, K.H., Massarotti, E.M., Fitzgerald, L.M., Jajoo, R., Husni, M.E., Fossel, A.H., Pankey, H., Ding, W.Z., Knorr, R., Condon. S., Fraser, P.A. (2007, January). Effect of Glutathione S-transferase Polymorphisms and Proximity to Hazardous Waste Sites on Time to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Diagnosis: Results from the Roxbury Lupus Project. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17195228
(9) Heinonen-Guzejev, M., Koskenvuo, M., Mussalo-Rauhamaa, H., Vuorinen, H.S., Heikkilä, K., Kaprio, J. (2012, September 14). Noise Sensitivity and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Scales: Properties in a Population Based Epidemiological Study. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23117535
(10) Ståhlberg, L., Palmquist, E., Nordin, S. (2016, July 7). Intolerance to Environmental Chemicals and Sounds in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Explained by Central Sensitization? Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27387510
(11) Cui, X., Lu, X., Hisada, A., Fujiwara, Y., Katoh, T. (2015, March 20). The Correlation Between Mental Health and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: A Survey Study in Japanese Workers. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25500796