An Integrative Approach to Environmental Intolerances: Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Related Illnesses


With increased prevalence of chronic disease has come increased illnesses attributed to environmental exposures.

  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is the best-studied.
  • Diagnosis is highly controversial with the disorders not recognized by many medical organizations.
  • Etiology is also hotly debated.
  • No standard of care exists for diagnosis and management.
  • Unconventional, costly treatments exist with unproven efficacy.
  • Average patient with MCS has seen 8-12 clinicians and reports only 1in 4 to be helpful.


Self-diagnosis is typical.  No laboratory tests exist to definitively confirm diagnosis.  MCS has consistent characteristics:

  • Chronic.  Symptoms present for many months.
  • Reproducible.  Predictable when symptoms will occur.
  • Symptoms occur with low levels of chemicals.
  • Symptoms triggered by multiple, unrelated chemicals.
  • Symptoms disappear when exposure stops.
  • Multiple organ systems involved.

Treatment Recommendations

Research lacking.  Management based on subjective responses from patients.  Encourage the following:

  • Holistic approach
  • Avoidance of chemicals that cause problems (within reason)
  • Support group
  • Prayer and meditation
  • Other mind-body therapies (e.g., biofeedback, hypnosis, breathing exercises, journaling)
  • Exploration of emotions (e.g. cognitive-behavioral therapy)
  • Exercise
  • Energy medicine (e.g., acupuncture, healing touch, reiki, homeopathy, acupressure)
  • Rotation diet
  • Focus on assets
  • Supplements (e.g., magnesium, multivitamin containing C, E, and minerals, milk thistle seeds)
  • Only one approach at a time
  • Safe detoxification regimen.

Please see the downloads section for more detailed clinician and patient information.

Disclaimer: This information is for general education. Please work with your health care practitioner to use it in the best way possible to promote your health.