Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is a common symptom in people with CFS and Fibromyalgia. Many of us have been through thorough allergy testing to find that we are supposedly not allergic to anything, but our bodies tell us differently. We can’t stand certain smells and chemicals without having reactions of some sort.
Approximately half of all MCS sufferers report having problems with common allergies, asthma, depression and food intolerance.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome is an unusually orallergic-like reaction to many different kinds of pollutants. According to the Multiple Chemical Sensitivity websitethese “pollutants” include:
- VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds)
- “Chemicals” in general and often encompasses problems with regard to pollen, house dust mites, and pet fur & dander
Unlike typical allergies that people get, the causes of why people get MCS and have these sensitivities isstill under research but there are theories as to why the syndrome exists.
What Triggers MCS?
It is believed that Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome can either be triggered from one well-defined toxic exposure or a physical occurrence or trauma such as a car accident or a head injury.
Symptoms of MCS
The symptoms listed below are just a few of the many that people may experience with MCS. Like other illnesses where the origin is unknown, symptoms can vary greatly and the same symptoms will typically not be experienced by each patient. Most common symptoms reported by those with MCS include:
- Stinging, burning eyes
- Extreme fatigue/lethargy
- Poor memory and concentration
- Runny nose
- Sinus problems
- Skin rashes/itching skin
- Light & noise sensitivity
- Sleeping problems
- Digestive problems
- Muscle and joint pain
Mystery Behind MCS
One reason there has been much skepticism surrounding MCS is because doctors and the medical community find it hard to believe how invisible toxins or chemicals that are not bothersome to the majority of the population are a problem for these people? Research has found that this is due to sensitization. The MCS Website says:
Sensitization is a true allergic reaction to one chemical or irritant and is caused by involvement within the body of mast cells and IgE antibodies. Once sensitized to a particular irritant, a subsequent exposure to even a tiny amount of the same irritant ( even parts per million ppm or parts per billion ppb) can cause an extreme allergic reaction.
Note: one ppm = 0.0001 percent.
These very low levels of irritant will often be totally undetectable to the average person and to them will be totally harmless.
Meanwhile, the main aspect of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity that is NOT fully understood – and that is regarded with such great scepticism – is that the MSC sufferer reacts similarly and in an allergic fashion to a whole raft of completely unrelated toxicants typically “chemicals”, solvents, perfumes, VOCs, odours, smoke, house dust mites, pollen, etc.
In conventional science and in the present state of knowledge, this effect is impossible because an allergy is an acquired reaction caused by an immune system response to one SPECIFIC excitant that has already been encountered at least once before : a multilateral response to many and varied toxicants is inexplicable using conventional medicine. Yet many MCS sufferers do report the same effects and the same symptom picture following exposure to varied excitants in short, they all “tell the same story”.
Effects of MCS
The theories surrounding MCS state that there are three major effects of MCS on the body:
- Energy depletion
- Immune system damage
Detoxification of all manner of naturally occurring toxins is carried out in humans by enzymes in the liver. These same enzymes are also used to detoxify a wide range of synthetic chemicals, but, if the enzymes are depleted or damaged by health problems, then they are unable to metabolize these toxicants efficiently, so leading to the problems associated with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.
Immune System Damage
One theory is that due to immune system damage or malfunction, MCS develops giving the patient a high sensitivity to all sorts of triggers rather than a specific reaction to just one pollutant.
Conditioning occurs when two unrelated events occur at the same time and one event then becomes associated with the other.
There may be an additional psychological aspect to Multiple Chemical Sensitivity called “conditioning” & this is not to say thatMCS is “all in the mind” – as it quite definitely is not – but conditioning could certainly exacerbate severely a pre-existing sensitivity.
To treat MCS, the patient needs to avoid foods or chemicals that seem to cause their reactions. If you believe in natural alternatives, holistic medicine believes that by boosting the immune system the reactions to chemicals and foods can be minimized.