More and more people are presenting in their doctor’s office with health problems triggered by environmental compounds and chemicals.
The loss of ability to tolerate chemicals is an increasing problem that medical researchers and healthcare providers have identified in more than a dozen countries.
This would include people who cannot tolerate commonly used chemicals without developing symptoms or becoming seriously ill. These chemicals may include laundry detergents, perfumes and scented products, gasoline fumes, the smell emitted by new carpet and new cars, and cigarette smoke to name just a few.
In addition to intolerance to chemical smells, these people often have intolerance to jewelry, shampoo, lotions, deodorants, multiple medications and multiple food sensitivities. Sufferers may complain of fatigue, headaches, asthma-like symptoms, memory loss, brain fog, Gulf War syndrome and frequent skin rashes or outbreaks.
American children are born with increasingly high levels of chemical and toxic burdens. A 2005 study of umbilical blood from newborns found almost 300 environmental compounds, including mercury and DDT. The potential damage from these chemicals may not be apparent until we’re older, as environmental toxins have been linked to neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
The combination of chronic exposures to chemicals, pollutants, multiple medications, coupled with a poor diet, has the potential to overwhelm the body’s immune and detoxification systems. This has potentially contributed to many of the inflammatory and chronic metabolic disorders that healthcare providers face today.
Many researchers have speculated that the skyrocketing presence of autoimmunity, autism, neurodegenerative diseases, fatigue related illnesses, and inflammatory conditions are related to this increased toxic burden.
So why do some people develop chemical intolerance while others do not?
The answer appears to be related to how your immune system and your liver detoxification systems respond to chemical exposures.
A proper immune system response to chemicals is heavily dependent on proper levels of glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant. Glutathione levels can become depleted from chronic stress, poor diets, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption.
Glutathione depletion is also a primary contributing factor to leaky gut syndrome, which is a major player in abnormal immune system responses including autoimmunity. Regulatory T-cells are immune cells that regulate and balance the immune system and prevent autoimmunity and loss of chemical tolerance. Glutathione depletion, low vitamin D status, and low omega-3 fatty acid status can all contribute to loss of regulatory T-cell function.
Laboratory testing for loss of chemical tolerance can now be done by measuring antibodies in the blood to environmental chemicals. Positive antibodies indicate an overactive immune response to environmental chemicals, which can trigger neurological autoimmunity or degeneration of the brain as a consequence of systemic inflammation.
Liver health and proper liver function play an important role in chemical tolerance. Chemicals foreign to the body including food additives, pesticides, insecticides, hormones, and drugs all make their way to the liver to be detoxified.
However, many inherited genetic traits can cause variations or defects in how well your liver is able to breakdown these chemicals. This can be one reason why the same medication given to several different people can have greatly varying responses. Liver detoxification has also been shown to lose integrity as we age.
Nutritional supplements that support your immune system, glutathione activity and liver detoxification include N-acetylcysteine (NAC), Alpha-lipoic acid(ALA), L-glutamine, selenium, coryceps, milk thistle, MSM, trimethylglycine, DL methionine, emulsified resveratrol, curcumin, probiotics and gotu kola.
Many nutritional companies design specific powder based formulas that mix in water to support liver detoxification, immune function and glutathione levels.
If you suffer from chemical intolerance and are experiencing symptoms, ask your healthcare provider about testing with a chemical reactivity screen for chemical antibodies.
Begin by supporting your liver detoxification systems and glutathione levels with the appropriate nutritional supplements. Remember to be proactive and informed when making your healthcare decisions.