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Stress Management Archives - Texas Integrative Medicine
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Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and EMF Hypersensitivity

Hypersensitivity to Environmental Chemicals and EMF’s leads to Chronic Fatigue and Brain Fog

At Texas Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas, we often see folks who describe hypersensitivity to multiple environmental chemicals and electromagnetic radiation or EMF’s.  Most patients describe their Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or EMF Hypersensitivity as being progressive.  Initially they only notice symptoms on exposure to especially noxious fumes or sources of irritation such as high-voltage power lines.  Gradually, the sensitivity spreads to include chemicals and EMF’s that are normally easily tolerated.  These individuals also often note the inability to tolerate many foods and vitamin supplements.  This, too, seems to start off gradually and build until many foods, medicines and vitamins are not tolerated.  Symptoms reported by folks who experience these sensitivities include pain in the muscles and joints, brain fog, headache, fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, muscle weakness, inability to focus or concentrate, hives or other skin rashes, numbness and tingling, extreme light and sound sensitivity, bloating, swelling, itching or burning of the throat or skin.

Avoidance of the sources of insult are the initial best approach, but as the situation progresses, it becomes harder and harder to avoid all the many sources that trigger symptoms.  We have developed treatment approaches that can help people with hypersensitivity to lose their various sensitivities.

Symptoms of Environmental Illness may be Triggered by Emotional Stress

In our clinical work with patients, we often hear that the symptoms associated with hypersensitivity may be rapidly and severely worsened by emotional stress.  It is not at all uncommon to have patients tell us about dramatically increased fatigue, brain fog or pain after a personal loss or life crisis.

Mast Cell Activation Plays a Key Role in Environmental Hypersensitivity

Some of the features of chemical sensitivity and EMF sensitivity and hypersensitivity are the result of activation of mast cells.  Mast cells are immune cells that are filled with granules containing toxic substances known as inflammatory mediators like histamine and leukotrienes.  When the mast cells become perturbed or “activated”, they release the toxins contained in their granules into the tissues and circulation.  This is called mast cell activation.  We are seeing more and more cases of Mast Cell Activation Disorder also call Mast Cell Activation Syndrome that occurs often on exposure to many environmental irritants like chemicals and EMF’s.

Your brain’s limbic system, which is the part of the brain that assesses “threat” or “stress”, can send signals to the immune system and the mast cells signaling them to become activated and to release their toxic granules such as histamine.  Have you ever noticed when you become agitated that your neck and upper chest become flushed or have a hive-like eruption or that you get “butterflies” in your stomach?  These are examples of the limbic system’s fight or flight sympathetic nervous system response.  Over time, the limbic system can begin to react with this fight or flight response from many environmental stimuli like chemicals and EMF’s.  In fact, your limbic system can become stuck in fight of flight causing the response to last indefinitely.

Mitochondrial Cell Danger Response Explains many of the Features of Environmental Illness

A new theory of pathogenesis has emerged called the Mitochondrial Cell Danger Response which unifies the diverse clinical features of Autism.  A recent drug trial demonstrated statistically significant benefits from a drug, Suramin, that acts to diminish this mitochondrial response.  The cell danger hypothesis states that the root cause of autism is a universal cellular response to stress that shifts normal cell function to a new state.  This universal response to stress traces to mitochondria.  The hopeful message behind the Cell Danger Response hypothesis is that the root cause of the communication difficulties, social anxiety, sensory abnormalities, GI problems, seizures, allergies, and many other comorbidities in autism, is a treatable metabolic syndrome.

Journal Elsevier Mitochondrion-Review- Antipurinergic therapy for autism—An in-depth review; Robert K. Naviaux; University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, 214 Dickinson St., Bldg CTF, Rm C102, MC #8467, San Diego, CA 92103, United States.

The herbs Quercitin and Lutein are known to calm or stabilize mast cells.  Drugs like antihistamines and leukotriene inhibitors can block some of the toxic substances released from the mast cells, lessening the symptoms.  Cromolyn is a medicine that can coat and stabilize the mast cells limiting their activation and release of toxins.

Multiple chemical sensitivity and EMF hypersensitivity may be increasing in the population along with other disease states associated with chronic inflammation.  Inflammation is a byproduct of the immune system.

What is causing this increase in the number of inflammation-associated diseases like autism, asthma, autoimmunity, type 2 diabetes, degenerative brain diseases and allergy?  Is it related to the progressive degradation of the environment?  It is interesting to consider that as these diseases have proliferated, the amounts of toxic manmade chemicals, toxic heavy metals and potentially harmful EMF’s have been rising at an alarming rate in the environment.  Environmental toxins are being measured in ever higher amounts in the air, food and water.

Avoidance of Environmental Toxin Pollution and Detoxification lessen the Symptoms of Environmental Illness and Hypersensitivity

In our experience, patients afflicted with multiple chemical sensitivity or MCS and EMF hypersensitivity along with other inflammation-associated chronic illnesses such as autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue, chronic pain syndromes of various types, chronic brain fog, chronic mood disorder and chronic insomnia respond to avoidance of the various triggers of inflammation in the environment.  The activity of these diseases appears to be directly associated with the degree of immune system activation caused by the various environmental irritants to the immune system such as toxic chemicals, toxic metals, pathogenic viruses, bacteria and parasites, and toxic EMF’s.  As we treat these folks, we always stress elimination of further exposure to environmental toxins to the greatest extent possible.  Helping folks maximize their own systems of toxin elimination, detoxification (detox) helps them recover from these chronic conditions.  In today’s world it is impossible to completely avoid these many exposures, but it is important to try.  It is our belief that less contamination of the air, food and water would result in prevention of these inflammation-caused environmental illnesses.

 

Is Stress Making You Sick?

Tina’s Story

Tina recently came to see me as a new patient in my clinic.  Tina had always been a worrier and she had battled feeling anxious and having trouble sleeping through the night for years.  These had been manageable problems for her.  Then something happened that changed things for Tina in a big way.  Tina’s young adult son was convicted of a serious crime and he was facing imprisonment at exactly the same time that her husband was laid off from his job of twenty five years.

Almost overnight, Tina began to experience a dramatic increase in anxiety, a sense of hopelessness and marked increase in her insomnia.  She suddenly would experience a sense of panic.  She began to notice a host of new gastrointestinal complaints including diarrhea, heartburn, loss of appetite and bloating after eating certain foods.  She started noticing trouble remembering names and finding words.  She could not stay focused and was always forgetting why she had come in to a room looking for something.  She noticed that her muscles and joints ached almost all the time and she began to experience frequent headaches.  She had an overwhelming sense of fatigue and felt like she could not get out of bed on some days.  It seemed like she would cry over anything.  Tina told me that she wanted her life back.

Prescription medicines are often not the answer to chronic, complex illness

I see folks like Tina in my practice of chronic, complex illness due to environmental toxins almost every day.  Often patients like Tina are told that there is nothing wrong with them other than they are under too much stress.  This is not the case.  Usually the basic blood tests and xrays don’t show much, if any, abnormality.  Indeed life stress is often the straw that breaks the camel’s back when a person, like Tina, is struggling with disease due to progressive, on-going exposure to environmental toxins such as viruses, germs, molds, toxic chemicals like pesticides, toxic metals like mercury, and toxic electromagnetic energy from wifi’s and other electronic devices.

Reversing Chronic Fatigue Requires Addressing Three Areas

I have learned that to help someone like Tina return to her former state of wellness, I must help her address three things.  First, we must try to identify ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS that she is suffering from in order to stop exposure and eliminate them from her body.  Second, we must identify why she manifests an increased sensitivity to the toxins.  This is called her BIOTERRAIN.  An individual’s bioterrain is what makes that individual act like a canary in the coal mine. The third thing that has to happen to return an individual like Tina to a state of wellness involves correcting an impairment of the body’s stress center known as the LIMBIC SYSTEM.

Correcting the limbic system is the subject of this blog post.

The Limbic System is the Motherboard of Our Brain’s Computer

The limbic system is that part of the brain that controls our sympathetic nervous system (FIGHT, FLIGHT, FEAR, FREEZE) and our parasympathetic nervous system (REST, DIGEST, REGENERATE, REPAIR).  It is made up in part by the hippocampus, hypothalamus and the paired amygdalas.  The limbic system is interconnected with the smell brain or rhinencephalon and is wired to almost all of the other systems of the body including the immune system, endocrine/hormone system/digestive system, energy system and higher brain systems emotions and problem solving.  It is like the motherboard of our brain’s computer.  The limbic system is especially susceptible to injury or impairment by environmental toxins and infections.  In Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome or CIRS as described by Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, injury to the limbic system accounts for much of the pathology that he describes in his protocol.  Limbic system injury also explains much of the pathology described by Dr. Richard Horowitz in Multiple Systemic Infectious Disease Syndrome or MSIDS.

In centuries past when the world was not a toxic place as it is today, the limbic system would respond to THREAT with fight, flight, fear and freeze such as a fire, an attack by a wild animal-something obvious.  The sense of panic caused a response that helped the individual survive that threat.  The limbic system would then return fairly quickly to a state of rest, digest, repair, regenerate.  Unfortunately, the situation today is that the limbic system gets stuck in a setting of perpetual threat (fight, flight, fear, freeze).  This is also called SYMPATHETIC OVERDRIVE.  When this happens the limbic system generates false signals that cause real and measurable changes of the various systems under its control.  The immune system is off, the hormones are off, digestion is off, mitochondrial energy production is off, and your higher brain functions are off.  In short the whole body is in a state of disease.

Although I have known for years that stressful life events would trigger real disease, I used to think, naively, that elimination of the stress would allow the limbic system to return to a state of normalcy.  I now understand that except in rare circumstances, this is not the case.  I now understand that although it is important to 1. identify and remove the environmental toxins and 2. reverse the person’s increased sensitivity to toxins, it usually requires resetting or reprogramming the limbic system to completely clear the symptoms.  This process is fairly easy to learn but requires much repitition to accomplish.

Limbic System Retraining is not Difficult but Requires Repitition

There are a number of ways to accomplish this.  Some call it STRESS MANAGEMENT.   The term I like to use is LIMBIC SYSTEM RETRAINING.

Some of the most successful programs that I have found to accomplish limbic system retraining are Lindsay Mitchell’s Vital-Side program ( https://vital-side.com ),  Annie Hopper’s Dynamic Neural Retraining ( https://retrainingthebrain.com ) and Ashtok Gupta’s Amygdala Retraining ( https://www.guptaprogramme.com ).  These are not the only systems or ways to reset an impaired limbic system but simply methods that have worked for my patients frequently in the past.  Other systems that may be beneficial are HeartMath, Emotional Freedom Technique/tapping, NeuroBio Feedback and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing/ EMDR.  There are a number of other techniques that may also help.

To learn more about how you can recover from chronic, complex illness, I welcome the opportunity to work with you and my team of healers at Texas Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas.

Aboutdr_tyler Wally Taylor MD

Dr. Taylor practices integrative medicine at Texas Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas.  After obtaining a degree in Zoology from the University of Texas in Austin and obtaining a general medical doctorate degree from University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas he completed a general medical internship and residency training in head and neck surgery ENT and allergy.  After 20 years service in the US Army Medical Corps and practice in Colorado and Texas he founded Texas Integrative where he now offers a functional/holistic approach to disease which treats the entire individual instead of each separate symptom.  He has taken this integrative approach to chronic illness for the past 25 years.  His special interests are chronic, complex illness due to environmental toxin exposures such as mold, germs and chemicals.  He has found more satisfying results using this Systems BioIndividualized approach.  He is board certified by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.  His motto is Health and Wellness from Head to Toe”.   www.texasintegrative.com     office phone-512-800-5309.