Chemical and electrical sensitivity

A recent issue of Latitudes, the excellent journal of the American Association for Comprehensive NeuroTherapy, carried an article by Dr Lisa Nagy describing her chemical and electrical sensitivity - and her oral galvanism, a condition we had not met before.
For more information on Latitudes and the organisation’s work check out

I developed chemical and electrical sensitivity while living in a house in Los Angeles. Initially, I only knew I was sad, had weak muscles and couldn’t stand up for very long - it soon seemed I was crying all the time. I couldn’t bear to use the telephone or to be under fluorescent lighting. Exposure to smells, chemicals, many foods (like wine, cheese, and nuts) and even antique wood - which is faintly mouldy - gave me a headache and made me feel exhausted. Clothing tags became extremely irritating, and perfume and diesel odours were intolerable. I had grown hypersensitive to my surroundings. Adrenal insufficiency was eventually diagnosed.

In time I was fully disabled and, hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, we were forced to sell our house and move to a rental nearby. A year later I found that I had been suffering mould poisoning, primarily due to mould in a huge fish tank that was built into the living room of that first home.

The toxins in the air had overloaded my system and made me intolerant of all chemicals, especially pesticides and electricity. A muscle biopsy showed that I had severe damage to my mitochondria, the energy producer in all our cells.

Electrical Sensitivity

Electrical sensitivity sounds wacky, I know, but when you have it, it is very real and quite uncomfortable. My hand would heat up while holding my cell phone. My ear would burn from the ear piece. Gadgets that spin, like fans or tape decks, have high electromagnetic fields and they made me weak. Just picking up the regular phone could make me need to urinate, or cause chest discomfort and sweating - I wanted to hang up! Even more bizarre and scary: while swimming in a salt water pool I would get electric shocks in my fingers as I swam by the underwater pool lights!


At this time I was also diagnosed with an interesting neurological condition called dysautonomia, which occurs in 85% of people who are ‘environmentally ill’. Crossing one’s legs while standing is an early sign, or wrapping the legs around each other (called ‘pretzel legs’). These moves are done to keep the blood in the head and chest, otherwise the blood would pool in the legs and cause weakness or fainting.

Exposure to chemicals in stores (like formaldehyde while shopping in Home Depot) would make me dysautonomic and electrical appliances would make me even more dysautonomic; I would need to lie down. I was prescribed a vasoconstricting (causes the blood vessels to narrow) medication called Midodrine to remedy this condition.

Finding Help

Near the end of my rope, I eventually figured out that I needed to be treated by an environmental physician, and I went to The Environmental Health Center of Dallas to see William Rea, MD.
The centre looks into the genetics of your detoxification capabilities, studies your autonomic nervous system and hormone levels, does food and other allergy testing and treatment (neutralisation), prescribes vitamins and nutrients orally and intravenously, and tests your immune system scientifically. They use saunas among other procedures for detoxification. Most importantly, they get you away from that which is making you sick!

Oral Galvanism

Oral galvanism is a state in which two dissimilar metals in the mouth result in abnormal electrical charges. I had already had all of my amalgam fillings removed, or so I thought. But then I went to a holistic dentist for an assessment. An oral potential meter (made by Pertec) was used to measure the voltages and currents in my teeth. I had a number of crowns with porcelain over metal. Most crowns had currents of 1 micro ampere or so. But one of my crowns showed a current of 11 microamperes - and a very high electrical voltage of 420 millivolts!

I had that crown removed first, because one is supposed to remove the highest ones first. Voila! I had not anticipated any immediate response but when I reached home and I was able to talk on the phone for three hours instead of three minutes! I no longer needed Midodrine to get up out of bed. I had required it to raise my blood pressure for two years straight - and now none!

Other improvements: the smell of cigarettes seemed almost pleasant instead of making me run for the hills. I could tolerate car exhaust and perfume immediately. I contacted many environmental physicians and patients to tell of the amazing positive change in my illness over night.

The dentist discovered that I’d had an amalgam filling under the metal crown that had been placed just before I became really ill back in 2000. The two dissimilar metal materials touching had created a strong battery effect, causing the oral galvanism that seemed to short out my autonomic nervous system. Somehow, fixing the autonomic nervous system also led to a more normal central nervous system interpretation of odours and electrical fields, allowing for a return to a more normal life! My adrenal function also returned, thanks to the decrease in stress or total body load.
In retrospect, getting away from the ‘bad’ house was essential, but removing the crown and the amalgam under it was the last step in getting well.


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First Published in 2006

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