Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) may be the resulting symptoms of conditioned trauma in the Amygdala, Insula and the limbic system in general following specific or general exposure to a chemical. Electrical Sensitivity may also results due to a conditioned trauma in these brain structures.
Many patients have successfully treated their MCS using the DVD Gupta Programme Home Study course. As an example you can read about someone’s experiences here:
Written by Ashok Gupta, Clinic Director
My hypothesis is that MCS is a neurological disorder caused
by conditioned trauma in the amygdala and insula, involving
similar pathways that are hypothesised in ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia.
There is likely to be a genetic pre-disposition to developing MCS which may influence mechanisms that are described within this page, or maybe peripheral to them. It should be noted here that I do believe that MCS is a real physical illness, and that the amygdala's role is to co-initiate protective physiological and chemical defence responses, in addition to emotional ones.
The amygdala is responsible for detecting threats to the body, and initiating appropriate responses to mitigate those threats. The insula modulates sensory experiences and information about the physiological state of the body. During a particularly stressful period in someone’s life, the amygdala is on high alert responding to emotional and physical threats. If the level of alert of the amygdala is particularly high, and the person is exposed to a toxin at the same time, a conditioned trauma can occur in the amygdala in association with the insula. (Please see main explanation page and medical papers for the exact neurological process). This exposure may be a one-off exposure or a repeated exposure. (If there is repeated exposure, there is a theory called “kindling” which occurs in epilepsy, which might help explain how the neurological process itself works).
This conditioning occurs because when the amygdala is on high alert, it is very prone to learning new fears and sensitivities. Even if the original toxin did not present a threat to life, the amygdala will “err on the side of caution” in it hyper-anxious state, in order to protect the body.
From then on, any exposure to the original chemical, or any chemical which holds a vague resemblance to the original trigger, will initiate an over-stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system by the amygdala and hypothalamus, as well as specific reactions to mitigate the threat of the toxin.
There will be two types of symptoms for MCS. The first will be milder forms of symptoms which are present in ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia. These include exhaustion, "brain fog" (short-term memory problems, difficulty concentrating) and muscle pain (other symptoms are listed on the main explanation page). The second type of symptom will be specific to the chemical, whereby the body initiates a specific protective response. These symptoms can include difficulty breathing, skin irritation, hyper-sensitivity to smells, etc.
Some excellent research by Professor Martin Pall has proposed that NO/ONOO cycles are responsible for various illnesses including MCS. From my research, I hypothesise that these observations fit with the Amygdala Hypothesis, but may be secondary illness cycles which certainly worsen symptoms and contribute to peripheral sensitisation, but may not be the primary cause. Certainly Professor Pall has stated that stressors are likely to increase the NO levels in the body to the point that stress can trigger the vicious cycles. He believes that these vicious cycles, once initiated, are the cause of continuing illness. I would propose that these cycles may worsen the impact on the body, but it is the vicious cycles in the brain which are the primary cause of on-going illness and chronic stimulation of the NO/ONOO cycle (via chronic stress), and that the limbic system of the brain is where the conditioning of the system occurs. Further research is required to clarify whether the NO/ONOO cycles are primary causes of the illness once triggered, or yet a further secondary cycle which reinforces the primary cycle in the brain.
The continuing over-stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system can cause secondary illnesses and issues, and is likely to suppress the effectiveness of the immune system.
The amygdala will also over-stimulate the brain, causing repetitive negative thoughts and feelings about the reactions, which themselves become hardwired into the brain. This reinforces the vicious cycles.
The thalamus will magnify incoming signals from the olfactory (smell) and gustatory (taste) senses, and in fact our sense of smell is the sense which is most likely to stimulate a response in the limbic system, according to the latest neuroscience.
This conditioning means that the whole circuit becomes hard wired, and chronic. The brain continually over-responds to any chemical or odour which reminds it of the original sensitising chemical. On top of that, the brain may generalise even further and begin to react to other very different chemicals, if it begins to get signals from other parts of the brain that this is an appropriate response.
In summary, MCS is a conditioned response of the brain to a chemical it thinks is dangerous. It is a mistake that the brain makes and creates an over-protective response. And any messages which occur in the brain which support this conclusion, reinforce the brain’s responses. MCS is a real physical disorder with real physical symptoms, and is not psychological in nature.
Some people believe that MCS is not due to the body’s reactions in and of themselves, but due to the fact that we live in a more toxic environment. Certainly I agree that we do live in a more toxic environment, with many chemicals which can do us harm in large quantities. However, if it was purely down to the chemicals themselves, then those specific same symptoms would be present in the population at epidemic levels. Why do some people develop MCS, and others who are exposed to the same chemical, do not? It is because it is the “brain’s programming”, its “software program” if you like, which gets altered during a traumatic event. After that initial sensitising event, that person’s brain will respond in a different way.
Furthermore, it is likely that the more prone someone is to a hyper-aroused amygdala (e.g. history of anxiety, panic disorder etc), the more prone they are to developing MCS because the amygdala is more sensitive to new threats.
The good news is that these reactions can be “retrained”. The brain can be rewired, and I believe that Amygdala Retraining is one of the most powerful ways of doing this. It is hypothesised to involve creating a neurone which projects from the pre-frontal cortex, to the amygdala, to control its reactions whenever the chemicals are detected.
Even though the Gupta Amygdala Retraining DVD programme was originally created for ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia, I am now recommending it for patients with MCS based on anecdotal reports of success with it. The money back guarantee still stands if using the programme for MCS. I am looking to conduct trials of my own to test its effectiveness, so if you are aware of institutions who would be interested, please ask them to email us at email@example.com
In addition to the DVD programme, there are supplemental exercises specifically for MCS, which come in addition to the programme. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with “MCS EXERCISES” in the subject line after you have bought the programme, and they will be emailed to you.
TESTIMONIALS FROM MCS USERS
“I have been on the program for a couple of months now. I AM 63 YEARS AND HAVE SUFFERED FOR OVER 3 decades with what I NOW believe started with CFS and then switched to MCS. I started the program slowly and am so impressed with the results I am having. I am scared to jinx anything by stating how well I am feeling.
I am amazed at this program and another guy and myself are trying to introduce your program to other MCS suffers in our group. I can only say Thank You for your insight and for the format that you have put it in. My goal is to one day meet you and visit your clinic. I have tried countless other treatments and this one is so very safe and the results come if a person just keeps at it. I find it so sad that people decide that something won't work even though they themselves haven't given it a chance. Once again a Thank You from the bottom of my heart!!!!”
“Dear Ashok and Staff, Just a note to let you know that I have had my first success with using your program. I know that you probably get a lot of feedback from people with Chronic Fatigue, but I have MCS. I have had severe MCS for eight years and have been too frightened to go into most public buildings or even outdoor parks for almost eight years. It's been much worse in the past four years as my illness progressed.
Well, this week I went into a grocery store and its bathroom (we chose a relatively safe one but it still was very scented), the dentist (lots of chemicals) and my dog's Veterinary clinic. I got through them all using the "soften and flow." I did the soften and flow to make sure my body and mind were relaxed before entering any of these places and kept it up as much as possible while inside and after coming out. Coming out of these places can sometimes be the worst part because that's when I realize how much scent I have on me. I just kept up the s and f and observed my body begin to react and then focussed my mind on that part of my body with the s and f. It worked really well.
Before doing your exercises I would have "freaked out" the minute I smelled anything which would have, of course, immediately sent my brain reeling (that's why I couldn't go anywhere - my brain would get so "toxic" that I couldn't think, speak or walk properly after an exposure). It's interesting that while chemicals are toxic, and I blood tests show that I do have a lot of them in my system, my reaction to the smells was what made my reactions so bad.
This week my brain was fine. I smelled the smells but kept up the s and f and just noticed how calm I could stay in their presence. No "neurotoxic" reactions.
These were first baby steps, though quite huge for me. I won't pretend that I'm cured or that I am even willing to go into more heavily scented places right now. But I have conquered one level of
fear. I've been in fight/flight not only for the eight years of my illness (since the 9/11 Trade Center Towers were attacked in New York City) but much longer. So I have a lot more work to do on my brain. Just want to thank you for giving me the tools.”
“When I got the Gupta dvds, I totally "got" it. Stop the negative thoughts and stop the amygdala from firing and then there will be no reactions. The negative thoughts were what protection "for my well-being" was!
So NOW I do the Gupta routine, really FEELING the glow of future self and gratitude and certainty. And when done, I muscle test.... asking if my amygdala has stopped firing! If it has, I can move on with my day. If it hasn't, I can redo the stop-stop-stop and pay more attention to the feeling of joy and health and happiness and sometimes even the ridiculousness of all this.
I muscle-test asking "Is my amygdala firing?" If yes, I do stop-stop-stop routine. If vacillating, I do it again. If I get a strong response of NO the amygdala is not firing, I just go on with my day.
The timing for receiving this treatment couldn't have been better. Having to exist in the circumstances I have found myself these past 2 weeks would have been really really really tough if I were still reacting. I had people in the house to inspect, to pack boxes, to load the moving van... then we were on the move for the 4 day drive, staying at less than desirable rooms along the way. I am not eating organic food while we travel. And yet!!!.... I am well! Our move went well but my big big big big BIG news is that I no longer have mcs! I am cured! I now am working on curing the cfs. Please tell everyone on facebook that I am well and that the move was good and that as soon as my computer is connected (grrr) I will be back and tell THE WORLD!!! IT FEELS SO GREAT, AND FUN, AND FREEING, AND EXCITING... to be well again."
“I am a long time environmentaly sensitive patient of Dr. Rea's. The first two weeks of using the Gupta protocol were striking for me. I immediately felt more calm in my body, and my sleep improved. I noticed that the lymph nodes in my groin were swollen most of that time but since I felt better... I had more energy, better sleep, and more mental clarity, I didn't worry about them. I realized that I was just detoxing on a level that I hadn't before. I also started having fun and exploring safe creative outlets for myself. I hadn't realized how starved I was for that, and how much it would contribute to my healing overall. The boost it has given me has been phenomenal for my inner peace, my physical healing, and improved progress overall with my exit from this illness.”
Below are some citations from various medical papers pointing
to a hypothesised role for the amygdala in MCS:Brain dysfunction in multiple chemical sensitivity - Source: Journal of the Neurological Sciences, Oct 2, 2009
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is a chronic acquired disorder of unknown pathogenesis. The aim of this study was to ascertain whether MCS patients present brain single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and psychometric scale changes after a chemical challenge.
This procedure was performed with chemical products at non-toxic concentrations in 8 patients diagnosed with MCS and in their healthy controls.
• In comparison to controls, cases presented basal brain SPECT hypoperfusion [reduced blood flow] in small cortical areas of the right parietal and both temporal and fronto-orbital lobes.
• After chemical challenge, cases showed hyperperfusion [increased blood flow] in the olfactory, right and left hippocampus, right parahippocampus, right amygdala, right thalamus, right and left Rolandic and right temporal cortex regions.
• By contrast, controls showed hyperperfusion in the cingulus, right parahippocampus, left thalamus and some cortex regions.
• The clustered deactivation pattern in cases was stronger than in controls (p=0.012)
• And the clustered activation pattern in controls was higher than in cases (p=0.012).
In comparison to controls, cases presented:
• Poorer quality of life and neurocognitive function at baseline,
• And neurocognitive worsening after chemical exposure.
Chemical exposure caused neurocognitive impairment, and SPECT brain dysfunction particularly in odor-processing areas, thereby suggesting a neurogenic origin of MCS. [Neurogenic – “starting with or having to do with the nerves of the central nervous system.”]
Source: Journal of the Neurological Sciences, Oct 2, 2009. PMID: 19801154, by Orriols R, Costa R, Cuberas G, Jacas C, Castell J, Sunyer J. Servei de Pneumologia, Hospital Universitari Vall d' Hebron, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain; CIBER Enfermedades Respiratorias (CIBERES), Spain. [E-mail: email@example.com]
Pavlovian conditioning of emotional responses to olfactory and contextual stimuli: a potential model for the development and expression of chemical intolerance.
Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2001 Mar;933:291-309.
Otto T, Giardino ND.
Program in Biopsychology and Behavioral Neuroscience, Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Chemical intolerance (CI) in humans is a poorly understood phenomenon of uncertain etiology, seemingly influenced by multiple factors both within and between affected individuals. Several authors have suggested that the development of CI in some individuals may be due, at least in part, to Pavlovian conditioning processes in which the expression of overt symptoms to certain substances reflects classically conditioned responses to previously neutral olfactory and contextual stimuli. In this paper, we describe the potential relationship between olfactory and contextual conditioning in experimental animals and the development and expression of CI in humans. Furthermore, as significant advances have been made in delineating the brain areas that underlie these learned responses, we also review recent research on the contributions of the amygdala and perirhinal cortical region to olfactory and contextual fear conditioning.
PMID: 12000029 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Does the kindling model of epilepsy contribute to our understanding of multiple chemical sensitivity?
Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2001 Mar;933:68-91.
Neurotoxicology Division, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27711, USA. email@example.com
Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is a phenomenon whereby individuals report an increased sensitivity to low levels of chemicals in the environment. Kindling is a model of synaptic plasticity whereby repeated low-level electrical stimulation to a number of brain sites leads to permanent increases in seizure susceptibility. Stimulation that is initially subthreshold for subclinical seizure provocation comes, over time, to elicit full-blown motor seizures. Kindling can also be induced by chemical stimulation, and repeated exposures to some pesticides have been shown to induce signs of behavioral seizure, facilitate subsequent electrical kindling, and induce subclinical electrographic signs of hyperexcitability in the amygdala. Many of the symptoms of MCS suggest that CNS limbic pathways involved in anxiety are altered in individuals reporting MCS. Limbic structures are among the most susceptible to kindling-induced seizures, and persistent cognitive and emotional sequelae have been associated with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) in humans and kindling in animals. Thus, a number of parallels exist between kindling and MCS phenomena, leading to initial speculations that MCS may occur via a kindling-like mechanism. However, kindling requires the activation of electrographic seizure discharge and has thus been primarily examined as a model for TLE. Events leading to the initial evocation of a subclinical electrographic seizure have been much less well studied. It is perhaps these events that may serve as a more appropriate model for the enhanced chemical responsiveness characteristic of MCS. Alternatively, kindling may be useful as a tool to selectively increase sensitivity in subcomponents of the neural fear circuit to address questions relating the role of anxiety in the development and expression of MCS.
PMID: 12000037 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]