Chemical overload often results in multiple chemical sensitivity, but may manifest in other ways such as neurological disease (Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, dementia etc), heart disease (often rhythm problems) and immune disorders (susceptibility to infections, cancer, CFS). Chemical overload causes symptoms pertaining to musculo-skeletal, respiratory, gut, urinary systems and skin. The treatment of both chemical overload and MCS is similar, namely:
1. Reduce chemical exposure ( clean up your environment, eat organic food);
2. Improve your ability to detoxify chemicals by taking nutritional supplements (vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids - see my Nutritional Supplements handout), high dose B12 and magnesium, and eating a high protein diet (amino acids are used to make fat soluble compounds water soluble so they can be excreted - see my Diet for CFS handout);
3. Desensitise using EPD or neutralisation;
4. Reduce the load of chemicals already accumulated in the body - see below. This also improves the MCS suggesting that many sufferers are reacting allergically to chemicals constantly present in their bodies.
This article is about reducing the load of chemicals and is based on a paper from the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (1996) 6, 141-148 by Professor William Rea. He studied 210 patients with chemical sensitivity who had not improved with environmental control. With his detox regime he improved symptom scores in 86% with the commonest symptoms being fatigue, headache, foggy brain and poor balance.
His regime required nutritional supplements (similar to my standard regime) but 2-8 grams daily of vitamin C. Then patients were made to sweat either through exercise (5-60mins), dry heat sauna (75 mins) or both in 2-3 sessions daily. On average patients lost 1.1lb in weight per day. Blood supply to skin and fat was increased using vitamin B3 as niacin, up to 3,000mgs (or whatever the patient could tolerate - niacin makes you flush). Body massage to physically mobilise chemicals from fat. On average patients received 45 minutes massage daily (lovely!) in 2-3 sessions. Interestingly, this often resulted in the sudden release of odour when a tight muscle was massaged! 2-4 litres of spring water drunk daily to flush out toxins and replace the fluid lost in sweat. Length of treatment varied from 10 to 150 days, with an average of 26 days. After this intensive regime was done, patients continued to improve doing modified regimes at home 3 times weekly. Blood levels of toxic chemicals declined in 63%. (Actually, the results would have been much better if fat biopsies had been done since the levels in fat are 1,000 times higher than in blood). On average patients lost 4.7lbs of fat.
Interestingly the patients most likely to have chemical overload were those who were poor sweaters! Progress could also be monitored by testing for balance - patients were asked to stand on their toes with their arms outstretched and shut their eyes - for 57% their ability to do this improved with the program. However, nearly all the patients (95%) had an initial worsening of their symptoms because as chemicals were mobilised out of their fat into the blood stream this created toxic levels in the blood to which the patients reacted. Other common problems induced by detoxing were: increased liver enzymes (presumably toxins poisoning the liver - it might be sensible to take milk thistle), muscular aches, tummy symptoms (bloating, gas, diarrhoea, nausea) and cardiovascular (oedema, tachycardia). Two patients developed hyperthermia - both knew they had poor temperature control since severe viral infections in childhood.
So this regime clearly works, but we have no such unit in UK and so we have to do our best with what we have got! The above regime was necessarily intense because this was an in patient unit, but patients continued to do a modified regime at home and continued to improve. I would suggest the following regime done as often as you can, but it may take longer to get results.
A Suggested Regime
1. Take my usual regime of nutritional supplements as in the related article below(multivit, EFAs, vit C and MMMs).
2. Drink at least 2 litres of mineral water daily
3. Take vitamin C to bowel tolerance - up to 8 grams daily (too much vitamin C gives you diarrhoea). Also milk thistle (silymarin 400mgs daily) to protect the liver.
4. Eat a high protein diet
5. Get yourself to sweat somehow! The more difficult this is, the more severe your problem! I suggest firstly take a dose of niacin - this causes flushing and you may need to experiment with the dose to get result - start with 50mgs and build up to 1,000mgs just before a session or whatever you can tolerate. Put on 2-3 layers of cotton clothes (free from chemicals - no smelly wash powders or soaps), then an impervious layer such as waterproof jacket and leggings. Then warm layers on top of this. Then exercise (if you can) until the cotton clothes under the waterproof layer are soaked in sweat, then wash off. If possible have a massage. Change into fresh clothes.
If you are not well enough to exercise, heat up first either in a hot (environmentally clean) room in a very hot (clean water) bath, or use hot water bottles to heat you up, then take niacin, then get into the sweat suit in a hot room. But do be careful! Lie down because the heating up will make you feel faint. As an added bonus put some minerals such as Epsom salts in the bath to improve detox. The other possibility is to use a sauna. The problem here is that many saunas have smells attached (such as pine resin) and many people with MCS will not tolerate this. Expect to get worse initially. 95% of Prof Rea's patients did, so see this as a good sign - this is because toxins are being mobilised from fat into the blood stream causing symptoms. You may have to adjust the severity of your regime to allow for this starting off very gently with gentle sweats for short times building up to hotter and longer sweats.
6. As you sweat, take extra salt in your diet. In addition to the MMMs, use one quarter of a teaspoon of sea salt on food.
It is quite easy to do a fat biopsy to monitor progress. It is interesting that the levels of chemicals in fat are measured in mg per kilogram of fat. This is the sort of level one would find in blood if one were using a drug such as an antibiotic. This indicates how loaded up humans are generally! Morticians have noticed in recent years that dead bodies do not decay as fast as they used to because they are already pickled with chemicals!
7. As part of the detoxification I also recommend removing mercury fillings. There is now excellent evidence linking mercury in children with autism and in adults with Alzheimers disease and kidney failure.