Chronically ill Patients need to investigate the role of chemical exposure.

The following is a reproduction of a Millennium Health Centre editorial article which appeared in the Seaway News newspaper in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. The content is shortened to accommodate a newspaper space allotment. As such, it is not academically cited with references. These are available, so please feel free to email your questions.


Dr. Stephen F. Jones B.Comm., N.D.
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

According to the National Academy of Sciences in the United States, 15 % of the U.S.A. population had multiple chemical sensitivities in 1987. By 1993, this same organization found that some 30 % of Americans suffered from this 'chemical sensitivity'. What is a 'chemical sensitivity' you ask and why have you not been tested for it.

Well, I can not begin to address why many patients suffering from chemical sensitivities (or Multiple Chemical Sensitivities as the World Health Organization calls it) have not been told about this condition, or better yet, tested for it. The belief by many is that the large pharmaceutical drug companies have extensively lobbied governments to ignore the research which is being done. The reason being that they own many of the large chemical manufacturers. Examples include Novartis (the pharmaceutical company) owning the company which makes the neurotoxic pesticide diazinon.

Ignoring the controversial topic of why chemical sensitivities are often ignored by many family doctors, a review of symptoms may be of interest to readers who have been sent from one doctor to the next without success. Symptoms associated with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) include chronic muscle aches, headaches, fatigue, poor memory and concentration, depression, aggravated respiratory problems, dizziness, insomnia, anxiety, a feeling of suffocation and even convulsions and seizures.

Despite the severity of these symptoms, many patients are often misdiagnosed or told they have emotional problems with little or no testing. Others are told they have been 'tested' and all is 'normal'. The reason is that many health care providers have not been informed as to the symptoms to look for or the more advanced laboratory testing required to assess if the chemical sensitivities actually exist. This despite the fact that chemical sensitivities have been defined as a recognized disability since the early 1990's (the American Disability Act defined chemical sensitivities back in 1991).

How does one come to have these chemical sensitivities ? Well, consider that the average North American comes into contact with an estimated 70,000 synthetic chemicals in daily life. These are found in home cleaning products, car exhausts, plastic cooking containers and the food we eat. Those in occupations which expose them to solvents, pesticides, herbicides, industrial chemicals, outdoor pollutants and even plastic are at an increased risk. These include hair-stylists, factory workers, painters, contractors, dry-cleaners and even many office workers in contaminated buildings.

The result of these constant exposures is a broad spectrum attack on your body's immune, hormone and biochemical detoxification systems. Many of these chemicals are able to invade the individual cells of organs and tissues and even disrupt their DNA. The result is many seemingly unrelated symptoms as varied organ systems are challenged. The patient is often assumed to be exaggerating their suffering and believed to be emotionally or psychologically disturbed. Testing, if conducted, looks at blood levels of a few metals. The problem is that standard blood testing can not detect toxins which have invaded cells. It also fails to examine the broad spectrum of toxins in which North Americans are commonly exposed.

So what do you do if you have been sick and no one knows why ? First, consider testing which is more advanced than the conventional and often dated blood tests. A 24 hour urine excretion will reveal levels of everything from Lead and Arsenic to such ignored toxins as Cesium and Cadmium leaving the body. A 'Detoxification Profile' allows a physician to administer a common toxin (such as coffee or aspirin) and see if the liver's biochemistry can 'metabolize' and excrete the toxin. If it can not, other toxins will be building up in the body and the liver's biochemistry needs to be stimulated. These and other tests are available at clinics such as Millennium Health Centre.

Next, consider treatments to bind these toxins and remove them from your body. These include everything from biochemical support agents to a treatment called 'chelation therapy'. Most conventional and many alternative therapies will probably not provide sufferes with substantial relief.

Multiple Chemical Sensitivities are a challenge to physicians trained in their diagnosis and treatment. They are more troubling to those suffering from them. If you feel your chronic illness has not been adequately resolved, consider the above information and ask your doctor about this possibility. If they are not aware of means to test, look for information yourself. Try our website at or call for more information. Good luck.