By  Dr. Jennifer Nevels - at  February 21, 2012    

Multiple Chemial Sensitivity is a condition that is comprised of a variety of symptoms that are initiated after coming into contact with chemicals such as paint, pesticides, herbicides, gasoline, fragrances in perfumes, candles, air fresheners, dry cleaned clothes and even drier sheets.  Anything with a newly purchased smell is the worst.  New furniture, cars, carpet and mattresses are examples of this.  The most common symptoms seen are wheezing, coughing, headaches, dizziness, nausea, rapid heart rate, allergic reactions, confustion, anxiety, depression, extreme fatigue and general achiness.  It is also common to develop sensitivities to various foods and medications with this condition.

Symptoms can wax and wane for some, but individuals do not get consistently better until the chemicals are recognized and removed.  There are different degrees of multiple chemical sensitivities.  Most individuals I see with severe MCS find it difficult to put gas in their car without being punished with severe fatigue.  Shopping at the mall where fragrances seep out of every corner between the candle and lotion stores, perfume counters and of course the scents from other shoppers is debilitating for these individuals.  Less sensitive individuals may get a headache initially out of no where or feel nauseas or anxious and may not make the connection to the potential triggers surrounding them.

There are two ways of developing MCS: from one single exposure to toxins at a high dose (for ex. fumigation) or by many exposures to small amounts over months to years.  The connection is often difficult to be made but typically my patients that get diagnosed with this have been through a battery of testing to rule out all of the medical conditions that can be tied to their symptoms.  They become confused because their doctors tell them that they can’t find anything wrong with them, but they know they don’t feel right.

Not only is it crucial to eliminate the chemical exposures, it is essential to make the home a safe place.  To get your home environmentally friendly you must become educated and informed about what is making your personal environment toxic to begin with.  There are several books on this topic, like Clean, Green and Lean by Walter Crinnion, ND and Our Toxic World by  Dorris Rapp, MD for example.  You can also check out the other blogs we have written under the Clean Living section as well as the articles in the Environmental Detox section on our websites homepage at to get started.

Be sure to remove anything from your home that has an artificial fragrance, like air fresheners and scented candles.  Purchasing a good air purifier for your home is very important. Both Blue Air and IQ Air are good quality air purifiers.  I have a Blue Air purifier in my home and have the smoke stop filter to make sure that it is pulling the solvents out of the air.  Wearing shoes around the home should be avoided. It is best to slip them off in the entry way or in the garage as we inevitably track in chemicals, like pesticides and gasoline from the outdoors into our home.  Pesticides are being sprayed everywhere now a days.  Daily I see spraying around public places, schools, and highways. Really no place is immune to it.

Cleaning up your personal environment is just one aspect of getting better. There are specific nutrients and herbs as well as IV therapies that will be supportive to the detoxifying process.   Specific testing is also of great value. I often recommend a specific test that looks for solvents in the blood to see if there is either an over exposure or if the liver can’t process these specific chemicals.

The good news is that there is hope for those who are intolerant to the world around them. It takes alot of patience, education, support from family and friends and time.  Look for more information on this topic in my upcoming article on how to make your bedroom the safest room in the house.

Dr. Jennifer Nevels

Dr. Jennifer Nevels

Dr. Jennifer Nevels is a licensed naturopathic medical doctor in the state of Arizona. She is licensed as a general family practitioner, and is considered an expert in women’s health. Dr. Nevels primarily focuses on patient care at one of the largest naturopathic medical centers in East Mesa. Dr. Nevels received her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM) in 2003 after receiving her Bachelors of Science in Psychology at the University of Arizona. After obtaining her doctorate she completed a year residency specializing in women's medicine. She became a faculty member at SCNM and acted as the Interim Chair of the Women's Department where she was involved in teaching gynecology, supervising medical students at the medical center and research on topics like Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy and Herbal Formulations for Menopausal symptoms. She continues with her involvement at SCNM by teaching gynecology as adjunct faculty member. She commonly treats the following conditions: WOMEN’S HEALTH ISSUES. Irregular cycles, PMS, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, painful periods, vaginal infections, and sexually transmitted infections are just some of the common female conditions that I treat. Treatment is dependent upon each individual but may include: herbal and vitamin supplements, acupuncture, detoxification and dietary recommendations. MENOPAUSE. Hot flashes, insomnia, low libido, anxiety and depression are common symptoms that are associated with menopause. The fluctuation in hormones or decline in their presence can contribute or cause these and many other symptoms. Bio-identical hormone therapy and botanicals are extremely effective. MOOD DISORDERS. Both depression and anxiety can be debilitating. Neurotransmitter herbal support can help to balance out the most common brain chemicals that allow us to feel peaceful, like dopamine, serotonin and GABA. Testing can also provide insight to how severe the imbalanced may be. High mercury and lead exposure can be another cause for mood issues including irritability and anger. Potential exposures can be evaluated through a thorough environmental intake and appropriate testing. FATIGUE. Fatigue can be multi-factorial. It can be caused by food allergies, candida overgrowth in the intestinal tract, immune distress and poor detoxification as well as thyroid and adrenal exhaustion. The goal is to determine the underlying cause or causes and treat accordingly. This typically involves lab work, a specialized diet and supplement regime. POOR DIGESTION. IBS, constipation, diarrhea, bloating and heartburn plague most everyone at some point in their lives. One of the most common causes of poor digestion is the imbalance of flora or overgrowth of organisms that inhabit the intestinal tract. The other is developing an IgG food intolerance which can contribute to other health issues like inability to lose weight, fatigue, arthritis and allergies. I often recommend a test that identifies which foods should be avoided. SKIN. Acne and eczema are common skin conditions that I treat. Both have similar causes related to poor detoxification and digestive issues which are treated based on the underlying cause. MIGRAINES. Chronic migraines find significant relief through acupuncture and environmental medicine. So many patients have developed environmental sensitivities through a lifetime of and do not realize how past or current exposures can play a role with their overall health including migraines. Menstrual migraines are also common for some women which consistently occur around menses and can be treated by improving hormone balance. She also provides a naturopathic approach to the Well Woman’s Exams. She takes the time to address all of her patients’ concerns and provides guidance on contraception and other specific health problems. Dr. Nevels has been heard on a variety of radio shows discussing the latest health issues. She has been featured on Channel 3 News, as an expert on various women’s health concerns. Her publications include magazines such as Taste Of Life, Delicious Living and Woman’s World Magazine.

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One thought on “Multiple Chemical Sensitivity”

  1. Wanda McGill says:

    I really appreciate your article. I have been told for many years that nothing was wrong with me, yet I keep having breathing problems and went into axaphalatic shock 3 times with many hosital admissions. In January, 2013, an allergist finally confirmed that I am not crazy. He diagnosed the problem being, ” chemical sensivity”. I couldn’t go to the grocery store, movies, church and work was a nightmare. I am now 60 years of age and this problem started when I was 21. I am s thankful the medical world is finally acknowledging this is a real problem, therefore others won’t suffer as I have. Again, thank you.

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