Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or Toxicant-induced Loss of Tolerance

Paul L. Reller L.Ac. / Last Updated: August 03, 2017

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) in 2013 is still treated like various difficult diseases before it, such as Fibromyaglia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME), as a widely reported disease, or syndrome, that is not a "real" disease or syndrome. Of course, like fibromyalgia, once the pharmaceutical industry finally finds chemicals that can be approved and marketed for treatment, this will probably change. There are a number of diseases that are similar in scope and pathology, and often overlap in patients, and these include Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Fibromyalgia (encephalmyopathy), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Since there are no definitive tests to diagnose MCS, and the complex pathology is still poorly understood, most Medical Doctors still dismiss this disease as a psychological or somatic disorder. The reasons given for this dismissal are not sound, though.

Thus, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) remains a controversial issue in the health community, and there have been very few serious studies of the disease or syndrome in the last 10-15 years. MCS is a highly variable presentation with adverse physical reactions to low levels of many common chemicals, such as chemical fragrances, preservatives in food, cleaning agents, disinfectants, food additives, cosmetics, synthetic fabrics, chemical deodorizers, artificial sweeteners, water contaminants, paints, and plasticizers in devices. The physical reaction to exposure is variable, sometimes acute and strong enough to spur a trip to the emergency room at a hospital, and sometimes short and mild in scope. There are reports of both acute and chronic symptoms. A wide array of demographics report MCS to their physicians, often sharing little in common except an initial chemical exposure event, but there is agreement that the most common demographic is women between the age of 30 to 65. Symptoms affect multiple systems in the body, creating neurological, gastrointestinal and respiratory reactions, as well as chronic fatigue, short term memory effects, periods of confusion, headaches, dizziness, depression, arthralgia and myalgia (muscle pain). In 2013, such experts as Professor Stephen Genuis of the University of Alberta School of Medicine, Integrative Health Institute, felt compelled to publish meta-reviews of studies of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity to confirm that this is a real physiological syndrome, as "many members of the medical community are (still) reluctant to accept this condition as a pathophysiological disorder" (PMID: 23642291). Dr. Genuis is the recipient of the Commemorative Medal from the Governor General of Canada for his contributions and has confirmed that a complex response to bioaccumulation of environmental toxins does create dysfunction in the connected systems of the neurological, immune and hormonal system that leads to psychological manifestations, and does require a persistent holistic approach to therapy.

Studies of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity have not found consistent immunological dysfunction such as is seen in allergies, and patients often react to placebo as well due to central hypersensitivity. A number of studies in the early 1990s showed out of range values, though, for a wide variety of immunoglobulins, complement components of the immune system, subsets of blood lymphocytes, activated T cell types, or abnormal serum antibodies to tissue antigens and chemical protein conjugates (Thrasher et al 1990; Fiedler et al 1992; Heuser et al 1992; Kipen et al 1992; Levin and Byers 1992; and Rea et al 1992). Meta-analysis showed little or no consistent pattern of abnormalities among all patients. Numerous studies have shown a variety of acute and chronic changes in brain physiology and/or behavioral responses to repeated chemical or electrical stimuli, in both study animals and human subjects, which is currently the focus of study. Modulation of the limbic system has been noted, with limbic neural sensitization called Limbic Kindling. A relationship or similarity to the pathology of addiction neurochemically has been noted, as well as a significant comorbidity with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Gulf War Syndrome, and a realization that both traumatic and toxin stimulation may be involved in initiation of this syndrome of neurohormonal hypersensitivity. Research has noted a variety of neurohormonal immunological variables, psychological factors, elevated nitric oxide and peroxynitrite levels that affect NMDA glutamate receptor activity, and altered xenobiotic metabolism (the natural physiological reaction to all nonhuman cells, molecules and chemicals). The result of such complex findings shows that it is unlikely that a specific allopathic drug treatment will reverse this condition for a majority of patients. It is very clear that a comprehensive and holistic treatment regimen that addresses many aspects of the disease, and a number of systems in the body is needed.

Currently, there are no diagnostic tests that confirm this disease or syndrome, and no standard treatments. Consequently, there is little that standard medicine has to offer, and a dismissive attitude, or prescription of anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication is sometimes provided. Medical doctors that do take MCS seriously refer the patient to various treatments in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (CIM/TCM), such as acupuncture and electroacupuncture, herbal and nutrient medicine, clearing of aldehyde toxicity, other detoxification, heavy metal chelation, clearing of excess lectins, immune modulation, and behavioral modification. Often, the advice to avoid any chemical or food that could cause a reaction is not helpful, as this both increases anxiety and neuropsychological pathology, and leads to harmful malnutrition and gastrointestinal dysfunction. Treatment of general health and comorbid diseases often helps greatly. A holistic and persistent approach that is individualized is obviously needed. Until there is more research and clarification of this varied systemic illness, though, there is not enough objectively supported direct therapies.

The treatment protocol for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) or Toxicant-induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT) is not simple, and absolutely needs a very proactive approach by the patient, utilization and integration of various medical specialists, and a steady holistic step-by-step approach. This presents challenges, especially for the patients with an alarming neuropsychological manifestation, and there is no specialty that provides the complete care that is needed, but rather a generally dismissive attitude on the part of most physicians. Utilization of TCM physicians can provide the time-intensive care to both clear toxin bioaccumulation and restore neurohormonal and immune health, with short courses of acupuncture, persistent step-by-step herbal and nutrient medicine, and sound advice to guide a proactive approach to this restoration of health. With CIM/TCM the treatment protocols are without adverse health effects and can proceed at the pace chosen by the patient. Utilization of Cognitive and Behavioral Psychotherapy and Naturopathy may help as well.

Chemical Sensitivity and Central Sensitivity Syndromes

There is no doubt that an increasing incidence of chemical sensitivity is occurring in modern industrialized nations. As the number of industrial chemicals, both in variety and quantity, increases, there are more and more chemical sensitivities and reactions. We need only look at the shelf in the drugstore and note the increasing availability of products advertised without chemical fragrances and types of preservatives, additives and artificial coloring to note that such chemicals are affecting a lot of customers. The acquiring of a Toxicant-induced Loss of Tolerance, or TILT, is a subject that is dismissed despite this large increase in public chemical sensitivity. This dismissive attitude in standard medicine is because the allopathic approach will not produce an effective treatment for this condition, and there is still a strong reluctance to integrate holistic medicine.

A number of sound scientific studies over the last 30 years have demonstrated that a change in sensitivity to stimuli in the central nervous system, and a cascade of acquired dysfunctions affecting the neurohormonal regulation in the body, may occur with a variety of triggers, and explain the large number of patients with systemic illnesses such as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), Toxicant-induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME), Fibromyalgia / Encephalomyopathy, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which occur concurrently in many chronic cases of Central Sensitivity Syndromes. The complexity of the this neurohormonal immunological pathology has hampered even the acknowledgement of the health problem, though, and the broad holistic nature of the disease or syndromes points to a difficulty in designing an allopathic medicine or treatment protocol. This complex holistic nature of the disease syndromes also hampers study design, which is still largely conceived as medical research to identify only allopathic treatments for specific dysfunctions in disease, not holistic treatment of systemic diseases. Patients with Central Sensitivity Syndromes have generally come to realize that Complementary and Integrative Medicine (CIM/TCM) provides this sensible holistic approach to treatment, but that too little research, understanding and disseminated knowledge of this health problem is hampering more effective treatment protocols. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, attention to the underlying causes and dysfunctions as well as the symptoms, and utilization of both traditional medical approaches and the latest scientific research and application provides a more comprehensive treatment protocol, which these syndromes demand. While one may not find a TCM physician, or Licensed Acupuncturist and herbalist, that solely specializes in MCS/TILT, any competent TCM physician can supply an array of treatment protocols that will help the proactive patient to resolve this difficult health problem.

Many of the symptoms of MCS/TILT are difficult to understand. In 2015, experts at the Kinki University Medical School, Department of Environmental and Behavioral Science, in Osakasayama, Japan, tested patients diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) with Near-Infrared Spectroscopy imaging after exposure to chemical odors that appeared to cause symptoms to determine whether changes in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, previously observed in such studies, produced measurable effects on cerebral blood flow. In a controlled trial with repeated stimulations, the patients with MCS consistently showed decreased blood flow compared to control subjects in bilateral areas of the orbitofrontal cortex, a section of the brain, just above the eyes and nose, that is known to affect decision making and feelings of reward, sensory integration, decision making and expectation. The patients also showed signs of altered autonomic perception and identification of emotions (PMID: 25682122). Such study begins to elucidate the connection between chemical sensitivities and the array of vague symptoms described by patients, but much still needs to be understood about the mechanisms of these changes. Also in 2015, experts at the University Tor Vergata, in Rome, Italy measured fluctuations of glucose metabolism in various areas of the brain when patients were exposed to noxious chemicals that they were sensitive to. PET scans revealed that these consistent metabolic fluctuations occurred in MCS patients but not controls (PMID: 25690545). The question of how and why is still to be precisely determined, but we at least are now sure that the MCS patients are not fantasizing their symptoms, although it may be somewhat true that "it is all in their head", literally. Obviously, restorative medicine that addresses brain function and metabolism must accompany the persistent avoidance and detox regimens. Since acupuncture stimulation is now well studied and proven to stimulate brain function and metabolism, a combination of acupuncture stimulation and detoxifying and chelating herbal and nutrient therapy seems essential to success.

In 2016, experts at the Kumamoto University Department of Public Health released a report on current studies that noted that Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is a multisystem chronic disease syndrome that is not characterized by specific symptoms, and hence presents a great difficulty in diagnosis and treatment. These experts used a new approach called Metabolomics to achieve a Big Data research approach, analyzing a large array of small molecules in bodily fluids and tissues, and seeking a more complex analysis of the data. So far, this approach has found significant increases of hexanoic acid and pelargonic acid, and significant decreases in acetyl carnitine that distinguishes MCS patients from healthy controls in a small study (PMID: 26832623). This is the beginning of a new type of holistic research analysis. Hexanoic acid is a caboxylic acid with a lipid base that is found naturally in many animal fats and oils, and generally has an unpleasant odor. The food industry uses esters of hexanoic acid to manufacture many types of artificial flavors, and other industrial uses include xenoestrogens such as alkylphenol, used extensively as precursors to detergents, additives to lubricants, polymers and resins. These alkylphenols have recently been deemed toxic and the European Union has imposed environmental restrictions on their use, with evidence of toxic accumulation causing health problems. Pelargonic acid, or nananoic acid, is one of the studied metabolites of herbicides and pesticides of biological origin, and may be one of the proprietary ingredients in the glyphosate herbicides such as RoundUp, which are still kept secret. The U.S. EPA has registered pelargonic acids in pesticides and herbicides since 1992, and in 1999, there were 4 registered weed killers containing this chemical, although today there are many. The company data has led the EPA to allow spraying of these herbicides and pesticides on food up to 24 hours before harvest, with claims that the molecule breaks down quickly and cannot be harmful wth this protocol, but recent research in Europe showing accumulated toxicity in the environment and organism contradicts these industry studies. Obviously, such study clearly shows that patients with MCS/TILT need to avoid processed foods, chemical household cleaners, chemical herbicides and pesticides, and try to consume clean water that is free of these contaminants. This is the first step in resolving MCS/TILT, but is not a complete treatment plan. Obviously, more needs to be accomplished to eventually achieve the goal of restoration of healthy homeostasis.

A 2009 study from Auburn University, in Auburn, Alabama, U.S.A. and a researcher from the USDA-ARS in Wooster, Ohio, U.S.A. found that pelargonic acid is found in glyphosate-based herbicides such as RoundUp at the same concentration to that of the glyphosate itself, and that this toxic addition to the glyphosate herbicides is unwarranted and cannot be justified, considering the potential toxicity. To see this study, click here: . We see here that this may be a significant part of the problem in MCS, as this RoundUp herbicide, matched to GMO crops to promote its wide use, has become ubiquitous in the world, and is now part of our food, soil and water, accumulating in the organism when the detoxifying potential is deficient. Glyphosate metabolites and synthesized chemicals in agricultural herbicides do not break down easily, despite assurance by Monsanto and Dow chemical corporations that they do. Acetyl carnitine is an important molecule in the detoxification pathways and glutathione metabolism, and has been researched as a viable adjunct treatment for dementia, tinnitus and other health problems. L-carnitine is required in the body for mitochondrial beta-oxidation of long-chain fatty acids for energy production in the cells, and a deficiency could be linked to symptoms of MCS, such as fatigue and fluctuating CNS symptoms. The increased need for the more active form of L-carnitine, acetylcarnitine, could create this fluctuating deficiency. While deficiency of carnitine in a healthy individual is rare, this does not rule out a fluctuating deficiency caused by increased demand in the organism, and some studies have noted a consistent deficiency in patient with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME). Treatment with a combination of Acetyl-L-Carnitine, P5P (vitamin B6), and omega-3 essential fatty acids (krill oil) has been shown to improve fatigue symptoms in small studies, and could be an important part of the overall strategy to resolve MCS/TILT. This preliminary study in Japan with Metabolomics may have uncovered key aspects to the MCS pathology and strong evidence to support such therapy. It is sad that no such studies are conducted and published in the United States. While it is unrealistic to think that this simple nutrient medicine combination will quickly cure the symptoms of MCS/TILT, it is certain that it will help resolve the underlying problems that cause the symptoms, and within a more comprehensive protocol is very important. Symptoms are like the tip of an iceberg, and we must always be aware of what is under the surface when treating disease. Making snap judgements of holistic medicine and looking for strong immediate symptom relief in with this approach is often unrealistic, as the goal in Complementary and Integrative Medicine is clearly focused on the resolution of the whole body of underlying causes of disease more than the immediate symptom relief.

The human organism is genetically programmed to respond with complex immune defenses to toxins, antigens, and allergens, producing a wide array of complement molecules to stimulate a wide variety of responses to protect human cells and tissues. Antibodies to allergens and antigens make up about 20 percent of blood proteins, and are the primary product of blood plasma cells. Antibody immunoglobulins also bind toxins to prevent their entry into human cells, and this may affect a broad cascade of cellular responses. Trying to simplify this response is nearly impossible in many types of syndromes of immune dysfunction. In systemic diseases, such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME), there are a variety of immunologic dysfunctions noted in studies, often individualized to subsets of patients. For example, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that depressed Natural Killer (NK) cell activity, elevated viral antibodies, and elevated circulating immune complexes have been noted in CFS/ME, yet none of these immune dysfunctions are found to be consistent with all CFS/ME patients. The identification of a specific immune dysfunction would allow pharmaceutical research to target a specific biochemical pathway, but this would seem to be highly unlikely in these systemic diseases or syndromes of neurohormonal immune dysfunction. The field of Neurohormonal Immunology is a fast-growing field in standard medicine, but still in its infancy, and the treatment strategy in such a field of medicine will have to be more holistic than standard allopathic medicine. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity are seen together in a sizable percentage of patients because they share this generalized immune dysfunction, and in both diseases an holistic approach is needed to cure, or to even manage symptoms.

An antibody is a glycoprotein immunoglobulin that is produced mainly by B cells in the body, and works by identifying variable targets on bacteria, viruses, other microbes, infected human cells, or in some cases, even toxins. Antigens, or the binding substance for antibodies, may be found on both foreign microbes, viruses, molecules and cells, and on the host human cells. A complex genetic programming has to be able to identify self and non-self antigens, as well as symbiotic and non-symbiotic antigens. We store this complex data in our histocompatibility complex of our genetic code, called the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MCA), which contains a variety of Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA) that attach to foreign antigens, toxins, and pathogens to facilitate the complement of immune responses to destroy them. This allows our immune systems to insure that it doesn't attack itself. Obviously, this is an incredibly complex mechanism, and may not function properly in many cases. For example, autoimmune disorders occur when the system does not recognize some human cell antigens as self, and a cascade of events in immune reactions attack types of cells in the human organism. In autoimmune disorders, this may eventually create a systemic imbalance of immune reactions, where inflammatory effects dominate anti-inflammatory effects, such as T-helper cell type 2 (Th-2) dominance over Th-1. In some cases, Superantigen responses may occur, where immune mis-sense creates a systemic response where even symbiotic bacteria, viruses, microbes or toxins stimulate a long-lasting dysfunction in a percentage of T-cells. The possibilities of such dysfunctions are great in magnitude and have not been as of yet highly studied (you may read about the Superantigen response on a separate article on this website). Often, we see patients with MCS/TILT also afflicted with an autoimmune disorder. With many cases of difficult chronic disease syndromes these various health problems are seen in the patient history, yet the clear pathological associations are usually dismissed in standard medicine, and each health problem is treated as a separate entity. This is an obvious error. Fortunately, holistic medicine, with an approach to slowly resolve these underlying homeostatic dysfunctions and imbalances will address all of these disease states at once.

A toxin presents a problem to the human immune protections even more complex than an infection. A toxin is defined as a poisonous substance produced within living cells or organisms, or a manmade substance that negatively interacts with the human cells. There is much debate still concerning the definition of the term toxin, with some organizations insisting that the term refer to biological agents, while other insist that it refer to any chemical agent that is toxic. In the United States, a toxin is legally defined as toxic material produced by plants, animals, microorganisms, other infectious substances, or a recombinant or synthesized molecule. This includes a broad array of natural and man-made toxic substances. Certain chemicals would still fall outside this definition, and be called simply poisons. In medicine, the term toxin could refer to any substance that produces ill health. An antitoxin is an antibody with the ability to neutralize any specific toxin. Antitoxins in the human body may be produced by human cells, symbiotic bacteria, or ingested as foods or herbal medicines. There is no established test for analysis of antitoxins routinely used in medical diagnosis. Toxin-antitoxin assays have been developed to characterize toxin potency, and antitoxins have been developed to counter some toxins that threaten the health, but this technology is still not widely studied or utilized in biotechnology. Looking to standard medicine to provide tests that define each individual's toxins and provide antitoxin therapy is very unrealistic. Patients with TILT need to depend on their own innate homeostatic systems to resolve these complex and poorly defined issues with reaction to toxins, and need to both avoid and clear bio-accumulation of exogenous environmental toxins, and to promote healthy restoration of endogenous immune protections.

Lectins are binding proteins that are similar to antitoxins, and are now known to be one of the earliest immune tools in the human organism. Lectins are produced universally in plants, animals and microbes. Only recently have we identified the disease relationships of lectins and started to create medicines to help our bodies deal with adverse effects of lectins in the gastrointestinal tract, and the systemic dysfunctions that may result from dysfunction related to lectin accumulation, such as leptin resistance, a hormonal and metabolic disorder. You may go to an article on this website entitled Bacterial Endotoxins, Lectins, and their role in chronic inflammatory diseases to better understand this important topic. Of course, endotoxins and lectins, and the hypersensitivity disorders, allergies, and other diseases associated with them, are perhaps keys to understanding the complexities of chemical sensitivity, multiple chemical sensitivity, toxin-induced loss of tolerance, and the relationship between irritable bowel syndrome and multiple chemical sensitivity. The problem is not the obvious relationships between these subjects clinically, but the complexity of the subject, and the ability to effectively utilize medical protocols to resolve them. Since clinical experts around the world see most of their chronic patients in this arena with a combination of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, many of these experts see Central Sensitivity Syndrome as a central aspect of the pathology. This classification implies that the subject of specific toxins, or even specific immune cytokines or antibodies, is secondary in the pathology to the mechanisms of central sensitivity. We should be paying attention to the dysfunction in the individual, and less to the identification of which toxins are the culprits. While many websites and organizations will tout simplistic strategies to clear toxins and lectins, such as the so-called 'Paleo' diet, these strategies are not a panacea, although some benefits could be seen from an array of oversimplified strategies to detox and avoid. To achieve the best outcome. though, a more comprehensive and realistic treatment strategy is needed.

In evaluating Central Sensitivity Syndromes we must consider our knowledge of known neurotoxins. Our central nervous system, or brain, is largely protected by an immune barrier called the Blood-Brain Barrier. Areas of the brain that are involved in more direct secretion of chemicals to the body, such as the hypothalamus-pituitary complex, are not as protected by this immune barrier. Toxins that are fat soluble may penetrate the blood-brain barrier more easily, as may toxins with certain ionic characteristics, such as heavy metal toxins. A different type of toxin is more indirect, but ubiquitous, the byproduct of toxicity. Aldehydes are the product of alcohol metabolism, and the term refers to alcohol dehydrogenation, which may occur with the consumption of excess alcohol, the breathing of smog, the overgrowth of candida, and a host of other toxic occurrences, all of which should be avoided by patients with MCS/TILT. An aldehyde is a simple organic molecule that is similar to a carbohydrate, like alcohol, with oxygen bonded to carbon and hydrogen, but with a large variety of radical groups attached that determine a diverse array of chemical properties. Our immune systems would not readily attack aldehydes, as they are simple and ubiquitous in our body, or fairly natural. Common aldehyde toxins in the environment include formaldehyde, benzhaldehyde, tolualdehyde, butyraldehyde, acetaldehyde, proprionaldehyde, and most sugars are derivatives of aldehydes, hence, unnatural sugars, such as high-fructose corn syrup, may be linked to aldehyde neurotoxicity. Some of these industrial aldehydes are involved in the manufacture of resins, polyurethanes, plasticizers, and synthetic vinegars and acid neutralizing food additives (acetic acid). In 2015, for example, the subject of formaldehyde in cheap fake wood flooring came up in a warning that Lumber Liquidators was dumping such flooring for a low price because it contained an unacceptable level of formaldehyde that could accumulate in the indoor air, especially if the rooms had poor ventilation and were consistently very warm. The warnings concerned cancer risk, but we can assume that such environmental toxins may cause or contribute to a variety of health problems, and are now very commonly seen in today's world. Malondialdehyde is a type of highly reactive aldehyde that is a primary marker for oxidative stress, and is generated by reactive oxygen species. Malondialdehyde causes toxic stress in cells and forms advanced lipoxidation end-products (ALEs), which are similar to advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). Malondialdehyde also is involved in DNA mutation, reacting with guanosine and adenosine in the genetic material. Although there is little clinical study as of yet of malondialdehydes in relation to pathology, excess levels are currently associated with corneal keratopathy and osteoarthritis, and are increasingly being studied in relation to central neuropathies (e.g. Multiple Sclerosis). While we may not be able to avoid all of these environmental aldehydes, we certainly can take a systematic approach to helping our bodies clear this toxicity. Much research is currently being conducted to guide such detox therapy, but is largely ignored, unfortunately. Each year, this research produces more and improved formulas of herbal and nutrient medicines to help in the detox treatment protocol. Since the herbal and nutrient industry is largely unregulated in the United States, more and more products off the shelf and from the internet are not what they say they are, and may cause problems for patients with Central Sensitivity Syndromes, and patients with MCS/TILT would be well advised to use professional herbal and nutrient medicines.

Glutamate and NMDA neurotoxicity may also be related to toxin-induced central sensitivity syndromes. The amino acid glutamate functions as a fast excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain and modern chemicals and food additives have complicated this metabolism and glutamate receptor metabolism with numerous food additives that are designed to increase desire for commercially produced foods. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) was the first of these molecules widely used, but there are now perhaps thousands of such molecules, unregulated. NMDA is a form of glutamate that was recognized long age as potentially pathological, and the modern human brain now has many NMDA receptors that could potentially interfere with normal homeostatic function in the brain, brainstem and spinal cord. Accumulation of glutamate has been found to exert significant neurotoxicity, and the imbalance of glutamate and NMDA receptors may be responsible for this concentration of glutamate in the brain tissues and cells. Glutamate is the primary precursor of GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), which is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, working mainly by opening ion channels in neural membranes that allow chloride ions in and potassium ions out. An imbalance of types of glutamate receptors, particularly NMDA, may result in a lack of, or excess of, neural inhbition. GABA is a a profound neurotransmitter involved in regulation of neural excitation and control of mood, and synthesized GABA-like medicines, such as Gabapentin, are now widely used in medicine for almost any problem involving neuropathy, peripheral or central. Recovering a normal glutamate metabolism and glutamate receptor metabolism may be a key component of therapy to recover from toxin-induced central sensitivity syndromes. This recovery of the glutamate pathways and systems is complex, and will not happen immediately, but will require persistent normalization of a holistic array of factors to recover homeostasis. Herbal modifiers of GABA may be one part of this strategy, and Valerian, Artemisia absinthia, and Moringa oleifera are known to affect GABA regulation and function in a modulatory way. GABA-ergic (producing) effects are seen from a variety of herbs as well, such as St. Johns wort (Hypericum perforatum), Vitex agnus-castus, Artemesia annua (Qing hao), Curcuma longa (E zhu), Scutellaria baicalensis (Huang qin), Angelica archangelica (Bai zhi), Boswellia serata, Chrysanthemum morifolium (Ju hua), Gardenia jasminoides (Zhi zi), and Cinnamomum aromaticum and verum (Gui zhi and Rou gui). Melatonin may also exert GABA-ergic effects. We see that a wide variety of typical and common Chinese herbal formulas contain these herbs and may help in practice.

Neurotoxicity in chemical sensitivity may affect the neural membrane functions, and a number of theories concerning the gradual breakdown of neural cell membrane integrity due to disturbances in the phospholipid and fatty acid metabolism explains the array of dysfunctions seen in Central Chemical Sensitivity. An array of toxins, chemicals, heavy metal toxins, parasites, viruses, bacteria and fungi may contribute to this depletion of neural cell membrane function and neurotoxicity. An array of nutrient supplements have been highly studies to help restore this phospholipid membrane function, including phsophatidylcholine, phosphatidylserine, CDP choline, SAMe, and the essential fatty acids GLA, CLA and DHA/EPA (omega-3 krill oil). Of course, patients cannot take all of these medicines at once, but the correct treatment protocol in holistic medicine utilizes a wide variety of gentle treatments in a step-by-step manner, and unlike standard allopathic medicine, does not insist that the patient just stay on all of these medicines forever to control symptoms. This concept, at the heart of restorative holistic medicine, is hard to comprehend for most patients, but is essential for success, and needs professional guidance.

Past research into chemical sensitivity and multiple chemical sensitivity

In the last ten years the scientific study of chemical sensitivity, multiple chemical sensitivity, and central sensitivity syndromes has been scarce, despite the interest in this pathology from about the mid-1980s through the 1990s. Obviously, the issue of multiple chemical sensitivity has become a sensitive subject in the field of funded research, despite the fact that a growing segment of the population is now experiencing chemical sensitivity. In 1996, study of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity sponsored by the International Society of Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, Johns Hopkins University, and the National Medical Advisory Service of Baltimore, Maryland was presented at the Multiple Chemical Sensitivities State of Science Symposium, and the study found that past research that failed to find evidence to differentiate sensitivity to low levels of environmental chemicals from placebos were flawed, and "failed to incorporate the design and methodological approaches necessary to test for neuroimmunological sensitization", and time-dependent sensitization, where subsequent exposure to a substance or stressor over time may involve a progressive response in the central nervous system. The study found that dopaminergic pathways in the brain and the hypothalamic-adrenal system are involved in such time-dependent sensitization, and limbic and mesolimbic regions of the brain are most likely to be effected (e.g. limbic kindling). The authors concluded that "for future research, it is essential to distinguish chemical intolerance symptoms such as derealization, sudden mood changes, musculoskeletal pain, menstrual dysfunction, and uncontrollable sleepiness from chemical phobia and avoidance behaviors". In other words, it is easy to design tests that fail to address the real pathological issues in chemical sensitivity, and thus find no evidence of chemical phobia and avoidance over placebo.

Other studies of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity failed to find the immune markers for allergic syndromes in MCS patients and noted that there was a greater prevalence of depression and anxiety, and evidence of somatization disorder in the MCS group than in controls, although this difference accounted for only about a fourth of the MCS patients. Nevertheless, these findings dominated the reports discounting MCS as a "real" disease for the next twenty years. Obviously, toxin-induced central sensitization would not produce the same immunological responses as chronic infection, inflammatory disorders, and allergic diseases. It is also obvious that a chronic central nervous system neuroimmunological syndrome of sensitivity to multiple chemicals would create anxiety and depression, as well as somatization. It appears that there was more of an effort to discount MCS than to explain it, and it is easy to understand why, with the huge number of chemicals used by industry, and the loss of profits if the public became wary of the potential adverse effects of this chemical overload. We may assume the industry pressure and money was involved in downplaying the role of industrial and food chemicals in these mounting health problems. At some point the incidence worldwide could no longer be ignored.

Scientists that specialized in Multiple Chemical Sensitivity noted that there were numerous objective abnormalites, such as TA1 cells, chemical antibody levels, or antitoxin levels, in MCS patients that were tested over time when exposed to chemicals. The patients did not react immediately to chemical exposures, but later experienced pathological changes that were measurable (G. Heuser, A Wojdani, S. Heuser). Subsequent studies have noted that altered redox and cytokine patterns, reduced glutathione levels, and increased nitric oxide and peroxidized nitrites/nitrates are noted in MCS patients, as well as increased interferon-gamma, IL-8, IL-10, MCP-1, and VEGF, although not as significantly as in many chronic rheumatic and inflammatory diseases. The model of limbic kindling, where repeated stimulation of hippocampal or amygdaloid neurons in the limbic system of the brain eventually leads to increased excitability, as in seizure disorders, despite lack of evidence of damage to these neurons or tissues, is now the subject of study to explain the phenomenon of Multiple Chemical Sensitization or Toxin-induced Loss of Tolerance (MCS/TILT). Limbic kindling is being researched to explain much of the phenomena in Chronic Fatigue Syndromes (CFS/ME) as well. Hypersensitivity in regions of the brain induced by low-level chronic stimuli would explain many of the symptoms in MCS, CFS/ME, and fibromyalgia. All of this research helps us to find the right comprehensive treatment guidelines, as well as the focus in individual cases.

Treatment for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Central Sensitivity Syndromes, such as CFS/ME, fibromyalgia, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and their common comorbidities, such as Pelvic Pain Syndrome, Vulvodynia, and other chronic debilitating problems, involves more than just the clearing of toxins, but detoxification must be part of the protocol. Early intervention is of course the most sensible approach, but often these health problems are fairly asymptomatic until they become more severe. Attention to the problems of central sensitization, involving modulation of the key centers in the brain, especially the limbic system, and a multidisciplinary and proactive approach to treatment, utilizing sensible cognitive and behavioral protocols, is essential. Of course, improvements in general health, stress reduction, sleep quality, and digestive function, as well as hormonal balance, immune support, and adaptogenic aid would be very helpful. A step-by-step, goal-oriented, and persistent treatment plan is needed, and Complementary Medicine may provide the time-intensive, holistic, and multi-disciplinary care that is essential.

Clearing of toxins and Detoxification strategies

Experts in medicine who have studied Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or Toxicant induced Loss of Tolerance (MCS/TILT) have found that resolution of this problem only occurs gradually with a more holistic protocol involving avoidance of toxins and triggers, and the clearing of accumulated toxins in the body. To see such analysis from the University of Alberta in Canada, just click here: . Obviously, more can be accomplished in the overall treatment protocol, but this advice is sensible, and will produced results. The trouble is how to clear the toxins that trigger and cause this disease. Most 'detox' regimens advertised do not really address the issue well, and repeated use of chelating formulas, aids to liver function (our main detoxifier), clearing of aldehydes and accumulated lectins, and boosting glutathione metabolism may all need to be incorporated. This task requires some proactive effort on the part of the patient, with a persistent step-by-step approach. To learn more about these issues, various other articles on this website will provide more information.

Many claims are made of simple herbal products to detox the body and this is very appealing to the public. The herbs do not directly detox the body, though, unless they are direct chelaters, able to conjugate with and transport heavy metal toxicities. Instead, the herbs useful in detoxification aid the body's own processes of detoxification, which are highly developed in the human physiology, and often need to be optimized with healthy choices in medical treatment as well as diet and lifestyle. Utilizing a professional Complementary and Integrative Medicine (CIM/TCM) physician, such as a Licensed Acupuncturist with extensive herbal knowledge as well as experience with nutrient medicine, insures that this process of detoxification is achieved. Any competent Licensed Acupuncturist can help, though, and avoiding therapy while looking for one 'miracle' doctor is not a good strategy. These syndromes require a long persistent course of care and the treatment should be started as early as possible and not avoided. Each patient must take a strong proactive approach and decide how much therapy can be afforded, design their own treatment plan, and utilize various treatment specialties as is needed. These decisions cannot be made for you, and often will not be paid by the insurance company, who take clear advantage of the skepticism of MCS/TILT to avoid approving payment, even for all of these proven treatments.

To make the most intelligent choice of products to detox, it is best to understand what this process really is, and utilize professional products. Detoxification in the body is mostly performed by the liver, which houses Kupfer cells that contain rich quantities of macrophages to clear unwanted cells and toxins from the blood, and is also able to conjugate difficult toxins to bile salts to facilitate excretion if these chemical cannot be broken down. The other major way of clearing in the body is thus by excretion from the intestines and bowel. Excretion of toxins via the fluids, by sweating and urination is a much less effective way of elimination in the body. Health of the liver and intestinal tract is therefore of utmost importance in detoxification. The kidney plays a less potent role to excrete, ridding the body of excesses of normal chemicals that are broken down in the detoxification process, but many toxins are not able to pass the blood filters into the kidney. Cellular detoxification is also an important subject, and has long been measure by the glutathione potential (see a separate article on this website entitled Glutathione Metabolism, restoration and balance). While most of our body's glutathione is found in liver cells, all aerobic cells primarily use the glutathione metabolism to detoxify and clear reactive oxygen species, free radicals, or oxidants. The ratio of reduced glutathione to oxidized glutathione is the primary measure of cellular detox and health. One cannot just take glutathione, as it is produced as needed by all of the cells of your body. Aids to glutathione metabolism and stimulation with acupuncture will achieve the goal.

Standard detox regimens include 1) aiding the liver to cleanse the blood more efficiently with diet, herbs, supplements and acupuncture, and 2) aiding the bowels in the elimination and excretion of stored toxins through fasting, colon cleanse, diet, herbs, probiotics, and acupuncture. Added to this is 3) tissue clearing through antioxidant activity and chemicals that attract and bind to heavy metals, such as EDTA (chelation). Clearing of toxins via sweating is touted but has little significant effect in studies. The number of ways that we might help the detoxification processes in the body are numerous, and should be tailored to the individual goals. Fasting has long been touted as an aid to detoxification due to the fact that less energy is exerted in digestion and assimilation of nutrients, and thus more energy is devoted to detoxification and elimination. Standard modern medical practice utilizes activated charcoal and milk thistle to detoxify the liver when acute liver toxicity threatens the health, utilizing both methods with great success, and both of these products are available and safe in standard practice. Chelation therapy using strong intravenous chemicals is also becoming a popular practice across the world, although it is still not accepted by the standard medical community in the United States except with acute threatening toxicities. For nontoxic chelation a formula utilizing EDTA and chlorella is now standard and effective for helping the body to eliminate heavy metal toxin accumulation. For patients concerned with accumulated toxicity that is less acute, and simpler, such as toxicity from cigarette smoking, alcohol abuse, or common environmental pollutants, a course of herbs and key nutrient supplements to enhance the liver glutathione and enzyme metabolism may be the focus of therapy, and acupuncture may enhance this process greatly.

What toxins are we clearing?

Accumulations of environmental chemicals from cleaning products, flame retardants, plastics etc., air and water pollutants, and chemicals from the food are the major toxins in our bodies. Of special importance is the accumulations in our tissues, especially in the organ tissues and central nervous system, of small particle heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, that enter our bodies from the air or via the food chain and water supply. We must thank the Obama administration in 2010 for finally enacting effective EPA regulations that curtail the enormous tonnage of airborne lead and mercury toxins in the major industries creating this toxicity, coal-fired power plants, smelters, chloralkili producers, and concrete manufacture. Other heavy metal toxicities are also of concern, not the least of which is iron accumulation. This issue is more thoroughly addressed in my article on lead and mercury, and iron overload toxicity on this website. In some individuals, the toxins that are most damaging are composed of the chemicals resulting from breakdown of various pharmaceutical drugs. This is dependant on the types of medications and the number of medications being broken down, or catabolized, in the body. Examples of this toxicity are cited below in additional information links. The amount of toxic pesticides, chemical fertilzing agents, and other farm chemicals is growing as corporations take over more and more of our nation's farms and destroy more and more of the natural barriers to erosion and runoff into our water supply. As the rate of topsoil depletion accelerates, the need for more chemicals to maintain high crop yields increases. This toxicity also empties into our oceans and accumulates in our seafood. Mining and drilling, especially as we go deeper into the earth, with natural gas fracturing methods, and shale oil drilling, also creates massive amounts of water toxicity due to the need to use water to create pressure to break up rock and force oil and gas to the surface. Much of this "fracking" wastewater contains radioactive and heavy metal contaminants from deep in the eath, and this is dumped into our water supply. Natural toxins are also created by the body's metabolism, the most damaging and ubiquitous being the oxidant free radicals, and excesses of protein fragments, but normal healthy bodily function and diet are effective in eliminating natural toxic accumulations, unless the body is overly stressed by ill health or obesity. In addition, acetaldehyde toxicity is an area of focus in recent years, and is related to alcoholism and chronic candidiasis as well as environmental aldehydes.

As stated, synthetic medications, and the products created from the catabolism of synthetic medications, are treated as toxins in the liver and intestinal tract. The rate of chemical breakdown in the liver, or detox, usually determines the levels of prescription drugs in the body. When liver detoxification is not efficient, these levels of circulating synthetic drugs may be altered, resulting in overdosage and potential harm. Many side effects of medication occur well after starting the medication, and are the result of slow increases in circulating levels of the chemicals because of inefficient breakdown, or catabolism, of the drug. There are many published cautions or contraindications in drug combination, and these are mainly addressing the drugs that use the same metabolic methods of breaking down the drugs in the liver. Too often, these contraindications and warnings are ignored. The family of liver enzymes referred to as P450 are the most well known metabolic factors that regulate the rate of drug catabolism. Dangerous drug interactions may occur when one drug inhibits or induces a P450 enzyme activity and slows or speeds the breakdown of other drugs in the liver, resulting in altered levels of circulating dosage. By taking a number of drugs that utilize the same P450 enzymes, the chance that the circulating levels will be altered over time increases. Sometimes, the stress that this creates on the liver contributes to unhealthy liver function, which may significantly decrease the ability of the body to detoxify.

Addressing liver health is of prime importance in detoxification. It is best to decrease the stress on the liver by decreasing the amount of chemicals in the body, by adopting a more natural diet and home environment, and by decreasing medication dependency whenever possible. Most drugs are immediately broken down by a certain percentage in the liver (over 4-12 hours), although some directly deposit in the body tissues, such as muscle, fat and bone, and may accumulate, just as other chemical toxins do. The rate of immediate breakdown, or catabolism, is called the half-life, implying that half of the drug is broken down into metabolites in a short period of time. This determines the time between dosage of the drug. The more prescription drugs that are taken the more stress is placed upon the liver detoxification system, probably resulting in less efficiency in detoxifying unwanted chemicals or pollutants that we ingest by eating, drinking or breathing, as well as the other drug metabolites. When the liver is unable to clear toxins and chemicals efficiently, these environmental toxins and drug catabolites may circulate and deposit in the body tissues, often with fatty encapsulations to prevent contact with normal tissues. This type of tissue accumulation increases over time and eventually contributes to degeneration, disease and aging.

The rate, or efficiency, of toxin breakdown, or catabolism, in the liver is primarily determined by the enzyme metabolism. Enzymes are a class of molecules, mostly proteins, that regulate rates of metabolism and catabolism. When the liver is dysfunctional, the blood tests show that the liver enzyme transanimases are high in circulating blood. These are termed AST and ALT on your blood tests. High transanimases in circulation implies a problem with liver function, and/or high stress put upon the liver. Normal levels are exceeded in liver disease, but even levels in the high end of the normal range imply liver stress of a subclinical nature. More important enzymes of detoxification, such as glutathione peroxidase, are not routinely analyzed in blood tests. Enzyme metabolism may be normal on the blood test, but the liver may still have problems affecting detoxification metabolism. If the liver tissues accumulate toxic metabolites, such as oxidant free radicals, the tissues may become inflamed, and may harden (cirrhosis), and this may decrease efficiency of liver metabolism significantly. Fatty accumulation in the liver in the form of stored glycogen may also decrease the capacity of the liver to detoxify, as well as trap toxins in fatty accumulations. Excess consumption of fructose contributes greatly to this fatty liver accumulation, and poor liver function, or excess liver stress impairs the ability to the liver to catabolize glycogen stores at a fast enough rate. Therapy is directed toward clearing antioxidants and protein fragments, increasing circulation, and aiding the enzyme and glutathione metabolism in the liver. The degree of ill health of the liver is determined by the physician, who then prescribes the most tailored logical combination of herbs and supplements. Typically, a short course of herbal formula, with milk thistle, Vitamin B6, L-cysteine, L-glutamine, OptiZinc, alpha-lipoic acid, and N-acetylcysteine optimize the goals above. Proteolytic enzymes may also benefit tissue clearance in the liver. This course of nutrients optimizes various antioxdant pathways and provides the best bioavailability of glutathione, the key antioxidant.

Studies have shown that common environmental toxins, or pollutant chemicals, accumulate in the body tissues. Even a healthy person with a good diet, in an urban area, accumulates a large amount of toxic chemicals in the tissues over time. The older we are, the more difficult this detox becomes. Since true detox of our tissues is a complicated process, repeated, or habitual, detoxification help is the only real way to clear the body of toxins. Promotion of liver and intestinal health, as well as the avoidance of as many chemicals as possible is also essential, and should become a lifelong process. This involves a diet of organic foods, unpolluted water, and breathing of unpolluted air whenever possible, as well as avoidance of household chemicals such as chemical cleaning products. When this entire regimen is adopted, maximum detox is achieved. Since elimination by the GI tract is one way of detoxifying, fasting may also be a valuable aid, if you can tolerate fasting. What is most important, once again, is a healthy functioning GI and liver system. You may want to correct your digestive problems, and improve liver health with a course of treatment before adopting a detox regimen. This will insure better results. Herbal therapies may also provide stronger intestinal detoxification. Herbs with a high content of tannic acids can precipitate toxic substances in the intestinal lumen, converting them to insoluble substances, so that a high fiber diet or fast can eliminate them. Wu bei zi is an herb used in China for this purpose. Safe and effective herbal and nutrient chelating formulas may be utilized under guidance periodically. Acupuncture works in a symbiotic fashion to help the body detoxify and eliminate more efficiently.

The subject of detoxification is not as simple as many advertisers would lead you to believe. A simple change in diet with a mild herbal formula that aids the intestinal tract helps, but is only mildly effective. Once again, the medical advice presented on medical websites such as this one is more complicated than we would wish for. The idea that the human physiology is simple, and correcting problems with our health can be achieved with the magic pill or simple routine, is a fairy tale, though, that we all buy into in a consumer society. It's easier to advertise simple solutions, and so this is what we repeatedly hear. Reality is more complicated, but can be simplified by putting the process into the hands of a professional and following the professional advice.

So what about all these advertised products to detox and colon cleanse?

We see that products with a few simple herbs may help but are not the complete answer to detox. The claims are overblown. Be especially wary of products that don't list the ingredients, spend too much on advertising, and support the product with the endorsement of a single M.D. Standard medical schools provide no instruction in herbal medicine and little nutritional medicine. Trust the professional herbalist that has graduated from a medical college specializing in Traditional Chinese Medicine (acupuncture et al) or Naturopathy. To really achieve detox one should work to develop a complete program. Guidance by a professional holistic or naturopathic physician is highly recommended due to the complexity of the process. There are a number of products that can be very potent and valuable in detox, though. Let's discuss a few of these most valuable products I use and see and how they work.

Glutathione S transferase is a family of enzymes of the liver that is used by cells to detoxify and clear toxins and drugs from the body. The P450 and glucuronosyl transferase are emphasized in drug clearing metabolism, but the glutathione enzyme activity has a greater relationship to clearing toxins and cancer causing compounds. Sandalwood essential oil (most safely taken as alcohol extract or double boil water extraction), St. Johnswort and other herbs are found to be potent in increasing this enzymatic activity, as well as the combination of nutrient supplements already mentioned. St. John's Wort (Di er cao), contains a high level of quercetin and quercitrin as well, potent antioxidants, as do many Chinese herbs used to clear and protect the liver. Milk thistle has been well studied and found to benefit liver function and speed enzymatic detox, as have schisandra berries (wu wei zi), turmeric (jiang huang), and alpha lipoic acid (R-lipoic acid is the more active form). Schisandra chinensis berries have been proven to significantly increase the liver glutathione level and glutathione reductase enzyme activity. A percentage of the population lacks the 2D6 gene and has difficulty in liver detox metabolism, and these people are especially in need of herbal and nutrient aids. Studies also confirm that a percentage of the population lacks other significant genetic coding for liver detoxifying enzymes, P450, glutathione S-transferase, and N-acetyl transferase, increasing their risk for leukemia and stomach cancers significantly. The benefits of these detoxifying regimens in preventative medicine appear great in recent scientific study (see citations below).

Formulas in TCM utilize a number of herbs to work synergistically to improve liver function. I utilize such formulas as Ecliptex, Shu Gan +, Adv Chole Clear, and others, which are prescribed based on the individual's overall health diagnosis. The NIH is currently entering phase three of clinical trials of the simplest liver formula, Xiao Chai Hu Tang, called Sho-Saiko-to in the Japanese clinical trials of liver clearance of Hepatitis C. To check out the study parameters presented by the NIH, click here: While such study has been limited by funding problems and study design, each year more and more evidence of effectiveness in TCM protocol is emerging, and much of it can now be accessed on PUBMED.

Activated charcoal is very effective to attract toxins from the intestinal tract. Flax, fennel and fenugreek seeds have long been used in traditional medicine to cleanse the intestinal tract. The best way is to mix the seeds, take a heaping tablespoon each day, soak in warm water, and then chew thoroughly and swallow. This tastes weird because of the mucilage, but will be very effective if taken for a week or so daily.

Most advertised herbal detox formulas use simple herbal strategies with fennel, dandelion root, etc. These herbs are beneficial but not extremely effective chemically in aiding liver function or bowel elimination, and they certainly do little to aid chelation. These herbal products are often based on the most common herbs appearing in research, are very gentle, and may have little noticeable impact, and thus generate less complaint of the common clearing effects sometimes seen when the body goes through a more vigorous detoxification, which may include itching, stomach upset, or loose bowel movements. Does the patient know that these products are working? The answer is no. These products are kept simple and achieve mild stimulation, giving the patient the impression that they are detoxing because they feel a little better when a healthy diet and herbal supplements are used. Most often these simple commercial products do not utilize sound science and have exagerrated claims of effectiveness. While commonly advertised detox herbal products may not provide a strong detox stimulation, they can't hurt. Dandelion, burdock, fennel, fenugreek, and nettle can all be added to your diet and give benefit in aiding the body's natural detoxifying mechanisms. To achieve a potent detoxification, though, utilizing professional individualized protocol to achieve specific detox goals is recommeded.

Some combinations of herbs and nutrient medicines provide intelligent formulas to achieve detoxificating goals. Acetaldehyde toxicity is common in the population, via chronic candidiasis, air pollution, excess alcohol consumption, etc. and the product AL Cofactors by Vitamin Research includes key nutrients to help the body clear this toxicity and promote increased glutathione metabolism. Such products as this provide an economical treatment product to help achieve goals. It must be noted, though, that taking even such a well formulated product does not achieve complete detoxification and clearance, and each patient is an individual, with different detox needs. This is why a professional that is knowledgeable is able to help you achieve these goals in an objective manner that is thorough and comprehensive.

To reiterate, detoxification and removal of stored heavy metals (chelation) are processes that each healthy body engages in daily. The patient may want to increase the rate of detoxification and chelation, and a variety of strategies, ranging from very gentle, to very strong, are available. Very potent chelation and detoxification needs to be supervised in a clinic, while gentle protocols can be utilized at home, or with therapy from a professional herbalist and Complementary Medicine physician utilizing nutrient medicine. Products on the grocery or drugstore shelf may not be dependable, or may be too gentle. A TCM physician with knowledge of this therapy may utilize three strategies. One, herbs and supplements that are proven to aid the liver in its natural detoxification processes, and the glutathione system in its cellular detox can be prescribed; two: intestinal clearing may be aided by herbal formulas, activated charcoal, and various specific herbs and nutrients, individually prescribed on a case-by-case protocol; and three: chelation of heavy metal and toxin accumulation in tissues can be stimulated with a variety of herbal and nutrient products. You may read more about chelation of heavy metals, and heavy metal environmental toxins on another article on this website, and you may read more about the glutathione metabolism as well.

Information Resources / Additional Information and Links to Scientific Studies

NOTE: many more scientific studies can be accessed in Additional Information on other articles on this website, concerning Detoxification, Glutathione Metabolism, Lead, Mercury and chelation, Brain Health, etc. A search engine at the top of the page will use keywords to help find these various articles when exploring.

  1. A review of the research and treatment strategies for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, and the inherent problems in this field, was presented in 2010 by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aging, the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme, and the Office of Chemical Safety and Environmental Health, entitled A Scientific Review of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: Identifying Key Research Needs, and cynically called a Final Report, even though the report stresses the need for research. This is one of the most comprehensive reports seen from any governmental health organization in the world, though, and much clearer than reports released in the United States. An Australian report on MCS released in 2011 is short and dismissive of the disease or syndrome, like most governmental reports around the world:
  2. A 2013 report by a Rheumatologist from Monash University, Monash Medical Center, and head of the Fibromyalgia Clinic, Dr. Emma K. Guymer, of Melbourne, Australia, reports that the diagnoses of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome are largely distinguished by the main presenting symptoms, not distinct pathophysiology, and are part of a group of clinical syndromes that could be called Central Sensitivity Syndrome, emphasizing a neurohormonal immune dysfunction in the central nervous system:
  3. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine, a group of Medical Doctors and other health professionals focused on environmental diseases, founded in 1965, states clearly that, unlike most standard medical institutions in the United States, that Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome is a real medical condition that standard medicine will eventually have to accept and treat, as the incidence in the population is growing exponentially:
  4. A 2013 meta-review of scientific study of Chemical Sensitivity, by Professor Stephen Genuis at the University of Alberta School of Medicine, clearly shows that MCS/TILT is not just a neurosis, as is still assumed by most physicians, and needs to be treated as a serious and real physiological disorder, as the incidence in the world is growing alarmingly:
  5. The DANA Foundation, a private philanthropic organization founded in 1950 by Charles A Dana, and based in New York, that is particularly devoted to scientific understanding and treatment of neurological diseases, cancer, and difficult diseases, provides an overview of chemical sensitivity and the nervous system:
  6. A review of scientific studies of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity by Professor Martin L. Pall of Washington State University, a professor of biochemistry and medical sciences, in 2010, noted that consistent markers of MCS are evident, despite the discounting of objective markers of the disease by most institutions:
  7. A 2015 study at Kinki University Medical School showed that decreased blood flow in a key area of the brain, the orbitofrontal cortex, consistently occurs in patients with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity when exposed to odorous chemicals, but does not occur in control subjects, altering autonomic and emotional controls:
  8. A 2016 survey of the effectiveness of mental health providers, such as cognitive and behavioral psychologists, in the integrative treatment of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or Toxicant induced Loss of Tolerance (MCS/TILT), by experts at the James Madison University School of Medicine, found that many patients with this diagnosis reported little benefit from these psychologists and psychiatrists, and attributed this to both lack of understanding of the problem by professionals in general, and a lack of even acknowledging that the disease exists:
  9. A 2016 study at Kumamoto University, in Japan, used Metabolomics (Big Data study of small molecules in fluids and tissues to achieve a more holistic assessment) to find that excess of hexanoic acid and pelargonic acid, linked to artificial flavoring and industrial products, as well as so-called bio-organic pesticides and herbicides, including glyphosates (e.g. RoundUp by Monsanto, tied to the GMO crops), and a deficiency of acetylcarnitine, long linked to fatigue due to mitochondrial dysfunction, and other disease symptoms, and found deficient in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, was consistent in patient diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity when compared to healthy controls. While we will never see actual connections to these big public health concerns in such studies from standard academic sources, it is very clear what is being implied:
  10. A review of the orbitofrontal cortex and its functions, by experts at the University of Oxford, Department of Experimental Psychology, in England, reveals that a complex assessment of odors, associations with objects, taste, sense of reward, responses to touch, facial expression, and emotional responses are processed with this part of the brain:
  11. A 2015 study at the University of California at Davis, U.S.A. showed that environmental toxins such as napthalene can stimulate a sensitivity response in airways that cause pathological reactions with various regulatory proteins. Napthalene is a simple organic aromatic compound first discovered in coal tar, widely produced in energy production, petroleum refining, mettalurgy, production of pesticides, and used as surfactants in synthetic dyes, pigments, and even pharmaceutical medicines. Commonly naphtalenes are produced by mothballs, household fumigants, insecticides, and other products, and excess exposure to naphtalenes has resulted in fatigue, eye pathology, anemia, neurological symptoms, and linked to cancer:
  12. A 2015 study with PET scans of the brain, at the University Tor Vergata School of Medicine, in Rome, Italy, also showed that specific areas of the brain showed either increase or decrease in glucose consumption in patients with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) exposed to chemical odors, compared to control subjects, further elucidating the explanation for the array of symptoms noted in MCS:
  13. A review of scientific studies of Central Sensitivity Syndromes, such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Fibromyalgia (Encephalomyopathy), and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, and the hypothesis that Limbic Kindling, or a neuroimmune and neurohormonal hypersensitivity, by researchers at DePaul University in Chicago, is presented by The Environmental Illness Resource:
  14. A comprehensive overview of current research and theories concerning Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and its pathophysiology is presente here by experts at James Madison University, a research university located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, U.S.A., that was founded in 1908 as the State Normal and Industrial School for Women. Theories and supportive research such as Limbic Kindling and Neurogenic Sensitization, Epigenetic inheritance of poor expression of key enzymes, and the effects of low-grade asymptomatic infections such as Candidiasis, which may create Aldehyde toxicity are explained:
  15. A review of chelation therapy with EDTA and oral vitamins and minerals was conducted at Michigan State University in 2013, reviewing findings of the NIH Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT) and other studies, and noted that EDTA and oral chelating therapies are proven to eliminate palladium, cadmium, nickel, and aluminum, and other xenobiotics (environmental toxins), and been shown to improve systolic blood pressure and other cardiovascular parameters, with application to detoxification in cancer, neurodegeneration, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease, and is shown to be safe, nontoxic and effective:
  16. A review of the research and efficacy of the chelator DMSA, now FDA approved as safe and effective is presented here by the City Hospital of Birmingham, United Kingdom:
  17. An example of medication breakdown, or catabolism, in the liver, which produces even more harmful chemicals than the medication itself, is cited in this study of AZT catabolites:
  18. A conservative but informative article from the American Heart Association explains some of the pharmacodynamics of prescription drugs and the effect on the liver, with drug-drug contraindications and explanation of ill effects on the liver metabolism with statin drugs to lower cholesterol:
  19. A 2000 FDA labeling approval for a synthetic estradiol oral contraceptive reveals that concentrations of drugs in the body vary considerable from person to person depending on the individual health of the liver metabolism and competition for detox pathways:
  20. A 2008 study published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention showed that a percentage of the population is born with genetic polymorphisms, or tendency to express misshapen protein enzymes, related to alleles expressing P450, glutathione S-transferase and N-acetyl transferase. In the population with deficient expression of both the glutathione and acetyl transferase enzymes, risk of acquiring acute myeloid leukemia, or bone marrow cancer, increased nearly 12%: Another study in 2000 found a significant relationship between deficient expression of P450 and glutathione transferase enzymes and esophageal cancers: These studies were a follow-up to a 1997 study of glutathione deficiency genotypes and the relationship to cancer susceptibility by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine: