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Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Expert Releases Updated Book




Pamela Reed Gibson, PhD., has released the 2nd edition of her excellent book Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: A Survival Guide.

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: A Survival Guide has been a must read for all MCS sufferers since it was first published in 2000. Now a new version of the book has been released with substantially updated content.

Pamela Reed Gibson, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at James Madison University, in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She is the author of numerous journal articles and regularly presents papers on MCS and environmental health topics.

Since 1992 Professor Gibson has sought to better understand environmental illnesses, and multiple chemical sensitivity in particular. Her work has focused on understanding the impact MCS has on a sufferer's life as well as contextualizing MCS within the modern industrial culture in which we in the developed world live.

Professor Gibson has written a number of journal articles and delivered a number of conference papers on the impact of MCS on a person's life. MCS and issues of environmental health in general are discussed in all of her classes and she also talks about related illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia. In addition, when time allows, she consults with MCS patients and their helpers and attempts to provide resources to improve their quality of life.

For the second edition of the book Professor Gibson draws up on new insights discovered through her continuing work since the first edition was published.

The original Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: A Survival Guide was an essential addition to any MCS sufferer's library and the new edition can only be considered even more so. As the title suggests, it focuses on how MCS affects a sufferers life and offers practical information for improving the situation, rather than getting caught up in what causes the condition and related issues. Of course there is a chapter that outlines various theories about MCS but the remainder of the book is squarely aimed at helping people cope with the condition and improve their quality of life.

After briefly outlining the proposed physiological and psychological causes of MCS early on, the book moves on to the more practical information. The following chapters include advice on how to make your home environment safe, how to eat a healthy diet whilst avoiding triggers, how to find suitable medical help, and how to successfully apply for state benefits.

The book also contains extensive appendices which include contact information for support organizations and manufacturers of MCS safe products, as well as listing sources for further reading.

What really sets this book apart however is the final appendix which comes from one of Professor Gibson's research papers published in 2003 (new for the 2nd edition). Professor Gibson and colleagues surveyed 917 MCS sufferers who had tried a total of 101 different treatments. They then presented data showing the effectiveness of each treatment based on reports given by the sufferers.

Given the current lack of medical understanding of MCS and the associated lack of any officially recognized treatment, this appendix is akin to the holy grail for many of those suffering from this devastating illness. The reader can see at a glance the relative effectiveness of 101 different treatment options as rated by other MCS patients who have already tried them. Treating MCS is still very much a case of trying things to see what works but at least with the information in this appendix sufferers can see what has worked most often for others and therefore narrow the odds of seeing improvements.

Treatments examined included environmental medicine techniques, holistic therapies, individual nutritional supplements, detoxification techniques, body therapies, Eastern-origin techniques, newer therapies, prescription items, and others.

This fantastic addition caps off an already invaluable source of information. This book cannot be recommended highly enough for all those struggling with multiple chemical sensitivity.

Selected excerpts:

Chapter 3: How lives are affected by MCS

"People try to avoid chemical exposures by replacing household items, such as carpets, formaldehyde board, plastics, and other items. But many are unable to afford these replacements. Consequently, some people reported either continuing to live in unsafe conditions, or spending their life savings redoing their homes and purchasing air purifiers or other necessities. People spent an average of $28,000 to clean up their homes, and only two-fifths were living in homes rated as safe. Some respondents reported being unable to tolerate any traditional housing due to chemicals used in construction, and they lived in very unusual conditions."

Chapter 4: Cleaning up your home

"Is your house so full of formaldehyde-offgassing materials, such as particleboard, that you could never adequately reduce the emissions? Both plywood and particleboard have formaldehyde in their contents. Particleboard is a bigger concern because it contains both a larger percentage of formaldehyde-containing glue, and a more toxic form of formaldehyde (i.e., urea formaldehyde). The highest levels of offgas occur in the first year after construction; but offgassing may continue for a number of years. If you live in a prefabricated or mobile home, chances are that particleboard makes up much of your flooring, external walls, and roof panels. However, you can seal cabinets, paneling, and other particleboard with sealants made to prevent offgassing from porous surfaces, such as mortar, plywood, concrete and others. If you can tolerate the product, it may be worth sealing some of the surfaces that are offgassing (See Appendix B for product sources.)"

Chapter 6: The Dilemma of medical help

"If you are seeing an environmental medicine practitioner, find out whether the office is a safe environment. This is particularly true if you will be paying the high costs of Provocation/ Neutralization (P/N) testing. (See page 103 for more information on P/N testing.) You may want to ask about the heating source in the office, possible pesticide applications, age of the building, any use of disinfectants and fragrances, new carpeting, fluorescent lighting, and any chemical use that may be a problem for you in terms of exposures. (I have seen environmental medicine practitioners offices located in the same building as restaurants that cooked with gas, with nurses smoking in the stairwell on their breaks, where disinfectant was sprayed in the bathroom, and where outside air filled with recently cut grass was circulating through the air conditioner as patients were being tested for grass sensitivity!) All of these exposures can affect your reactions to testing. It may be that the improper control of these exposures is one reason for some of the controversy regarding P/N testing and treatment."

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: A Survival Guide can be purchased directly from Professor Gibson's web site for the book at

Professor Gibson's research papers and other resources can be found at



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