Category Archives: MCS

Not So Dry Dry Cleaning

There’s a new cleaner in San Antonio. You can’t really call them a “dry cleaner” because their process isn’t dry. But, they do the job normally done by dry cleaners. But without using the typical perchloroethylene dry cleaning solvents.

I went in there recently with my husband and the smell was marvelous – mostly because there really wasn’t much of a smell to the place. No solvents. No perfumes used to cover the solvent smell. AND, their prices are comparable to dry cleaners, so you don’t have to pay extra to be healthier!

If you live in the San Antonio area, you might want to check them out here: Clothesline Cleaners. Tell them where you heard it because I want one of their t-shirts! Or check in your area because they seem to be popping up all over.

From My Inbox

I receive emails via my other web site, Fragrance Free World, as well as from visitors to this site. I thought I would post some comments from a recently received email:

If exposed for more than 15-20 minutes can be under the weather, unable to sleep and depressed for 3-4 days thereafter

Air frsheners or fabric conditioners cause chest to tighten and breathing difficult

Sometimes feel that am tasting soap in my mouth and throat for hours afterwards

Have made my home free of chemicals and am well as long as I can avoid contact with V.O.C’s

Have followed development of REACH in the European parliament an am disappointed to see that 7 – 10 years will pass before chemical manufacturers need o show awareness and stringen safety controls so would just like to hear that someone out there is creating a greater awareness…..

I had not heard of REACH before so I thought I would do a bit of research.

Firstly, REACH is an acronym for : Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals. This is a law that went into effect in Europe on June 1, 2007. The overall goal appears to be to protect human health and the environment from toxic chemicals. Prior to this law, chemicals that were in use prior to 1981 were sort of ‘grandfathered’ – i.e. they were not subject to the same regulations as newer chemicals. You can read more about REACH on this web site. While it is true that industry has up to 11 (eleven!) years to comply, it is encouraging to know that more is being done about this issue.

New Symptom?

Well, not precisely new. It’s just that I only recently realized this problem was related to my fragrance sensitivity. Here’s what happened:

Last weekend, I had a lot of problems. First, during the day, my legs were very restless. I couldn’t sit still, couldn’t really do much of anything. I’ve had this problem before, except usually it was because I was very tired. As soon as I would lay down, it would go away. But this time it wasn’t happening. Finally, I decided that if my legs wanted to move, I would take them for a walk. And it helped, for a while.

Sunday evening, we went out to eat. Nothing fancy, except once again everybody, everywhere is wearing their perfume in order to dress up for the holidays. (UGH!) By the time I got home, it was all in my clothes. So I changed into a t-shirt that had come from my father’s house. Then I decided I would sleep in that shirt.

But, I couldn’t sleep. I was exhausted, but couldn’t sleep. I was restless and tossed and turned. I finally went into the guest bedroom so as not to disturb by DH. That bed wasn’t made up, so I fished a blanket out of chest of drawers that came from my father’s house. After a while, I realized that I was smelling lots of perfume. It was in the shirt and the blanket. So I changed out of the t-shirt and ditched the blanket. Poof – problem solved. I was asleep in minutes.

As I think about this incident, I realize that there have been other times that I couldn’t sleep. Even without the migraine itself, the fragrances have been interfering with my health.

Some days it is very hard to cope with these issues. Becoming a hermit sounds attractive. Or maybe Thoreau was right. But I could never get through his book. And I tried many, many times.

Modern Chemicals

Recently, I was chatting with MamaGrizzly regarding chemicals in our modern world. She’s been reading my blog for some time and is becoming more aware of the fragrances and chemicals that are everywhere in our world. I always like to hear this since the primary goal of this blog is to make more people aware of the problem.

She said:

The hardest part of all of this is that absolutely everything contains chemicals – everything. The only way to escape them all is to live in the wilderness and live off the land.

That is so true. And, sadly, there are people with MCS who are seeking that place in the wilderness. Out of necessity. See the article No Safe Haven for stories of some MCS sufferers. It’s sad that there are so many chemicals in our world that create these problems.

She also said:

But there is certainly a balance and certainly more we can do to protect ourselves.

That is also true. And I’m somewhat encouraged to see more and more products that are fragrance free. Myself, I’m increasingly aware of what’s in all the products and foods I buy. Knowing what I know today, I wish I could have started this years ago.

One more quote:

But, I’ve really become aware (through you) how much everything seems to be scented – and most things unnecessarily. But isn’t it interesting that products with no fragrances or fewer toxic chemicals cost more?

It is puzzling that we have to pay more. For me, I have no choice. Since I’ve made my home totally fragrance free, I may pay more for the various products I use, but my medical expenses are down. I guess, there’s always a price to pay.

Benefits of Magnesium

We were all taught growing up that, if we ate a balanced, healthy diet then we would not really need vitamins and other nutritional supplements. The reality of it is that this is not true at all. In fact, in the US it hasn’t been true at least as far back as 1936. The reasons – chiefly soil depletion caused by not rotating crops and dead soil caused by weed killers. The problem is made worse because most of us don’t eat a balanced, healthy diet. Processed foods are lacking in magnesium, fluoride added to water binds with magnesium making it unavailable, inefficient digestion and absorption which results from America’s addiction to antacids, plus blocked absorption caused by some foods and drugs all help to deplete magnesium. From Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., in her book The Magnesium Miracle.

the typical American diet, which is rich in fat, sugar, salt, synthetic vitamin D, phosphates, protein, and supplemented calcium, not only is deficient in magnesium but actually increases the need for magnesium in the body.

Magnesium is involved in hundreds of activities in the human body, especially in these areas: enzyme catalysis, energy production and transport, protein synthesis, nerve signal transmission and muscle relaxation. Hence, magnesium deficiency has a huge impact on how your body functions. In her book, Dr. Dean has a long list of conditions that are likely to result in magnesium deficiency. Magnesium deficiency has been implicated as contributing to symptoms for MCS, Fibromyalgia, CFS, Migraines, to name a few. I’ve also read that it functions as an anti-oxidant and can be important in detoxification.

I first learned about the importance of Magnesium from this book: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause. I began having severe PMS symptoms. I would just break down in tears for absolutely no reason. Sometimes it was as simple as trying to decide what to eat for lunch. It was very frustrating, for myself and those close to me. I happened upon this book and read about the role that magnesium played in PMS. So, I gave it a try. After all, if I went to a doctor, they were likely to prescribe Prozac or some such. And I was pretty sure my problems were not a result of a Prozac deficiency. 😉

That was about 10 years ago, and I’ve taken Magnesium daily ever since. My experience has also made my husband a believer in the magic of magnesium. I can’t say just how much the magnesium has helped with my migraines and chemical sensitivity. But, I do know that I am healthier and feel better because of the magnesium supplements.

If you have symptoms of MCS, you may want to investigate supplemental magnesium. We’re all deficient without supplements and it can’t hurt you if you take recommended dosages.

If I Could Live My Life Over

I love shower time because my mind is allowed to wander aimlessly. Occasionally, it comes up with good ideas.

I don’t usually like to even think about living my life over type questions. I think they’re pointless, and can often lead to negative thoughts. BUT, sometimes, it can be a good learning tool for yourself or others, so here goes:

If I had my life to live over, I think I would have avoided ALL fragrances. I was 16 when I had my first migraine. I was able to trace it to a single perfume and deduced that I was allergic to it. (Which wasn’t technically correct, the response is not an allergic reaction.) Other perfumes didn’t bother me. At first. Then, over time, more and more fragrances began to bother me. I eliminated all perfumes and colognes from my life. I found unscented hair products, deodorants, laundry products, etc.

I kept adding to the list. I used to make a huge batch of spaghetti sauce a few times a year. I’d start it early in the morning and let it simmer all day. The aromas filled the entire house. Then I’d freeze it in dinner-for-two size portions. It makes a pretty quick meal. But in late ’03, I wound up with a bad migraine from smelling the sauce all day. And trust me, everything in that sauce was natural.

It’s one thing to have to (try to) avoid fragrances. It’s another when you have to avoid natural smells such as cooking smells.

A common migraine theory is that the triggers for a migraine are additive. So that if I get enough in my system, I wind up with a migraine. My personal theory as to why I began having migraines all the time a few years back is that the is an accumulation within the body. Thus my system reacts more readily to things that never used to bother me. So, IF I could live my life over again, here is what I would do different:

  • I would avoid all perfumes and fragrances in the products I used.
  • I would try, as much as possible, to avoid places that purposely put fragrances in the air. (Especially those I could avoid – malls, Disneyworld (yup, they do!), certain stores.) This one would be hard since in today’s world you encounter them in grocery stores.
  • I would avoid all artificial sweeteners. I used to drink a lot of diet sodas. But now they all bother me. No matter what allegedly natural sweetener they use.
  • I would avoid all nitrates and nitrates – the preservatives that allow your ham, bacon and lunch meat to seemingly last forever. I had a friend years ago who would preach against these. At the time, I thought he was a bit “over the top” about it. Turns out, he was right – there’s nothing good about them.
  • I would never touch anything with MSG in it.
  • I would definitely not have started smoking.

Would all this help? Can’t say for sure. But perhaps it is worth a try. I have a good friend who has bad reactions (worse than mine) to one or two perfumes. I think she believes I’m a bit “over the top” with all my preaching against perfumes. Except that she hasn’t really put together the fact that, in the 7 years I’ve known her, I’ve watched her add more than one fragranced product to her list. Hmmm….

Are fragrances a health issue for you and your family?

Most people are likely to say, “No.”

The prevalence of fragranced products makes it hard to isolate them as a cause. I first determined I had a problem with fragrances in 1970. There were not near as many fragrance products in our envinonment back then!

Before you answer “No”, answer these questions:

Do you or a family member have:

  • Frequent headaches or migraines?
  • Frequent “sinus” headaches?
  • Asthma?
  • Unexplained “allergies”?
  • Frequent colds or respiratory infections?
  • COPD or other breathing disorders?
  • Emphysema?
  • Fibromyalgia?
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)?
  • Autoimmune Disorders (MS,Lupus, and others)?
  • ADHD?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, then you may want to look at fragranced products as a culprit. At the very least, fragrances can often make any of the above conditions worse. Many of these health issues are on the rise in our country. The chemicals in the modern fragrance play a bigger role in these than most of us think.

An Amazing Human Spirit

The first time I read this article “Visiting Kathy – A Severe MCS Sufferer“, I literally cried. But that was only one of many reactions I had. I wanted to print the story and send it to every one I know – friends and family. By the grace of God, I’m not there, yet. But I fear I may be someday. It can be very frustrating trying to explain to people why you don’t want to visit their house, or get in their car, or ride in a car with them.

I would also like to talk with Kathy. To find out how she finds the strength to keep going. My guess is that Kathy doesn’t go out much. There’s so much you encountered when you go out in public. Vehicle exhaust, cigarette smoke, perfumes and other personal products. And then the “air fresheners” as they are so (mis-)named.

I’ve had to severely limit the places that I go, but I still get out. My reactions seem to get worse, in spite of the doctor’s best efforts. I’m afraid that one day I will become a prisoner in my own home.

And yet, we still keep going.

21st Century Canaries

The love of my life just asked if I had been reading “The Piranha Club” in the comics this week. Seems the whole series has been on perfumes. Hard to believe I didn’t know about it til Thursday. We only have Wed. & Thurs. papers in the house.

So in today’s comic (3/15/07) we have Ernie and his girl Doris Husselmeyer standing by Ernie’s canary cage. Doris has on enough “Eau De Toillette” that there’s a cloud around her. Reminiscent of Pigpen from Peanuts. Ernie has a gas mask on and Doris is trying to pop the question. When suddenly, there’s a BANG from the canary’s cage and Ernie says “My canary’s head just exploded”.

Interesting that there’s a canary in the comic. I read something recently that suggested that those of us with MCS are like the canaries in the mine. When we stop singing, everyone’s in trouble. Thankfully, so far, I’m still singing. Though I have changed my tune of late.

I wonder if the cartoonist, Bud Grace has a problem like MCS? Did you know that he was an atomic physicist as well? I tried to find the comics online and was led to here: The Piranha Club
But they only have the first week of the previous month online. Unless you want to subscribe…