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How to prevent chemical sensitivities, or TILT

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Have you noticed signs banning the wearing of perfumes or heavy fragrance in some places? Or perhaps you yourself experience unpleasant or even debilitating symptoms when exposed to perfumes, scented products, gasoline fumes, car exhaust, or other chemical odors. A growing number of people suffer migraines, rashes, fatigue, mood changes, autoimmune flare ups, or more when exposed to chemical-based scents or fumes. Even formerly pleasurable products, such as scented dryer sheets, can tip some people into a tailspin.

Multiple chemical ¬†sensitivities ¬†is now called TILT

Although these synthetic scents and fumes are unhealthy for both people and the environment, those who react negatively to them are experiencing TILT, or ¬†toxicant-induced loss of tolerance, a condition in which the body loses the ability to tolerate these environmental compounds. Once referred to as ¬†multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS), TILT can affect anyone, including children.

For those with TILT, even minimal exposures can be a nightmare.

Almost any chemical or artificial compound can trigger reactions. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Artificial chemicals and preservatives in food
  • Manufactured scents such as gas fumes/exhaust, scented body products, industrial and residential cleaners, ¬†laundry products, new carpeting, the new car smell, pesticides and fertilizers
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Heavy metal exposure, including even the wearing of jewelry.

TILT chemical sensitivity reactions can be debilitating

The list of possible reactions is a varied as the triggers and includes asthma, migraines, depression, fibromyalgia, fatigue, ¬†Gulf War syndrome, brain fog, memory loss, incontinence, neurological dysfunction, rashes, and such emotional issues as depression, anxiety, and lethargy.

When reactions are severe, those afflicted are often forced into a complete ¬†overhaul of their lifestyle, which in some cases can destroy relationships and careers as they must relocate to a less toxic location and often go on disability.

TILT chemical sensitivity reactions depends on your body’s antioxidant system

Why are some people affected by TILT and others not, and what can be done to prevent TILT?

According to more recent studies, TILT is not necessarily related to the amount of chemicals in your body as once thought, but rather how well your body can buffer itself from those chemicals and eliminate them.

Research shows ¬†a primary cause for the development of TILT is the depletion or poor absorption of a particular antioxidant: glutathione, also known as the "mother of all antioxidants." Everyday levels of an environmental compound do not necessarily trigger symptoms if the body's glutathione levels are at healthy levels.

Other factors associated with loss of chemical tolerance include:

  • Poor diet
  • Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid deficiency
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Constant and/or sudden influx of high amounts of stress

Keeping glutathione levels sufficient is easier than you think, and you can start at your next meal. Foods that improve levels are those rich in sulfur, such as broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress, garlic, onions, and scallions.

Safeguard glutathione levels to prevent TILT

Two other important safeguards are vigorous exercise (although not too vigorous as the stress of overtraining will deplete glutathione) and ¬†supplementation. Nutrients that support glutathione activity include N-acetyl-cysteine, alpha lipoic acid, selenium, milk thistle (silymarin), cordyceps, gotu kola, and S-acetyl-glutathione (a stabilized, more absorbable form of glutathione). You cannot gain much from taking straight glutathione as it is not absorbed well when taken orally.

We live in a sea of synthetic chemicals these days√Ę‚ā¨‚ÄĚthey're in our air, water, food, dwellings, daily products, etc.√Ę‚ā¨‚ÄĚand an increasing number of studies links many of these compounds to a laundry list of diseases and disorders, including TILT. Keeping your immune system strong and fortified with an ¬†anti-inflammatory whole foods diet ¬†and glutathione support can keep that obnoxious cologne in the "unpleasant smell" category versus throwing you into full TILT.

Meet the Author

Dr. Matz DC

Dr. Boyle D.A.C.M., LAc., DiplOM. is the founder of the Holistic Wellness Center of the Carolinas where he is the Director of Functional Medicine. He holds a Diplomate in Oriental Medicine and is acupuncture physician and primary care physician in the state of Florida. His post-graduate focus has been in the fields of functional neurology, functional immunology, and functional endocrinology.

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