Lourdes Salvador's Column
...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.
Lourdes Salvador volunteers as a writer and social advocate for the recognition of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). She was a passionate advocate for the homeless and worked with her local governor to provide services to the homeless through a new approach she created to end homelessness. That passion soon turned to advocacy and activism for people with MCS and the medical professionals who serve them. She co-founded MCS Awareness in 2005 and went on to found MCS America in 2006. She serves as a partner for Environmental Education Week, a partner for the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE), and a supporter for the American Cancer Society: Campaign for Smokefree Air.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Medical Treatment
by Lourdes Salvador
The most asked question by patients new to MCS is often, "How do I get better?" Information on MCS can be as difficult to find as a qualified medical provider. Summarized here are the most common treatments and considerations.
Most qualified physicians recommend one or more of the following basic treatments for MCS:
1. Chemical Avoidance
2. Chemical Free Housing
3. Nutrient Therapy
4. Sauna Therapy & Detoxification
Chemical avoidance has been scientifically proven to be the most effective treatment for MCS. Avoidance simply means eliminating exposures to chemicals which cause negative reactions. This reduces the body burden of chemicals in the tissues and hepatic detoxification pathways. Failing to avoid exposures to chemicals which do not produce a reaction could cause sensitization to additional chemicals which were previously tolerated.
Chemical avoidance starts with the often hidden chemical cocktail in personal care products.
Personal Care Products to Avoid
- Perfume and Cologne
- All Fragranced Products - including soaps, shampoo, conditioner, and bath products
- Fragranced Lotions
- Shaving Cream
- Deodorants and Anti-Perspirants
- Hair Spray
- Hair Gel and Mousse
- Hair Color
- Fragranced Shampoo and Conditioner
- Nail Polish and Remover
- Anti-Bacterial Hand Wipes or Hand Sanitizer
- Other Toiletries
Personal Care Products to Use Instead:
- Scent - use essential oils if tolerated or eliminate perfume
- Fragrance Free Products - soaps, shampoo, conditioner, and bath products
- Lotion - use unscented versions or natural oils such as jojoba, coconut, and olive oil
- Shaving Cream - soap
- Aftershave - witch hazel or hydrogen peroxide
- Deodorant - peroxide, natural salt crystal, baking soda, unscented versions
- Hair Styling - aloe vera gel, lemon juice
- Hair Color - natural variations, peroxide to bleach, all natural henna for color
- Shampoo / Conditioner unscented variations, baking soda, vinegar, citric acid, oils
- Nail Polish and Remover - safer variations from the health food store or go au natural
- Make-up - unscented, natural variations or go au natural
For a detailed brochure on personal care ideas and recipes, see:
Chemical Free Housing
The indoor environment is generally more polluted than the outdoor environment due to the extensive amounts of cleaners, fragrances, petrochemicals, solvents, and volatile organic compounds found in building materials and furnishing. Therefore, a chemical free home is most important for symptom reduction, functional improvements, and an increased ability to withstand exposures from unavoidable sources in the general environment.
Domestic Household Products to Avoid:
- All Fragranced Products
- Fragranced Laundry Detergents
- Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheet (fragranced or not)
- Air Fresheners
- Window Cleaning Solution
- All Purpose Cleaners, Sprays, and Aerosols
- Scouring Powder
- Fragranced and/or Anti-Bacterial Vacuum Bags and Trash Bags
- Fragranced Trash Bags
- Commercial or Industrial Chemicals
- Concentrated Products
- Scented Candles and Incense
Domestic Household Products to Use Instead:
- Laundry - borax, baking soda, or fragrance free laundry detergent
- Fabric Softener - white vinegar in wash or peroxide, tennis shoe, tennis ball in the dryer
- Air Fresheners - white vinegar, open windows, adequate ventilation, fresh herbs, and tea
- Windows - white vinegar
- All Purpose Cleaning - white vinegar
- Scouring Powder - baking soda or borax
- Disinfectant - peroxide followed by white vinegar
- Fragrance Free Products
- Bugs - borax, diatomaceous earth
- Weeds - salt/vinegar or hand pull weeds
For detailed brochures on household cleaning idea and recipes, see:
For a detailed environmental control plan written by Dr. Grace Ziem, see:
Most qualified physicians offer one or more forms of nutrient and antioxidant therapy. Patients with MCS often suffer from malabsorption, either unable to absorb sufficient nutrients from the foods they eat or requiring higher levels of nutrients utilized in the detoxification process. Increasing the levels of certain nutrients often reduces symptom severity. Increasing antioxidants provides a protective effect. There are many products and protocols available, the most notable ones being created by Dr. Grace Ziem and Dr. Martin Pall.
Martin Pall asserts that MCS is initially triggered by volatile organic solvent exposure, organophosphorus/carbamate pesticide exposure, organochlorine pesticide exposure, and/or pyrethroid pesticide exposure. These initiating triggers act to increase the levels of nitric oxide (NO) in the body. Nitric oxide then acts through its oxidant product, peroxynitrite (ONOO-), to maintain a vicious cycle mechanism which is responsible for the resulting chronic illness (MCS). This cycle is called the NO/ONOO- Cycle (pronounced "no oh no"). In Summary,
- Short term triggers initiate MCS by raising nitric oxide synthesis and consequent levels of nitric oxide and its oxidant product peroxynitrite.
- Initiation is converted into a chronic illness through the action of a vicious cycle mechanism in which chronic elevation of nitric oxide and peroxynitrite and is produced and maintained.
- Symptoms of MCS are generated by elevated levels of nitric oxide and elevated levels of peroxynitrite or inflammatory cytokines, oxidative stress and elevated NMDA and vanilloid receptor activity. This is called "up-regulation".
- Treatment should focus on down-regulating NO/ONOO- cycle biochemistry.
Pall first developed a nutritional protocol for down-regulating the NO/ONOO– cycle with Dr. Grace Ziem and later developed his own variation.
The NO/ONOO- Cycle is also known as the 10th Paradigm in Medicine.
The following agents have been predicted to be useful to down-regulate the NO/ONOO- cycle and reduce symptoms:
- Nebulized Inhaled Reduced Glutathione (RX Only)
- Nebulized Inhaled Hyroxocobalamin (RX Only)
- Mixed Natural Tocopherols
- Buffered Vitamin C
- Magnesium as Malate
- Four Different Flavonoid Sources:
- Ginkgo Biloba Extract, Cranberry Extract, Silymarin, & Bilberry Extract
- Selenium as Selenium-Grown Yeast
- Coenzyme Q10
- Folic Acid
- Carotenoids Including Lycopene, Lutein and Alpha-carotene
- Alpha-Lipoic acid
- Zinc (modest dose)
- Manganese (low dose)
- Copper (low dose)
- Vitamin B6 in the Form of Pyridoxal Phosphate
- Riboflavin 5´-Phosphate (FMN)
- Betaine (Trimethylglycine)
- Green Tea Extract
- Acetyl L-Carnitine
The nutrients can be purchased separately over the counter. Or, they may be purchased as several multiple vitamins via a compounding pharmacy with a doctor´s prescription. For more information, speak with your doctor or contact:
23422 Pacific Highway South
Kent, WA 98390
(206) 878-3900 or 800-878-1322
Dr. Grace Ziem
16926 Eyler's Valley Road,
Emmitsburg MD 21727
A variation of the nutrient protocol is also available over-the-counter for direct purchase (nfi) at:
Further data about the NO/ONOO– Cycle:
Pall ML. 2007. Haworth Medical Press. Explaining "Unexplained Illnesses": Disease Paradigm for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Fibromyalgia, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Gulf War Syndrome and Others.
MCS America has no financial interests in any products, protocols, or researchers/physicians.
Sauna Therapy & Detoxification
There are numerous methods of detoxification which may prove helpful. Testing should be conducted by a qualified provider to rule out or treat heavy metal and pesticide intoxication. Chelation therapy may be considered in cases of documented heavy metal toxicity. Fasting should only be undertaken with medical supervision as the mobilization of chemicals stored in body fat during fasting may cause a worsening of symptoms.
One of the safest methods of overall detoxification recommended by qualified physicians is a sauna. Dr. William Rea offers a sauna room for treatment at his clinic, the Environmental Health Center, in Dallas.
A sauna is a heated, insulated room used for cleansing and detoxification. Saunas eliminate environmental chemicals that are stored in fat cells by heating the body to mobilize chemicals from fat stores which are then eliminated via sweat. The sauna should be one that is not treated with toxic chemicals, such as Heavenly Heat brand (nfi).
Set the heat to 165-180oF (traditional rock sauna) or 100-130oF (FIR - far infrared sauna)
Take a shower before beginning.
Enter the sauna and sit on a towel or mat on the bench. As you gain experience, you will learn what temperature works best for you and may adjust accordingly.
Throw water on the stones of the heater for a more intense heat and to add moisture to the air (traditional sauna).
Rinse off in the shower every few minutes when you feel the need to cool down and return for another round if desired.
After the last round, shower to cool down and remove sweat / toxics.
Drink plenty of water before, during, and after sauna´ing.
Frequent sauna users may look into tri-salts to replace lost salts and minerals.
More information about detoxification using sauna:
Heavenly Heat Sauna Manufacturer
1-800 my sauna (697-2862)
ALLERGIES VS. MCS
Allergies are an overreaction of the immune system to otherwise "benign" substances, such as pollen, dander, and dust, and are characterized by the formation of rapid-acting antibodies known as IgE (immunoglobulin E). Symptoms are typically itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, rash, and congestion. Serious allergic reactions may result in anaphylaxis (closing of the airway).
MCS is analogous to poisoning by low levels of "toxic" substances, such as solvents, petrochemicals, and volatile organic compounds (VOC´s) found in fragrances, air fresheners, cleaning chemicals, and pesticides. Unlike allergies, MCS is not characterized by the formation of IgE, but rather by cellular inflammation and impaired detoxification which may lead to an elevated body burden of toxic chemicals.
Symptoms of MCS are typically neurological and include headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, disorientation, memory problems, slowed reaction time, peripheral neuropathy, sensory neuropathy, organic brain syndrome, and personality/mood changes. Other symptoms may include respiratory difficulty, rash, burning sensations in the nose and mouth, and gastrointestinal disorders. Serious MCS reactions may result in impaired speech, seizures, stroke, and paralysis.
Many people have allergies alone or MCS alone. A percentage of individuals suffer from both allergies and MCS. When allergies and MCS co-occur, it can often be difficult to separate the two as each may exacerbate (worsen) the other. Therefore, those suffering from documented allergies in addition to MCS may find that reducing allergic reactions through one of the below treatments is helpful to overall improvement:
Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique (NAET)
Enzyme Potentiated Desensitization (EPD)
Low Dose Antigen Therapy (LDA)
It is important to note that the below treatments have not shown any effectiveness in MCS alone, but rather they work to reduce "allergic" reactions (IgE). Not all individuals with MCS have allergies. A simple allergy test for IgE can help to differentiate whether symptoms are produced by allergy (IgE response).
For more information on how allergies and MCS differ, please see:
Nambudripad´s Allergy Elimination Technique (NAET)
Individuals who have true allergies (IgE) may benefit from Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique (NAET). NAET was discovered by Dr. Devi S. Nambudripad, and acupuncturist and chiropractor, in November of 1983. It uses energy balancing, testing, and treatment procedures from acupuncture, chiropractic, nutrition, and kinesiology. Based on the belief that energy blockages in the body's meridian energy pathways cause allergies, one allergen is treated at a time. While the patient holds an allergen or a vial containing the energy imprint of an allergen, the practitioner stimulates specific acupressure points on the body with a small electro-acupuncture, laser instrument to clear energy blockages in the selected meridian. Individuals suffering from electrosensitivity should do additional research and consult with a practitioner before trying NAET.
For more information on NAET, see:
Enzyme Potentiated Desensitization (EPD)
Enzyme Potentiated Desensitization (EPD) is a form of immunotherapy for true allergies developed in the 1960s by Dr. Len McEwen in the UK. EPD involves injecting a small amount of allergen mixed with an enzyme, beta-glucuronidase. Beta-glucuronidaseas is said to enhance the immunizing ability of the injected allergen.
EPD is not available in the United States. The Food and Drug Administration revoked approval for importation into the Unite States in 2001.
For more information on EPD, see:
Low Dose Antigen Therapy (LDA)
Low Dose antigen Therapy LDA was developed in 2003, is similar to EPD, and uses the same active components (beta glucuronidase).
LDA is made by a compounding pharmacy in the USA as the Food and Drug Administration cannot regulate compounding pharmacies. Though available from US compounding pharmacies, the use of LDA is limited and requires a prescription from a physician for compounding. Not much is heard about LDA since products produced in compounding pharmacies cannot be advertised.
For more information:
MISCELLANEOUS RESOURCES FOR PROVIDERS
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This article is for informational purposes and is not intended to replace the examination, diagnosis and treatment of a licensed physician and no such claims are inferred. Neither Lourdes Salvador nor MCS America will not be responsible for misuse of this information. Articles, citations, links and information are not necessarily the opinion of MCS America and printing does not constitute MCS America´s endorsement.
For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.
Copyrighted 2008 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America