Multiple Chemical 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, carpets, and mattresses are examples of this. The most common symptoms seen are wheezing, coughing, headaches, dizziness, nausea, rapid heart rate, allergic reactions, confusion, 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 nowhere or feel nauseous 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 make but typically my patients who 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 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 homepage 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 entryway or the garage as we inevitably track in chemicals, like pesticides and gasoline from the outdoors into our home. Pesticides are being sprayed everywhere nowadays. Daily I see spraying around public places, schools, and highways. No place is immune to it.
Cleaning up your environment is just one aspect of getting better. There are specific nutrients and herbs as well as IV therapies that will be supportive of 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 overexposure or if the liver can’t process these specific chemicals.
The good news is that there is hope for those who are intolerant of the world around them. It takes a lot 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.