I would like to share my personal story of hell from eating flavour enhancer 635. I have been suffering from a maddening itch and rash for over 2 years now, and I am quite sure that I would still be suffering from it had I not found your website. I am a 33-year old American female, and I moved to Australia just over 2 years ago. At that time I was riding my push-bike up the east coast of Australia, from Byron Bay to Cairns. Somewhere around Gladstone, I started to break out in the itchiest hive-rash I have ever had in my entire life. Naturally at first I thought it was heat rash which I have had before while cycling in other countries, so I bought some prickly heat remedy. In the past that has always worked, but this time it didn’t. The rash just itched and itched to the point where I scratched the skin off, and I just wanted to rip off my flesh.  Everyone told me it was stress from the cycling and heat, and I believed them. When I stopped cycling, I went to Sydney mainly because it was winter there and I so desperately wanted the rash to calm down but it got worse. I would wake up at night scratching, and my eyes often swelled up, I had heart palpitations, fever-like symptoms, and occasionally I would wake up with huge bruises as well. Hot showers would always make it worse. I tried every cream on the market, but the only thing that worked was calamine lotion. I thought I was dying. The itching was absolutely maddening.

Everyone told me it was stress, but I knew that it wasn’t. I have read other people’s stories on your site, and I am so envious of people who figured out what it was right away from one chicken or dried soup. But for me, I had no idea that a food additive was causing my misery. I am a vegetarian and eat pretty healthy.  From what I can gather, I got this ‘ribo rash’ from our Friday night pizzas in Sydney, as well as the occasional Dorito and sakata cracker.  I also have eaten the veggie burger from Hungry Jacks occasionally, and I think all of these things combined with the physical stress of the cycling cause me to have the initial outbreak of ribo rash.  The problem for me though was that I could not see any pattern in what was causing it. Although deep down I really felt like it was something I was ingesting.  For a while, I actually started to think that I was allergic to the water in Australia.  Also I wanted to mention that the rash started on my breasts, arms, and lower back, and eventually spread and moved its way around to my torso, legs, back, face, and neck. In addition, I would get these ‘waves’ of heat and unwellness that I could feel travelling up and down my body.  It is really hard to explain, but I am sure that anyone who has felt it will understand immediately.

This rash made me completely weak and debilitated, to the point where I turned down job offers and could barely even function. For a while I really did think I was going to die. My relationship suffered so much too because I felt so physically unattractive, and to be honest even during sex all I could think about was the rash or the itch or both. Looking back, I don’t know how I made it through. I decided to leave Australia and go to Thailand for medical treatment because at that time I had no medicare card. Spending those 6 months in Thailand probably saved my life.  Really I am shocked that no one has died from this yet. Anyway I was allergy tested for the basics such as wheat, gluten, etc, and everything came up fine. I stayed in Thailand to do meditation in case it was stress and I did a lot of fasting and eventually the rash cleared up.

When I came back to Australia, I was so happy that I battled my ‘mystery illness’ and I was so happy to have my life back. Sadly though, I was only in Australia for 5 days when the rash came back.  I cannot explain the frustration to be back at the very beginning. I got to that stage where I just accepted the fact that I was going to have this rash for the rest of my life. My family and friends all believed that it was stress, and that made me feel worse because I started to feel like everyone thought I was crazy.  Every now and again I would have a big blow-up, where my face and lips would swell up with fluid and my eyes would get so puffy that I could hardly see.  Every time it happened the swelling seemed to get worse and worse to the point where I was definitely at risk of anaphylactic shock.

I went to more doctors. I was tested for everything, including Ross River fever, heavy metal poisoning, strep infection, staph infection, and HIV.  Everything came up negative. The doctors would tell me it was eczema, give me cortisone, and send me on my way. It was so frustrating; even when I told them the rash did not respond to cortisone, they still couldn’t figure it out.

Eventually I decided to adopt a gluten-free, wheat-free diet in a desperate attempt to stop the rash and I took a job at one of the island resorts on the Great Barrier Reef. There were no shops or restaurants, so food choices were very limited. After 9 months of gluten free eating I was still suffering from this insane rash. One day I had a salad for lunch. About an hour after lunch, my face felt like it was on fire and started swelling up like a balloon until it was so swollen I looked as if I had been beaten up. The only thing I had eaten all day was a raw veggie salad with Master Foods salad dressing. Well, the salad dressing just had to be it, and what is often found in salad dressing but 635 … Some internet research the next day led me to find your amazing site after two years of hell, and I wept as I read so many stories exactly like mine.  Finally I could prove that I was not crazy. Two months later, my rash has completely cleared up after eliminating 635 from my diet.  After two years of trying everything else and having no results, the rash is gone.

One thing I know for sure is that this additive is a killer and it must be removed from all food in Australia and elsewhere in the world. If my body rejects it so violently, imagine how a small child may react – Jennifer Qld.