This article first appeared in the November 2018 issue of Austin All Natural magazine. © 2018, Austin All Natural
NATURAL HEALTH PIONEERS: Biological dentistry, chemical sensitivities, and the story of Annde
by Dr. Matthew Carpenter, DDS, NMD
A number of our patients at Transcend Dental Health come in with other health issues, giving us the opportunity to show them how dental health supports overall health, and vice versa. It also gives us the rare privilege of learning from them, because many of them have had to do their own research and self-education to deal with issues mainstream medical providers couldn’t help them with – or, in many cases, didn’t even acknowledge existed.
One such patient is one of the many grassroots giants in the field of natural medicine, particularly the field of people with chemical sensitivities. Ann deGraffenried was sick with multiple chemical sensitivities in the early 1990s, when most of us had never heard of such things.
She created a newsletter that became a support system and source of information for people who sometimes felt isolated and alone in dealing with a condition often written off as simply their imagination. (To this day, chemical sensitivities and environmental illness are still viewed with skepticism in some medical and research circles, even though they have been implicated as a possible contributor to such conditions as autism and ADHD.)
As a biological dentistry practice, we assist patients who’ve decided to have toxic materials like mercury amalgam and old, infected, toxic root canals removed as safely as possible. To that end, we’ve installed state-of-the-art air filtration and other safeguards to ensure none of these compounds makes its way into the environment of our office, where they could endanger the health of our family of patients or staff.
As a result, the only precautionary measure taken when Anne visits is to turn off the humidification system – our office and treatment environment is clean enough that it hasn’t triggered any sensitivity symptoms for her.
This is the kind of wonderful discovery we receive as a gift from our amazing patients, and we want to begin sharing their stories with others who can benefit from them and be inspired by them.
Because of the tireless work of individuals like Ann, way before their time and against all medical opinion, these very real medical conditions are now more recognized. This month we’d like to honor her for her work, and the positive impact she’s had, by sharing the very first edition of her newsletter. They’re still very pertinent and current and will be available in the near future on our updated website.
– Dr. Matthew Carpenter, DDS, NMD
The Grassroots Journal for People with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities/Environmental Illness (
by Ann deGraffenried
The birth of this newsletter was the brainchild of my husband, Brian. For several years before and after our move from our home in Austin to what we had called our “weekend” home in the middle of a sheep pasture, he urged me to record the information I was collecting related to MCS/EI and put it into a newsletter.
The idea was a little selfish for him because he saw an opportunity to use his computer skills in the production – but my health was not up to the task at that point.
Due to MCS/EI, those of us who know we have this problem learn to re-think and re-do our way of living – and because of this, we have much to offer each other. So, a meeting was planned for October 26, 1994 for the MCS/EI Austin community, at the home of a member who lived in Northwest Hills.
Thirty-five were known and contacted. Only thirteen were well enough to come that day. Upon arrival, all were able to be in her home – at first. Then people began to drop out, as they became sensitive to something in the house – the tea served, someone’s clothes-washing methods, so on and so forth.
Six of us were able to stick it out.
We shared phone numbers, treatments that were working, products we could find and use. On the way home to the sheep pasture, I drove and cried and cried, and realized it was time to write. When I got home it was dark and raining. I sat down on the sofa, told Brian about my day, picked up my yellow pad and pencil, and began to write it down.
The first issue of the newsletter was birthed that night.
One of the main points that came to light for me is the fact many of us with MCS/EI are just too sick to get together, regardless of how we are or how much we yearn for human companionship. Maybe this newsletter would serve as a “meeting in writing,” as well as a source of information.
We’re a specialized group of people with a single, common bond. Because of the lack of information and understanding among the medical community and the general public, each of us has been forced to experiment and study, sometimes extensively, just to survive day to day.
We’re a hardy bunch, or we would not have gotten this far along. We shared a great deal of information with each other, and now Dr. Carpenter is offering the opportunity to share it with others. Every time I talk to another person with MCS/EI, I learn
We were able to share a lot of supportive information. How do we deal with EMF’s? Did anyone have an herb garden going? Was anyone gardening through all four seasons? I even got Brian to tell how he made our inexpensive compost pile containers. (And they worked – in spite of me!)
A final word.
Remember to smile, think positive thoughts – and sing out loud at least once a day.
Reprinted with permission of Ann deGraffenried (Annde), editor, from Nov. 1994, Vol., No. 1. Watch for more patient profiles in Austin All Natural, and at www.tdhtx.com
Dr. Matthew Carpenter of Transcend Dental Health is an Integrative Biologic Dentist and Board Certified Naturopathic Physician, offering ozone therapy, natural oral care products incorporating essential oils, drill-free air abrasion, non-surgical gum disease treatment, safe mercury and root canal removal, and natural heavy metal elimination. (512) 255-3618, www.tdhtx.com