You may have seen ads promoting perfume-free laundry detergent, or natural-based cleaning products. You may even have purchased some soaps or shampoos that are paraben-free. But let’s face it, no matter how hard we try, or how many “safe” products we buy, in today’s world we are surrounded by harsh, toxic chemicals that are starting to cause major problems. There are a growing amount of people who are developing serious intolerances to them. Enough so, that they have classified and labeled it as a new condition called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). A young and healthy body may not notice a difference quite as much as a person who has more stressors, or health conditions. The body becomes congested with chemicals and toxins, and over time they retaliate with aversive symptoms.
What are the Symptoms of MCS?
The symptoms of multiple chemical sensitivity are similar to an immune response to allergies. They may vary according to each individual, but the most common symptoms of MCS include
- Sinus inflammation
- Flu-like symptoms
- Stomach ailments
- Joint problems
- Muscle aches
Symptoms may appear together or alone, and can vary in length from several hours to days.
What Are The Common Triggers of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?
Triggers of multiple chemical sensitivity are linked to the environment. For this reason, it is often referred to as an “environmental illness” or an “idiopathic environmental intolerance”. Some people seem to only have reactions to certain products, while others seem to be sensitive to the majority of chemicals they are exposed to. The most common triggers of MCS include
- Air fresheners, scented indoor candles, or outdoor citronella candles
- Cleaning products
- Common pesticides
- Fabrics and dyes
- Ink from newspapers or magazines, markers, and scented writing tools
- Laundry detergents, bleaches, fabric softeners, and static dryer sheets
- Perfumes and fragrances
- Smoke from tobacco, fireplaces, cooking, and grilling
- Soaps, shampoos, conditioners, body washes, and bath oils
- Volatile organic compounds
You are considered a Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Sufferer if
- You have a reaction every time you are exposed to a certain chemical, even at low levels.
- There is no improvement in your symptoms over a long period of time.
- Symptoms cease when the chemical trigger is removed.
- You may experience different symptoms from different chemicals.
What to Do if You Feel You Might Have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
If you feel you might be experiencing reactions from environmental toxins, it’s important to keep track of your symptoms and triggers. It is suggested to start a journal and record every episode you have in detail. Two weeks to thirty days should give you enough time to go through monthly cycles of cleaning the house, washing laundry, bathing, and cooking to see exactly what products are bothersome. If you have MCS, you will begin to see patterns as to when your body is reacting and how.
You can then begin to find solutions by avoiding triggers. You can keep your symptoms under control and manageable.
How to Eliminate Triggers
It is virtually impossible in today’s day and age to eliminate all the triggers we are faced with unless we were to place ourselves in a little bubble. However, we can do things to make our home and environment as MCS friendly as can be.
- Air purifiers can remove airborne pollutants.
- Steam cleaners can sanitize the home from bacteria, mildew, and mold without the use of toxic chemicals.
- Eat organic foods to avoid pesticides, herbicides, and GMOs.
- Drink only purified or filtered water.
- Try to stay away from polluted and smoke-filled air.
- Minimize your exposure to electrical fields.
- Turn off and unplug electronics when not in use.
- Avoid fluorescent lighting when possible.
- Use natural cosmetics.
- Keep your sleeping and work area free of dust and allergens.
A great way to eliminate triggers is to conduct an organ detox. Cleaning the liver, colon, and other organs will allow the body to process the chemical absorption more efficiently. When the system gets overloaded and congested, it cannot function properly to eliminate these foreign particles that have entered the body. Eliminating and avoiding triggers are important to manage multiple chemical sensitivity, but detox is vital for recovery. The key is to understand the body, and to match a recovery program that does not add additional stress to the body, because sometimes detoxification if done too quickly can also cause more toxin release in the body, and lead to crashes in those with adrenal fatigue.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and Adrenal Fatigue
While in the advanced stages of adrenal fatigue syndrome (AFS), many people suffer with multiple chemical sensitivities. They are suddenly affected by things they never had problems with before. Food intolerances can develop to soy, wheat, corn, and dairy. Sensitivities develop to nail polish, bathroom cleaners, or laundry detergents. At the advanced stages of adrenal fatigue, the body can no longer filter and eliminate the toxins as it once did, and it becomes a highly congested battlefield. It calls out for help from all its organ-systems or what is known as the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response System. The adrenals cry for help, the NEM system kicks in, and all the organs go into overtime. However, eventually, if triggers are not regulated, and exposure is constant, the liver becomes exhausted from producing, secreting, and regulating the additional stress relating compounds. The body can no longer function properly, and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity kicks in.
As horrible as it may seem, all hope is not lost. There are steps you can take to reverse the congestion and recover from AFS. You must be attentive to your body, as it will send up red flags immediately when it senses your environment is hostile. Because of these sensitivities, AFS and MCS sufferers can detect toxic exposures in an environment that others don’t even notice.
Sensitivities to chemicals has become an epidemic and not gone unnoticed. Many employers have taken steps to make their workplace environmentally friendly and toxic-free to provide their employees with safe working conditions. Most work establishments are smoke-free, and now many have gone fragrance-free. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, implemented an indoor environmental policy for all its centers prohibiting candles, incense, diffusers, air fresheners, and fragrances of any kind. They have proclaimed that the use of many products with fragrances may be detrimental to the health of people who suffer from allergies, asthma, headaches, or chemical sensitivities. With the CDC taking such measures, many more places are sure to follow their lead.
HUD Considers Multiple Chemical Sensitivity to be a Disability
Residential homes are constructed, remodeled, and furnished using toxic material. Many are built with materials and furnishings that contain or release poisonous formaldehyde, easily absorbable by humans. HUD recognizes the danger this causes and has taken measures to minimize usage of such products by educating construction builders and landlords about the effects of the materials they choose to use. HUD released a DVD to raise awareness about sensitivities to landlords to educate them about the pest control and cleaning chemicals they may use. HUD considers multiple chemical sensitivity to be a disability under the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Sound All Too Familiar?
If all of this sounds and feels too familiar, you may be suffering from multiple chemical sensitivity and/or adrenal fatigue syndrome, as these two ailments are on the rise in our world today. Stressful ways of living and toxic environments have become the norm.
After journaling your symptoms and learning your sensitivities, speak with a professional who specializes in these fields and get help to manage triggers. Bring your wellness back to optimal levels for your personal health and happiness.
With knowledge and proper understanding of the body, sufferers of multiple chemical sensitivity and adrenal fatigue can regain control of their lives.
© Copyright 2019 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. Lam’s Key Question
Are people with AFS more prone to Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?
Yes, people with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome are very prone to having Multiple Chemical Sensitivity as their bodies have already reached overloads from high stress and inadequate hormone levels. Leaving their organs, hormones and entire body systems extremely sensitive to environmental toxins and allergens.