I will write what I believe to be a better definition in the
"The latest research strongly suggests that chemical
sensitivity is most probably some combination of central
nervous system damage and enzyme deficiencies that can also
cause problems with the endocrine and immune systems." --
First I discuss the CNS damage, then the enzyme disorders. I
believe that in most cases, enzyme disorders cause MCS and
that the frequent brain damage is a result of such.
1. Central evoked responses:
Donald Dudley, M.D., studied twenty patients with MCS (under
Cullen's definition) and discusses his research in the book
Defining Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (1998). Auditory and
visual P300 were influenced "significantly" when the
olfactory system was stimulated with chemicals that had six
or fewer carbon fragments.
Left and right P300 auditory were greatly decreased upon
chemical exposure. Though the visual P300 was not decreased
to the same degree (but decreased none the less), there was
a significant change in waveform quality that caused two
patients to have occipital seizures. The olfactory system
sends signals to every part of the brain and uses excitatory
amino acids in neuro-transmission.
In other words, the brain waves of MCS sufferers go haywire
immediately upon being exposed to chemicals they are
sensitive to. This is hardly the work of "psychological"
disorders (see Defining Multiple Chemical Sensitivity by
Bonnye E. Matthews, pg. 24, summary of "MCS: Trial by Science").
2. SPECT Brain Scans:
A tool used by Nuclear Medicine Specialists is the SPECT
brain scan. SPECT stands for Single Photon Emission
Rather than show brain structure like or MRI scans, SPECT
scans show functioning of the brain. "Perfusion impairment"
means there is a decrease in the flow of blood to the brain.
Contrary to what the interagency report states, SPECT scans
are very accurate and valid research tools. In 1996 the
Society of Nuclear Medicine Brain Imaging Council stated,
"S.P.E.C.T. and P.E.T. can clearly be used to delineate
functional abnormalities of the brain regardless of the
cause" (Ethical clinical practice of functional brain
imaging, Society of Nuclear Medicine Brain Imaging Council,
J Nucl Med 1996, 37, 1256-9).
A response to this is often "[SPECT scans] show nothing but
the consequences of MCS, not the causes."
But, what if scientists were to scan the MCS patients, then
expose them to perfume, and scan them again. Well, that has
already been done, hundreds of times! And the results are
With this in mind, allow me to discuss research by Dr.
Gunnar Heuser, M.D., Ph.D., FACP discussed Bonnye Matthews'
book. Dr. Heuser has done before and after S.P.E.C.T. brain
scans in many MCS patients. The patients were scanned after
chemical avoidance, and were then scanned again after being
exposed to perfume. His research findings are as follows:
MCS patients have a decreased flow of blood to the brain,
which becomes further decreased upon exposure to perfumes
(see Defining Multiple Chemical Sensitivity pgs. 27-30 and a
response to the Interagency report by Ann McCampbell, M.D.)
Although this does not show the CAUSE of MCS, it does show
that there is an actual reaction to chemicals on a physical
3. PET Brain Scans:
PET scans were used to discover the roll of a specific gene
in Alzheimer's Disease. PET scans are very accurate at
showing brain function and metabolism. PET stands for
Function abnormalities on PET scans show up as holes in the
brain that one medical scientist refers to as ?function holes?.
3A. Dr. Gerald H. Ross (M.D., C.C.F.P., D.I.B.E.M.,
D.A.B.E.M., F.A.A.E.M., F.R.S.M., Past President of the
American Academy of Environmental Medicine), in a
documentary, discusses before and after PET brain scans: MCS
patients were scanned in a clean environment and then
scanned after being exposed to a substance that by history
they report being sensitive to, "in an amount that's an
everyday experience (...it's not as if they're sniffing
glue)." MCS patients have abnormal brain cell functioning.
After the patients were exposed to a substance they were
sensitive to, there was a "profound" deterioration in brain
cell function. The area in which this function deterioration
is present correlates with the brain-related symptoms
reported by the MCS sufferers (see MCS documentary Multiple
Chemical Sensitivity: How Chemical Exposures May Be
Affecting Your Health, directed by Allison Johnson).
3B. Dr. Gunnar Heuser, M.D., Ph.D., FAC.P has also performed
before and after PET scans. According to his studies, PET
scans reveal that the brain stem, hypothalamic, and limbic
areas of the brain are harmed by chemical exposures. In
regards to radioactive glucose uptake, these areas of brain
become hypermetabolic upon chemical exposure to a degree
that resembles "focal seizure activity".
Dr. Heuser writes, "Since the limbic system contributes
emotional reactions and interpretations to sensory input,
and since patients with amygdaloid (the amygdala is part of
the limbic system) seizures can develop panic and related
attacks during an amygdaloid seizure, our data appear to
explain the emotional instability during a reaction to
The previously mentioned structures also serve memory and
cognitive as well as neuroendocrine and autonomic nervous
system functions, all of which can be deranged in a patient
The limbic area of the brain is where the nervous,
endocrine, and immune systems interact. Thus, a person with
MCS may or may not have an abnormal immune system (though
many MCS patients do; however, this is the RESULT of MCS,
not the cause).
See "The Role of the Brain and Mast Cells in MCS" by Gunnar
Heuser, M.D., Ph.D., FACP:
http://www.tldp.com/issue/210/roleoftheb.htm; and ?PET
Scanning - Alzheimer's Disease? at
4. Mechanism[s] of MCS:
4A. ?In 1963, research conducted by Eloise Kailin, MD,
strongly suggested that MCS was a metabolic (enzyme
deficiency) disorder. Dr. Kailin's findings were rejected by
both clinical ecologists and MCS adversaries because both
sides maintained that to exist at all, MCS had to be immune
system mediated. Follow-up research on metabolic problems in
MCS sufferers was not conducted for 31 years." -- Cynthia Wilson
Human biochemistry is affected by toxic chemicals at any
level of exposure. A healthy body uses P450 enzymes for
metabolizing chemicals, drugs, steroid hormones, fatty
acids, and for synthesizing prostaglandins. However, this
defense mechanism is inadequate in the elderly, people with
bad nutritional levels, and anyone who is physiologically
For these susceptible people, exposure to certain chemicals
leads to enzyme abnormalities, called Porphyrinopathy, which
is an "umbrella" term that refers to any porphyrin
metabolism disorder/ abnormality.
If the body is unable to properly use P450 enzymes then it
becomes very sensitive to porphyrinogenic chemicals. There
are 3,750 everyday chemicals and substances that are known
to be porphyrinogenic, including fragrances (95% of perfumes
are derived from petroleum and many contain benzene). People
with acquired Porphyrinopathy are very sensitive to
fragrances, paints, solvents, etc.
Sounds a lot like "MCS", does it not? Even more interesting
is the fact that 90% of Dr. Meggs' MCS patients tested
positive for acquired-Porphyrinopathy and 70% of the Mayo
Clinic?s MCS patients tested positive.
These findings alone are very significant. However, live
blood cell analyst Hart Brent says that "The problem with
testing is that between symptomatic attacks (exposures)
levels of heme precursors excretion are lower and can even
normalize with time."
In Brent's view, "The mystery illnesses of the 20th century,
such as Gulf War Syndrome and MCS (multiple chemical
sensitivity), have their basis in a biochemical glitch-lost
ability to construct a porphyrin ring, an 8-enzyme process."
Brent then explains that "Porphyrins are a group of
nitrogen-containing organic compounds forming the foundation
structure for respiratory pigments in animals (hemoglobin)
and plants (chlorophyll) and enzymes."
During a Porphyria attack "the body is unable to assemble
prophyrin rings or heme, so the individual develops
deficiencies of hemoglobin, cytochromes and enzymes? that
require a porphyrin ring. As should be evident, this is a
very complex, whole body syndrome. A porphyria attack is
usually transient (unless genetic in origin) and can involve
multiple, unrelated organs and/or systems anywhere in the
body" says Brent, who later writes, "Symptoms are caused not
by high or toxic levels of chemicals but by the metabolic
effects triggered by the exposure even to low levels of
chemicals. The body thinks it needs more porphyrin rings in
order to construct cytochrome P450 enzymes to breakdown the
incoming chemicals, pushing porphyrin synthesis into
overdrive and raising levels of ALA, from the first
committed enzyme step."
During an attack, aminolevulinic acid (ALA), the first
precursor in the porphyrin enzyme chain, is taken up to the
brain where it interacts with inhaled chemicals, triggering
of neurotransmitter disruption, excitatory amino acid
release, delay of P300 wave, and neurogenic inflammation
[Meggs did a study on neurogenic inflammation in MCS:
Hypothesis for induction and propagation of chemical
sensitivity based on biopsy studies. Environ Health Perspect
105(Suppl 2):473-478 (1997)]. All can lead to cell
damage/death and learning disorders. (If this occurs on a
daily basis, then it will obviously cause major damage.)
This is probably why perfusion impairment is seen in SPECT
scans of MCS patients: ALA-chemical interacting causes
damage to the cells, which are thus unable to call upon more
blood. This also explains why detox often improves brain
function, because if there are no chemicals for the ALA to
interact with, then there will be no triggering of further
or continuous brain damage.
"No one's brain can learn under these three compounded
stressors; lost is the ability to concentrate, retain or
sort information", writes Brent.
This disease also effects the Oxygen Transport System which
depends on hemoglobin (from heme, which is formed of
porphyrin rings and iron) to transport oxygen from the lungs
to other organs.
4B. There is another form of disease that can cause
hypersensitivity to chemicals: Mastocytosis and related Mast
Mastocytosis is a disease in which the sufferer has too many
mast cells in his or her body. Mast cells are "connective
tissue" cells that release powerful chemicals, such as
histamine, into the blood and tissues. This causes an
immediate irritation that leads to swelling, itching,
cell-fluid leaking, and can often also cause closed airways
(characterized by tightening of the lungs and throat),
muscle spasms, and loss of voice. The disease also often
leads to cramping in the intestines, ulcer-like symptoms,
low blood pressure, and poor nutrient absorption from foods.
This explains why many MCS patients have a blood pressure
higher than average (from porphyrinopathy), whilst some have
blood pressure LOWER than average (Mastocytosis).
Chemicals, including fragrances, can trigger mast cell
"attacks" in Mastocytosis.
See "Enzymatic Influences Causation of Brain Cell Damage" by
Dr Brian E. Goble Ph.D., physiological toxicologist:
"Testing for Toxic Metal- and Chemical-Induced
Porphyrinuria" by Carl P. Verdon, Ph.D., Terry A. Pollock,
M.S., and J. Alexander Bralley, Ph.D., C.C.N.; "Porphyria -
How Modern Chemicals Trigger the Vampire Disease" by Hart
Brent: http://www.healthcalls.net/hh_porphyria.html; and
"The Role of the Brain and Mast Cells in MCS" by Gunnar
Heuser, M.D., Ph.D., FACP:
For a discussion of other mechanisms go to
Summary of Scientific Data:
Whether a result of MCS[S] or an association with it, there
is consistent damage in MCS patients in an area of the brain
responsible for memory, mood, concentration, and so forth.
Dr. Mark Donohoe, MB BS writes, ?The degree of disability
suffered by those suffering is very high, and there is
currently no clear evidence as to whether the damage to the
nervous system is permanent or temporary. My personal
impression, based on my clinical experience with over 500
sufferers in the past nine years, is that recovery is rare,
and that the condition is associated with permanent
neurotoxicity, or brain damage, in adults.?
MCS[S] appears to generally be a syndrome induced by
poisoning, which can effect every organ and / or system in
the body, depending on the type of poisoning and level of
exposure. The poisoning usually causes the victim to develop
abnormalities with porphyrin metabolism that lead to extreme
sensitivity to certain substances. Dr. Gunnar Heuser
believes that chemical poisoning/ injury can also induce
Mast Cell disorders, which in turn can also lead to extreme
Bonnye wrote, "It is an utter waste of taxpayer funds,
employee or volunteer time, and resources to keep complexing
(i.e., MCS diagnosis out of MCS symptoms). It?s time to drop
the MCS or EI or 20th century disease or whatever else one
chooses to use and get back to basics. We are dealing with
poisoning plain and simple. When we do, there is nothing
left to talk about--everything falls into place."
We have millions upon millions of dollars being used up on
studies of cancer, AIDS, etc., and then BILLIONS of dollars
being absolutely wasted by the Government on pointless NASA
studies, INSTEAD of contributing to MCS research. This is
making the U.S. lose its title as "the greatest nation on
earth" in my view. Canada has long been supporting MCS.
But, How Could There Be So Much Doubt in the Medical Community?
NOT AS MUCH DOUBT AS IS COMMONLY THOUGHT:
A 1999 MCS Consensus agreed with the 1994 MCS consensus by
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Consumer
Product Safety Commission, American Lung Association, and
American Medical Association, which stated that "[MCS]
complaints should not be dismissed as psychogenic, and a
thorough workup is essential".
MCS is accepted as a physical disease by "4 Canadian Federal
Agencies"; "6 Canadian Provincial Agencies"; "8 Federal
Court Decisions"; "13 Local Government Agencies,
Commissions, Councils & Departments"; "14 State Workers'
Comp. Board Decisions"; "20 State Court Decisions"; "22
Federal Government Agencies, Commissions, Institutes &
Departments"; and "23 State Government Agencies,
Commissions, Legislatures & Departments" (Donnay).
To my knowledge, the AAEM, EPA, Department of Housing and
Urban Development, Social Security Administration and the
Americans with Disability Act [of July 26, 1990] accept MCS
as a physical disease. Most of the top scientific
researchers on this issue accept the condition as having a
Dr. Gerald H. Ross [M.D., C.C.F.P., D.I.B.E.M., D.A.B.E.M.,
F.A.A.E.M., F.R.S.M. Past President of the American Academy
of Environmental Medicine, May 2000] describes the growing
body of evidence for MCS's physical causation in his May
2000 essay "Response to Errors Prevalent in the
Understanding of Environmental Illness" at
Ross was invited to a meeting on MCS by the American
Chemical Society. There he presented his research on MCS
patients and brain damage. He noted that about 75% of all
the speakers there presented data that supported a physical
origin of MCS, while the other 25% presented, for the most
part, opinions that MCS is psychological.
From 1952 to 1997 there were 425 published articles on MCS
(Excluding articles in the Journal of Clinical Ecology),
most in peer-reviewed medical journals. Of these, 59 discuss
both perspectives, 25 are research protocols, 104 support
the psychogenic view, and 231 of the papers present data
supporting a physical origin of MCS. More than 50% of these
articles were published from 1992-1997, while almost all of
the psychogenic papers were written before 1993. Almost ALL
of the articles published since 1997 present data supporting
MCS?s physical causation.
"It amazes me that in spite of all these publications on
MCS, that some people continue to loudly proclaim that is a
non-existent illness" writes Ross, who later writes that
people who say there is a "lack of evidence" in regards to
MCS's physical causation "are completely at odds with the
weight of evidence and opinion in the published medical and
THE CAUSE[S] OF THE DOUBT:
Ashford and Miller argue that "those who continue to promote
untested and untestable psychogenic theories for MCS are
part of the problem. Their lobbying of policymakers and
others in this regard has contributed to widespread
governmental inertia on this issue, making it near
impossible to obtain funding for essential studies
specifically directed toward MCS. Many of those who advocate
psychological explanations in government-sponsored meetings
and in scientific literature are paid corporate
spokespersons or consultants with financial conflicts of
interest..." ("Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High
Stakes", 1998, second addition) They blame mainly Gots for
the widespread doubt among Doctors.
"some of these most vocal critics of MCS are paid
consultants or even apologists for the chemical industry.?
They seem uninterested in the true scientific facts, and in
the weight of opinion in the medical research community
about the reality and likely physical basis for
environmental illness or chemical sensitivity", writes Ross.
Bonnye E. Matthews, in her book Defining Multiple Chemical
Sensitivity, discusses the issue in the chapter "Examination
of Seven Papers". There are seven major studies that are
used to show MCS is a psychological condition. In these
seven studies, there were a total of 334 patients studied.
However, no more than thirty-three of these patients
actually had MCS. In five of the studies, none of the
patients had MCS. Of the remaining two, in one study,
eighteen out of forty-one had MCS, and in the other study no
more than fifteen out of fifty-three had MCS. Thus, it is
fair to state that the studies have nothing to do with the
real MCS, since the disease was not studied.
Since no consistent laboratory abnormalities were found,
these studies have been used to say that there are no
consistent laboratory abnormalities found in MCS patients,
despite the fact that these seven studies did not involve
MCS patients. In addition, even if the studies were about
MCS patients, they'd be flawed, since all of them assume
that the presence of psychological symptoms shows
psychological origins, which is a flawed research approach.
Due to these seven studies, policies were made denying
accommodations to people with MCS, anti-MCS essays were
written, and millions of MCS sufferers have been left in the
dark to suffer with their disease without the medical
support they deserve!
I am trying to keep this letter as brief as possible, but if
you would like me to list the seven studies and go into
detail on them, please do not hesitate to ask me.
In addition, even IF the studies were about MCS patients
they?d be flawed since all of them assume the presence of
psychological SYMPTOMS equals psychological ORIGIN, which is
a flawed research approach.
There are no studies that give water-weight evidence that
MCS is psychological, yet the chemical industry has done a
great job in convincing the U.S. public otherwise. For more
on that, read Ann McCampbell?s detailed essay, "MULTIPLE
CHEMICAL SENSITIVITIES UNDER SIEGE" at
In addition there are many poorly researched essays by
generally UN-biased authors online and in medical journals
contributing to the confusion. For example, in an essay
titled "Babies, Breasts, and MCS", Todd Seavey writes, " ...
an earlier psychological experiment found that people
claiming to have MCS will react in substantially the same
way (coughing, sweating, etc.) whether sprayed with man-made
chemicals or with what they merely believe to be chemicals."
However, Albert Donnay already responded to that
misconception, saying, "The masking odors used by these
researchers... included oil of almond and oil of lemon. Oil
of almond contains benzaldehyde, which has neurotoxic
properties similar to formaldehyde, and oil of lemon is an
irritant. Their use to cover up the smells of both the
problem and fake chemicals completely invalidates the results."
Albert Donnay also commented on MCS "skeptic" Dr. Gots,
saying, "Dr. Gots is a pharmacologist with no formal
training or certification in toxicology...Dr. Gots has not
treated or seen patients of his own for twenty years and has
never been the treating physician for a chemically sensitive
patient. He practiced medicine for only a few years before
becoming a fulltime consultant and expert witness for the
chemical industry and other corporations, for whom he has
often testified against MCS patients. For more information
about Dr. Gots and the four industry-supported organizations
that he directs, contact MCS Referral and Resources."
Seavey also wrote, "People claiming to suffer from "multiple
chemical sensitivity" - believed by many to be severe
hypochondriacs with a general aversion to the modern world -
have been found to have a much higher than average tendency
toward anxiety, according to a study in the October issue of
the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, as
reported by Reuters Health"
There is a high rate of depression and anxiety in patients
with cancer, MS and other known physical diseases. The
frequent presence of these psychological symptoms in MCS
patients is absolutely meaningless. As I already illustrated
in this letter, the psychological symptoms in MCS patients
is usually due to three factors: (1) Stress from having
their lives ruined by the physical symptoms, (2) failure of
many Doctors to acknowledge and properly treat the disease,
and (3) actual damage to an area of the brain responsible mood.
In conclusion, the confusion surrounding MCS is due to
political factors, not scientific ones. The idea that MCS is
psychological is now an embarrassment to the medical community.
Hope this was some help,
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