Environmental Illness
by Donna L. Watkins

I grew up in Pennsylvania with allergies, especially tormented during hay fever season. I had all the respiratory symptoms and hives all over my body. By 1963, at the age of 13, I had asthma. I used OTC drugs which helped a little, but as I reached 21, 1 graduated to a prescribed medication for the asthma. I didn't like using it since my heart raced, I sweated, and I would be extremely hyper until the effect wore off, at which time I would pass out for long periods of sleep. I avoided use of the drug as much as possible, but would find myself flying to the Emergency Room with a severe asthma attack.

The allergies had increased in severity after marriage and moving to Oklahoma, especially with environmental factors. My immune system couldn't handle any type of chemical smell (which included cleaning supplies, perfumes, smoke, makeup, nail polish, soaps, etc.) With these types of sensitivities, you become aware of the fact that we live in a chemical world. Even our nation's water supply is laced with hundreds of chemicals. My future appeared hopeless at age 28 at which time I became pregnant.

After our son was born, I spent three weeks at Dr. Philpott's clinic that specialized in environmental illness. We happened to live in Oklahoma City at the time. He diagnostically confirmed my known pollen allergies, added 54 foods to the list along with a new list of chemicals, and kindly informed me there wasn't anywhere in the world that I could live free from allergies. The recommendation was a handful of supplements 4x a day every day for the rest of my life and a Five Day Rotation Diet (I ate foods by botanical families and only once every fifth day). The only foods allowed were natural whole foods (no refined flours or sugars, no chemicals, etc.). We had already changed our diet drastically, but eating by food families was quite a challenge. Trying to come up with an actual recipe was a real invention in 1979.

You wouldn't believe how many chemicals the average person is exposed to every minute of his life. No wonder the immune system diseases are so prevalent. There was a period of time when I hadn't had a night's sleep in 19 days. I was a zombie and trying to be a new mother.

Air and water purifiers were part of the doctor's orders which we had already installed. To this discipline was added the removal of ALL chemical items from home and garage. The gases would affect me even if they weren't used. We filled several large boxes. I had signs on my door requesting no one knock if they wore cologne, hair spray or cigarette smoke. Well, I never had any door-to-door sales people! You gotta find something positive in every situation.

With this routine organized and running smoothly, I found myself having less asthma, but not feeling better. I had no life outside my home. I had one friend that tolerated the regulations of our home to visit. All others, including family, avoided us. Even driving in the car, the A/C intake would pick up cigarette smoke from another car at a red light and I would have an asthma attack. I did grocery shopping at 3 a.m. to avoid cologne and smoke, but was extremely bothered by perfumes in the detergents and paper products several aisles away.

When my improvement wasn't what was expected at the 4-week checkup, the doctor's "prescription" was to place aluminum foil over our walls to prevent gases from escaping, rip up the carpeting, and replace the synthetic furniture with wood and cotton fabric. That was "IT!" My husband said, "I serve a God of hope, and there is no hope living life like this."

We moved to Georgia in 1981 thinking I would do better. I improved a little as we kept searching for an answer. We attended a National Health Federation Convention in Atlanta that opened our eyes to encapsulated herbs. My husband had found a solution to migraine headaches he'd suffered with for many years using herbs, but by the time I had some brewed and ready to drink, I'd have an asthma attack from the smell and thought of the taste. So, when I found out they came in capsules, I was so excited!

We signed up with Nature's Sunshine Products and I began a program to improve my health. It worked. I began having fewer attacks and less allergic reactions. Soon, I eliminated hives completely. It took years to be completely free of asthma, but I never needed another emergency room visit after the first three months on my herbs. I soon began to have a normal life again. No signs on my doors and no fear of every scent in the air.

I began with a good supplement program, did a lot of blood and colon cleansing, and used respiratory formulas to strengthen and rebuild my lungs. I tried other herbs when I had trouble getting the Nature's Sunshine products and they just weren't the same. After trying many different brands and helping others do the same, I can honestly say that they just didn't do what Nature's Sunshine herbs and supplements did. We have a retail store and can sell any brand we want, but we carry strictly Nature's Sunshine because we've seen the difference it makes. We also hear a lot of stories of many others who try other brands too....and then come back to Nature's Sunshine. That doesn't mean there's nothing else out there that's good --- it just means that quality, purity and potency are of utmost importance. Our full-time herb business developed on its own as we were trying to help others find hope for health problems too. We love Sharing Sunshine!

People ask what program I took, but it doesn't matter what I used. Every body is different and we've seen a lot of different things work for different people with the same health problem. You can research a lot of ideas on this site and find YOUR solution.

This story seems like a long-ago nightmare, but it was really part of my life. A part that has made me appreciate every breath I take and has made me try to brighten the corner of somebody else's life. We've been able to share hope and victory with many people over many years time, so it was worth it all.

My perspective has changed greatly on allergies since that time long ago. If you'd like to understand a deeper root of EI or MCS, read another article I wrote more recently: Allergies, Bugs, Chemicals and the Immune System