What Are The Symptoms of Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), Mold Illness, CIRS & Electrical Hypersensitivity Syndrome (EHS)?
My hypothesis is that MCS, Mold Illness, CIRS and EHS are neurological disorder caused by conditioned trauma in the amygdala and insula, involving similar pathways that are hypothesised in ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia. We call these types of conditions, "Neuro-Immune Conditioned Syndromes (NICS)".
2 Types of Symptoms
The first will be milder forms of symptoms that 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.
My Amygdala and Insula Hypothesis For These Conditions
Written By Ashok Gupta MA(Cantab), MSc. Clinic Director.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), CIRS & Mold Illness
These conditions can encompass a wide range of symptoms, which some individuals tend to link to environmental causes. The condition is also known as “environmental illness,” "sick building syndrome,” or “idiopathic environmental intolerance.”
They 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, mold or other threat.
Common symptoms can include: headache, fatigue, nausea, congestion, dizziness, itching, sore throat, sneezing, chest pain, heart rhythm changes, muscle stiffness or pain, diarrhoea, breathing issues, gas, bloating, confusion, trouble in concentrating, skin rash, mood changes and problems with memory.
Unfortunately, the condition is still not widely understood or accepted by any health experts & medical institutions. At this stage, there are no reliable tests to diagnose these sensitivities. And many doctors don't even agree that these conditions are even a medical illness despite its devastating effect on the sufferer
Electrical Hypersensitivity Syndrome
Electrical Hypersensitivity Sensitivity (EHS) is characterized by a wide range of non-specific health problems that individuals attribute to low-level exposure of electromagnetic fields (EMF). These sources can include computers, TV monitors and mobile phones
Much like MCS, EHS may also result due to a conditioned trauma in the Amygdala, Insula and the limbic system in general following exposure to an electrical field.
Common symptoms can include sleep disturbances, skin issues such as burning sensations, prickling, and rashes, muscle aches and pain, stress, fatigue and headache.
The severity of symptoms varies between individuals. Some report mild symptoms while others can be so severely affected that they are forced to change their entire lifestyle to avoid EMFs.
Much like MCS, the condition still widely misunderstood by the medical profession which can, unfortunately, add to the stigma & isolation faced by sufferers
A Genetic Disposition?
There is likely to be a genetic pre-disposition to developing these conditions, which may influence mechanisms that are described within this page, or maybe peripheral to them. However, our genes are not our destiny, as emphasized by the latest developments in epigenetics. Therefore a genetic predisposition does not necessarily mean a person cannot heal and improve.
What Are The Roles of The Amygdala and Insula?
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.
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 Amygdala and Insula hypothesis serves as a potential unifying model for the various observations in patients. You can find out more below.
Research From Professor Martin Pall
Some excellent research by Professor Martin Pall has proposed that NO/ONOO cycles are responsible for various illnesses including MCS. From my research, I hypothesize that these observations fit with our Hypothesis, but may be secondary illness cycles which certainly worsen symptoms and contribute to peripheral sensitization, 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.
Our Brain and Body Get Caught In A Vicious Cycle
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, Mold Illness and EHS may be a conditioned response of the brain to a chemical or electrical field that 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. These are real physical disorders with real physical symptoms, and is not psychological in nature.
The Conditioned Response
This conditioning occurs because when the amygdala and insula are 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, these brain structures 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 brain, as well as specific reactions to mitigate the threat of the toxin.
What Is The Role of A Toxic Environment In These Conditions?
Some people believe that these conditions are not solely due to the body’s reactions in and of themselves, but due to the fact that we live in a more toxic environment; 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 these conditions, and others who are exposed to the same chemical, do not? Even if we have a genetic predisposition to not detoxing effectively, our genes are not our destiny, as explained through epigenetics.
Instead, the over-reaction is because of the “brain’s programing”, its “software program” if you like, which gets altered during a traumatic event. After that initial sensitizing 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 a condition because the amygdala and insula are more sensitive to new threats.
The Good News Is That The Brain Can Be Retrained Out Of These Reactions
The good news is that these reactions can be “retrained”. The brain can be rewired, and I believe that Amygdala & Insula Retraining (AIR) is one of the most powerful ways of doing this. It is hypothesized to involve creating safety neurons which projects from the pre-frontal cortex, to the amygdala and other brain structures, to control its reactions whenever the chemicals are detected.
How Can I Recover From Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Mold Illness, CIRS And EHS?
Our highly successful and well known international Workshops, Home Study courses and Webinar series, have helped hundreds of people all over the world recover.
The Brain Can Be Rewired For Health And Happiness
The brain is not fixed in its responses, it can be rewired. Neuroscientists call this “Neuroplasticity” and it is one of the hottest topics in science at the moment.
The Treatment Involves A Series Of Brain Retraining Exercises
These are designed to “retrain the Amygdala & Insula” and other parts of the brain that are stuck in a state of hyper-arousal.
What The "Brain Retraining" Treatment Involves
The treatment is online, drug-free, delivered step by step, takes about an hour a day and you are fully supported every step of the way. It has drawn inspiration from many areas of coaching and therapy, including NLP, Meditation, Timeline Therapy, Breathwork, Parts therapy, Visualisation, Inner-Child work, Holistic Health Practises and many more. We fit these tools under the banner of "Amygdala and Insula Retraining", or AIR Techniques.
We Value Holistic Health Practises As Part Of Your Healing Journey
The Brain Retraining techniques are coupled together with holistic health practises such as Pacing, Sleep, Nutrition, Mindfulness, Relaxation, Sunlight, Meditation to honour the whole mind. body and soul within the journey to health and happiness.