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Chemical sensitivity is not psychogenic

Why do intelligent medical doctors continue to make the same mistake again and again?

In his book, Explaining “Unexplained Illness”:  Disease Paradigm for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Gulf War Syndrome, and Others, Martin Pall, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences at Washington State University, reviews the history of false psychogenic attribution for these nine disease:

  1. Multiple sclerosis
  2. Parkinson’s disease
  3. Lupus
  4. Interstitial cystitis
  5. Migraine
  6. Rheumatoid arthritis
  7. Asthma
  8. Gastric and duodena ulcers
  9. Ulcerative colitis

As we now know, all these illnesses have been proven to have a genuine physiological basis.  The example of ulcers is of particular interest as for decades medical doctors believed and treated ulcers as though they were caused by stress.  Research conducted by two Australia doctors, Robin Warren and Barry Marshall, revealed that in the vast majority of patients, ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection with Helicobacter Pylori.  Their research was ignored and even ridiculed for ten years, yet they were ultimately vindicated.  Ironically, these two persistent doctors were even awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine.

How can intelligent medical doctors justify being so wrong, so many times and continue to repeat the same error of psychogenic attribution simply because science has yet to reveal a physiological basis for a particular disease?  What is the basis for this collective amnesia?  Do they ever look back and feel remorse and regret for all the patients that received inadequate medical care and suffered in multiple ways due to their automatic response?  Understandably, doctors cannot act upon every single research study as results are not necessarily conclusive.  But they can demonstrate more receptivity, curiosity, and compassion instead of leaping immediately to a psychogenic explanation.

Chemical sensitivity is not psychogenic

Multiple chemical sensitivity is yet another disorder that medical doctors and psychological researchers adamantly claim as being psychogenic in origin.  Yet the scientific facts have consistently been stacking up against them.

In a report prepared for the The Canadian Human Rights Commission called The Medical Perspective of Environmental Sensitivities, these research points indicate the shifting tide:

“Although some researchers believe that environmental sensitivities may have strictly psychological origins, a 1994 review of psychological studies found methodological and logical problems in the then-current psychological research.”

“Recent research with better defined patient populations concluded that psychiatric symptoms are more likely to stem from, rather than to cause, symptoms of environmental sensitivities.”

“The balance of scientific evidence and experience indicates that environmental sensitivities generally arise from physiological causes, although there are many neurological and psychological consequences.”

In other words, some people with multiple chemical sensitivity also suffer from anxiety, depression, or panic disorder but science is now revealing that these conditions more often occur as a result of the biochemical disruption caused by exposure to toxic environmental chemicals.

Professor Martin Pall, Ph.D. also repudiates, in detail, the notion that multiple chemical sensitivity is psychogenic in origin and provides a scientific explanation of its cause as being disruption of the NO/ONOO – cycle mechanism. NO refers to nitric oxide.

A number of years ago I was diagnosed with microscopic colitis, but my GI doctor was unable to explain some of my other GI symptoms.  She told me this:  “I don’t know why you have these symptoms.  Medicine is not an exact science.  It doesn’t have all the answers.”

I look forward to the day when more doctors have the humility to make such a simple, honest statement instead of jumping onto the psychogenic bandwagon.

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  1. Mr. W

    Had a similar experience myself.

    For a while I had some issues with constantly being nauseated and getting ill from certain types of food products.
    The first MD took a blood sample, looked at it and said I was fine as he did not find anything wrong; disregarding the fact I was weighing about 56kg and only eating white bread and drinking water.

    The second MD had a hunch, but even if it did not heal me completely he had no intentions on letting go of that hunch.

    It was when I met my thrid MD that things started to happen. She did something very ingenious and simple; ruling out illnesses by putting me through numerous tests. In the end she had ruled out everything, except IBS.

    I do not have any allergies, but I am sensitive to many different things. It is very easy to test, the MD just have to be willing and able to test it.
    Even if medical science is constantly progressing, it has old dogs who refuse to learn new tricks.

  2. Loved this. Why do doctors think we enjoy coming in, paying money to be seen, being poked and prodded, and then told it’s all in our heads? We would NOT be going through the annoyance of a doctor appointment if we didn’t know something was wrong. Just because they don’t know its name doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist!

    • Hi Robyn and Welcome,

      Thanks for adding emphasis to the main point. That’s right – just because they don’t know doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist! Wishing you the best on your health journey.

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