Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), sometimes referred to as environmental illness, is becoming more common. It is often characterized by allergic reactions to a wide range of foods, chemical odors, even electrical fields and other phenomena.
Chemical sensitivity often develops after an exposure to a toxic substance or after an infection or other illness. Symptoms may include virtually anything. Chemical sensitivity can mimic other illnesses and can contribute to the development of other disorders. There is no single test for it and there is no magic cure.
Environmental illness is a stress overload condition. The stress theory postulates that our bodies are designed to adapt or compensate for the presence of stress. However, once a certain amount of adaptation occurs, symptoms appear.
A principle of the stress theory is that energy must be expended to adapt to stress. Early symptoms of adaptation such as fatigue, colds or other 'minor' symptoms are usually ignored. However, the body continues to adapt.
Finally, a threshold is reached. This threshold is different for each person, because each person's adaptive capacity is different. At the threshold, there is insufficient energy to maintain health. This may occur after a few minutes or a few years. At this point, some body system becomes dysfunctional. The symptom depends upon the individual pattern of adaptation.
The adrenal glands, charged with enabling the body to adapt to stress are depleted. The body's ability to cope with stress is greatly diminished. Illnesses caused by germs usually affect specific organ systems. Chemical sensitivity can cause any imaginable symptom, mental or physical. Each person can react differently to the same chemical. Only the stress theory can explain this.
Mineral analyses of those with chemical sensitivity often reveal a slow oxidizer pattern with very sluggish adrenal gland activity. This is not surprising, as the adrenals are a primary defense against allergic phenomena. Cortisone and adrenalin, adrenal hormones, are often administered to stop allergic reactions. If our bodies produce enough of these hormones, they can protect us from many allergens in the environment.
Slow oxidizers often have low energy levels, impaired digestion and an accumulation of toxic metals due to their slow rate of metabolism. All this can contribute to environmental illness.
Slow oxidizers tend to be withdrawn and fearful. Chemical sensitivity is a contributor and perhaps a result of fears. Routine interactions with one's environment can become a nightmare, perpetuating a cycle of fear.
At times, a person with chemical sensitivity will reveal a fast oxidation pattern, usually with a low sodium to potassium ratio. This ratio is another adrenal exhaustion pattern. When the individual is exposed to an allergen, the adrenals are unable to provide more anti-inflammatory hormones and a severe reaction may occur.
Fast oxidizers also have enhanced cell permeability. This means that it is easier for allergic substances to enter the cells, where they may cause a reaction. Fast oxidizers also tend to have a high level of histamine, a chemical associated with allergic reactions.
Many of those with chemical sensitivity have an elevated copper level or elevated levels of other toxic metals. Excess copper is stored in the liver, where it can interfere with the normal detoxification functions of the liver. Copper imbalance is also associated with dysfunction of the adrenal glands and the thyroid gland.
Other toxic metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, nickel, arsenic and others can have wide-ranging effects upon health, including the development of allergies.
Often, multiple chemical sensitivity begins with a reaction to one type of chemical or food, but then spreads to many others. This disturbing phenomenon is referred to as 'spreading'. The severity of reactions can also come and go, depending upon conditions inside and outside the body. This can be explained by the stress theory of disease.
Chemical sensitivity often forces individuals to pay close attention to their diet and lifestyle. Organically grown food, pure water, clean air and a natural environment are often essential. Synthetic carpeting, synthetic fabrics, solvents, herbicides, molds, yeasts, dust and many other exposures must often be avoided.
Detoxification procedures such as sweat baths, saunas, enemas, deep breathing, massage, skin brushing and others are helpful for some cases of chemical sensitivity. More exotic therapies, such as intravenous vitamin C, may be helpful.
Following a nutritional balancing program can be very helpful, but can be frustrating when one is chemically sensitive. The following suggestions may be helpful:
Having a reaction does not necessarily mean one should abandon the supplement program. Take the type of supplements one is able, in the quantity that one is able. Use other natural therapies to strengthen and balance the body, so that more of the nutrition program can be tolerated.