Chemical sensitivity is one of the conditions that Dr Tawnya Ward, ND has a focus on treating in her practice.

Chemical Sensitivity Treatment Options

Many naturopathic practices are filled with patients with chronic diseases, in which allergies and sensitivities play a role. Often there are patients who have been suffering for years without relief, or even a diagnosis that explains their suffering. In some cases, the conventional assessment has been chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, if there is persistent fatigue and/or muscle pain.

Less commonly there are naturopathic patients who's allergies are not strictly limited to the common environmental and seasonal allergies that often plague Vancouver and Richmond patients. Some individuals have what seem like reactions to multiple chemicals. These patients may react to things like detergents, perfumes, dyes, VOC (volatile organic compounds), foods, inhalants, even electromagnetic fields. The diagnosis of chemical sensitivity may apply when the patient is sensitive to low doses of these compounds with which non-chemically sensitive patients would have no problem.

With chemical sensitivity, it is important to ascertain both the underlying triggers (so that temporary avoidance) and potential underlying attributing factors of chemical sensitivity.

 1.    Blood tests for antibodies against potential triggers

 •    specific IgG and/or IgE antibodies directed against foods and/or IgE against inhalants may be useful in some cases

 2.    Heavy metals

 •    heavy metals are part of the “total load” of toxins in the body

•    testing may consist of blood levels of heavy metals (conventional blood test), provoked chelation urine toxic metals test, and occasionally hair or urine porphyrin testing

3. Chronic infections

 •    low grade infections, including sensitivities to candida, chronic lyme, coinfections, other chronic infections

Naturopathic chemical sensitivity treatment

Environmental controls (to reduce chemical, mold & allergen exposure) may be recommended.  There is often a goal of optimizing patient terrain and gut function, in addition to traditional naturopathic therapies.  Identification of the allergen and chemicals is important, again for temporary avoidance or reduction in exposure.

Sauna detoxification

Sauna detoxification may help reduce the total body burden of various toxins. There is some excretion of the chemicals through sweat, but most research indicates that the liver is still responsible for the processing of the majority of toxins liberated from storage in the body. Sauna drives heat and blood flow to the fat tissue, where organic, fat-soluble toxins may be stored. As these toxins are mobilized to the blood, the liver processes these toxins for excretion in the urine and in the stool.

In my experience, chemical sensitivity patients using saunas may have to be more cautious that the general population. It may be best for the liver function to be optimized first. Saunas may be recommended in conjunction with intravenous vitamin C and occasionally sodium bicarbonate alkalinisation, which in my experience may help reduce symptoms.

Intravenous vitamin C

Vitamin C in small amounts acts as an antioxidant. Taken as an oral supplement, it can be useful in reducing some of the reactivity while detoxification is taking place. When used intravenously in higher concentrations, usually between 15 – 50 grams, it achieves blood levels that can saturate tissues at far higher concentrations than oral dosing.

Oxidation therapy

Oxidation therapy is related to both intravenous vitamin C, and oxygen therapy, in that it shares some of the similar mechanisms. However, the oxidation therapies of ozone, ultraviolet blood irradiation, and intravenous hydrogen peroxide have additional specific effects on the immune system. This may be important in chemical sensitivity treatment as an imbalance or over-reactivity of the immune system may be a mechanism partially attributing to the patient's symptoms.

Oxidation therapy may be recommended for chemical sensitivity treatment if the patient has an accompanying history of asthma, hayfever, eczema, and other allergic diseases.

Metal detoxification

In select cases, if heavy metals are found to be part of the total body burden of toxins, then chelation therapy may be recommended help to remove them. In chemical sensitivity patients however, in my experience, it needs to be part of a comprehensive program as opposed to a stand-alone therapy. DMPS is a specific chelator for mercury, and is used in conjunction with DMSA. EDTA is used for a variety of heavy metals, including lead, cadmium, and arsenic.