[Information links at end of page]
What are “environmental illnesses?”
“Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME), mulitple chemical sensitivity (MCS), fibromyalgia (FM) and post-traumatic-stress disorder (PTSD) often occur together in the same individuals (they are comorbid) and share many symptoms in common. …What many have called the Gulf War Syndrome is a combination of all four.” [underlying added]
The Canadian Human Rights Commision provides a long list of conditions that commonly overlap with environmental sensitivity/chemical sensitivity:
- Myalgic encephalomyeltitis (ME), Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Post-viral fatigue syndrome
- Yuppie flue
- Chronic pain
- Food intolerance syndrome
- Celiac disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Major depression
- Anxiety or panic disorder
2008 research indicates that individuals with the genetic polymorphism associated with hyperbilirubinemia disorders, like Gilbert’s Syndrome, have a greater susceptibility to multiple chemicals sensitivity. Gilbert’s Syndrome is common, thought to occur in 5% of the population.
If you have one or more of these illnesses, you may also be effected by toxic chemicals and not realize it.
Early on, it can be difficult to discern when symptoms are triggered by a chemical exposure. It becomes easier to detect the link when you take a break from chemicals and are re-exposed.
It’s not necessary to have full blown multiple chemical sensitivity to be hypersensitive to environmental chemicals. The range of chemicals sensitivity progresses from mild to severe and disabling. In a survey, Pamela Gibson at James Madison University describes the mild levels as:
“Frequently has many symptoms, some of vague nature. May find petrochemicals and other environmental exposures such as auto exhausts, cigarette smoke, and cleaning materials to be unpleasant or produce uncomfortable feelings but able to work effectively.”
Clearly, due to the vague nature of symptoms in the early stages, it would be easy to miss chemical sensitivity or to brush it off and take it too lightly until the sensitivity worsens. Some people may be ill or in pain their whole life without recognizing their sensitivity to chemicals.
Meggs, in very early research, describes what he calls ‘stage two’ when,
“…when the chemical exposure has led to tissue inflammation, such as arthritis, vasculitis, some types of dermatitis, colitis, myositis, non-allergic asthma, multiple sclerosis and rhinitis.”
[Source: Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and the Immune System, 1991, William J. Meggs, M.D., Ph.D.] Bold added.
If you have any of these inflammatory diseases, it may never occur to you that chemical triggers could be involved. It’s highly unlikely that your doctor will ever mention the possibility.
Chemical triggers may not effect everyone in the same way, but the co-occurring illnesses are astonishing, considering how rapidly they seem to be spreading in modern times.
If you are suffering from a chronic illness or an inflammatory disease, wouldn’t a trial of chemical and fragrance-free living be worth a try?
- The Environmental Illness Resource – http://www.ei-resource.org/ “The Environmental Illness Resource is an information resource and interactive community site for people suffering from a range of chronic illnesses which are poorly understood and for which there is currently very limited healthcare available. We have chosen to group these conditions under the title of ‘Environmental Illnesses’ and they include Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME/CFS), Fibromyalgia, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), and allergies.”
- Environmental Working Group – www.ewg.org – “At EWG, our team of scientists, engineers, policy experts, lawyers and computer programmers pores over government data, legal documents, scientific studies and our own laboratory tests to expose threats to your health and the environment, and to find solutions. Our research brings to light unsettling facts that you have a right to know.”
- What you need to know about environmental medicine, Lisa Nagy, MD – “In 2000 Doctor Lisa Nagy became sick with the symptoms (listed on the site) and did not recognize that she had Chemical Sensitivity because she was not taught about it in medical school – no doctors are! Now somewhat better, she is trying to educate both the lay public and medical practitioners about the ubiquity of the range of conditions called environmental illnesses.
- MCS America
- Mind Disrupted
- Planet Thrive – http://planetthrive.ning.com – “Take back your health, transform your life. A virtual universe of healing support, cutting-edge information, and invaluable resources for those recovering from environmentally based illnesses (what we call DPD – dirty planet disease) or just anyone wanting to learn how to live a healthier, non-toxic lifestyle.”
- Professor Martin L. Pall, unified theory FMS, CFS, MCS PTSD, GWS