My Son's Experience and Recovery from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
My younger son has had significant problems with MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity) this past year. He would get head aches and stomach aches from cigarette smoke, car exhaust fumes, pressed wood, new carpet at his doctors office and the new car smell from the inside of a new van we bought.
My son and I had both suffered from MCS from time to time in the past, but during those times it was usually after we were on antibiotics. Taking probiotics to restore our normal intestinal flora and eating a diet higher in magnesium foods had helped. But this time around my son seemed to have more complex and harder to treat issues.
We had his nutrition levels tested and found he was low in:
Although I didn't realize it at the time of testing, evidently these are common deficiencies in people with MCS. While most conventional medical doctors are skeptical that MCS even exists, it is thought by holistic and environmental illness physicians that these deficiencies are common in people with MCS because they are key nutrients involved in many of the body's detoxification processes. Without an adequate supply of nutrients to detoxify chemicals, people can get sick from minor exposure to fumes from everyday items such as pressed wood, laundry detergent or car exhaust, chemicals people with adequate nutrient stores are usually not even consciously aware of.
We have difficulty giving our son supplements as he is often sensitive to them, as he is with many medications. So we just tried to feed him a healthy diet high in the nutrients he was deficient in. It worked somewhat, but he would still frequently get ill any time we ate out lot at restaurants or if he went to a party and had junk foods like cake, soda and pizza.
I bought numerous books on MCS to try to help him. Many focused on changing his environment to eliminate exposure to chemicals and other toxins. To a certain degree this seemed like a good idea, but with school, scouts, soccer, field trips and other environments out of out my control, it wasn't always practical. I always felt the long term and more practical approach to MCS was to build up his body's immune system so it would be able to detoxify chemicals like everyone else's immune system does. I didn't want to focus completely on eliminating all chemicals from his environment. As he got older I wanted him to be able to buy a new car some day and not get sick from the smell or work in an office building with new carpeting.
So for several
months he would be fine some days and then have his bad days where he
would be home and ill with headaches and stomach aches. Certain foods
would set him off as well as most strong smells.
We started keeping a diet diary and testing his body's pH each day to try to find clues as to what was wrong with him. From the diary we found that he got much worse after eating hot dogs and when his body was more acidic. He got better from tostados with mashed pinto beans and bananas and when his body was more alkaline. This was different than when he had mold allergies, as he seemed to be worse from the mold allergies when his body was more alkaline. In any case, we noticed he had the least amount health issues when his body was in the normal pH range. See my section on Alkaline and acid foods for more on this topic.
I looked up hot dogs on the Internet to see what was in them that might be causing the problems and found they were high in nitrites. That led me to an article by Martin L. Pall, Professor of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences on chemical sensitivity. Dr. Pall, himself a former MCS sufferer, has a theory that MCS is caused by elevated levels of nitric oxide and its oxidant product, peroxynitrite. He feels this may be the central cause of chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and multiple chemical sensitivity. I think Dr. Pall may be onto something.
After doing a little more digging, I found out that mashed pinto beans, the dish that helped my son, is high in magnesium. Interestingly, magnesium lowers nitric oxide levels. I also found out that nitric oxide is formed more easily in the body in an acidic environment, which would have explained why my son got worse when his body was more acidic. Bananas are a traditional cure for acid stomachs and ulcers, as they are reputed to make the GI tract more alkaline, so this may have explained why the bananas helped him. I suspect the alkalinity and magnesium content of the bananas both worked to lower his nitric oxide levels. Hot dogs contains nitrites, which help to form nitric oxide, which may have explained why he got worse from hot dogs.
My son would often get sick on Mondays, and now we realize it was because we would go out on Sundays frequently for brunch and he would order bacon preserved with nitrites. So bingo! In light of Dr. Pall's scientific explanations, now everything that was wrong with my son was starting to make sense.
As of this writing we've had my son off nitrites for a couple of weeks and he has been in the best health he has been in for months. He doesn't get ill from being inside our new van any more or from car fumes. Perhaps eliminating nitrites may not be the total answer for everyone with multiple chemical sensitivity problems, but for my son they seem to have been a big cause of his problems.
Sections in this series:
1. My son's experience
and recovery from chemical sensitivity
Related sections of interest:
Natural Therapies for Morgellons - The cause of this disorder is controversial and not clearly understood. My family had some similar symptoms so I wrote up what we found helpful.
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