What Causes Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?

What Causes Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?Continual exposure to chemicals can result in the development of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), a disorder in which the body is no longer able to tolerate chemicals. With MCS, chemicals that are relatively harmless to most of the population create chronic medical conditions or illnesses in the sufferer because his or her body is no longer able to process these everyday chemicals. An increasing number of people suffer from migraines, rashes, fatigue, mood changes, autoimmune flare-ups, and other symptoms when they encounter chemical scents, odors, or fumes. Even products we associate with freshness and cleanliness – such as scented dryer sheets or shampoo – can trigger debilitating symptoms. So what causes Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and what can you do to recover?

What Causes Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?

Also known as environmental illness or toxicant-induced loss of tolerance (TILT), Multiple Chemical Sensitivity can be caused by short-term, severe exposure (such as a chemical spill), but often develops slowly through long-term exposure (such as the daily use of cleaning products). The symptoms of MCS are wide-ranging because a loss of immune tolerance is at their root. How a person’s body expresses inflammation and immune dysregulation will determine what sort of symptoms they experience. Symptoms generally occur in one of three categories: central nervous system symptoms, respiratory irritation, or gastrointestinal problems. They can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Brain fog and/or confusion
  • Burning or stinging of the eyes, nose, or throat
  • Digestive problems (nausea, gas, diarrhea)
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme fatigue or weakness
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Impaired memory and concentration
  • Insomnia
  • Itching and/or skin rashes
  • Mood changes
  • Nausea
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat, cough
  • Wheezing and/or difficulty breathing

How to Treat Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

Knowing what causes Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is only the first step. You must also reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals and rebuild your immune system. When a person’s immune system is highly reactive, even low levels of toxins and irritants can cause a severe response. By using functional medicine principles to keep inflammation as low as possible, we can help prevent toxins from becoming immune reactive.

Some keys for treating Multiple Chemical Sensitivity are:


  • Avoid toxins as much as possible – While it can be difficult to avoid chemicals in the outside world, reducing the amount of chemicals in your home has a profound impact on your health. Replace your personal care and household cleaning products with non-toxic options, which are becoming more affordable and readily available.
  • Eat an anti-inflammatory whole foods diet – Since 70% of your immune system resides in your gut, maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is essential for your overall health. Your diet should consist primarily of produce and avoid inflammatory foods. You should also take supplements that support healthy gut bacteria, such as probiotics and prebiotics.
  • Address deficiencies – Deficiencies in vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and glutathione can contribute to the development of Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. Glutathione is referred to as the “master antioxidant” and plays a key role in promoting liver detoxification and dampening inflammation. Research has shown that healthy levels of glutathione lower the risk of MCS and other immune-based disorders.


Find Relief from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity at Anchor Wellness Center

To learn more about what causes Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and how to treat it, call us today at (832) 246-8437 and schedule an appointment with Dr. Minni Malhotra, MD, FAARM, ABAARM. As a Board Certified physician in both Family Medicine and with the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine, Dr. Malhotra can help you recover from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.

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