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How Gardening Saves Lives

Shawna Lee Coronado is an author, locally syndicated newspaper columnist, energetic speaker, and environmental and health correspondent. Her book “Gardening Nude” is focused on health improvement by exposure to nature, greening, and community building and can be purchased on Find more about Shawna through her website – The Casual Gardener.

The Healing Benefits of Gardening

Over 10 years ago, I was very ill of health. A single Mom, I had endometriosis, combined with stress, lack of outdoor exposure, poor eating habits, severe allergies, high blood pressure, asthma, sugar and chemical sensitivities. This escalated to severe upper respiratory problems. I was always sick with bronchitis triggered by allergies as well as non-stop woman issues such as yeast and bacterial infections, and I frequently suffered migraines and head and back pain.

All these things and many other pressures began to build in my life. Before I knew it I looked like a skeletal stick figure and weighed only 96 pounds. My back would go out often and I would be left unable to walk for days or even a week at a time. I worked and came home and rarely went out doors. At one point I took over a dozen prescriptions a day just to survive. It was a grim existence.

One day a surprising thing happened that changed my life; I got the genius idea to build a garden on the city easement area around my front mail box. That experience was the beginning of an incredible journey for me both emotionally and physically. It was a revelation and within a few years, “down-sized” my career, became a professional garden designer and full-time writer. I feel better and look better than I ever have – I am thirty pounds heavier than I was ten years ago, but I look healthy and feel well. It is still necessary for me to take prescriptions, but now I only take three per day instead of over a dozen.

Many gardens later, I am still gardening heartily. As I became exposed to the outdoors and increased my physical activity, I started feeling relief with all my health ailments. Better diet, exercise, and outdoor exposure truly helped me to recover and feel as if I am alive again. Although far from perfect, it was such a tremendous change that I still feel it could be called “a miracle.” Building my health back through gardening had become such an amazing experience for me that I decided to write about it and published “Gardening Nude” in 2008. It is a book about better health through environmental exposure and greening.

All thanks to a garden and one determined woman.

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