Environment Sensitivity

I include the following under environment sensitivity

  • multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS)
  • electromagnetic sensitivity (EMF)
  • noise sensitivity (Misopboniahyperacusis, diplacousis, and polyacousis.)
  • light sensitivity (Photophobia) which can trigger sleep reversal
    • ” the most common conditions associated with photophobia are migraine, blepharospasm, and traumatic brain injury.” [2016]
    • “Their most common ocular condition was dry eyes,”[2012]
      • “Certainly there have been no major randomized controlled trials of treatment of photophobia. Most of the literature consists of case-reports and a few studies with small numbers of subjects.”

With CFS (and by themselves), if you have one of these, you are much more likely to have another of them. In other words, they may all be different manifestation of the same root issues with variations of symptoms due to DNA, epigenetic (DNA being activated by environmental factors), and microbiome.

  • “About one fourth of the general population report environmental intolerance (EI) to odorous/pungent chemicals, certain buildings, electromagnetic fields (EMFs), and/or sounds.” [2016]
    • “All four EI groups, compared to the referents, reported significantly poorer sleep quality, more non-restorative sleep, more daytime sleepiness, more obstructive breathing and higher prevalence of nocturnal insomnia than the referents.”
  • “In population-based surveys, the prevalence of EHS has ranged from 1.5% in Sweden to 13.3% in Taiwan. Provocation studies on EMF have yielded different results, ranging from where people with EHS cannot discriminate between an active RF signal and placebo, to objectively observed changes following exposure in reactions of the pupil, changes in heart rhythm, damage to erythrocytes, and disturbed glucose metabolism in the brain.” [2015]
  • “As inflammation appears to be a key process resulting from electromagnetic field (EMF) and/ or chemical effects on tissues, and histamine release is potentially a major mediator of inflammation, we systematically measured histamine in the blood of patients. Near 40% had a increase in histaminemia (especially when both conditions were present), indicating a chronic inflammatory response can be detected in these patients.” [2015]
    • “Nitrotyrosin, a marker of both peroxynitrite (ONOO°-) production and opening of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), was increased in 28% the cases.”
    • “Protein S100B, another marker of BBB opening was increased in 15%.”
    • “Circulating autoantibodies against O-myelin were detected in 23%, indicating EHS and MCS may be associated with autoimmune response.”
    • “increased Hsp27 and/or Hsp70 in 33% of the patients.”

“For the first time, auditory-related perceptual disorders were studied in MCS. A strong association between Weinstein’s Noise Sensitivity Questionnaire (WNS) , Khalfa’s Hyperacusis Questionnaire (HQ). results and MCS symptoms severity has been highlighted. These findings suggest that decreased sound tolerance and noise sensitivity could be considered as possible new aspects of this syndrome, contributing to its peculiar phenotype.” [2016]

  • “The brain responses at the recognition threshold (fecal odor) and normal perceived levels (sweet and fecal odors) were stronger in patients with MCS than in controls.” [2016]
  • ” chemical sensitivity clearly does exist (pulse rate differences between positive responses and placebo)” [1991]
  • “heightened sensitivity to noise (hyperacusis) and touch (hyperaesthesia)… the serology showed an apparent infective pre-cursor to the illness with evidence of possible autoimmune serology.” [2012]
  • “These patients were taken off all medication and not fed until the leg pain and swelling disappeared, which was four to seven days… The five-year follow-up in the group showed two 48-hour episodes of phlebitis cleared by home bed rest and food abstenance. In contrast, the control group had more than 60 episodes of phlebitis at home and 41 episodes in the hospital.” – 101 vs 2….[1981]
    • Ten randomly selected patients with recurrent non-traumatic thrombophlebitis of unknown etiology were studied using a comprehensive environmental control method. All cleared their phlebitis without medications. Using withdrawal and challenge of incitants, eight of 10 patients had their phlebitis reproduced. The numerous single triggering agents were common-place inhaled and ingested foods and chemicals. [1976] ” Multiple incitants were found in each patient.” [1977]
    • Thrombophlebitisvein inflammation
  • “Twelve highly selected patients with non-arteriosclerotic cardiac arrhythmias and/or chest pain refractory to medication and having symptoms related to smooth muscle sensitization were studied in a rigidly controlled, relatively fume- and particle-free environment. The majority of signs and symptoms cleared in 10 patients without medication while under environmental control, and in 10 of the 12 patients all arrhythmias were reproduced with controlled, repeated individual-blind and double-blind incitant challenges.” [1978]

Treatment of any of these sensitivity have generally been unsuccessful for most patients. The following is a review of recent pubmed articles in this area (and a few classic ones)

  • Trigeminal neurons detect cellphone radiation: Thermal or nonthermal is not the question[2016]. see  trigeminal nerve. The nerve changes  were not the result of heat from the cell phone.
  • ” Based on our current understanding, a treatment approach that minimizes the adverse effects of peroxynitrite – as has been increasingly used in the treatment of multisystem illnesses – works best.” [2015]
  • “The biopsies taken from skin lesions of patients with EHS indicated on infiltration of the skin layers of the epidermis with mastocytes and their degranulation, as well as on release anaphylactic reaction mediators such as histamine, chymase and tryptase. The number of people suffering from EHS in the world is growing describing themselves as severely dysfunctional, showing multi organ non-specific symptoms upon exposure to low doses of electromagnetic radiation, often associated with hypersensitivity to many chemical agents (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity-MCS) and/or other environmental intolerances (Sensitivity Related Illness-SRI).” [2015]
  • History of chemical sensitivity and diagnosis[2016]:
    • “. In our experience, 80% of the EMF-sensitive patients had chemicalsensitivity when studied under less-polluted conditions for particulates, controlled natural gas, pesticides, and chemicals like formaldehyde.”
  • Characterization of air freshener emission: the potential health effects. [2015]
    • “The use of these products may be associated with an increase in the measured level of terpene, such as xylene and other volatile air freshener components,”
    • “The constituents of air fresheners can react with ozone to produce secondary pollutants such as formaldehyde…..including benzene, phthalate, and limonene,”
    • “this work shows that use of some consumer cleaning agents can yield high levels of volatile organic compounds, including glycol ethers–which are regulated toxic air contaminants–and terpenes that can react with ozone to form a variety of secondary pollutants including formaldehyde and ultrafine particles.” [2006]
  • Triggers for MCS can include [2015]:
    • formaldehyde, (less than 0.2 ppm [1981])
    • pesticide, (less than 0.0134 ppm [1981])
    • cigarette smoke,
    • ethanol,
    • petroleum alcohol (less than 0.5 ppm [1981])
    • phenol, (less than 0.0024 ppm [1981])
    • chlorine, (less than 0.33 ppm [1981])
    •  perfume
    • volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including:
      • formaldehyde,
      • orris root,
      • newsprint,
      • terpenes,
      • terpenoids.
    • ” Terpenes and terpenoids are a diverse class of organic compounds produced by a variety of plants, particularly conifers…Often patients cannot clear their symptoms from exposure to chemicals unless terpenes and terpenoids are avoided and neutralized along with chemical avoidance and treatment.”
      • Comment: There may be an interaction with allergies to conifers here..
        7% of the allergic population are allergic to conifers [1970] a.k.a. Christmas Tree Allergy.
      • “Terpenes are biogenic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are also contained in many consumer products.” [2013]
    • “Results suggest that traffic emission sources of OCpri and quasi-ultrafine particles lead to increased systemic inflammation and platelet activation and decreased antioxidant enzyme activity in elderly people with CAD.” [2008]

Bottom Line

Environmental illness seems to be a consequence of modern life. From the electronics waves passing thru us each day, the chemical additives in foods and ongoing level of stress and uncertainty. Genetics and epigenetics play a role — some people are resistant (think of George Burns — who smoked cigars until he was 100 with no cancer) and others are very susceptible.

What to do?

  • Reduce EMF exposure — that can be hard and expensive to do.
    • My family have made some progress here. Moving to a 10 hectares (25 acres lot) in a rural area — we have no over-the-air TV signals, no neighbor WiFi signals. All of our computer are hard-wired to the internet. When I am in the city, I often seen 30-60 wifi sources appear on my phone. Mobile phones are placed in Aircraft mode if we are at home (phone calls will go to our PCs instead because we are using Google FI service)
  • Eliminate chemical additives – this means preparing food from scratch. Scents and fragrences are much harder to address.
    • We remove residue chemicals  from our clothes, with a outdoor shed (with ozonators) that we put our street clothes into as soon as we get home

The above mitigates a worsening of symptoms — reversal is another challenge. The chemical  FeTMPyP appears effective against peroxynitrite but there are no human studies for environmental illness. In a future post, I will dive into possible ways of dealing with peroxynitrite.