Chemical sensitivity is a chronic health condition characterized by the development of adverse symptoms upon exposure to different chemicals in low dose. The most commonly cited symptoms include headaches, mental inclarity, nausea and vomitting, though respiratory, dermatological, and gastrointestinal symptoms have been reported as well. A large variety of chemicals have been observed to trigger sensitivity symptoms, ranging from cosmetics (e.g. perfume or cologne), cleaning products (e.g. laundry detergents and fabric softeners), preservatives (e.g. phenols and formaldehyde), to pesticides and combustion byproducts. In recent years, the condition has gained much attention in the field of occupational health and safety. The Ontario legislature has passed bill 118, which recognizes chemical sensitivity an " invisible disability" that the affected person should be accomodated in workplace and public.
The cause of chemical sensitivity is still not known, and currently there are many ongoing researches in attempts to understand the biochemical pathway of the disease. From the Environmental Medicine perspective, our body's ability to process and eliminate foreign chemicals can be affected by our genetic disposition, lifestyle and the surrounding environments. When an individual's ability's to metabolize foreign chemicals and toxins is compromised, the chemicals/toxins start to accumulate and his/her total toxin load in the body will increase. It is believed that patients who suffer from chemical sensitivities has a high total toxin load in the body. As the body is pre-occupied with the task of processing the toxins in the body, it may not be able to properly handle any additional chemicals from the environment. Therefore, the primary treatment goal for patients with chemical sensitivity is to lower their total load through detoxification. Vitamins and minerals supplements are also helpful in managing chemical sensitivities, as they provide the body with proper nutritions and coenzymes to carry out the metabolic functions. At the OEHC, we have use a multi-disciplinary treatment approach, which includes medications, supplements, herbal treatments, dietary plans and Sauna therapy to help patients managing their chemical sensitivity.