Chemical Sensitive? Is It Real?

Our last blog article on Common Cause of Tiredness triggered many questions. I noticed some of us here may have fatigue caused by reactions to chemicals. Four out of our five senses (sight, smell, taste, and touch), encounter common chemicals every day. They’re found in pesticides, petrol, perfumes, vehicle exhaust, household cleaning products, personal care products, cigarette smoke, and others. Do you feel the following symptoms when you’re around these common chemicals?

Mental / Neurological Heart / Cardiac
Short Terms Memmory
Problems
Irriability
Depression
Anxiety
Disoritentation
Headaches
Dizziness
Rapid heart rate
Irregular heart rate
Lungs / Pulmonary Gastrointestinal Non-Specific
Difficulty breathing
Shortness of breath
Diarrhea
Constipation
Abdominal Pain
Fatigue
Muscle & Joint pain
Flu-like symptoms
Nausea
Rashes

If you experience the symptoms mentioned above in the presence of common chemicals, you might have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, also known as Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance. Simply put, it’s a collection of signs and symptoms you may experience upon repeated exposure to small amounts of chemicals you encounter every day over a prolonged period. Though there’s still much debate as to whether Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or MCS for short, is a real disease entity or just a psychological one (it’s all in your head). To make matters worse, there’s no universally accepted definition of MCS, but there are six criteria as listed below:

  • Your symptoms reoccur upon repeated exposure and are reproducible.
  • Your sensitivity has been occurring for an extended period of time.
  • You get symptom relief when you stay away from the suspected chemicals.
  • Overtime your sensitivity to the suspected chemicals increases.
  • Your symptoms are generalized and involve multiple organ systems.
  • Various unrelated chemicals can produce the symptoms.

What are the causes of MCS? What are its known triggers?

Chemicals in everyday products are the known triggers of MCS, yet what is the exact cause? Nobody knows the exact cause or causes. A person who notices that he is sensitive to a chemical will quickly experience the onset of symptoms over a relatively short period. As a result some authorities see it as a psychological problem. Those who insist it’s a medical condition argue that chronic exposure to low levels of everyday chemicals will eventually lead to a point where your body cannot tolerate them any longer. You then become sensitized where your body becomes irritable leading to the development of MCS symptoms.

Results from studies have found the following about MCS:

  • The limbic system in your brain becomes hyperactive. Your limbic system is responsible for your emotions, mood, and communication in your autonomic nervous system. It’s no surprise that many symptoms of MCS can involve mood and behavior. Researchers have observed that electrical activity in patients with MCS is increased, leading to heightened sensitivity to everyday chemicals compared to those who don’t have MCS.
  • People with MCS were also found to have defective detoxification of xenobiotic chemicals or foreign chemical substances. Low levels of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant, where also found which is an important part of your liver’s detoxing actions. You know what that means, you get more circulating levels of toxic chemicals in your body.
  • Chronic, low-level exposure to everyday chemicals may impair parts of your body’s immune system.
  • MCS may be related to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia.

The table below shows a list of common chemical triggers of MCS found in everyday products:

Cleaning Products Vehicle Exhaust Cosmetic Products
Hexane
Xylene
Diethyl phthalate
Carbon monocide
Nitrogen dioxiden
Polycyclic hydrocarbons
Petrol fumes
Propylene glycol
Sodium lauryl ulphate
Acetone
Benzaldehyde
Cocamide DEA
Limonene
Gamma-Terpene
Pesticides Cigarette Smoking Others
DDT
Chlordane
Dieldrin
Lindane
Toluene
Benzene
Acetone
Carbon monocide
Formaldehyde
Nitric oxide
Ammonia
Food additives
Food preservatives
Solvents
Varnish
New clothes & Furniture
Newspapers
Plastic

Chemicals in these products create a toxic environment for you and your family.

What does it mean if you have MCS?

Being diagnosed with MCS is certainly stressful and will affect your quality of life. Responding negatively to everyday chemicals around you can bring a lot of anxiety and can even lead to depression, but it is manageable. More research is being conducted to determine possible coping mechanisms for this illness whether you’re on the medical or psychological side of its existence.

MCS treatment options: Mainstream and Natural

  • Mainstream: Health experts who believe that MCS is a mental illness treat it with psychiatric drugs and cognitive behavior therapy. Specific medications for symptoms experienced by the person will also be prescribed. Those who think that it’s a medical condition treat it with advice to avoid exposure to the suspected chemicals, exercise, sauna, and cold showers to effectively eliminate circulating toxins (detoxify).
  • Natural options include supplementing with the following products which…
    • Support liver detoxification: mung bean sprouts, dandelion root, globe artichoke, greater celandine, turmeric, milk thistle, and other herbs.
    • Reduce inflammation through nature food or herbal ingredients high in anti-oxidants: aronia berries, goji berries, dark berries, and spices such as turmeric.
    • Glutathione – referred to as the “Mother of All Antioxidants”.
    • Curcumin is turmeric’s most prized active component. In addition to its antioxidant action, it also supports liver function.
    • High doses of vitamin C.
    • Further support for your cells:
    • Phosphatidylcholine is an important component for healthy cells and also key for brain health.
    • Omega=3 essential fatty acids help to support a healthy inflammatory response.

Whether MCS is scientifically validated or not, consult your healthcare practitioner if you suspect you might have it . They will run tests to investigate your symptoms and bring more clarity to your issue. You can also try our suggestions above which promote better health, even if you don’t have MCS.

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