Anyone else have multiple chemical sensitivities? And what to do about them??

Answered on August 23, 2013
Created August 23, 2013 at 2:36 AM

I apologize in advance if this is a previously asked question. I tried searching here on Paleohacks for MCS, chemical sensitivities, etc. but wasn't able to locate any similar posts. I also haven't been able to find much in the way of blog posts or forums speaking on this issue from a Paleo perspective, either. Sadly, Chris Kresser has not posted anything about it and I've been begging him for years! :) Also, I apologize for the long post - I type really fast. :)

About me: I am 44 years old and had severe allergies my entire life. I also had pretty severe asthma until around the age of 14 wherein I "outgrew" it. I was hospitalized 3 weeks after I was born for "failure to thrive" when I began losing weight (after being born 4 weeks premature to begin with) and kept throwing up my formula. A new intern came in and looked at me and told everyone to put me on rice formula (because heaven forbid women breast fed their babies in the 1960's - it was unseemly!). I was miraculously cured and life went on... until I got old enough to eat solid foods. At that point, I was hospitalized numerous times before the age of 4 and put in an oxygen tent, etc. due to asthma attacks brought on by the family cat (before I had allergy testing done) and multiple bouts of pneumonia. Good times! At the age of 3 or 4 I proceeded to undergo allergy testing, heavy drug therapy (steroids, antihistamines, etc.), and immunotherapy. I stayed on all those horrible meds and got allergy shots for almost 10 years. When I hit my teens, the asthma disappeared and I had a somewhat normal young adulthood with very little in the way of allergies - I didn't even take any medications. Until, that is, I moved from Denver to Seattle about 18 years ago. Ugh, what a mistake (location-wise, not personally)! Mold allergies, anyone?

VERY long story short, due to working in a "sick building" for a few years (on day 1 in that building I should have left!!!!)... anyway, over the last 7 years or so I after working in that building, I've developed what I've learned is a highly controversial diagnosis of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity disorder. Some people say it doesn't exist - those of us who live this nightmare do, indeed, insist it exists. It's made getting along and coping in this overly toxic world quite a challenge most days - especially pre-Paleo. Mostly due to the new formulations in the fabric softeners over the last 18-24 months - that's my nemesis post-Paleo. What the hell are they putting in with the petrol chemicals and neruotoxins in those formulas lately? Wowza! I'm miserable on the bus, at work, etc. The fabric softener problem is so bad that it has ruined 2 of my last vacations and I'm now forced to stay in hotels vs. renting condos from VRBO due to the towels and sheets being rinsed with the fabric softener. Obviously it's best to cook my own meals, so now traveling and staying in condos with kitchens - which I live for! - is nearly off the table. I am trying desperately to find a solution either through supplementation or biofeedback or whatever! I'm at a loss and desperately trying to find some help or at least some decent Paleo-centric articles on the issue.

More about the Paleo me: 44 year old female, strict Paleo for almost 2 years. By strict, I do mean strict - borderline autoimmune protocol except that I can tolerate eggs very well and eat a 1.5-2 dozen a week. I'm also nightshade free as I had horrible neck/nerve pain from them. I eat a fair amount of fat in the form of ghee, coconut oil, and olive oil. I'm extremely fortunate to be able to afford nearly everything I eat to be all organic, grass-fed, pastured, etc. I eat moderate amounts of meat (3-4 oz. 1x/day), eggs, veggies (except cruciferous due to thyroid issues - T3 Syndrome - check out Chris Kresser's post about it), fruit (too much, I'm sure), macadamia nuts, and the oils mentioned above. I also supplement with protein powder (more on that below). I just added fermented carrots into the mix a week ago as I'm not a big fan of sour anything (except lemon in my water/tea). No dairy whatsoever. I also eat a home made Paleo almond flour treat about once/month, if that. Oh but I do indulge in 1 square of Lindt 90% chocolate every single day. :) I should probably do bone broth but I make everything else from scratch and sometimes I just don't want to do it! :) Plus, it's difficult to source good bones where I live.

So far, Paleo has cured me of 95% of my seasonal allergies/allergic rhinitis. I'm able to tolerate some perfumes/scents and some lotions these days. But I still find it excruciating to walk down the laundry detergent aisle at the stores or spend more than 30 seconds in a tire shop. Incidentally, Paleo has also cured me of blood sugar dysregulation issues (my ENTIRE family are Type 2 diabetics); anxiety; keeping my weight in check (unless I eat too much fruit! ;)~) - I used to weigh 254 and now I weigh 140 (trying to get to 130 - I'm 5'6"); fibromyalgia; migraines; severe anemia and other vitamin deficiencies, and the list goes on. Paleo has helped this issue a lot, but it still remains that chemical sensitivities/certain scented products make me sick - literally sick to my stomach, nauseated, plugged ears/nose, dizzy - I guess it's "fortunate" that it mainly happens in response to the horrific fabric softener issue these days. I also still have mild acne so if anyone has thoughts on getting rid of acne, I'm open to hearing those as well. :)

On the advice of my naturopath, I currently supplement with Thorne MediClear Plus 1x daily mixed with home made almond milk, water, a splash of coconut milk and 1/2 banana with melted coconut oil. I know that a protein powder made from rice protein and pea protein isn't very Paleo, but I feel SO much better when I use it I don't care. So there. :) The nutrients/supplements in the MediClear Plus are amazing - it even stopped my hair from falling out (which it does every time I have anesthesia, including dental anesthesia). I also take - all from Thorne Research - R-Glutahione, Cysteine Plus, Antioxidant 90, and iodine (for my low T3 Syndrome that I just was diagnosed with 2 weeks ago). I ordered Thorne's liquid Vitamin D/K2 supplement and R-Lipoic Acid, but they won't be here until Friday. I also take Xymogen ProbioMax Daily DF probiotics and drink Coconut Kefir.

Honestly, since I started this supplement regimen, the severity of MCS has improved somewhat and seems to come and go ... some days it's horrible and I feel sick and dizzy all day long at work. Other days, it's a minor annoyance and I recover very quickly, even to a strong dose of chemicals or scents. So, I'm wondering if it's somehow hormonally related. I do know my hormones have been MESSED UP for years! My libido, which was once ridiculously overboard, has been in the toilet for 3-4 years now (my poor husband!). I had a 9 week menstrual period that wound up with my having to have a uterine ablation in 2009 (pre-Paleo) and I now have the lab results of a post-menopausal woman.

I just can't figure this one out... I'm wondering if my less-than-stellar entry into this world, combined with a decade off and on antibiotics and steroids (=bad gut flora), combined with being born with a thrifty phenotype metabolism all plays into the mix. And what the fix is..?? I used to be able to burn candles and wear perfume. I used to hardly notice smells (other than anything petroleum-related e.g. gas, diesel, etc.). What gives?

Any thoughts or help with this issue - pointing me to blogs, research articles, or alternative medicine practitioners in the Seattle area would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for your time.


"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." - Hippocrates

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1 Answers



on August 23, 2013
at 05:44 AM

Don't know. My issues with triggers are better but not gone. I still get headaches, wheezing, and coughing with triggers, but haven't had a full scale lung exacerbation since eliminating grains. I'd love it to just go away, but I'll take the dramatic improvement.

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