Categorized | Opinion

Environmental Illness

By Thelma Ledford

Good Eats LedfordEmily’s Testimony:   It was l995 and my sophomore year at Blue Mountain College. My schedule was very full of school and extracurricular activities, including tennis and other physical exercises. In September, my knees began hurting and I had to skip some classes. I explained the throbbing and tingling pain in my knees and feet to the school nurse. She said that it was bursitis and for me to rest a few days. In November, the pain in my knees worsened. In addition to the difficulty of getting to classes, I began to have a lot of headaches, and would cry for no reason.
After Thanksgiving break, I was unable to walk and attend classes at all. Another doctor diagnosed me as having tendonitis, and told me to rest, and gave me anti-inflammatory medication. It was two and a half weeks before Christmas vacation. By staying in bed, I completed the semester.  My knees and legs hurt so badly at night that I only slept two or three hours, and some nights I slept none. But, I was determined to finish, and I did.
I returned to the second doctor; he realized that I had something more serious because I had not gotten any better. He sent me to a neurologist. He diagnosed me as having neuropathy nerve damage which can be caused by poor nutrition, a virus, or a toxin in the environment. He suggested that I walk—bad idea! The pain in my arm and legs was so bad; I did not sleep at all that night. At this time my mother suggested that the RAID pesticide ant and bug spray I had used in my dorm room at school was the culprit. I express my disbelief; however, the doctor informed me that it could cause the problem. Next, an orthopedic doctor thought it was bursitis, and gave me the same advice and medicine as the first two doctors. He also sent me to physical therapy which got me back on my feet. Not wanting to lose my scholarship, I tried to return for the second semester, but was unable to stay. It was many months before I could walk without pain after exercise.
I had been unaware of how much spray I had been using, or how harmful it was. Back at school, I realized just how much spray I had used, and remembered that I did not always ventilate the room. Also, my dishes had been left uncovered. Because of my fear of spiders, I used a 17.5 oz can in 2-3 months, and had started another. After reading several books on toxic poisonings since then, I now know this was exactly what had happened to me. I hope this article will warn others of the serious dangers of chemicals and especially pesticides. There really is no safe way to use them even though you follow the directions.
I am grateful to my parents for the help they have given me through this terrible crisis of my life. We are all learning how to protect ourselves from poisons. We are drinking filtered water, using better foods, opening the windows to ventilate when we can, and using herbs and supplements to rebuild my immune system. During this time I have suffered depression and pain in other parts of my body, even in my teeth. My body suffers pain as it tries to rid itself of toxins. I praise the Lord that He is continuing to heal and restore my health.
About Emily:   Emily Rieben is just one of many that are dealing with MSC (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity). The symptoms are similar to many other illnesses and, therefore, hard to diagnose. She and her family did most of the diagnosing, and wouldn’t give up. Many go for years and some may be in institutions today, not knowing the cause.
Note:   Emily suffered especially during or after exercising. This is because toxins are stored in the fatty tissue of the body. Exercising dumps the poison into the blood stream forcing the body to deal with it. Emily is fortunate that she has discovered the problem. Many must seek more complicated, expensive, cleansing procedures. But, there is hope! I met Emily through my weekly newspaper column. Another lady said she had painted a stove, and when she used it, she could smell the chemicals, but later she began to taste chemicals in everything. She had contacted me through the same newspaper articles; trying to discover what was wrong with her.
Environmental illness, which is a heightened sensitivity to external substances, is a 20th century phenomenon. The first documented instance of this illness came as a result of observing the widespread chemical poisoning of men who were serving in the war. The exposure of chemicals to thousands of combatants to mustard gas had long-term repercussions for soldiers, many of whom had developed chronic symptoms of chemical sensitivity.
Now we’re experiencing chemical warfare of a different nature. Science and technology have created a chemical burden on the environment, and thus it affects the human body. Inside of our homes, household cleaners, solvents, air fresheners, hair spray, antiperspirants, and cosmetics provide serious health hazards, while outdoors: the automobile exhaust fumes, industrial wastes, commercial agriculture, and lawn and garden chemicals find their way into our bodies.
In l992, when the EPA scientists tested 7,000 randomly selected Americans, they found detectable levels of toxins in the urine of 71 percent of those tested. (Journal of Toxicity and Environmental Health, l992, Vol.37) We do not have much news coverage about this information, do we?
Is it any wonder environmental illness has become so widespread? We cannot escape the environmental chemicals; however, we can take steps to minimize their effects. Eating a nutritious diet, boosting overall health with supplements, drinking plenty of pure water, avoiding stress, and periodically cleansing your system might help.
What is Environmental Illness?   The causes and symptoms of EI are many and varied and they can spread in many directions. This illness is most often dismissed by health professionals, and sufferers are labeled as hypochondriacs. The symptoms which are commonly included are fatigue, low vitality, depression, poor concentration, and headaches.
Medical reports are showing us that there is a rise in chronic fatigue syndrome, fibomyalgia (muscle and joint pain), and multiple chemical sensitivities, MCS, are on the rise. Another disease linked to environmental causes is Parkinson’s disease, and childhood asthma. With the increasing of this disease, EI is a problem that cannot be ignored any longer. It is becoming too widespread and even the government is concerned.
We cannot live in this 21st century without exposure to environmental toxins, and they accumulate in our bodies. They are being stored in the fatty tissues of our body. This is why Emily would have more pain when exercising. How are we to guard against these toxins? We can’t escape the pollutants, but we can support the body’s natural detoxification systems and be better equipped to live in a “chemical” world.
If you are a faithful reader of this material, you know that as a nutritionist in preventive care, I have been trying to inform the readers of these dangers. Not only have I been warning, but I have been giving much information concerning how to avoid them. It is time we clean up our act! Only as informed people can we attempt this.
How we react to environmental toxin exposure depends on our nutritional status, total toxic load, genetic heritage, age (children and elderly are less equipped than adults to deal with toxins), state of health, stress level, and status of your immune systems.
Age and genetics are beyond our control; however, we can influence other people. Emily Rieben’s story is not uncommon, but there are many who do not discover the culprit. What are you going to do about the toxic chemicals in your life and surroundings?
I am going to include articles on some preventive ways to deal with bugs and other insects in this section. I will be showing you some ways to protect yourselves. I am available if you need help, contact me at Thelma Ledford@
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