You know those ads on TV, the ones put out by a very prevalent company depicting someone's couch coated in garbage or with a fish stuffed in a sofa cushion? A spray bottle miraculously emerges and, voila, you are doused in so much synthetic fragrance you can no longer tell that you are living in a pigsty? I personally think a garbage bag and a run through the washing machine might be more effective, but maybe that's just me. But how do you deal with an issue that is considered to be normal and not much of a problem at all, according to the average person?
Over the past few years I have become very sensitive to fragrance, most likely because we have gone through a very thorough detoxification of our living space. The only scents we experience are brought to us via the food we cook, or a careful selection of pure essential oils from a company we trust. I can spot a synthetic fragrance a mile away, be it in mass marketed essential oils, perfume or the air fresheners that are popping up with alarming frequency in public spaces.
When I am exposed to synthetic fragrance I start sneezing and get a massive headache, usually within about 30 seconds. I know I am not alone in this, as many doctor's offices and clinics post signs requesting patients do not wear fragrance due to chemical sensitivity. For a great overview of why fragrance is an issue, check out this post by David Suzuki.
So what is the solution? I am not up for squatting in our RV like a hermit, we have embarked on our travels specifically so that we can go out and explore the world. I can imagine another response being well why don't you just gradually re-acclimatize yourself and then you'll build up a tolerance again? No thanks, I am quite happy to have drastically lessened the chemical load in my body (and more importantly my kids bodies) because of the lifestyle choices we have made. My husband suggested nose plugs, that while glamorous (not) wouldn't exactly protect us from the hormone disrupting chemicals and other toxins contained in synthetic fragrance.
I have been giving this a lot of thought, and I think the answer really comes down to ongoing detoxification. I can't do much about stinky bathrooms or overly perfumed individuals (aside from peeing quickly and/or heading outside for fresh air) but I can make sure that gentle detoxification is part of our daily ritual. Lemon water first thing in the morning will help detoxify our liver. Green juices and consuming chlorophyll rich foods will help with general detoxification. Skin brushing will assist with detoxifying our lymphatic system. Exercise and making use of our rebounder will get our blood flowing and move any toxicity out. Drinking lots of filtered and/or spring water will flush toxins out of our system. Carrying a small bottle of Dr Bronner's will allow us to bypass the pink mystery soap in public restrooms. Making our own cleaning products is both fun and much less toxic. Epsom foot baths (we have a tiny tub) would help. And maintaining a clean and healthy living space, with plants and an air detoxification system (both of which we have) will go a long way towards not increasing the load while we are at home. Spending time out in nature (outside the city, among trees) is definitely high on the list.
There's a saying, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, but I'm not so keen on that idea. We are so far out of the box at this point I think it would be a pretty uncomfortable squeeze to try and make our way back in. I prefer to embrace the experiences we have, take a deep breath (outside) as needed, and embrace healthy living and detoxification practices on an ongoing basis.
What is your take on the issue of synthetic fragrance and increased sensitivity? How do you manage your day to day exposure?