One reader's incredible journey of discovering her Propylene Glycol Allergy

Cynthia wrote in to me yesterday and we've been chatting through e-mail ever since. Check out her amazing story. She figured out her PG allergy all by herself!

I am a 33 year old female with a very long history of GI problems and strange reactions to random things. As a child, I was diagnosed with a betadine allergy (but not iodine, which caused every doctor to screw up his or her face!), a “sensitive stomach”, and I knew most medications made me feel icky.

Three years ago I was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease, an autoimmune condition where the adrenal glands do not produce the stress hormone cortisol. The lifelong treatment is corticosteroids. In the beginning of my treatment, my GI problems disappeared. I thought I had all the answers. But I did not get the overall improvement the doctors expected. For three more years, I waivered.

Six months ago my stomach went bezerk. I spent more time in the bathroom than out. After a week, I went to the doctor, where they initiated a ton of tests and gave me a shot of depomedrol (prednisone-based corticosteroid to prevent Addisonian Crisis). I had never had depo before. It made me feel better, but suddenly I had pink raccoon eyes and a swollen nose. I thought I had caught a cold in the waiting room.

My problem continued to worsen. I made excellent friends with a GI doctor, had every test in the book, and eventually spent 8 days in the hospital. Stress dosing the Addison’s with corticosteroids helped me feel better. In hindsight, that and the high doses of phenergan (an anti-nausea med that is also an anti-histimine) suppressed my immune response to an allergen.

Several more months passed, and I was worse. I had accepted I would not live without periodic IV fluids, and even with them, my heart would not be able to take the continued strain of dehydration forever. At some point, this mysterious stomach ailment would kill me.

I finally a tried a gluten-free diet just to see. I improved greatly within three days. I thought I had found my answer! Celiac disease that didn’t show up on the tests. No...not quite...but it was a fantastic starting point. Weeks later, I had too many unexplained allergy attacks. So I sat down with a list of items, researched their ingredients, and played least common denomenator. Propylene glycol? Never heard of it. I looked it up on Wikipedia. Suddenly my entire life made sense! Later that day I had an allergic reaction, both facial and ingestion, to a banana. I cried, thinking my genius discovery was now out the window. Until I googled “propylene glycol banana”...turns out, they spray produce with this stuff to ripen it before sale! In order to avoid it, buy organic.

I replaced all my cosmetics and hair products. After buying all natural soap, I discovered that soap no longer burned when I washed. It has all my life, but I thought that was normal. I practically live at Whole Foods. I read every label. I discontinued most of my medications. I went from over 30 pills per day down to five. I found a compounding pharmacy. My doctors are stunned, my family is amazed. I am a new person. I have NEVER felt this fabulous! I still have Addison’s Disease, but now it is a managable condition.

My latest hurdle is dental work. I have extensive dental problems, but now I know why. Everything at the dentist contains PG. It took them three days of intense research to find enough items to do any work on me.

I have just starting finding people online who share my experiences. I am very grateful to make new friends who understand and can hopefully impart some knowledge on a newbie.

Thank you for the time you devote to posting this information. For every person who writes you, there are sure to be many more who do not but still benefit.
— Cynthia

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