Longtime readers will know about MCS, as I’ve talked about it here multiple times. But if you’re new, here’s a quick recap: MCS, or Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, is honestly a nightmare of an ailment. Basically, you become “allergic to life” as my friend Katherine Treat described it. She had to build a chemical-free home to live in apart from her family, she had to get rid of almost everything she owned, and going literally anywhere was a huge to do because chemicals are everywhere.
So wait, I’m sure you’re wondering, MCS means you’re allergic to every chemical? That doesn’t make sense. You’re correct, dear reader. MCS is not an allergy. MCS is poisoning.
See we know that too much of almost anything can be poisonous, to put it extremely simply. There’s even such a thing as water poisoning– although it’s pretty rare outside of water drinking competitions. Alcohol poisoning is much more common, but even then doctors can’t say “x amount of alcohol causes alcohol poisoning” because it’s different for each individual. The person’s weight, height, metabolism, age, and gender will all affect how much alcohol they can tolerate and how much would be toxic. Same for water, or caffeine, or street drugs, or, yes, chemicals.
Now, looking at alcohol poisoning, let’s say we could figure out an exact dosage for a specific person. Say for a 125 lb, 5’3″ woman with good metabolism who is 32 years old – let’s say we know that x amount of drinks consumed in a certain frame of time would be toxic. Well, even then, we haven’t considered the effects of other consumables – how much water she’s drinking, what she’s eaten, and any medications she takes. Each one of these affects the effects of alcohol.
Well that’s nice and confusing. But we all basically know that we’re all unique special snowflakes with 10 unique finger prints who all respond to alcohol in different ways.
So now, think about your daily routine. You probably wear clothes, and you probably wash those clothes with some kind of soap. You probably wear deodorant. Maybe you wear makeup, lotion, perfume, or hair products on a daily basis. Most of you probably eat processed foods. Even if you buy all organic and never let a soda touch your lips, unless you have some kind of off the grid homestead, some kind of preservative is in your life. Most of you take some kind of medication sometimes. Maybe tylenol or benadryl, or even just vitamins. In addition to the “active ingredients,” there’s dyes that color the pills and coatings and gels and powders and you know, a lot goes in to making a pill, they don’t grow on trees. And if they did, you’d probably have to use some kind of insecticide or repellent on them.
But let’s say that you are a real all-natural type, and you make your own clothes and wash them in a glacial spring and only eat things you grow yourself after personally picking bugs off the crop. Here’s the real problem: the entire world. Pollution isn’t just in black smoke belching out of tail pipes and smokestacks, chemicals cloud around each and every human that wears perfume, cologne, or anything scented. Anyone who uses scented laundry products pumps those chemicals out into their neighborhood. Everyone’s gone outside and smelled Gain or Tide Pods on the air and knows someone on the block is drying a load of clothes. If you were allergic to anything in that scent, you would be affected every time anyone on your street did their laundry.
And what is in those scents, anyway? Well, they don’t want you to know, then you could make their trademark scents yourself! Maybe! So to guard their industry secrets, they don’t need to disclose the chemicals in their products. Well that’s great for Estee Lauder, but if you’re having a reaction to a chemical, it’s bad news for you.
BUT WAIT you said MCS isn’t an allergy!
Well, it’s not. But it can start as one. Basically, the reason we all haven’t dropped dead from all the evil chemicals Jenny McCarthy keeps making a stink about is that our bodies are, generally speaking, equipped to handle these chemicals. Remember, even water and oxygen can be toxic depending on how much is consumed and how quickly it’s consumed. And you know…everything else you consume.
Well, remember how I said companies don’t need to disclose many of the chemicals they use so they can protect industry secrets? That means it is literally impossible to keep track of how much of anything you’re exposed to. MCS is basically a chemical overdose, aka posioning. Your body does what it was made to: it defends itself. And it gets a little too zealous about it. Your immune system goes crazy trying to protect you, similar to the way it does when you’re allergic to something. But it’s an alarm that was triggered by a poisoning, and in defense, your body will react poorly to a whole host of things, causing it to seem like you’re “allergic to life.”
For Katheryn Treat, it was an over-exposure to mold that triggered her body to become so over-sensitive. The problem is that we don’t know how to reverse this extreme sensitivity, so once it’s triggered, the only thing you can do is avoid triggers. So that’s MCS. Your body is “sensitive” to chemicals – a broad descriptor to be sure – and it is sensitive to the point that you have to adopt a completely new and often lonely lifestyle or you’ll die.
So now you’re probably thinking “HECKIN HECK MY IMMUNE SYSTEM MIGHT JUST START TRYING TO KILL ME BECAUSE CHEMICALS?? WHY IS EVERYTHING POISONOUS?? I CAN’T CUT CHEMICALS OUT OF MY LIFE WITHOUT LIVING ALONE ON A MOUNTAIN WHAT DO I DOOOO????”
Don’t worry, friendo. It’s a scary thought, but so is the notion that you could die in your sleep, so you’ve just got to power through this. I do not advocate living in fear! But now that you know about this, there’s a couple of things you should do.
#1: STOP using scented laundry products. Your home will pump those chemicals out to the rest of your neighborhood, and even though you are a young, invincible demi-God, you probably share a neighborhood with some elderly people, some defenseless babies, and some sickly shut-ins. Even if they don’t have Severe Official MCS™ you’d probably feel bad if they walked outside and started sneezing or getting a headache because it’s laundry day. If your clothes simply MUST smell like a goddess sneezed on them, essential oils are a great option. I use the stuff from the grocery story because I’m not crazy about supporting multi-level marketing schemes, and I’m not ingesting it. I dab whatever scent I feel like that day onto wool dryer balls, which are an awesome one-time purchase that can replace dryer sheets completely and save you tons of money.
((Side note: If you’re looking for some really great low-chemical MCS-friendly laundry & home care stuff, check out my EnviroKlenz link at the footer of my website~ all purchases from that link help keep my blog up and running! Hooray!))
#2: STOP wearing perfume. Again, if you need to smell like something, essential oils are a great alternative, although you should do some research because some oils and brands can be intense and irritate your skin. Try to use natural deodorants without chemical fragrances. I use Arm & Hammer, and it actually works well as a deodorant without the daily application of harsh chemicals. Now, I know what you’re thinking: I am a veritable Adonis, I can handle fragrance. But the problem with wearing scents is that you go out in public and sometimes people have to stand in your vicinity. And those people might be elderly, sickly, or a defenseless baby that can’t articulate that your perfume is giving him a headache so he just screams and you judge the poor mom of all people. So! Think twice before using perfume, especially if you’re going to an office or school, where people have to be in your vicinity for long chunks of time.
It might not be poisoning you (yet) ((DUN DUN DUN)) but it could be poisoning the people around you.
But seriously, I don’t want to keep you up at night over this. These are just two easy ways you can vote with your dollars (and even save a few) to make things a little less poisony for your fellow man. And who knows? Maybe your boss doesn’t know what’s giving him headaches, but if they suddenly go away because less people are wearing perfumes and filling the neighborhood with laundry scents, he might feel so happy and relieved that he gives everyone a raise and an extra week of vacation.
The moral of the story is: you put good things out there, good things come back to you. And same with bad things.
So namaste and all that jazz.