Many people with MCS seem to have a salicylate and phenol intolerance. This has been connected to a deficiency in enzymes, and impaired liver detoxification and a build up of these. Particularly associated with a phenol salicylate intolerance is Impaired Phase 2 Sulfation and Glycination pathway.

Continued exposure to salicylates-phenols if intolerant may further deplete and inhibit enzymes and liver detoxification and heighten toxicity and nerve inflammation.

Intolerance to salicylates and phenol intolerance can result in a wide range of symptoms discussed in the introduction of the RPAH Allergy Unit Friendly Food Cookbook - [read introduction]

The RPAH Allergy Unit says..."Symptoms triggered by food chemical intolerances vary from person to person. The commonest ones are recurrent hives and swellings, headaches, sinus trouble, mouth ulcers, nausea, stomach pains and bowel irritation. Some people feel vaguely unwell, with flu-like aches and pains, or get unusually tired, run-down or moody, often for no apparent reason".

Symptoms associated with phenol-salicylate intolerance may be significantly reduced by following dietary recommendations by the RPAH Allergy Unit or the Feingold Diet as recommended by the My preference however, is towards the RPAH Allergy Unit diet as it also addresses intolerance to amines, MSG and glutamates. Glutamates have been identified as one of the maintainers of chronic inflammatory pain and hypersensitivity loops by Dr Martin Pall (biochemist) and is linked to "excitotoxicity" and neuropathic (nerve) pain. This is also linked to phenol salicylate intolerance and MCS.

Although phenols and salicylates are often used interchangeably, they are not exactly the same compounds. Salicylates are only one type of phenol and scientists believe plants produce this substance as natural protection from diseases, insects, fungi, and harmful bacteria. As it turns out, salicylates are chemically very similar to the man-made chemical found in Aspirin. Many high salicylate foods also contain higher levels of phenols, but this is certainly not always the case. For instance, red grapes and raisins are very high in both compounds whereas tomatoes are not high in salicylates yet extremely high in phenols and natural glutamates. If you feel as though you need a chemistry degree in order to cook a meal or go grocery shopping these days, you are not alone.

Reducing your intake of phenols and salicylate is simplified however if you remember that most of the time, anything that gives food vibrant color or, in the case of herbs and spices, a more stimulating taste will have higher levels of phenols - salicylates

Another helpful thing is to peel skin thickly or discard out leaves on leafy greens. This also significantly reduces the intake of nightshades (another natural food chemical in fruit and veg) that some people have a problem with.

People with phenol-salicylate intolerance often experience heightened smell and scent sensitivity as well as environmental chemical sensitivity.

In the introduction of the FRIENDLY FOOD recipe book the following is stated…

Smells & fumes

Some people with food intolerances find that their sense of smell gets more acute on a restricted diet. Strong perfume, car exhaust, petrol fumes, fresh paint, cigarette smoke and other irritant smells and fumes may make you feel ill or give you a headache. Reactions like this can be unpleasant, but are not dangerous and usually resolve quickly after exposure ceases. Predictable exposures such as the the perfume section in department stores, supermarket aisles with cleaning products, petrol stations and underground car parks are easily avoided. If you’re unexpectedly exposed, don’t hang around — leave the area quickly and get some fresh air.

Toiletries, cosmetics and cleaning agents

Strong peppermint and menthol flavours and aromas are derived from natural salicylates, so clean your teeth with unflavoured toothpaste, salt, or bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), and avoid mouthwashes. If you react to preservatives, read the labels of products carefully — most liquid cosmetics and sunscreens are preserved. If you’re smell-sensitive, be careful with perfumes, deodorants, scented soaps, shampoos, conditioners, hair sprays, after-shave lotions and other toiletries. Vinegar and bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) are alternatives to strong-smelling detergents and bathroom cleaning agents.

Home environment

Indoor air can become quite polluted with volatile chemicals released from carpets and underlays, chipboard and other furnishing materials, cooking odours and cigarette smoke. Make sure your home is well ventilated with fresh air. Avoid using products with a strong aroma such as air fresheners, concentrated detergents, perfumed candles, incense, eucalyptus oil, and massage and aromatherapy oils. If you feel unwell in your home environment and you’re not sure why, check for hidden damp or mould, gas leaks and other sources of irritant smells or fumes.,,,


People with food intolerances often react adversely to medicines. It’s best only to take essential medications prescribed by your doctor. If you’re salicylate sensitive, anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin-containing pain killers should be avoided — paracetamol and codeine are suitable alternatives in most cases.....

Whilst the true prevalence of food intolerance is not known with certainty Dr Robert Loblay says that it would most likely be between 5% and 10% of the general population and between 20% and 30% of people experiencing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). This figure is thought to be much higher in people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).


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