Botanica & Inhalers: Usage, Safety and MCS attention

I am a member of an MCS Online Community called, MCS News Australia #1.  One of our members mentioned a couple of things in a post that I addressed and will repeat here.  These are important issues to anyone, even more important to the MCS sufferer, who has very little leeway when it comes to sensitivity … of any kind.

The comments and questions are related to these two topics:

  • 1) Eating botanica to inoculate against allergic reaction
  • 2) Use of inhalers

About ‘eating botanica‘ to essentially inoculate against reaction.

Well, if you’re not worried about seeing the sunrise the next day .. go for it.  However, if you enjoy living .. it would be ill advised to try it without seeking serious professional counseling.

Here in the States (USA), growing up in the country of what we call “Hoosierland” .. a colloquial and official state nickname for residents of the state of Indiana, we have our fair .. maybe ‘unfair’ .. share of country (aka, ‘home’) remedies; not unlike many rural locations around the globe.  And like those of our global neighbors, some are very good.  One however, which I have very personal experience with is not: eating poison-ivy.

Growing up in the country, as a kid, I lived in the woods, along the streams and in the fields- daily; all day long. My encounters with poison-ivy were hourly.  I never was overly allergic, but I got it; and sometimes pretty bad!  But, hey, it’s only a minute fraction of the human population that do not react to the urushiol oils of Toxicodendron radicans, and it’s worldwide brotherhood of plants that make you itch!

Toxicodendron radicans, is but one of three plants in North America that produce urushiol.  The other two are poison-oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) and poison-sumac (Toxicodendron vernix or Rhus vernix), each type is grades worse than the previous in the order they are named here.  And we have all of them in the Hoosierland.

The ‘home’ remedy was: eat some of the leaves of the plant, when they are blistered, and you will immunize yourself to the ‘itch’.  Well, part of that is 100% true.  You eat those leaves and you will become immune.  Cadavers have never been known to be bothered with itching from urushiol !   Great.  But I really don’t think the desired result is DEATH!  At least that wasn’t my intention.

Obviously because I am writing this .. it didn’t kill me, though I – my parents and the doctors – sure thought, for a time, it might!  I fortunately survived this stupid experiment.

In my case, this ‘experiment’ was conducted without any knowledge of my parents; I knew they’d say ‘NO WAY’.  But the local gent who told me about this ‘remedy’ assured me he’d done it and it worked for him.  I thought he was pretty cool – so why not give it try?  Ah, the logic of a 10 year old… how can you fight it?  Well, you don’t .. you incarcerate it!

When confronted by my dad, the ‘local purveyor of home remedy information’, said, “Hell no I didn’t try it!  That’d be nuts!” And when my dad told him that I DID try it … because of HIS advice, he again parlayed this bit of rich local ‘wisdom’;  “Hell, Jim, I’m really sorry, but I didn’t think your boy was that stupid.”

Two miracles occurred in that moment:  1) Ol’ Jake lived to see the next day and  2) Dad had to agree with the village idiot that he didn’t think I was that ‘stupid’ either.  But he did, however, give ‘Ol Jake a piece of his mind and some choice words about the ‘gullibility of a kid‘ to think on before leaving him.  Guess it took, Ol’ Jake never dispensed any home remedy advice to me – at least – ever again; I didn’t ask either… !

My little experiment turned out to not be a fatal lab failure, but it was not without a real string of ‘side-effects’.  So, let it be known … unless there is any doubt among our audience… side-affects are NOT limited to drug company pharmaceuticals. Any ingestion of a compound used to ‘treat’ …whatever! … has side-effects.  Some are just far more noticeable than others.  “. o

The main ‘side-affect’ was the event actually increased my sensitivity to urushiol – fortunately not permanent – but for the next 5-7 years, my outdoors time was a very nervous experience. One could say I had a ‘decreased level in ‘quality of life’; at my own hands.  Secondarily I had some really nasty scaring on my face – from the blistering. Time and a beard have concealed most of this evidenturium stupidae (to coin a wee bit o’ Latinesque lingo).  And as well, inside my throat – though I’ve not endoscoped that area – and have not had such a procedure (on that end!) yet – I have little doubt there would be, at least trace of, scar tissue in my throat as well, because there were blisters all the way into my lungs!   That is the real danger; pneumonia and anaphylaxis.

So, I would strongly advise you get serious professional assistance before trying any ‘botanica inoculation’ efforts.


I agree with the comments previously made:  1) be cautious  2) make sure the the inhaler is CFC and petro-chem free  and  3) use sparingly.  I will – however – add two more cautions: CONTAINER and ENVIRONMENT.


  • a) Plastic? Be sure the plastic is medical / pharmaceutical grade and NOT a petro-chem derivative; and if so, free of PVC and other toxic petroleum-based plastics; this includes the point-of-contact; where you put your mouth or stick up your nose!
  • NOTE: In the States our FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has just introduced some very tight regs on the use of plastics in medical supplies.  Other countries are not so careful.  In reality, even in the States, WE have worry. Business is business and if the company can cut costs they will do so. For the average human consumer that may not be a problem.  However the…

    MCS sufferer is NOT AVERAGE !!!

    Even WE sometimes forget this.
  • b) Metal? Aluminum is the most common form of metal used in inhalers.  Again, for most people, this is not an immediate problem (no one should use bare aluminum to eat from, drink from or take medication from over long periods) .. but MCS sufferers are far more likely to react negatively to the effects of aluminum.
  • NOTE: The most reaction free materials that could be used would be glass or ceramic.  Both are 100% inert and do not pass on negative materials to the MCS user.  It would be nice if such materials were made in refillable containers for those of us who are sensitive to the more ‘commonly used’ materials.  Hard to get this kind of attention in a mass-production society.


I list this last, but it should be the #1 thing we think of when using ANY INGESTED MEDICATION.
Ingestion occurs in 4 ways:

  • Skin (cutaneous)
  • Mouth (oral)
  • Eyes (ocular)
  • Nose (nasal)

Ingestion is NOT ONLY about eating.. it’s a manner of ‘taking in’.

So, when you use that INHALER or NASAL SPRAY … think of this … and be cautious:

As you INGEST in ONE of the 4 methods – the other three are also ingesting whatever is in the local environment. Thus making your body and ‘mixing-bowl’ of chemicals.

To avoid potential the potential contamination of your medication moment:

Medicate -when possible- in a controlled environment

  • no wind
  • no fragrances
  • no pollution
  • no chemicals
  • no sun

If such an environment is not available …

  • close eyes while ingesting
  • hold nose if doing an inhaler
  • close mouth if using a nasal shot
  • cover as much exposed skin as possible
  • limit sun exposure; ingest in shaded area
  • if you use a ‘mask’ – reposition IMMEDIATELY following an ingestion dose

Basically, what you are doing in these steps is attempting to eliminate ambient contaminants from being ‘mixed’ with the ingested medication for at least the first 30 seconds to a minute following ingestion.  If you can do so, you will allow your body to integrate with the medication on a more ‘level playing field’ than if you just ‘took your dose’ – without any concern for ambient environmental contaminants.

Now .. how many of you actually thought of this?  Seriously!  I would like to know.  Please comment here.  Your response will help me guide the level and depth of my comments.  Thank you.

Again, all people are affected in this manner. But the MCSer will suffer the slightest level of sensitivity infraction.

I hope this has been helpful.

Continue to read the YOSAKIME blog and follow me on Twitter for regular commentary, updates and … well, stuff like this.  “. )

Here’s the URL to the commentary on MCS News Australia #1 for which this piece was written.  Be advised you will need to be a member to read it.  The group is an open group and we invite all who either have MCS, are family, friends, employers, co-workers of MCS suffers to join the group to learn of the needs of the MCS community and how you can help.


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