Every day we encounter chemicals through the food and water we consume, or indirectly through our skin and nose. The cumulative effect of such a chemical overload, together with other polluting and allergy causing substances, and the expectations of modern living sustained over time, can only lead to a less than desirable state of body and mind. For ME (cfs) sufferers and others with a variety of intolerances and sensitivities, creating an optimum environment in which to support the body and mind to heal itself is even more essential. One important way to do this is by taking every measure to minimise chemical exposure where possible.
Begin the process by first choosing a topic and researching as much as needed before implementing into daily schedules. This can be done by talking to people, searching for information on the internet, and borrowing reading material from the library. Ask friends and family to assist with research as well. As you gain knowledge and confidence more changes can be implemented to suit individual needs. Always consult a qualified practitioner for individual health requirements.
Below is a list of suggested topics to help with reducing sensitivities and intolerances in daily living. It is intended as a guide only. Feel free to add to the list.
Filters with carbon resin cartridge will remove chlorine, fluoride, offensive taste, heavy metals, and other contaminants, resulting in a purer and more pleasant tasting drinking water. The unit can be plumbed in under the kitchen sink or sit as a counter top unit with a diverter valve fitted to a tap, which makes it practical and portable.
Improve Air Quality
Use an air purifier which incorporates filters to help reduce airborne particles and smell from dust, moulds, cigarette smoke, chemical, traffic, and other pollutants. These
units can be used in the home, office or factory.
Recirculating dust and pollens from air conditioning units and ducted systems further add contaminants to degrade indoor air quality. Regular checks and cleaning of air conditioning and heating systems and filters is recommended.
The air purifier filters become clogged with dirt and will need replacing periodically, demonstrating the beneficial effect on inside air quality. Check that the purifier complies with Australian Health and Safety Standards, and has a minimal level of ozone emission.
Reduce Chemicals in the Home
Discard commercial cleaning agents containing toxic substances, and switch to safer ones, using with care. Most household cleaning tasks can be carried out by using one or a combination of products such as bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), vinegar, salt, borax, and liquid soap (preferably castile soap). If unable to obtain castile soap, then look for soap made with vegetable oils containing minimal or no chemicals or perfumes. These products can be found in supermarkets, and are surprisingly effective. Local libraries have books on environmentally friendly and safer methods for tackling most household tasks.
For dishwashing or laundry detergents, look for products with no phosphate, but include ingredients such as:
- dishwashing liquids: de-ionised water, palm oil, vegetable oil, peppermint oil, peppermint fragrance, vegetable colour.
- dishwasher machine powder: alkaline salts, (potassium, calcium carbonate, sodium carbonate, sodium silicate), oxygenated enzymes, grape fruit pith, citrus fragrance. Dish washing machine powder should not contain chlorine, for safer door opening due to fumes.
- laundry detergents: de-ionised water, palm, coconut and vegetable oils, eucalyptus oil, fruit (berries), floral fragrance, vegetable colour, (predominantly berry).
Beware of the chemical toxins that may be produced by new building materials, new carpet or furniture, some plastics, and new paintwork. Non toxic paints are available, enquire at your paint supplier, or research at your library or on the internet. Refer Resources Guide.
Lessen Pesticide Use
Avoid the use of pesticides if possible as they are highly toxic substances. Find alternative and environmentally friendly methods to address common household pests, such as the use of specific herbs, teas, oils to act as insect repellents. Garden and plant pests can also be managed by using natural methods of control. Books on organic gardening will provide useful information on this topic.
If sensitivities to plants in the garden trigger hay fever and asthma, then planning and planting a low allergen garden can improve your quality of life, especially if you are able to and enjoy pottering in the garden. Asthma Foundation of Victoria has a pamphlet on The Low Allergen Garden. Refer Resources Guide.
Reduce chemicals in Personal Care Products
Ingredients in personal health and hygiene products such as petrochemical compounds, artificial colours, and scents, can provoke severe reactions in people with chemical and other sensitivities. If you belong in this category, then avoid these substances and find other alternatives. Fortunately, some manufacturers are responding with products for people with special needs.
When purchasing personal care products, consider the following guidelines:
- do not buy if the chemical names are not known to you.
- check the ingredient names in the book “The Chemical Maze” for their potential health risks.
- consult with a health care practitioner for a product recommendation.
- choose organic products with less chemical additives if possible.
- select products containing more natural ingredients such as coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, vegetable oils, vegetable glycerine, vitamin E, rosemary seed extract, purified water, and essential oils. Products made for sensitive skins usually omit essential oils or include unscented varieties for those unable to tolerate essential oils.
These products are usually available in health food stores, or search on the Internet for suppliers of suitable products that you can order online.
Reduce Food Sensitivities and Intolerances
Sensitivities and intolerances to certain foods can produce a wide range of symptoms and contribute to feeling unwell. If you experience unpleasant reactions after eating certain foods, try to identify which foods or additives is causing the problem, and avoid eating them in future. To begin this process, you will need some advice on this complicated topic, including information from reading books, researching on the Internet, and most important of all, consultation with a qualified practitioner who can offer professional guidance and support. The following are some guidelines to consider when aiming to reduce sensitivities and intolerances:
- buy fresh wholesome foods to prepare nutritious home cooked meals.
- eat a variety of foods on a rotational basis.
- avoid highly processed foods, and take away foods.
- buy organically grown foods with minimal chemical additives. Join with family members, friends, neighbours and co-operatives to buy in bulk and save on costs.
- reduce or avoid alcohol, additives or preservatives, sugars and artificial sweeteners, stimulants, dairy products, spices, yeast and fermented products, wheat and gluten products, and eat nuts in moderation.
- use freshly grown herbs in cooking, if able to tolerate them.
In the event of a medical emergency, especially if it may be life threatening for you, consider the following:
- MedicAlert is a 24 hour personal emergency medical information and identification service. Wearing an engraved emblem, bracelet or necklet, provides information on primary medical conditions or special needs and a 24 hour Hotline Telephone Number.
- If you are a customer with Telstra, and have a diagnosed life-threatening medical condition, and whose life may be at risk without access to a fully operational landline telephone service, you can apply to Telstra for Priority Assistance. Refer to www.telstra.com.au and click on Priority Assistance for more information, or brochure, or application form.
Balanced Full Spectrum Lighting
This type of lighting provides optimal light and reduces eye strain as it closely mirrors sunlight, providing extra benefits for people who spend the majority of their day indoors. Refer Resources Guide for research findings on full spectrum lighting.
Asthma Foundation of Victoria
Phone: (03) 9853 5666
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
A Treatment Guide
Erica F. Verrillo, Lauren M. Gellman.
Published by Quality Medical Publishing Inc.
11970 Borman Drive, Suite 222
St. Louis, Missouri 63146. USA.
Irresistibles for the Irritable
Published by Shepherd Works Pty Ltd
PO Box 6015
Croydon North 3136
Recipes for Life
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Unit
Published by Murdoch Books
GPO Box 1203
Sydney NSW 1045
Benefits of Coconut Juice
Recipes to the Rescue
Jann Bonner, Lindy Kingsmill, Suzanne Morrow
Published by Penguin Books Australia Ltd
250 Camberwell Road
Food Intolerance Network of Australia
DVD – Fed Up with Children’s Behaviour
By Sue Dengate
Allergy Sensitivity and Environmental Health Association
Phone: (07) 3284 8742
Allergy and Environmental Sensivity Support and Research Association Inc.
Phone: (03) 9888 1382
The Chemical Maze
Published by Possiblilty.com
PO Box 450
Pambula NSW 2549
Foodwatch A to Z
Published by Hardie Grant Books
12 Claremont Street
South Yarra 3141
Freecall: 1800 643 259
For Priority Assistance
For other websites on environmental chemicals
(Search under “Past Issues” for volume 328, first page 447)
Balanced Full Spectrum Lighting