People with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) experience a wide range of very unpleasant symptoms analogous to poisoning when healthy people are exposed to toxic doses of chemicals; however from exposures to very low doses of everyday chemicals – well below what is toxicologically deemed safe.
This is thought to be a consequence of enzyme depletion or defects; chemical injury; impaired liver detoxification and neural sensitisation according to Dr Grace Ziem and the MCS researchers from James Madison University [See MCS causes]. However, some people still hold the view that MCS is primarily psychogenic and that people with MCS can benefit from psychological or psychiatric interventions. This has been found to help a small percentage of people reporting MCS.
While MCS is recognised by doctors trained in Ecology and Nutrition and Environmental Medicine it is not a widely accepted diagnosis within the medical community at large. However, it is recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) referred to as Ideopathic Environmental Illness and is also a recognised disability. Many Hospitals also now have MCS guidelines for an example see ACT Hospital Guidelines; and there are also workplace guidelines for people with MCS – see Job Access Network (JAN) MCS Guidelines.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is also referred to as Toxicant Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT) it is now thought to affect around 1% of the population [SA Health] [Caress] with symptoms ranging from less severe to very severe.
MCS is one of the more exquisite Central Sensitivity Syndromes (CSS) and is also considered to be a Time Dependent Sensitisation Illness.
Creating a safe home environment that is low in chemicals is thought to be one of the most effective treatment for people with MCS according to SA Health Dept; Dr Grace Ziem and MCS researcher Pamela Reed Gibson [See Study]. However, it is also important for people with MCS to also reduce all stressors being placed on the nervous system according to Biochemist Dr Martin Pall. This includes getting proper medical treatment for any other co-existing illness and ensuring interpretation of symptoms is correct as not all symptoms experienced by people with MCS can automatically be assumed to be a consequence of this.
As people with MCS also experience stimuli sensitivity, for example to noise, according to Dr Iris Bell reducing exposure to certain stimuli may also be helpful – see stimuli hypersensitivity.
If MCS is more severe it is important to get more REST, practise stress management techniques such as Mindfulness daily and PACE all treatments; change and reduction. If not PACED the “unmasking process” may be too intense and severe “withdrawal symptoms” and immune flare-ups may occur. This may be particularly problematic if the person with MCS is also experiencing hypocortisolism (very low levels of cortisol – affects 1 in 4 people with sensitivity related illness according to Fries); very impaired liver detoxification (FLDP Test not standard liver test) and nerve injury – peripheral neuropathy or ongoing chemical injury.
Sometimes; particularly in the earlier stages of MCS; getting treatment for any underlying health issues and reducing exposures to everyday chemicals and chemicals at work can completely reverse MCS.
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