Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: Treatment Part 7 of 7
A confirmed diagnosis is not necessary to begin treatment. It is helpful to know what chemical may be giving you problems, but it isn’t mandatory. As discussed, our bodies are all overloaded. It goes without saying that most, if not all of us, have been exposed to car exhaust, PCB’s, herbicides, and pesticides, lead, etc. Avoidance is the first step. Adequate ventilation and wearing proper protective equipment in industrial situations can prevent acute high-dose or chronic low-dose exposure.1 However, most people are unable to avoid the day-to-day chemicals in the air and water. Multiple chemicals are outside, in public spaces, and possibly in your home.
Once a person is symptomatic, sensitivity can continue to increase. In addition, the number of offending chemicals may increase so that things that were harmless become triggers for serious reactions. In both cases, the person’s health may continue to deteriorate. When possible, strictly avoiding exposure to chemicals for a specific amount of time, particularly triggering chemicals, can improve health.2 In some cases, antihistamines, analgesics and other medications can help combat symptoms. These remedies do not resolve the problem of being over-exposed, but temporarily mask the symptoms and/or make them manageable. It is important to know that taking over-the-counter or even prescription drugs can provoke a reaction in some MCS patients. Since avoidance isn’t always feasible and drugs can potentiate the problem, it is vital that every day we help our bodies process through as many chemicals as possible.
A number of herbs treat the symptoms of MCS, help detoxify, and promote healing. Just like any pharmaceutical drug, herbal remedies should be selected with care, preferably by a trained herbalist or naturopathic healthcare professional. A small dose should be administered before trying a full dose in order to check for allergic reactions. One herb in particular, milk thistle, (silybum marianum) is used to cleanse the liver after chemical damage.3 There are also many other herbs that can be used alone or in combination to help your body release toxins, heal, and strengthen. In all things, start slowly. For example, herbal teas work more gently than tinctures or capsules. In my opinion, herbal teas should be a first course of action before trying any other form of herbal remedy and it may be the only protocol your body can handle. Regardless of the level of exposure, you always want to begin releasing the chemicals in your body slowly and gently so you don’t overload your system any more than it already is.
In addition, gentle exercise and sauna can induce sweating and have been reported by some to be helpful. A naturopath may suggest chelation of heavy metals, which you should only do under his/her guidance. Acupuncture, reflexology, yoga, massage, and aromatherapy provide added support, can relieve symptoms, and may encourage your body to release toxins and heal. As with all remedies, take care that any products, particularly oils and lotions, creams, etc. are 100% organic, unadulterated and non-chemically extracted. This includes any aromatherapy/essential oils. If you have a negative reaction to any oil, stop using it immediately and consult your healthcare provider, herbalist, and/or aromatherapist for advice.4 These are specialty fields of expertise and the professionals engaged in this work are there to help you make informed, healthy choices.
You may find it necessary and especially helpful to undergo food-allergy testing and/or testing for accumulated pesticides. The results will tell you what foods and chemicals to avoid. Regardless of whether you do any tests, eliminate all foods with artificial colors and flavors, preservatives, monosodium glutamate, and any additives. Basically, if it comes in a package, you probably don’t want to put it in your mouth. Spend your food dollars only on organic fruits and vegetables and organic meats, cheeses, dairy products, baking goods, eggs, etc.5 We can argue the pros and cons of buying only organic later. Having this as a blanket rule for all food choices makes selection simple.
Even with food precautions, some people can only control their chemical exposure by staying at home. First, all cleansers should be replaced with natural products— vinegar, water, and a little essential oil work for most cleaning (this website and others can provide more options). Some people turn one room into their environmentally safe haven. It may seem extreme, but they remove all known chemical irritants and finishings, and replace them with 100% natural materials. This is a good idea regardless of whether or not you are having extreme symptoms. Every place you can eliminate chemicals means you are less likely to become sensitive, to be as sensitive, or become debilitated by your sensitivities. Therefore, systematically replace all clothing, linens, towels, sheets, etc. with natural, organic fibers. Yes, it is costly and will take a long time, and no, there really aren’t a lot of options, particularly fashionable clothing. However, the health benefits far outweigh the costs.6 For example, many people have recovered their ability to sleep through the night and have almost immediately stopped having nightmares/terrors after they started using organic cotton sheets. Sleep is mandatory for your body to release toxins accumulated through the day and for your body and brain to heal so don’t skimp on organic bedding thinking it’s too expensive.
These are just a few of the many solutions people are using to reduce their symptoms and remove the toxins from their bodies and brains. More ideas can be found on the website. Please check back often as I not only keep adding things, but others continue to research, test, try, and suggest things that are helpful. Make no mistake— MCS is real. It is a global health epidemic. It is challenging. However, it doesn’t have to be or become a disability. Knowledge is power and the mission of this website is to give you the information you need in order to be a powerful force for your health and the health of your family and friends. Most importantly, you aren’t alone in this. There are millions of others going through it with you. So please, never give up. Never give in. Whatever you are facing, you can get through it.