Hi, my name is Krystine Kercher, and I’m an artist and author, and–I have chemical sensitivities… Unfortunately, there isn’t any ‘Chemicals Anonymous’ support group that I can join to get support for this.
Most people do not have chemical sensitivities to the extent that I do, which is a very good thing, at least for them!
But I do happen to know a lot of people who are sensitized, especially to perfume. You might be one if, when you encounter someone who’s used too much perfume, it makes you nauseated or gives you a bad headache.
If you’re sensitized to VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and you’d like to know how to calm that reaction down or keep it from growing into the kind of difficulty I now deal with daily, here are some things I’ve learned over the years which can be very helpful:
- Soak in a warm bath with 1 Cup Epsom salts, 1 Cup baking soda. This detoxes your skin, which, after your liver, is the organ that your body uses most to break down and get rid of harmful substances.
- Go fragrance free! You can’t change or stop what other people are going to do most of the time, but you can limit your personal exposure by intentionally using products that don’t aggravate your sensitivity. Here’s a list of frequent offenders:
- Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hand soap
- Laundry detergent, dish liquid, dishwasher detergent
- I recommend a switch to non-toxic cleaners (vinegar, baking soda, and a good dish liquid will clean and disinfect just about anything)
- Toilet bowl cleaner: after years of using vinegar, dish liquid, and baking soda (this works!), I’ve switched to this soy-based cleaner that is effective, smells a little minty without being overwhelming, and has no bleach in it
- Store all household and industrial chemicals safely in a building that is not your home.
- motor oil, car fluids, car care products
- paint thinners, spray paint
- strong cleaners for cleaning up paint or oil
- Bleach, ammonia, other household cleaners
- All of these things tend to out-gas or leak, and should never be stored indoors in your home where you have to breathe 24/7
- Only use where there is adequate ventilation.
- Certain vitamins and other supplements can be a real help, especially milk thistle, which supports liver health and helps detox
- Eat more veggies! Celery, beets, other root veggies are very helpful for detoxing.
- Dark green leafy plants like kale, Swiss chard, bok choy, spinach, and dandelion greens all promote good health and support the ability to detox more effectively.
- the water you drink and bathe in can fuel your sensitivity.
- Put a filter on your shower head, and
- Filter your drinking water. Any filtration is better than none, but some filters are a lot better than others, so it pays to do your homework on this (a Kangen filter makes the water alkaline and breaks down toxins that other filters let through. My Kangen filter has quite literally saved my life, because it stopped the bad reactions that were causing my throat to close up).
- First Aid for toxic VOC over-exposure:
- Dissolve up to 1 tsp baking soda in 4-6 oz of water, drink, wait 20 minutes, drink 12-16 oz of water, wait 20 more minutes before eating or drinking anything else.
- Alternatively: squeeze anywhere from 1 tsp to half a lemon into 4-6 oz of water, drink, wait 20, drink 12-16 oz.
You can alternate between these two.
- Please be aware that the baking soda is not a good option for people who are having serious liver and kidney issues and/or issues with salt/sodium. (I can’t do this any more)
- Please also be aware that baking soda strips Vitamin B from your body. You need Vitamin B to live, so it isn’t wise to do this too frequently.
- Using a Kangen water filter and minding your diet, and being mindful of avoiding unnecessary exposure to VOCs is safer for daily use and far more effective in the long run.