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Rocky Mountain Environmental Health Association

Medical Chemicals, Drugs and MCS

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Medical Chemicals and MCS

The health condition of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) involves chemicals at many levels. These range from the chemicals that probably caused the initial injury, to chemicals that aggravate the MCS injury on an ongoing basis, and especially chemicals one can be exposed to in a medical environment. The person with MCS also has the challenge of not knowing in advance just what chemicals used in whatever medical treatment may make them worse. There is the further complication that the neural hypersensitivity or severe intolerance that causes the MCS reaction is often poorly understood or accepted by many medical personnel.

A paper that covers many strategies for dealing with the hospital environment is the following -

  • Hospitalization, anesthesia tips for EIs; http://www.anapsid.org/cnd/drugs/anesthesia.html



  • MCS Hospitalization Protocols

    Several papers are available that describe detailed protocols for hospitals to use in providing health care for people with MCS.

    A concern with some of these presentations is that they emphasize only specific instances of chemicals that may be a problem for people with some forms of sensitivity and ignore others, which can create a perception that the other unlisted chemicals are not a problem. For example, a common concern is that the medical personnel should not use latex materials, while no mention is made of the patient avoiding being exposed to mercury compounds.

    It is useful to consider Dr. Pall's neural injury model which lists basic aggravants, such as pesticides, formaldehydes, petro-based chemicals, and mercury compounds, as beginning the MCS injury process. Every chemical that can be derived from that list is a candidate for concern. Then there appears to be a further injury process that degrades the immune system and creates many of the problems what sometimes seem like a "sensitivity to everything." Of especial concern is mercury, which can be used as an unlisted preservative in medical chemicals.

    Some medical providers are now offering "trial tests" of candidate anesthetics, etc., that may give an advance warning of something to avoid. Ask.

    (For example a RMEHA member found out that the sulfite preservative in the anesthetic Propofol® caused her a problem. Subsequent anesthesia with preservative-free Propofol worked well for her.)

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    Morphine After Surgery May be A Poor idea For EI's

    Conventional medical practice, such as after cancer surgery, often calls for automatically administering a morphine-type of drug to reduce post-operative pain. An article, "Preventing Surgery-induced Cancer Metastasis," in the December 2009 Life Extension Journal discusses this area in detail and brings out an aspect of this practice that may apply to people with our concerns.

    Research is showing that morphine weakens the immune system by degrading natural killer (NK) cell activity, which for cancer patients, can facilitate reemergence of the cancer (metastasis) after the cancer surgery. One confirmation of this was a study with a population of elderly, and frail population of cancer patients. Some patients were given morphine and others were given other materials which did not degrade NK cell activity for post-operative pain management. The study reported that the people who received morphine had a significantly higher incidence of cancer reemergence (metastasis) after the surgery. The researchers recommended "These results indicate that clinical use of morphine could potentially be harmful in patients with angiogenesis-dependent cancers."

    The significance of this finding for people with MCS is that they are already recognized as having degraded immune systems, including degraded NK cell activity. Surgery of any kind is already a traumatic event for the body so one should probably avoid any needless additional stressors, such as morphine.

    Tramadol is another pain control drug that does not have the side effect of degrading NK cell activity. It has been used with cancer surgery with good results. In fact, some research reports that Tramadol improves NK cell activity which would be a benefit an anyone whose immune system is impaired.

    Definitely discuss this area with your health care practitioner and anesthesiologist before any surgery.

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    Anesthesias for People with MCS

    There are several medical papers about anesthesias for people with MCS that say agents that release histamine are problematical. Such as taking several days or weeks to clear up from an extreme weakness, much the same as one would get from a pesticide exposure. Histamine turns out to impair the Cytochrome P450 detoxification pathway, which has been a major focus of EI doctors for the at least the last some twenty years. Also, current DNA research is suggesting that there may be a genetic impairment in this detoxification pathway common to people who develop MCS.

    A discussion of anesthesias in particular is Joan Beck's paper - "Tips for Anesthetics and Hospitalization for People with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities."

    A suggestion coming from these papers is that it may be best to avoid anesthesias that release histamine. Definitely discuss this area with your doctor and anesthesiologist. And much more science-based research is needed.

    Another area of concern is the developing research that shows that some anesthesias and sedatives explicitly degrade the natural killer (NK) cells in the immune system. (See note on morphine.) People with MCS are, from laboratory profiling, recognized as already having serious impairments in this area. Again check with your doctor and anesthesiologist.

    So it is probably best to avoid anesthesias and sedatives that degrade the NK cells in the immune system. And this is an area where, again, it appears much more science-based research is needed.

    Some people with MCS have found that minimum possible concentration or regional applications of anesthetics have been successful for them. There are reports that using acupuncture instead of anesthesia has been successful for various medical procedures.

    German doctors familiar with performing operations on MCS patients are suggesting that the inert noble gas xenon may be a good candidate for people who might react poorly to typical anesthetics. They discussed this possibility in the October 2011 issue of the British Journal of Anaesthesia, "Xenon Anaesthesia for Laparoscopic Cholectectomy in a Patient with Chemical Sensitivity."

    (A concern which should be mentioned - xenon is a very heavy element, with a mass of 173. But air, containing oxygen and nitrogen, has an effective mass of only about 26. There is a possibility that the heavy xenon may displace enough oxygen during a long operation to cause oxygen starvation in sensitive lung tissues. Discuss this aspect with your anesthesiologist.

    Doctors supporting people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), another of the multi-system illnesses, are suggesting that any "anesthesia that uses the sodium channel at the cellular level" should be avoided.

    (A RMEHA member found that there was a big flare in his prostate cancer index following a cataract surgery procedure.)

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    Fear of Calling 911

    A common conversation among people with MCS is that they say they "will not call 911" if they have a serious medical emergency. This may sound like a scare coming from some vague urban legend, but for people with MCS, there are valid reasons for such a concern. In a medical emergency, the person with MCS may already be having serious neural injury problems caused by a chemical exposure; some anesthetics, stimulants or sedatives that are considered "safe" can amount to another chemical injury on top of any other injury process that is going on which could amplify the medical effects and may make a bad problem worse.

    Many aspects of dealing with medical situations are covered in the following paper -

    If you do call 911, tell the operator that you do have MCS, severe chemical sensitivity, or severe intolerance to many medical chemicals.

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    Hospital Errors

    Hospital errors are a serious problem for our entire society and are finally beginning to get serious attention, both from the federal government and from medical associations. The Institute of Medicine compiled a report in 1999, "To Err is Human," that reported that at least 44,000 people, and perhaps as many as 98,000 people, die needlessly in hospitals every year from preventable medical mistakes. A recent study said that some 86 percent of medical mistakes were not reported. Another study of Medicare patients said that one in seven patients suffered serious and/or long-term injuries, or died, as a result of hospital mistakes. Another study in the journal Health Affairs said one in three hospital admissions ended up with some type of harm to the patient.

    Part of the problem is simply the immense complexity of modern medicine. There are now more than 13,000 medical diagnoses, some 6,000 drugs, and some 4,000 medical procedures, every one of which must be handled precisely and accurately. Another issue is that few medical centers have any kind of penalty or discipline system for controlling employees who slack or ignore safety rules.

    So for any hospital visit, be prepared to defend yourself, and practice the precautionary principle in all interactions with the hospital staff. Here are a few suggestions -

    Consumers Union has developed a Safe Patient Project that collects and publishes public information about medical harm. Consider filling out their form.

    The survey results are at -

    Do report medical errors to appropriate authorities. Options are to be considered include -

    Information of patient rights is available from Medline Plus -

    In Colorado, contact the -

    Department of Regulatory Agencies
    1560 Broadway, Suite 1560
    Denver, Colorado, 80202
    Telephone: 303/894-7690

    However - a RMEHA member filed a complaint with this office on May 3, 2012 about a hospital error where the MCS diagnosis was ignored and the hospital refused to correct the record. Some five weeks later, a reply was received from the Colorado Medical Board, claiming they had no jurisdiction. And no reference was given to whatever state office might be appropriate to handle the complaint. The complaint was sent in again, addressed to the Colorado Department of Health. Some six weeks later, a reply was recieved, again from the Colorado Medical Board, claiming they had no jurisdiction. And again, no reference was given to whatever office might be appropriate for the complaint.

    More information is available at -

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    Preparing for Surgery

    Recent research is developing suggestions to help frail, elderly cancer patients minimize some of the consequences of cancer surgery, such as cancer metastasis or re-occurrence following the surgery. These points may apply to people with MCS since people with this health condition often have many of the problems of cancer patients, such as frailty, or impaired immune systems.

    Please keep in mind that the following information is originally designed for cancer patients; some of the materials are designed to address pathways unique to cancer, but others may apply to body frailties, such as a seriously weakened immune system, and may be pertinent for people with MCS. Again, definitely discuss this area with your health care professional.

    The following is extracted from a Life Extension paper "Cancer Surgery Special Report" at -

    If your health care practioner agrees, you may want to consider begin taking the following supplements at least five days before surgery, discontinue them the day of the surgery, and then resuming use one day after surgery. However, each of these, and the combination, could pose serious problems for some people, so you should test them on yourself one by one well in advance, and do the same with the combination of ones you do well with. Continuing to take them up to one month after surgery is suggested by some experts, but again, it would be good to determine the timing, duration, and dose based on your own reactions.

    To minimize problems from blood thinning, avoid the following supplements for two weeks before surgery and do not begin taking them until two weeks after surgery -

    There are also cautions and warnings about the following materials, Curcurmin, Glutamine, Corioulus mushroom, Cimetidine, Soy Isoflavones, Chrysin, Resveratol, Garlic, Fish oil, Vitamin E, and Feverfew in the above paper. Ensure your doctor is familiar with this area.

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    Legalities about Dealing with Uninformed Health Care Professionals

    The human body is a very complex, complicated system that has developed over many millennia. It has many protective mechanisms that evolved over the years to protect it from injury from environmental toxins. The neural injury and its many consequences that are often called MCS can present symptoms that may not fit within the usual medical perspectives. This is especially important since a doctor is a person who has has affirmed under oath to "do no harm," so should be some one you can turn to for acceptance, and hopefully effective treatment. Thus a doctor who tells a patient with an illness caused a by chemical injury that "nobody lists that symptom," or "it is impossible to be that sensitive," or a psychiatrist who tells you "you should let people smoke in your home" is making judgements outside his or her professional training which can put the patient at further risk, and the issue of malpractice should be considered.

    For more information -

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    Worrisome Medical Chemicals

    There are references throughout the MCS-related medical literature that some medical materials used in various treatments do not help, or even make things worse for people with MCS, This section summarizes some that have come to our attention. This list is not to be regarded as chemicals to be avoided, but as a guide to chemicals that have been considered troublesome by doctors who treat various manifestations of the MCS neural injury cascade. The format of
    chemical name, (its function) [reference] description is used.

    Several papers caution that immunosuppressant materials should be avoided. Another common caution is that anesthetics that cause a histamine release should be avoided. It may be pertinent that histamine is considered to degrade the Cytochrome P450 detoxification pathway. Other papers consider gas anesthetics as problematical.

    Dr. Ziem references - "Environmental Control Plan for Chemically Injured Patients." This is a detailed, 29-page, printout that goes into extensive detail, with recommended manufacturers, contacts, brand names, treatments, that covers many of the challenges that chemically injured people people deal with all the time.

    Dr. Class, Dr. Cheney references -

  • CFIDS Association; http://www.cfids.org/archives/2000/2000-1-article03.asp
  • Dr. Rea references -

    Book - Chemical Sensitivity, William J. Rea, M.D., published in 1997.

    Wiki references -

    It appears that research is needed that addresses the effects of these chemicals on the neural pathways being cited in emerging MCS research, such as the NMDA receptor, the vanilloid receptor.

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    FDA Fourth Leading Cause of Death in America

    An editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association claimed that toxic side-effects from Federal Food and Drug Association (FDA)-approved drugs is the fourth to sixth leading cause of death in America.

    A discussion that documents in detail many of the FDA problems, from overregulation, lack of regulation, industry favoritism, revolving door employment between ex-FDA employees and industry, trivial actions, such as declaring fresh cherries an illegal drug, and many more, is available in the following book, published by Life Extension Foundation, that reprints editorials from its journal going back more than ten years.

    The book goes on to recommend approaches that could help you protect yourself, and perhaps keep Medicare and Medicaid from sliding into total insolvency, predicted (depending on today's political manipulations) to occur around 2024..

    Available from Life Extension Foundation -

    More information on this problem is available at the following web sites -

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    Acetaminophen Dangers

    Acetaminophen, commonly sold under the trade name Tylenol® and used in many over-the counter medications, is a common, but dangerous drug that has many troubling statistics. Such as causing some 100,000 calls a year to poison control centers, causing some 56,000 emergency room visits a year, causing some 26,000 hospitalizations a year, and is accused of causing more than 450 deaths a year from liver failure.

    Acetaminophen is regarded by some research as doubling a person's risk of developing kidney cancer, a disease that has risen some 126 percent since acetaminophen was introduced in the 1950's and kills some 12,000 people a year.

    Eye researchers routinely use acetaminophen to induce cataracts in laboratory animals.

    Looking at the details of acetaminophen's action, acetaminophen is a primary metabolite of phenacetin. Phenacetin is a pain management drug that was taken of the market several years ago because it was very toxic to the kidneys, and was suspected of causing bladder cancer. In other words, taking acetaminophen can amount to bypassing the taking of phenacetin and setting up the body for much the same kidney damage.

    Acetaminophen also impairs the glutamine detoxification sequence in the human body, which involves the Cytochrome P450 pathway and has been a major focus for MCS treatments. So acetaminophen is a drug people with MCS best avoid.

    Life Extension Journal, July 2010

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    Australian Anesthesia Practices with EI's

    Research by Australian anesthesiologists admitted that people with sensitivities had significant adverse reactions to normal anesthesias, but since no one died, and the reactions eventually went away, there was no need to use alternative anesthesias. In Australia, the sensitivities are diagnosed as Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance (IEI, so there is no indication of an "external cause" for adverse reactions to chemical exposures!

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    Revised '24-Aug-2012,10:18:38'