Last week, Rebecca, our in-house esthetician spoke with a customer to help him find a self tanner for his daughter. In the process, Rebecca learned that this customer had develop a severe chemical sensitivity, despite the fact that he lived a fairly clean, healthy lifestyle. Now, many of us have developed sensitivities to food and other allergens as we age and we learn to avoid those substances. But when Allan shared the consequences of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity with us, we were quite shocked and felt we should share his story with you. Read Allan's story below.
If you are reading this you have certainly heard something about the dangers of toxic chemicals in our cosmetics, food, and household products. Ingesting, inhaling, or applying products with these harmful chemicals can result in rash or irritation. But the damage is not always immediately apparent. Some of these toxins can cause long term health problems, like hormonal disruption and certain cancers.
Another consequence to toxic exposure that we are just beginning to understand is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). MCS is a very severe sensitivity or allergic-type reaction to a variety of pollutants, including solvent, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), synthetic fragrance, and petro-chemicals, and has been linked to the prevalence of toxic synthetic ingredients in our modern daily lives. Unlike common allergies, MCS seems to have no known mechanism of causation and symptoms vary widely from one sufferer to the next. This makes treatment difficult, with avoidance of toxicants being the primary therapy. The symptoms described by MCS sufferers are often the same as those of common allergies or other ordinary ailments, and can be overlooked or misunderstood by healthcare practitioners.
Symptoms of MCS include:
- burning, stinging eyes
- wheezing, breathlessness, nausea
- extreme fatigue / lethargy
- headache / migraine / vertigo / dizziness
- poor memory & concentration
- runny nose (rhinitis)
- sore throat, cough
- sinus problems
- skin rashes and / or itching skin
- sensitivity to light & noise
- sleeping problems
- digestive upset
- muscle & joint pain
Certain criteria are used to determine whether symptoms are MCS related or due to more common place allergies. MCS related symptoms usually exhibit allergic-type reaction to both large and very low levels of irritants or toxins, the sensitivity is ongoing and recurrent, reaction is caused by many different triggers, and symptoms decrease when triggers are absent.
You may be wondering why, if the toxic chemical triggers are unavoidable in daily life, we don't all have MCS. It is believed that the MCS sufferer is sensitive to a breadth of everyday toxic chemicals. Others may not be as sensitive to these toxins, or they are simply not exposed to the toxins as frequently or for as long a period of time as those with MCS. It seems that MCS patients are often allergy-sufferers and that the condition seems to run in families, which brings professionals to believe that some of us are genetically predisposed.
Take Allan Krause's case for example. Allan maintained a relatively healthy lifestyle, but in his thirties developed MCS from exposure to toxic chemicals. Allan shares his story with us below:
Stop Using Toxic Chemicals Now!!!
My name is Allan Krause; I have lived a pretty clean life. I always work out, and have never been one to use alcohol or drugs. I thought I ate healthy and took care of myself pretty well. The one thing I didn't realize I was always around chemicals that were causing damage to my body. I have an illness you don't want to have. I have Chemical Injury or Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. When I was 37 yrs old I started having problems and didn't know what was wrong. I couldn't tolerate taking vitamins any more or a physical work out without getting sick. Simple medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin started causing me to have reactions. I was becoming allergic to foods, having unbearable anxiety, etc. Then at 40 years old my life came to a screeching halt. I took some medication that was prescribed by a doctor, not realizing I had Chemical Injury. This awful injury stopped my body from detoxing and metabolizing. My world as I knew it came to an end. Chemical Injury damaged my cells in my body and brain. I have lost the ability to eat most foods, literally can't sleep, and can't tolerate any odors or medications…NOT FUN. I have reactions to basically everything in my environment. By reactions I mean heart palpitations, panic attacks, rashes, watering eyes and a racing heart etc.
I only sleep one to two hours per night, sometimes not at all. This is due to damage in the lining of the blood barrier that protects the brain. I want people to understand the chemicals we expose ourselves to can and do have the ability to change your life forever. The pesticides in our foods, the chemicals in our perfumes, household cleaners etc. are very dangerous. When you put anything on your skin it hits your blood stream within 15 seconds. Your body has to process everything you touch, smell, and eat. I have been all over the United States trying to get help. I have been to six major Medical Hospitals and dozens of the best Doctors in the country. The problem is there is no cure in the late stages because it changes your DNA of your cells. I originally weighed 175 lbs, now I'm only weighing 115 lbs and suffering horribly.
My daughter has a fair complexion like me, so when she wanted to use self-tanner I was concerned. I started looking for a nontoxic tanner. I found that the good people at Lavera had just what I needed. We are very fortunate to have a company such as Lavera who is committed to making products that make a positive difference in our health.
If you think you are suffering from Chemical Injury start taking control of your health. Remember you are not crazy and are not alone. Start using organic and non-toxic products. There is a lot of info on the web about chemical exposure. Educate yourself.
For more information, visit:
- Chemical Injury
- A Canary's-Eye View
- The American Environmental Health Foundation
- Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)
- International MCS/EMS Awareness
- MCS America
- Chemical Injury and Disorders of Porphyrin Metabolism
- MCS — Allergy Help
- Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
There are steps that can be taken to lower your risk of developing MCS. Eating an organic, minimally-processed diet, wherever available, reduces your exposure to harmful pesticides and other chemical additives.
Use nontoxic ingredients to clean your home. You may be surprised how effective baking soda, white vinegar, and nontoxic dish soap can be in cleaning a multitude of areas. But what about that lovely "clean" smell your home has after using conventional cleaners? That smell is actually synthetic fragrance and not at all good for you, your family, or the environment. Care2.com offers suggestions on green cleaning.
Go for green cosmetics and personal care products. Younger family members are especially vulnerable to chemical sensitization, and care should be taken while pregnant as well. Lavera products are all natural and contain no harmful ingredients. Perfect for the whole family. Check out our Ingredient Watch List for ingredients we never use in our products.