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Treatments for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

September 2, 2006

Environmental Health Perspectives A US study on the relative effectiveness of treatments for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) using both conventional and alternative therapies was published in the September 2003 edition of Environmental Health Perspectives.

The study looked at the experience of over 900 people who had tried such things as environmental medical techniques, holistic therapies, nutritional supplements, detoxification regimes, body therapies, Chinese medicine, prescription drugs, psychotherapy and others.

The study found that a chemical-free living space, chemical avoidance, prayer and meditation were the most effective treatments for people with MCS, although low impact modalities such as acupressure, touch for health, using an air filter, eating a rotation diet, relocating to a less polluted area, and oxygen therapy to cope with exposures where also rated highly. None of the therapies studied produced a cure for MCS, although some were beneficial in the longer term in providing symptom relief and supporting overall physical health. A personally tailored treatment regimen together with environmental controls was commonly reported as being necessary. The average study participant had consulted over 12 health care practitioners in their medical odyssey and spent over a third of their annual income on health care costs.

Significantly, the use of psychiatric medications, such as Prozac and Valium, often prescribed to treat depression and anxiety associated with MCS, was reported to be more likely to cause harm than to assist. Over 80% of participants reported that psychotherapy to cure MCS made no difference at all (65.3%) or helped only slightly (15.5%), with 6.6% claiming it to be very harmful, and only 4.7% finding it very helpful. Interestingly, psychotherapy to help cope with MCS offered much more positive results.

Despite the finding that a chemical free living space and chemical avoidance rated highly as successful treatments, finding safe housing was a major problem for many people with MCS with 10% being homeless at any one time and another 10% living in substandard conditions such as campervans, caravans, and shacks. An astounding 66% reported living in unusual conditions such as cars, porches, tents or recreational vehicles at some stage during their illness. The general experience of people with MCS would suggest that the need for these unusual conditions would occur during times of acute sensitivity when access to health care would be most important. These shameful housing and health care support statistics are probably reflected in Australia although we have no data in this country to verify that situation.

A full copy of the MCS treatments study is available here:

PDF Perceived Treatment Efficacy for Conventional and Alternative Therapies Reported by Persons with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (PDF, 153KB)


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