Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and the Chemicals Living Among Us

Ways to Reduce Your Everyday Toxic Load

Emilie Lantelme, Certified Herbalist

Do you find yourself feeling sensitive to all the different scents floating around? Are you curious about how to heal your body and decrease your “total chemical load”? The body can tolerate only so many exposures and stresses before they start to exact a heavy toll. Concerns for the exponential increase of environmental intolerances (both allergy-related and non-allergy related sensitivities) is rising in the general public as well as within the medical community. One group of ubiquitous toxins is the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): organic carbon-containing chemicals that are floating around in the air we breathe; sources include ozone (smog), diesel exhaust, cooking gas, solvents, paints, glues, perfumes, air-fresheners, cleaning supplies, new mattresses and carpets, and many other household products. 

Everyone, to an extent, is affected by these common air pollutants, but those who are affected by Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) experience a heightened ability to detect chemicals in the environment, especially through a sense of smell and taste. This is usually accompanied by a host of physical reactions, such as cognitive impairment, nausea, anxiety, extreme fatigue, neurological symptoms, autoimmune disorders, skin irritations, digestive disturbances, and respiratory distress. Food and water additives and contaminants, electromagnetic hypersensitivity (from phones, computers, television), and air contaminants such as mold have also been shown to be highly irritating for those with MCS. MCS is a fairly new and developing phenomenon, deemed by the World Health Organization as a group of “idiopathic environmental intolerances” and “medically unexplained symptoms.” However, there are many organizations, such as the Chemical Sensitivity Foundation, that are helping to raise public awareness about the issue and give recognition to it as a serious problem affecting millions worldwide.

My class will serve as an introduction to the condition and the diseases certain air contaminants may cause. We will also discuss what is being done legally to help those who suffer from MCS, co-infections that may exacerbate the condition, the therapies that may be beneficial to alleviating symptoms and bringing balance to the autonomic nervous system, and some simple actions we can take to decrease our “toxic load footprint.”  There will also be pertinent information describing what is happening physiologically to our body when we inhale certain fumes or artificial fragrances, what herbs and nutrition can do to support us (think detoxification), how eating your food allergen/s may actually lower your tolerance level for chemicals, and additionally, some creative ways to make your own natural and organic body-care and cleaning products.


  • Healing Severe Chemical and EMF Sensitivity by Gary Patera
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity; A Survival Guide by Pamela Reed Gibson, PH.D.
  • US Environmental Protection Agency; Volatile Organic Compounds’ Impact on Indoor Air Quality
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine; Environmental Health Concerns and Toxic Chemicals where you live, work, and play
  • International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health; The Search for Reliable Biomarkers of Disease in Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Other Environmental Intolerances,