Successful holistic treatment of Clostridium difficile gut infection: case study


With the poor condition of many our gut microbiomes, Clostridium difficile bacterial infections of the colon have become a public health crisis. CDIs (C. diff infections) are now more frequent, more severe, more difficult to treat and more often fatal. These infections typically occur after use of broad-spectrum antibiotics, which eradicate the good gut flora along with the targeted bad bacteria. Ironically, the treatment of choice for CDIs is usually heavy duty antibiotics.

Antibiotics decimate the good, probiotic bacteria living in the gut microbiome. Unfortunately, they have a harder time accessing C. diff bacteria that are hiding in spores these bacteria form inside the wall of the gut.  This often leads to a recurrence of another CDI after the antibiotics have cleared the gut. When a recurrent infection occurs, it is often more severe.

In this article, published in the Oriental Medicine Journal in 2011, I describe how I cured my nasty Clostridium difficile infection using nutritional supplements and diet –  and no antibiotics.

Successful holistic treatment of Clostridium difficile gut infection: case study

See also my 2021 update containing answers to questions people have asked during the ten years since the case study was published.


Hardin, J.R. (2011). Successful holistic treatment of Clostridium difficile gut infection: case study. Oriental Medicine Journal, 19:4, 24-37. See

Hardin, J.R. (2021). Update to “Successful Holistic Treatment of Clostridium Difficile Gut Infection: Case Study” (2011). See:

© Copyright 2021. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

AUTOIMMUNITY: How It Develops Over Time

The Danger of Having Chronic Imbalances in Your Gut Microbiome

Most of this site is about how a chronically imbalanced, unhealthy gut microbiome can cause a large variety of diseases and conditions in the body – and how to fix your gut microbiome so you can live a long life in good health.

80% of the body’s immune system is located in the gut microbiome. When this microbiome becomes unhealthy, it can’t keep the rest of the body healthy. Eventually autoimmune diseases and conditions can develop.

The body’s immune system is designed to seek out and destroy defective and foreign cells like bacteria and viruses. Autoimmunity refers to a failure of the immune system to recognize its own cells and tissues, like your skin or joints, as “self”.

Instead, the immune system releases proteins called auto-antibodies to attack these healthy cells as if they were dangerous invaders.

Some autoimmune diseases target a single organ. An example is Type 1 diabetes that damages the pancreas. Others, like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), target the whole body. (AARDA, 2019), (CTCA, 2018) & (Watson, 2019)

A serious aspect of autoimmunity: Having one autoimmune disease predisposes you to developing others as you move through life. Many people tell me ,”Oh, I just have a seasonal allergy. It’s nothing serious. I take something for it and am fine.” But there’s good reason to start fixing the underlying cause of that allergy if you’d like to live healthily as you age. The Allegra , Zyrtec, Claritin or whatever you take is just easing your symptoms but it’s doing nothing to cure your allergy.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: An Autoimmune Condition

Here’s my shorthand explanation for what causes autoimmunity and most illnesses in the body: 


Illustration by Emily Roberts, Verywell

This is a partial list of autoimmune diseases:

  • Allergies
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis & psoriatic arthritis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease & syndrome
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Addison’s disease
  • Graves’ disease
  • Lupus
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • Ankylosing spondylitis

There are many more – all preventable. The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) publishes a list of over 100 known autoimmune diseases.

Autoimmune diseases are NOT a necessary part of aging. Since they can take decades before they become serious enough to get diagnosed, we’re often told we’re sick because we’re getting older.

A personal note: I and everyone I know has at least one autoimmune disease or condition.




See the other posts under AUTOIMMUNITY for more information.


American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA). (2018). There are more than 100 Autoimmune Diseases. See:

Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). (2018). The cancer and autoimmune disease connection may increase disease risk, complicate treatments. See:

Watson. S. (2019). Autoimmune Diseases: Types, Symptoms, Causes, and More. See:

© Copyright 2021. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved. 

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


The Hygiene Hypothesis states that being overly afraid of exposure to all kinds of germ and trying to eradicate them completely in our homes is dangerous to our health. Just think of all the products that promise to kill 99% of bacteria!

According to the Hygiene Hypothesis, developing children need exposure to a wide variety of bacteria in order to develop robust immune systems. Young children’s lack of exposure accounts for the steadily increasing incidence of autoimmune diseases in both children and the adults they grow into – including allergies, asthma, skin conditions and many more.

Another way of putting this is that “a lack of exposure to germs in early childhood leads to defects in the establishment of immune tolerance” which we need in order to stay healthy. (Okada et al, 2010)

In what seems to be a paradox, developed countries’ hostility to germs of every kind and consequent over emphasis on absolute cleanliness has caused fragility in our immune systems and rendered them unable to keep us healthy.

According to the Hygiene Hypothesis, the decreasing exposure to germs in Western countries is the source of the increasing incidence of both autoimmune and allergic diseases. Epidemiological data, particularly migration studies, show that subjects migrating from a low-incidence to a high-incidence country develop autoimmune disorders at a high incidence in the first generation.

In a household that’s extremely clean, an infant’s developing immune system isn’t effectively challenged to develop robustly. The immune system of a young child exposed to a wider variety of germs gets ‘educated’ and learns how to launch a defensive response to infectious organisms. Instead, defense responses in the child living in an extremely clean environment are so inadequate that they actually contribute to the development of autoimmune conditions like asthma and allergies. (US FDA, 2018)

The name Hygiene Hypothesis may be confusing because it seems to refer to personal cleanliness Not so. The Hygiene Hypothesis does not suggest that giving up showering is a good thing. “Reducing personal hygiene, such as not washing hands before eating, is expected to simply increase the risk of infection without having any impact on allergies or immune disorders”. (Wikipedia, 2/14/2021)

Do however stay away from antibacterial soaps, mouthwashes and toothpastes. They kill our protective, probiotic bacteria along with any illness-inducing ones so do serious damage to the bacterial microbiomes found on your skin and inside your mouth.

A short video explaining the Hygiene Hypothesis:


Okada, H, Kuhn , C, Feillet, H & Bach, J-F. (April 2010). The ‘hygiene hypothesis’ for autoimmune and allergic diseases: an update. Clinical Experimental Immunology, 160:1, 1-9. See:

US FDA. (3/23/2018). Asthma: The Hygiene Hypothesis. See: See:

Wikipedia. (2/14/2021). Hygiene Hypothesis. See:

© Copyright 2021. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Update to “Successful Holistic Treatment of Clostridium Difficile Gut Infection: Case Study” (2011)

I’ve learned a lot in the ten years since I had a Clostridium difficile gut infection and got rid of it using a protocol of probiotics and other nutritional supplements instead of antibiotics, which had led to my getting C. diff in the first place. The article I wrote about C. diff and my protocol, Successful Holistic Treatment of Clostridium Difficile Gut Infection: Case Study, was published in the Oriental Medicine Journal in 2011 and can also be found on the Peggy Lillis foundation website.

The main thing I’ve come to understand is that people who develop and maintain a robust gut microbiome don’t get C. diff – and are also protecting themselves from most of the other nasty health problems that can ail us – from skin conditions like acne and psoriasis to Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, endometriosis, restless legs syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, diabetes, Guillain-Barre syndrome, ankylosing spondylitis, most heart disease and some cancers.

Information about C. diff from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2020):

  • C. diff (also known as Clostridioides difficile or C. difficile) is a germ (bacterium) that causes severe diarrhea and colitis (an inflammation of the colon).
  • It’s estimated to cause almost half a million infections in the United States each year.
  • About 1 in 6 patients who get C. diff will get it again in the subsequent 2-8 weeks.
  • One in 11 people over age 65 diagnosed with a healthcare-associated C. diff infection die within one month.

Below is a compendium of responses to questions about my article that people have sent in.

Q. This article is from 10 years ago. I checked and found that Repleniss and Hyper Implante aren’t in production anymore. What probiotic supplements can I take instead of them in 2020? My doctor recommended Culturelle.

A. Culturelle is a nice start for repopulating your gut to force out the C. diff baddies but it’s not sufficient.

The main ingredient in Culturelle is Lactobacillus rhamnosus, which is one of the 5 probiotic bacteria mentioned in the following article excerpt as having been shown to be effective for preventing a C. diff infection: Choosing the best probiotic for C. diff. (on the Peggy Lillis Foundation website):
How do I know which probiotics can be used to prevent a C. difficile infection?
“Fortunately, there is over 35 years of research done in different countries with clinical studies and randomized controlled trials that have shown which probiotic strains are effective for different types of diseases. In 2020, the American Association of Gastroenterology recommends four probiotics to prevent C. difficile infections after antibiotic exposure, but five others types of
probiotics were not found to prevent C. difficile infections. Only two of the probiotics had multiple trials to support this claim: Saccharomyces boulardii CNCM I-745 [Florastor®, Laboratories Biocodex] and a three-strain mixture of L. acidophilus CL1285 + L. casei LBC-80R + L. rhamnosus CLR2 [Bio-K+, Bio-K PLUS International].” (Peggy Lillis foundation, 2020)

But our guts need a wide variety of probiotics to boot out a C. diff over run and keep us healthy.

I think a mix of probiotics called Probiotic Synergy (Designs for Health) would be a
good substitute for Repleniss and Hyper Implante. If you have a candida overrun, you might not be able to tolerate the milk-based probiotics in it.

Then there’s Saccharomyces boulardii, a probiotic yeast. It’s excellent for helping get rid of C. diff. Dr Gabrielle Francis, my naturopath, warns that it and probiotics derived from milk can be problematic for people who have a Candida yeast overrun. So if you don’t need to avoid yeasts, be sure to add S. boulardii to your supplements list. The brand I like is Jarrow’s Saccharomyces boulardii + MOS. It’s also a lot cheaper than the Florastor mentioned above.

Here’s full info on S boulardii, including contraindications, on WebMD:

Saccharomyces Boulardii 250 Mg Capsule Antidiarrheal Formulations With Gut Flora Microorganisms

S. boulardii has been known for decades to be effective against diarrhea from all causes. I always pack a bottle of it whenever I travel and take lots of it anytime I absolutely need to take an antibiotic.

Because S. boulardii is a probiotic YEAST, not a bacterium, it’s perfect for taking while taking a course of antibiotic since yeasts aren’t vulnerable to being killed off and this yeast will help keep your gut happily populated with probiotics.

This is a peer reviewed scientific article about the benefits of S. boulardii. Look at the Abstract & then scroll down to ‘Table 2. Mechanisms of action of Saccharomyces boulardii in specific infections’ to read about how this amazing probiotic yeast combats C. diff:
Efficacy and safety of the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii for the prevention and therapy of gastrointestinal disorders

Then there’s GI-REVIVE. If I’d known about it ten years ago, I also would have added GI Revive to my protocol. Its principal ingredient is the amino acid l-glutamine, which is the main building block of the mucosal lining of the gut, where our probiotics live. See the question What probiotics do you take now to make sure you don’t get C. diff again? below for more information on how l-glutamine would have been so helpful.

Q. Where do you get the supplements you take?

A. Mostly online, from Amazon and VitaCost.

Q. What was the best dosing and timing of the different supplements you took?

A. I took those supplements in the dosages given in my article, all together,
with meals. Since my article is a case study describing what I did, I can’t
answer your question about ideal timing.

Q. How long into following your protocol did the diarrhea stop?

A. It was ten years ago that I had my battle with C. diff so I can’t tell you exactly when I felt
entirely better. If I recall correctly, I started feeling somewhat better after maybe a month – but, although it had been strongly recommended early on, I didn’t start taking S. boulardii for quite a few months into my illness. I do recall that adding it to my supplements egime made a huge difference and I managed to vanquish the C. diff nasties much more quickly after that.

At that time, in 2010, everything I found online about C. diff talked only about taking antibiotics rather than restoring one’s seriously imbalanced gut microbiome with supplements. Peggy Lillis died from C. diff in April 2010 at the same time I first became ill with it, so her sons, Christian & Liam hadn’t yet started the Peggy Lillis Foundation, which has grown into a respected source of information about C. diff.

All I knew then was that it made no sense to me take a heavy duty antibiotic as a treatment for an illness that had been caused by taking antibiotics in the first place. So it was just Dr Denice Hilty, my chiropractor who was my principal health care provider, Dr David Miller, an MD I knew from my local health food store, who was very knowledgeable about nutritional supplements and me working together to figure out how to treat me in a different way. We stumbled along with me as a willing guinea pig – and it worked!

And people have let me know in the years since I published my article in 2011 that it’s worked for them too.

Q. What time of day is it best to take BroccoMax and Allicidin, how much of each and in what order?

A. The dosages for Broccomax & Allicidin are in my article:
* BroccoMax (Jarrow Formulas) a supplement made from broccoli seeds, which kills C. difficile
Dose: 2 capsules 2X/day

* Quantum Allicidin Complex (Premier Research Labs), a supplement made from a wild garlic extract, which breaks open the biofilms, mucopolysaccharide sacs C. difficile forms to protect against being killed off
Dose: 2 capsules 3X/day
I increased the dose to 3 capsules 3X/day after three months. If I were following the protocol now, I’d start at the large dose right away.

Q. How do BroccoMax and Allicidin kill C. diff?

A. The organic compound Sulforaphane Glucosinolate is the main ingredient in
BroccoMax. A search for ‘Sulforaphane Glucosinolate & Vancomycin’ found this explanation of how this works:
The antimicrobial effects of glucosinolates and their respective enzymatic hydrolysis products on bacteria isolated from the human intestinal tract

The organic compound allicin (a component of garlic extract), is the main ingredient in Allicidin. Garlic and its component allicin are both known to destroy biofilms.

See these articles: Antimicrobial activity of natural products against Clostridium difficile in vitro and C-Diff Symptoms and Treatments.

Q. Will it help to take either BroccoMax or Allicidin alone or do they need to be taken together?

A. They need to be taken in combination:

*The organic compound allicin (derived from garlic) in Allicidin breaks open the biofilm cysts that C. diff bacteria form to hide safely in inside the colon walls.

*The organic compound sulforaphane glucosinolate in BroccoMax kills C. diff bacteria.

*So if you were to take BroccoMax without also taking Allicidin, you’d be leaving some C. diff bacteria hiding inside those cysts.

*And if you were to take Allicidin without also taking BroccoMax, you’d open the cysts and then have an even larger nasty population of C. diff bacteria inside your colon.

Q. Can I take BroccoMax and Allicidin while on Vancomycin?

A. I assume you can take both supplements while taking Vancomycin but don’t know for sure. As you know from my article, I declined taking an antibiotic when I discovered I had C. diff. Just didn’t make sense to me since it was antibiotics that had wiped out enough of the probiotics in my gut to allow the C. diff bacteria to colonize in there and make me sick.

Q. What probiotics do you take now to make sure you don’t get C. diff again?

A. These are the probiotics I take every day:

* Complete Probiotic (Dr Mercola) 1 in the morning with breakfast
* Complete Spore Restore (Dr Mercola) 1 in the morning with breakfast
* Align 1 in the morning with breakfast
* Lactobacillus Gasseri (Swanson) 1 in the morning with breakfast

Here’s info on the various probiotic strains in Mercola’s Complete Probiotics along with his explanation of why also taking Complete Spore Restore is important:

This supplement is also very important because it contains the amino acid L-glutamine, the main building block of the mucosal lining of the gut where our probiotics live. This amino acid repairs and maintains the integrity of the gut lining , which is where our probiotics live. A healthy, intact gut lining also promotes over all health.

* GI-Revive (Designs for Health) 2 capsules with meals or the equivalent in powder form. (Start with 1 capsule/day , see how you tolerate it and gradually work up to the full dose.)

An article explaining why L-glutamine is so important for gut and overall health:

Glutamine: The Powerful Amino Acid for the Gut

Digestive enzymes are also very useful. I like:
* Complete Digestion (Enzyme Science) 1 3X/day, with meals

Q. What about getting probiotics from foods?

A. Kefir is also a great source of milk-based probiotics. Get one that’s organic (if possible) & unsweetened -or buy some kefir grains and make your own using milk from pasture-fed cows. The fermentation process for making milk into kefir eats up 99% of the lactose in the milk, which is great in case you have a problem with dairy products. Here’s an article about kefir from my website.

Donna Schwenk’s website, CULTUREDFOODLIFE.COM, is a great source of information about the health benefits of kefir.

Also see 11 Probiotic Foods That Are Super Healthy and 14 Probiotic Foods for a Healthy Gut. Just remember if you’re eating pickles to add probiotics to your diet, they must be actually fermented in salt brine, not ‘pickled’ with vinegar. And of course, sea salt is a whole lot healthier than so called ‘table salt. Sea salt like pink Himalayan contains all the trace minerals our bodies need and which are found in sea water (our original home). In contrast, ‘table salt’ is heavily refined to remove all those trace minerals, which are then sold to companies a making nutritional supplements. And, by the way, it’s ‘table salt’ that raises blood pressure. Avoiding ‘table salt’ and eating sea salt can actually normalize blood pressure.

Raw milk cheeses are one of my favorite sources of probiotics from food. They’re delicious and, if you’re the sort of person who can feel the energy emanating from living things, you’ll feel the the life in them when your hand gets near them.

Q. Does kefir kill C. diff bacteria?

A. This is an interesting article on using kefir to stop recurring C. diff infections when antibiotics aren’t working:

A tasty solution to recurrent Clostridium difficile: Curing recurrent C. diff infections without fecal transplantation.

I would say the probiotics in kefir don’t KILL C. diff bacteria. I assume the probiotics help fill up the space in your gut so the C. diff bacteria don’t have the place to themselves to take over.

Q. I’ve read that Manuka honey kills MRSA. Does it also kill C. diff bacteria?

A. Manuka honey, from New Zealand and Australia, has amazing therapeutic qualities. And it tastes great too.

Yes, a high therapeutic grade of manuka honey does kill MRSA, aids in wound healing from burns and also kills C. diff biofilms.

This is relevant because C. diff also forms biofilm cysts in the lining of the colon where the bacteria hide out when they detect the presence of antibiotics in the gut. Then they burst out & repopulate the gut, which now has even fewer probiotic bacteria living in it, when the antibiotics course is over. This clever maneuver on the part of C. diff bacteria explain why so many people get what doctors think of as ‘re-infections’ but are actually just a continuation of the original infection.

The therapeutic grade of manuka honey used in this study was UMF 26+.

The Inhibitory Effects Demonstrated by Manuka Honey on Biofilms: How Manuka Honey May Soon Replace Conventional Antibiotic Therapy

From the article:

“With C. difficile contributing to 30-50% of all nosocomial infections, it is  pertinent to determine and implement effective treatment methods in order to  combat this species of bacteria (Giles, & Labeij, 2017). Currently, fecal  microbiota transplantation (FMT) is the most widely accepted and implemented  treatment method. Giles and Labeij (2017) cite the use of commercially  available Manuka honey with UMF 26+ with a patient with persistent C.  difficile infection. After treatment with two honey lavages a week apart, a  sample removed from the patient’s colon did not detect C. difficile (Giles,  & Labeij, 2017). This discovery provides a promising alternative for the  treatment of C. difficile infections.”

“Anti-Biofilm Activity in Manuka Honey in Combination with Antibiotics  Manuka honey has been proven to inhibit in-vitro antibiofilm experiments. More  specifically, Gentamicin and Manuka honey produced an additive interaction  against P. aeruginosa biofilms and a synergistic interaction with vancomycin  against S. aureus biofilms (Campeau & Patel, 2014). When Manuka honey  dressings were utilized in conjunction with oxacillin, tetracycline, imipenem,  and mupirocim; a synergistic effect was achieved against MRSA (Carter, et,  al., 2016). The findings suggested that the combined therapeutic intervention  of Manuka honey wound dressings and antimicrobials could lower the dosage of  antimicrobial medications required to inhibit the biofilm as well as prevent  the development of resistance.

“Manuka honey’s bactericidal action is associated with non-peroxide  antibacterial activity (NPABA). In-vitro isolates with multi-drug resistant phenotypes have not demonstrated any reduction in their susceptibility nor  generated any honey-resistant strains to Manuka honey when administered at  inhibitory levels under normal laboratory conditions (Carter, et, al., 2016).

“While bactericidal effects were seen in both planktonic cultures and biofilms,  a higher concentration of Manuka honey was required to inhibit sessile  bacteria, compared to its counterpart, free-living bacteria (Hammond, et. al.,  2014). Test strains of well-known pathogenic bacteria were inhibited at lower  concentrations in a liquid medium compared to on agar well diffusion plates  (Hammond, et. al., 2014). This finding may be attributed to the ability of the  components of Manuka honey to diffuse more readily and uniformly in a liquid medium due to the osmotic effects.”

This article explains the therapeutic grading system used for manuka honey. It’s a little confusing but the rule is – the higher the grade, the higher the jar of honey’s therapeutic value :

The Manuka Honey Grading Systems – How to Get Real Manuka Honey

Q. Have you had a recurrence of C. diff since following the protocol in your article?

A. No. I chose not to take any antibiotics 10 years ago and instead focused on building up a strong level of probiotics in my gut so the C. diff bacteria in there would get forced out and then wouldn’t have enough space to colonize my gut ever again.

Q. Why did you decide not to take an antibiotic to treat your C. diff infection?

A. When I got the C. diff diagnosis, I learned that it had been frequent courses of antibiotics that had ruined my gut microbiome by killing off enough of the good (probiotic) bacteria had been living in there until there was ample space for bad (pathogenic) bacteria like C. diff to take it over as their own. Anti-biotics kill good bacteria right along with the bad ones.

Also, I quickly learned that a large percentage of people who treat their C. diff infections with heavy duty antibiotics like Vancomycin or Metronidazole find it comes back again – often with a vengeance since the antibiotic has now killed off even more of the good bacteria in their guts, allowing even more C. diff bacteria to grow in there.

That’s because C. diff bacteria create biofilm cysts that they can hide in while they detect antibiotic inside the gut. These cysts borrow into the walls of the colon & burst open when they detect that the antibiotic has finally cleared the gut. When the gut now has another round of C. diff bacteria in it but even fewer probiotics to limit its ability to reproduce, the human host becomes even sicker.

I’ve been contacted by C. diff sufferers whose doctors have put them on multiple, repeated courses of Vancomycin, Metronidazole or one of the other heavy duty antibiotics known to
kill C. diff. every time they get sick again, apparently not understanding the mechanism C. diff uses to keep its hold on their territory inside the gut – or maybe just not knowing there’s a non-pharmaceutical way to get rid of C. diff and keep it from returning.

It seems to me that a recurrence of C. diff following a course of antibiotics doesn’t mean the person has contracted the infection again but rather that the C. diff bacteria formed biofilm cysts in reaction to detecting an antibiotic in the gut and burrowed into the wall of the colon until the coast was clear. Then the cysts opened, releasing another army of C. diff bacteria into the colon – where they now encounter a seriously reduced army of good bacteria to fight them off. And this process repeats itself each time an antibiotic is given.

Many people who’ve contacted me have taken up to 12 courses of antibiotics, kept relapsing and becoming significantly sicker each time, lost a huge amount of weight (some have become so weak they don’t have the strength to get out of bed and can no longer take care of their children or earn any money) and know they’re going to die unless another way to treat them is tried.

Continuing to give people repeated doses of heavy duty antibiotics reminds me of American soldiers during the Vietnam War who claimed with all seriousness, “We had to destroy the village in order to save it”. Ie, allied commanders gave the order to bomb and shell the village regardless of civilian casualties – to rout the Vietcong.

Another reason I opted not to take an antibiotic is that a serious problem has developed world wide from the over use of antibiotics: Many bacterial pathogens have mutated to become ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANT.

BTW, factory farmed animals are routinely given antibiotics in their feed to keep them from
becoming ill in the overcrowded, unsanitary conditions they live in so we’re also unknowingly getting doses of antibiotics in our food unless we avoid factory farmed meats & fish. But that’s another whole topic you can look into as you come to understand how you got this C. diff infection & how to avoid getting another one.

Q. Is there research showing the effectiveness of any other probiotic against C. diff?

A. Here’s an article about the effectiveness of Lactobacillus reuteri against C. diff:
Probiotic Proves Deadly Against Clostridium Difficile

L. reuteri strains are isolated from dairy and meat products and also from animal sources. L. reuteri is a probiotic culture and a member of the NSLAB population in several cheese varieties (e.g., Cheddar, Grana Padano, Gruyère, Idiazabal, Parmigiano Reggiano, Roncal, and Toma). (Science Direct, 2020)

Q. Can you explain why it’s so important to keep my gut lining strong?

A. See my article:

C.diff can reproduce by creating hardy, long-lasting spores. Spores are difficult to kill on surfaces. Spores can reside in the gut and evade antibiotic treatment.


Aires, A, et al. (2009). The antimicrobial effects of glucosinolates and their respective enzymatic hydrolysis products on bacteria isolated from the human intestinal tract. Journal of Applied Microbiology. See:

Butterfield, S. (2014). A tasty solution to recurrent Clostridium difficile: Curing recurrent C. diff infections without fecal transplantation. See:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). C. diff (Clostridioides difficile). See:

Hardin, J.R. (2011). Successful Holistic Treatment of Clostridium Difficile Gut Infection: Case Study. Oriental Medicine Journal. See:

Hardin, J.R.(2013). Kefir. See:

Hardin, J.R. (2017). The Gut’s Mucosal Lining & Leaky Gut. See:

James. (undated). The Manuka Honey Grading Systems – How to Get Real Manuka Honey. See:

Keet, E. (2018). Probiotic Proves Deadly Against Clostridium Difficile. See:

Kelesidis, T. (2012). Efficacy and safety of the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii for the prevention and therapy of gastrointestinal disorders. See:

McFarland, M.V. (6/24/2020). Choosing the best probiotic for C. diff. Peggy Lillis Foundation. See:


Palsdottir, H. (2018). 11 Probiotic Foods That Are Super Healthy. See:

Patel, R. (2020). Glutamine: The Powerful Amino Acid for the Gut. See:

Pavelik, L. & Cundell. (undated). The Inhibitory Effects Demonstrated by Manuka Honey on Biofilms: How Manuka Honey May Soon Replace Conventional Antibiotic Therapy. See:

Roshan, N. et al. (2017). Antimicrobial activity of natural products against Clostridium difficile in vitro. Journal of Applied Microbiology. See:

Schwenck, D. See:

Science Direct. (2020). Lactobacillus reuteri. Elsivier. See:

Tarantino, O. 2019. 14 Probiotic Foods for a Healthy Gut. See:

UHN Staff. (2020). C-Diff Symptoms and Treatments. See:

WebMD. (2020). Saccharomyces Boulardii 250 Mg Capsule Antidiarrheal Formulations With Gut Flora Microorganisms. See:

Zhai, H. et al. (2014). Lavage with Allicin in Combination with Vancomycin Inhibits Biofilm Formation by Staphylococcus epidermidis in a Rabbit Model of Prosthetic Joint Infection. PLOS One. See:

© Copyright 2021. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


This is how the risk of getting Covid-19 is usually explained: in terms of EXPOSURE.

In fact, there’s a much better way to assess your likelihood of getting Covid – and whatever other bugs are going around: THE HEALTH OF YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM.

This is an important difference in perspective. In the first view, there’s nothing you can do to stay healthy except avoid exposure. In the second view, you can do lots to stay healthy by taking specific measures to strengthen your immune system. And, since 80% of your immune system resides in your gut microbiome, improving the health of your gut microbiome will also protect you against most of the diseases and conditions usually considered just part of aging.

Clearly a huge win-win for you with nothing to lose and everything to gain.


The second perspective is how Functional Medicine practitioners approach healing – not as a series of symptoms to be modified but as seeking the root causes of those symptoms and repairing those underlying imbalances.


This video gives a brief explanation of the relationship between the health of your gut microbiome, where 80% of your immune system lives, and what’s going on with your overall health.

Covid and other viruses spread among people whose immune systems aren’t working properly, making them vulnerable to pathogenic bugs. We often hear people express surprise that someone in ‘good health’ got Covid, a Clostridium difficile infection or some other nasty illness.

At issue here is how we think of ‘good health’. If you define it as not having been diagnosed with a disease, then you’re missing the important role of the gut microbiome. Modern conventional medicine tends to focus on and treat the symptoms of chronic poor gut immunity, dividing the various organs up into medical specialties. Functional medical practitioners view the body as an integrated system and treat the whole system by helping people correct the underlying causes of their various symptoms.

An example from my life. My husband suffered from autoimmune conditions starting early in his childhood: frequent, severe migraines and rheumatoid arthritis. In his 40’s, some of his liver functions were off. I went with him to his doctor’s appoint and heard the doc commend him for his good health because he had such low blood pressure. We were told not to worry about the liver imbalance. My husband went on to develop other autoimmune conditions, including, eventually, life-threatening myesthenia gravis, which caused him great suffering.

This doc was a very nice guy. He surely had gone into medicine to help people stay healthy but his way of understanding health was sorely lacking.

How autoimmune problems develop:    

Chronically poor condition of the gut microbiome (gut dysbiosis) ––> leaky gut ––> chronic low level inflammation in the body, which eventually ––> autoimmune diseases and conditions


To this end, a group of scientists have created a way for you to assess your real risk of getting COVID and provided clear information on what you can do to build up your immune system so you don’t get it – while also improving your overall health at the same time.

Go to their #STOP COVID COLD site to calculate your Covid risk. After you’ve submitted your answers to the quiz, you’ll see your score and can learn what you can do now to keep from getting the virus and also improve your general health picture.

The video by Dr Mercola at the top right of the page explains it well as do the two Stealth Strategies to Stop Covid Cold e-reports you’ll find near the bottom of the page to download. (#StopCovidCold, 2020)

You can also download one or both of the Stealth Strategies to Stop Covid Cold reports here.

See the About page on the Stop COVID Cold site for bios for the coalition of experts and organizations who provided the information on the site.


Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 is highly protective in preventing and achieving overall health. A 25-hydroxyvitamin D test is the usual way to measure its level in the blood.

For more information on why an adequate amount of Vitamin D is necessary for a healthy immune system and achieving overall good health, see Vitamin D Benefits Bones, Immunity, Skin & More (Levy, 2020)

Lymphocyte Value

Lymphocytes are white blood cells that are one of the body’s main types of immune cells. They are made in the bone marrow and found in the blood and lymph tissue.

A high lymphocyte blood level indicates your body is dealing with an infection or other inflammatory condition. Severe or chronically low counts can indicate a possible infection or other significant illness.

Neutrophil Value

Neutrophils are the most plentiful of the white blood cells in the body’s immune system, making up 55-70% of the white blood cells.


  • Researchers with the Singapore General Hospital and Duke-NUS Medical School set out to determine if a combination of vitamin D, magnesium and vitamin B12 would improve outcomes among COVID-19 patients aged 50 and older
  • Seventeen of the patients received oral vitamin D3 (1,000 IU), magnesium (150 milligrams (mg)) and vitamin B12 (500 mcg) — together known as DMB — upon admission for a median of five days while 26 patients who did not receive DMB served as the control group
  • Significant benefits were seen among the DMB group, with only 17.6% requiring initiation of oxygen therapy during their hospitalization, compared to 61.5% of those in the control group
  • Vitamin D, magnesium and vitamin B12 may present a unique three-pronged approach for tackling COVID-19 by modulating the hyper-inflammation often seen in the disease

– Midlands Directory. (8/24/2020)


In case your risk of getting Covid is high and you need to supplement with the vitamins and mineral mentioned in the previous section about improving outcomes for Covid patients – also important for preventing getting Covid, here’s a list of the supplements I like and use in case my diet isn’t providing adequate amounts. These amounts work for me. You should check with your own health care provider:

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 5,000 (Metagenics). I take 1 gel cap daily and 2 every 3rd day during the pandemic – and have 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood tests every three to six months to check my D blood serum level. It was 63 in early March 2020 (good) and I’d gotten it up to 90 by September 2020 (very good).


Magnesium Glycinate Chelate  (Nested Naturals). I take 2 capsules in the morning.             

Neuro-Mag (l-threonate) (Designs for Health). I take 1 capsule after lunch + 2 in the evening.                    

Vitamin B Complex

Dr Mercola’s Vitamin B-Complex (I take 2 capsules each morning)

Keep your gut microbiome healthy so the rest of you can be healthy too.


Levy, J. (2020). Vitamin D Benefits Bones, Immunity, Skin & More. Dr Axe. See:

Midlands Directory. (8/24/2020). Dr. Mercola Introduces Stop COVID Cold. See:

#StopCovidCold.(2020). Stealth Strategies to Stop Covid Cold. See:

#StopCovidCold.(2020). Stealth Strategies to Stop Covid Cold. See:

#StopCovidCold. (2020). About. See:

© Copyright 2020. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Vitamin D Blood Level Affects Covid-19 Severity

Source: Plant Based News

It is estimated that up to 85 percent of people have insufficient levels of vitamin D and are unaware of their deficient state…. Over 95 percent of senior citizens in the US may possibly be deficient…. The late winter average vitamin D level was found to be about 15 to 18 ng/ml, which is far below optimal levels.

Mercola, Vitamin D Research Page, 2020

Source: Dr Joseph Mercola

A short article describing research by Vadim Backman, a Biomedical Engineer at Northwestern University, presents additional compelling evidence for the importance of having a Vitamin D serum level high enough to protect yourself from experiencing severe complications or dying from Covid-19.

This is the article in its entirety, How Does Vitamin D Affect COVID-19 Infection?:

New research from Northwestern University suggests Vitamin D levels could play an important role in the body’s reaction to the COVID-19 disease. After analysing data from 10 countries, the team noticed a link between hyperactive immune systems and Vitamin D deficiency. Lead author of the study Vadim Backman warns lack of Vitamin D can increase mortality rates, with severely deficient patients 50% more likely to experience potentially fatal complications due to COVID-19.

Boosting the immune system

Used to describe a cluster of fat-soluble secosteroids, Vitamin D increases intestinal absorption of important minerals such as magnesium, calcium and phosphate. This ramps up immunity and prevents the immune system from ticking into overdrive, which can be fatal during a COVID-19 infection.

Backman and his team were prompted to explore the role of Vitamin D levels after noticing significant mortality rate differences between countries. For example, COVID-19 mortality rates were noticeably higher in the UK, Spain and Italy. While some experts put this down to age demographics, testing rates, quality of healthcare and even the possibility of different and more severe coronavirus strains, Backman suspected it could be driven by something else.

“None of these factors appears to play a significant role,” asserts Backman. “The healthcare system in northern Italy is one of the best in the world. Differences in mortality exist even if one looks across the same age group. And, while the restrictions on testing do indeed vary, the disparities in mortality still exist even when we looked at countries or populations for which similar testing rates apply.

The risk of cytokine storms

After analysing data, the team found a high COVID-19 mortality rates correlated with low Vitamin D levels. For Backman the findings could explain why symptoms can vary so drastically, as well as why children are unlikely to die from the disease. “Instead, we saw a significant correlation with Vitamin D deficiency,” he said.

Postdoctoral research associate and first author of the study Ali Daneshkhah says cytokine storms, which can cause severe damage to the lungs and trigger fatal acute respiratory distress, are often the cause of death in COVID-19 patients. They’re caused by misdirected attacks from the immune system, with Daneshkhah musing that Vitamin D can help prevent this sort of pattern.

“Our analysis shows that it might be as high as cutting the mortality rate in half,” says Daneshkhah. “It will not prevent a patient from contracting the virus, but it may reduce complications and prevent death in those who are infected.”

Experts warn against hoarding

The researchers caution that while Vitamin D is being explored as a potential preventative treatment for COVID-19, hoarding supplements is not advised and could even be dangerous for people with balanced levels of Vitamin D.

“While I think it is important for people to know that vitamin D deficiency might play a role in mortality, we don’t need to push vitamin D on everybody,” adds Backman “This needs further study, and I hope our work will stimulate interest in this area. The data also may illuminate the mechanism of mortality, which, if proven, could lead to new therapeutic targets.”

– (Labmate Online, 6/14/2020)

Vitamin D deficiency. symptoms and diseases caused by insufficient vitamin D. Symptoms & Signs. Human silhouette with highlighted internal organs

Source: Dan Hammer Health LTD

Here’s the original article about Dr Backman’s work published last month by Northwestern University in case you want to look at it: Vitamin D appears to play role in COVID-19 mortality rates: Patients with severe deficiency are twice as likely to experience severe complications, including death. (Northwestern University, 5/7/2020)


Source: Dr Josh Axe

Dr Joseph Mercola’s Vitamin D Resource Page is a good source of information on why Vitamin D is essential to almost all aspects of our health. If you’re interested in preserving your health, I strongly recommend looking at it. (Mercola, 2020)


For additional information on the vital importance of Vitamin D – including the many diseases and conditions it protects us from and why Vitamin D3 is the one to take as a supplement, see Vitamin D for Coronavirus … and Much More. (Hardin, 5/3/2020)

Source: Daily Mail


Hardin, J.R. ( 5/3/2020). Vitamin D for Coronavirus … and Much More. See:

Labmate Online. (6/14/2020). How Does Vitamin D Affect COVID-19 Infection?. See:

Mercola, J. (2020). Vitamin D Resource Page. See:

Northwestern University. (5/7/2020). Vitamin D appears to play role in COVID-19 mortality rates: Patients with severe deficiency are twice as likely to experience severe complications, including death. See:

© Copyright 2020. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Nasal Irrigation with a Neti Pot May Be the Magic Bullet Against Coronavirus-19

Amy Baxter, MD, holding a Buzzy, the physiologic pain blocker she invented

Amy Baxter, MD, is a pediatric emergency physician, pain management researcher, engineer, writer and mom as well as the founder and CEO of Pain Care Labs in Atlanta. Baxter is probably best known as the inventor of the Medical Design Excellence Award winning Buzzy® physiologic pain blocker. She’s a doctor known for creative solutions to medical challenges.

And now she’s got an idea for lessening the impact of Coronavirus-19 and the severity of COVID-19.


Source: Library of Congress

While Wuhan, the sprawling capital of Central China’s Hubei province, and other parts of China have been hard hit by Coronavirus-19, nearby Thailand, Laos and Vietnam have had a remarkably low number of cases. Baxter’s take on this is that nasal irrigation (also called nasal wash), a personal hygiene habit  widely practiced in Thailand but not in China, helps explain the difference. 

Performing regular nasal irrigation with a solution of sea salt and warm water is an easy and effective way to clear nasal secretions; improve nasal congestion; decrease post-nasal drip; stop runny nose, sneezing and coughing; alleviate sinus pain and headaches; improve taste and smell and even improve sleep quality. It’s also an inexpensive natural remedy with a very low risk of side effects. (Piromchai, 2019)

 Nasal irrigation has long been considered a good way to remove viruses and bacteria from sinus cavities. Baxter points out that recent clinical trials demonstrate that nasal irrigation reduces the duration and symptoms for other viral illnesses like flu and the common cold. Baxter has multiple reasons for believing that this approach can also be effective with Coronavirus-19. She notes that “SARS-CoV2’s viral load is heaviest in sinuses/nasal cavity.”

Also, the known sex and age discrimination of COVID-19 supports her conclusion. “Children don’t develop full sinuses until teens; males have larger cavities than women, and the cavities are largest [in those] over 70 years,” Baxter says. At least so far, children have been the least affected by COVID-19 while the elderly and men are dying at faster rates.

Regarding the very low COVID-19 death rates in Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, Baxter says, “Yes, they wear masks, and yes, they bow and don’t shake hands, but the biggest difference between them and places like South Korea or Japan is that nasal irrigation is practiced by 80 percent of people.” Laos has had less than 20 reported cases, and Vietnam roughly 300. (Hall, 4/20/2020) & (Hall, 5/16/2020)

Last week, on May 15 2020, Thailand reported they had no new cases of COVID-19 and and no deaths from it. “Since the outbreak started, there have been 3,025 reported cases of the coronavirus in Thailand, leading to 56 deaths. These numbers are surprisingly low in a country with a population of 70 million inhabitants that is also a popular tourist destination. (Hall, 5/16/2020)


SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient and imaged using a transmission electron micrograph. (Credit: NIAID)

Source: Discover Magazine

Viral load is a measurement of the amount of a virus in an organism, typically in the bloodstream. It’s usually stated as virus particles per milliliter.  A high viral load jump starts the virus’s effort to make its host sick.

Having a high viral load may increase the odds that the recipient will develop COVID-19 while also raising the risk of that person’s immune system’s becoming overloaded in its battle against the virus. An often cited example of this explanation is that someone who becomes infected indirectly by touching a door handle may develop a mild case of COVID-19 compared to a person who inhales a large load of the virus from an infected person’s sneeze or cough. (Boyd, 5/6/2020)

Some disagree but many in the medical community believe that the size of the initial viral load of Coronavirus-19 influences whether or not an individual develops COVID-19. Baxter points out that flushing the build up of viral particles from the sinuses once or twice a day “gives the immune system time to figure out what it needs while reducing the enemy.” (Hall, 5/16/2020)


Emerging research indicates that the relationship between viral load at exposure and being sickened by this coronavirus is probably more complex – and also different from that of other communicable viral respiratory illnesses like influenza, MERS and SARS.

Infectious dose refers to the number of viral particles needed to establish an infection. “We don’t know what this is for covid-19 yet, but given how rapidly the disease is spreading, it is likely to be relatively low – in the region of a few hundred or thousand particles, says Willem van Schaik at the University of Birmingham, UK.

“Viral load, on the other hand, relates to the number of viral particles being carried by an infected individual and shed into their environment. “The viral load is a measure of how bright the fire is burning in an individual, whereas the infectious dose is the spark that gets that fire going,” says Edward Parker at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

“If you have a high viral load, you are more likely to infect other people, because you may be shedding more virus particles. However, in the case of covid-19, it doesn’t necessarily follow that a higher viral load will lead to more severe symptoms.” (Geddes, 3/27/2020)

“Depending on the virus, people need to be exposed to as little as 10 virus particles — for example, for influenza viruses — or as many as thousands for other human viruses to get infected.

“Scientists do not know how many virus particles of SARS-CoV-2 are needed to trigger infection. COVID-19 is clearly very contagious, but this may be because few particles are needed for infection (the infectious dose is low), or because infected people release a lot of virus in their environment.

“In the case of the original SARS or influenza, whether a person develops mild symptoms or pneumonia depends not only on how much virus is in their lungs, but also on their immune response and their overall health.” (Lakdawala & Gaglia, 4/18/2020)

Whether viral load or infectious dose turns out to be a deciding factor for becoming ill with COVID-19 and/or having a severe case of it, it’s clear that the state of your immune system and your overall health is of the utmost importance. When our sinuses are blocked with gunk, we can’t breathe well through our noses. And we all know from personal experience that being able to breathe freely is vital to our physical and mental health. Nasal irrigation washes out nasty viruses, bacteria and fungi from our sinuses and nose – and helps us breathe fully and easily.


Clinical trials have shown that practicing nasal irrigation reduces the symptoms and duration of viral illnesses like the common cold (a simpler coronavirus is one of 100 viruses causing a ‘cold’) and the flu. Its impact on Coronavirus-19 hasn’t been fully studied yet but Dr Baxter “believe[s] strongly that nasal irrigation is the key to reducing COVID-19 progression of symptoms and infectivity.” She points out that the viral load of SARS-CoV2’s is heaviest in the sinuses and the nasal cavity. (Hall, 5/16/2020).

Many in the medical community believe that the viral load of Coronavirus-19 influences whether or not an individual develops COVID-19. Baxter points out that flushing the build up of viral particles from the sinuses once or twice a day “gives the immune system time to figure out what it needs while reducing the enemy.” (Hall, 5/16/2020)

Nine new registered trials investigating the effects of nasal irrigation on Coronavirus-19 are currently underway: at Stanford University, the University of Kentucky, NYU Langone Hospital, University of Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt University and elsewhere. (Hall, 5/16/2020)

Dr Baxter recommends that anyone who has been exposed to or is positive for COVID-19 do nasal irrigation with the following solution:

  • 1/2 teaspoon of povidone-iodine
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (see note below)
  • Mixed with 8 ounces of lukewarm boiled tap water

Povidone-iodine is a broad spectrum antiseptic solution commonly used for skin disinfection before and after surgery. It kills a broad range of pathogenic microbes – bacteria (Gram-positive and -negative), viruses, fungi and protozoa. Povidone-Iodine is also known as iodopovidone. Some brand names are Betadine, Wokadine and Pyodine, available at stores like CVS and on

My note: Use sea salt, not processed table salt in your nasal irrigator. Table salt is very harsh and will sting.


So I did a little research into povidone-iodine to see if I was willing to run it through my sinuses and found an article called Povidone-iodine: Safe Use of a Common Antiseptic posted by the National Capital Poison Center. Reading through the information there on how to use this antiseptic safely and the warnings about who should avoid using it, I decided it wouldn’t be safe for me. I have a thyroid condition and am generally hypersensitive to many substances (including a large number of pharmaceuticals) so will forego povidone-iodine and continue using sea salt and filtered water in my neti pot.

I recommend reading the National Capital Poison Center’s short and informative article to see if providone-iodine would be safe for you.


Using a neti pot is an inexpensive and easy way to irrigate your sinuses and nose. They often look like little tea pots or genie lamps and come in a large variety of shapes and materials.

Neti pots are gravity-based containers designed for pouring a saline solution into one nostril and having it flow out of the other nostril. They were developed in ancient India as part of a set of purifying and cleansing ayurvedic yogic practices. References to neti pots appear in Indian writings from 3,000 BC – though they were likely invented centuries before that.


Here’s a video of how to use a neti pot to irrigate your sinuses to remove any nasty allergens, bacteria, viruses and molds that have taken up residence in there. Though the process may look scary or disgusting, you’ll find it easy and highly beneficial once you get the hang of it. I recommend doing it in the shower.

A few suggestions:

  • You can buy those more expensive packages of neti pot salt or get a big container of pure sea salt and use some of it. I like to use Pink Himalyan Sea Salt (fine) or La Baleine Sea Salt (fine). Do not use processed table salt. It’s harsh & will sting.
  • I recommend getting a ceramic rather than a plastic neti pot – much easier to keep it clean. The ceramic ones can be sterilized in the dishwasher. I’ve used the same white ceramic model for a few decades.
  • Using warm, filtered water in lieu of distilled water should be fine too.
  • If you use your neti pot in the shower, you don’t have to worry about dribbling the salt solution down your shirt and can also lean against the shower wall to get your head at the right angle so the solution doesn’t run down the back of your throat.

That’s the basic way to use a neti pot to get the gunk out of your sinuses and nose – clean hands, warm water and sea salt.

See NATURAL TREATMENT FOR SEASONAL POLLEN & MOLD ALLERGIES for more information on using a neti pot to clear seasonal pollens, mold and fungal biofilms out of your nasal sinuses. (Hardin, 5/26/2019)

Many thanks to Christian Lillis, Executive Director of the Peggy Lillis Foundation, for sending me the 5/16/2020 article on nasal irrigation for Coronavirus-19. The mission of the Peggy Lillis Foundation is to build a nationwide Clostridium difficile awareness movement by educating the public, empowering advocates, and shaping policy.


Boyd, C. (5/6/2020). The AMOUNT of coronavirus you get infected with decides how severe the illness is, SAGE scientist warns. See:

Geddes, L. (3/27/2020). Does a high viral load or infectious dose make covid-19 worse?

Hall, C. (4/20/2020). Nasal Irrigation Is the Key to Reducing COVID-19 Progression, Doctor Says: Amy Baxter, MD, Say6s Nasal Irrigation May Be the Best Way to Treat Positive Coronavirus Patients. See:

Hall, C. (5/16/2020). This One Habit May Be Why Thailand Has So Few COVID Cases, Doctor Says: This Personal Hygiene Habit May Help You Avoid the Coronavirus. See:


Lakdawala, S. & Gaglia, M. (4/18/2020). What We Do and Do Not Know About COVID-19’s Infectious Dose and Viral Load: Two virologists share their thoughts about these often-used terms. See:

National Capitol Poison Center. (2019). Povidone-iodine: Safe Use of a Common Antiseptic. See:

Piromchai, P. et al. (2019). Effectiveness of nasal irrigation devices: a Thai multicentre survey. See:

© Copyright 2020. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Source: Probiotics NZ

This is for those of you seeking reliable information on how to choose probiotics that will help you achieve good health – acutely useful during this pandemic. It’s an article by Dr David Williams, a respected expert on nutritional supplements.

The term ‘probiotics wasn’t even in use when Dr Williams first began studying digestive health. “During his early travels, he experienced firsthand the digestive health benefits of lactic acid yeast and traditional fermented foods. Always eating and drinking what the locals ate and drank, yet rarely suffering from “tourista,” Dr. Williams became convinced that the fermented foods and drinks of the native cultures—along with the bottle of lactic acid yeast that he never left home without—helped protect and even promote his digestive health. As early as 1989, Dr. Williams devoted an entire issue of his Alternatives newsletter to the importance of bacterial balance, documenting the myriad health benefits of good bacteria in his seminal article ‘The Key to Solving a Thousand Problems’.” (Williams, 2019)


“Dr. Williams grew up on a farm in a small town in the Texas panhandle, an experience that keenly developed his problem-solving abilities and instilled in him the importance of simple values such as honesty and helping your neighbor. After graduating from Southwest Texas State University, Dr. Williams began working as an adjuster for a health insurance company. He observed that accident victims who received chiropractic care experienced better long-term outcomes than those who received conventional medical treatments. This insight prompted Dr. Williams to earn his Doctor of Chiropractic degree and led him to establish what became the largest non-invasive medical facility in central Texas at the time. His highly individual and holistic approach to treatment attracted many people with difficult concerns. To help these patients, Dr. Williams began devoting more time to research. Later, he sold his practice to pursue research full time.” (Williams, 2019)

Source: Parsnips and Pastries

“Over the last couple of years there’s been a surge in popularity of probiotic supplements. This has created a lot of marketing hype, resulting in several misconceptions and myths. Because of these myths, people do not experience the full benefits of probiotics. This is the primary reason why many people give up and stop using them completely.” (Williams, 11/30/19)

Here’s Dr Williams’ article:



Williams, D. (2019). Healthy Directions. See:

Williams, D. (11/30/2019). Best Probiotic Supplement: 7 Myths, Debunked. See:,%202020&emaildid=5951936&spMailingID=42499111&spUserID=Mzg3MDYzOTM2MDMzS0&spJobID=1761369393&spReportId=MTc2MTM2OTM5MwS2

© Copyright 2020. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Using Visualization To Find Your Center

Source: Marcie Lyons

It’s easy to feel uncentered now in this prolonged time of Coronavirus-19. Perhaps you weren’t so good at feeling balanced even before the virus.

When you feel tense, stressed, unbalanced, off center, out of touch with your real inner self, anxious, worried, overwhelmed or obsessive, you’re unbalanced and not living in your center, where you’re calm and at peace.

Visualization is the process of imagining a relaxing scenario, experience, sensation or image in your mind’s eye. Visualization lets you harness your brain’s positive response to images to help you manage your emotions and life effectively, in a state of ease.

Some other descriptions of the feeling of being centered:

  • Feeling grounded
  • Feeling spacious inside
  • Feeling at ease
  • Feeling balanced
  • Feeling free

As Ram Dass (formerly known as Richard Alpert, a professor at Harvard) famously advised:

“Remember, be here now.”

Being present means you are simply here, now in this moment, instead of being focused on what happened yesterday or what could happen tomorrow. It’s about getting off autopilot and becoming aware of the automatic actions and reactions you are used to and finding a place of clarity and calm.

For several years there was a gallery in my neighborhood called The Time Is Always Now.

Visualizations can help you relax, step outside of the present moment and let go of immediate stress. This isn’t at all the same as being in denial. It’s a way to step back from whatever you experience as stressful to create some wiggle room just to be. Visualization provides a way to cope more easily with life’s challenges and become congruent with your true self.

“Emotions are powerful things. They can be like vortexes, pulling in all of our attention and causing behaviours we can’t seem to stop. The idea is that emotions are connected to our thoughts and collude to dictate our behaviours. A simple example would be the emotion of sadness, which can cause you to think negatively non stop, which can then cause you to constantly overeat or consume too much alcohol in order to escape those thoughts and feel better.” (Jacobson, 2015)

Some things visualizations can help you do:

  • Release stress and worry
  • Ease depression and anxiety
  • Reduce obsessive thinking
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Feel more capable
  • Change bad habits
  • Get motivated
  • Manage anger
  • Manage pain, both physical and emotional
  • Ease PTSD symptoms
  • Stop being so hard on yourself
  • Reduce performance anxiety
  • Let sex be more enjoyable
  • Improve relationships – both your relationship with yourself and with others



The Gut-Brain Axis in the body is what allows visualizations in our brain to change what happens in the rest of our body.

“During vertebrate embryonic development a single clump of fetal tissue divides to grow into the gut and the brain. One section becomes the central nervous system (the brain and spinal nerves) while another migrates lower in the body to create the enteric nervous system embedded in the sheaths of tissue lining the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon.

“The two separate nervous systems connect via the vagus nerves running from the brain stem into the abdomen. This major trunk line is one of the longest nerves in the body. The gut and the brain are constantly signaling each other, back and forth, along the vagus nerve and also via chemicals released by the gut and transported to the brain. When one brain gets upset, the other becomes upset too. They work in conjunction with each other along the Gut-Brain Axis, each heavily influencing the other.” (Hardin, 2014)

Thoughts happen in the brain. Feelings happen in the gut.


We’ve all had the experience of thinking about something that frightens us and finding our heart beating faster – and perhaps feeling anxiety or panic. This is an example of how our thoughts, via our sympathetic nervous system, trigger a ‘fight or flight’ response.

Visualization is “simply the opposite of this – by thinking of something going well, we can elicit a positive response from our body and lower our stress.” (Jacobson, 2015)

In a study at the University of Miami, after 13 weeks of guided imagery, subjects showed a marked decrease in their cortisol levels, the stress hormone linked to anxiety, depression and fatigue.

“A study at the NC Centre for Stress Management found that using mental imagery with ill patients even resulted in an increase in white blood cells count in every single participant.” (Jacobson, 2015)


One of them says to sit cross legged on the floor. Not necessary. You can sit in a chair or any other comfortable place. You can also recline. – if you can stay awake.


Hardin, J.R. (2013, updated 2014). Our Second Brain – The Gut Mind. See:

Jacobson, S. (2015). Guided Visualisation in Therapy – The Benefits Might Surprise You. See:

© Copyright 2020. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Vitamin D for Coronavirus … and Much More

Results from a recent data review by English scientists link COVID-19 incidence and deaths across Europe to Vitamin D deficiency. A good blood serum level of Vitamin D is needed for healthy immune functioning – including fighting off Coronavirus-19. Unfortunately, most of us are severely Vitamin D deficient.

“When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes vitamin D from cholesterol. The sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D synthesis to occur. The sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D synthesis to occur.” So you might want to rethink using sunscreen. “…Some studies estimate that sunscreen of SPF 30 or more reduces vitamin D production in the body by about 95–98%.” (Raman, 2018)

There are also dietary sources of Vitamin D: Salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, cod liver oil, egg yolks, cheeses, butter, shiitake and button mushrooms, sunflower seeds and sprouts, and high quality supplements.


An adequate blood serum level Vitamin D is vitally important for healthy immune functioning. Unfortunately, most of us are severely Vitamin D deficient.

Unlike other vitamins the body needs, Vitamin D functions like a hormone, “and every single cell in your body has a receptor for it.” (Spritzler, 2018)

Having a sufficient Vitamin D blood level is essential for maintaining good health and preventing a wide range of autoimmune and neurological diseases: Type 1 and 2 diabetes, asthma, allergies, cancer, Alzheimer’s, MS, susceptibility to infection (including viral respiratory infections) among them. (Hardin, 8/28/2015)

Vitamin D deficiency is very common. It’s estimated that about 1 billion people worldwide have low levels of the vitamin in their blood. According to a 2011 study, 41.6% of adults in the US are deficient. This number goes up to 69.2% in Hispanics and 82.1% in African-Americans. (Spritzler, 2018)

This widespread Vitamin D deficiency is likely contributing to the incidence of Coronavirus-19 and the number of deaths from COVID-19.


  • Having dark skin
  • Being elderly
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Not eating enough fish or dairy
  • Living far from the equator where there is little sun year-round
  • Always using sunscreen when going out
  • Staying indoors

– Spritzler, 2018


  1. Often becoming ill, especially with colds or flu: A prime role for Vitamin D is keeping your immune system strong so you’re able to fight off viruses and bacteria that cause illness. Vitamin D interacts directly with the cells responsible for fighting infection.
  2. Excessive fatigue or tiredness: Low Vitamin D blood levels can cause fatigue. “A large observational study looked at the relationship between vitamin D and fatigue in young women. The study found that women with blood levels lower than 20 ng/ml or 21–29 ng/ml were more likely to complain of fatigue than those with blood levels over 30 ng/ml.”
  3. Bone and back pain: A study found a relationship between Vitamin D deficiency and chronic back pain in 9,000 older women. Another controlled study found that people deficient in D were nearly twice as likely to have bone pain in their legs, joints or ribs compared to people with normal range blood levels.
  4. Depression: Controlled studies have shown that giving Vitamin D to people who are deficient helps improve depressed mood, including Seasonal Affective Depression.
  5. Impaired wound healing: Vitamin D plays a role in controlling inflammation and fighting infections, both important for proper wound healing. A test tube study suggested that Vitamin D increases the production of compounds crucial for forming new skin during the wound healing process. In an analysis of patients with diabetic foot infections, those with severe D deficiency were more likely to have higher levels of inflammatory markers.
  6. Bone loss: Low bone mineral density may be a sign of Vitamin D deficiency. Getting adequate D is important for preserving bone mass as you age.
  7. Hair loss: Hair loss is often attributed to stress but D deficiency may also be a cause. Alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease characterized by severe hair loss from the head and other parts of the body, is associated with rickets, a disease that causes soft bones in children due to Vitamin D deficiency.
  8. Muscle pain: Muscle pain can have many causes. There is evidence that D deficiency may be a potential cause of muscle pain in children and adults. In a study of 120 children with Vitamin D deficiency who had growing pains, a single dose of Vitamin D reduced pain scores an average of 57%.

– Spritzler, 2018


A few weeks ago, three medical researchers in East Anglia, England pre-published their data review testing the hypothesis that Vitamin D3 plays a protective role for SARS-Cov2 infections. They note that “previous studies identified associations between higher levels of ACE2 and better coronavirus disease health outcomes. In the lung, ACE2 protects against acute lung injury…. Vitamin D3 … pronouncedly (creates) enhanced expression of ACE2.”

Source: VitaminDWiki

“The primary aims of this study are to assess if there is any association between the mean levels of vitamin D in various countries and the mortality caused by COVID–19. The secondary aim was to identify if there is any association between the mean vitamin D levels in various countries and the number of cases of COVID–19.”

To limit confounding biases (eg, latitude), they focused on 20 European countries hit by Coronavirus-19. The researchers searched the health literature for the mean levels of vitamin D among the citizens in each country. Then they compared those figures with the numbers of COVID-19 deaths in each country as of 20 March 2020.

The researchers defined severe Vitamin D deficiency as a serum blood level lower than 30 nmol/L. (30 nmol/L = 12 ng/mL – ie, a very serious deficiency. Charts I’ve seen show the deficiency cut off at somewhere between 30-50 ng/mL so 12 ng/mL is very serious.)

The data demonstrated very significant correlations between the mean Vitamin D levels and the number of cases of COVID–19 in each country – as well as between the mean Vitamin D levels and the number of deaths caused by COVID-19 in each country. People with the lowest levels of Vitamin D in their blood were significantly more likely to die from COVID-19 than people with adequate levels.

The scientists note that “Vitamin D levels are severely low in the aging population especially in Spain, Italy and Switzerland. This is also the most vulnerable group of population for COVID-19.”

Their conclusions: “We believe, that we can advise Vitamin D supplementation to protect against SARS-CoV2 infection.”

– Illie, Stefanescu & Smith, 4/202020

You can see a pre-print of the paper on Research Square.

This 4 March 2020 MedCram Lecture video by pulmonologist Roger D. Seheult, MD on Vitamin D3 for Coronavirus-19 prevention is for those of you who want more technical information


The major circulating form of Vitamin D is considered to be 25-hydroxyvitamin D, measured in ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter). This blood test is currently considered the best indicator of the body’s Vitamin D supply. The reference range for the 25 Hydroxy D Test (also known as 25 (OH)D) is 25-80 ng/mL. (Nguyen 11/20/2019)

There’s Evidence These Vitamin D Blood Level Interpretations Are Too Low for Maintaining Good Health

Many scientists have long argued that setting 30 ng/mL as the dividing line between Vitamin D deficiency and adequacy (as in the commonly used chart above) has been dangerously incorrect. And now the Coronavirus-19 pandemic is apparently proving them correct.

This Chart Reflects the Vitamin D Blood Levels Needed for Good Health

Source: Angel Mobile Health Services

From an article on Vitamin D and Health by Dairy Nutrition:

“The evidence to date, largely from systematic reviews, indicates that higher levels of serum 25(OH)D may significantly reduce the risk of several chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, and some cancers, such as breast and colon cancer. 

“Research also indicates that increased levels of 25(OH)D are associated with higher bone mineral content in older children and adolescents (6 to 18 years) and higher bone mineral content and bone mineral density in postmenopausal women and elderly men. 

In some studies, higher vitamin D levels are also associated with beneficial immunologic outcomes, such as reduction in risk of acute lower respiratory tract infections. In addition, vitamin D appears to reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis and is likely beneficial in its treatment.” (Dairy Nutrition, undated)

Source: Afro-American Newspapers

From a publication of the Mayo Clinic in 2017:

“The Institute of Medicine has placed the recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, for vitamin D at 600 international units (IU) per day for young adults and 800 IU per day for adults older than 70. Other experts suggest that adults’ vitamin D needs are much higher.” (Torborg, 4/25/2017)

Source: Multiple Sclerosis Research Blog

A recent recap by Dr Joseph Mercola on the importance of Vitamin D and the dangers of a deficiency. (This particular article is about Vitamin D and sleep):

  • Vitamin D deficiency has become epidemic in many parts of the world as we’ve been taught to avoid the sun. Lower vitamin D levels have produced two unexpected consequences: poor sleep and a dangerous change in the intestinal microbiome.
  • Vitamin D is needed to produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps you get into the deeper, healing phases of sleep, and controls your normal paralysis during deep sleep
  • Certain B vitamins also play an important role in sleep. For example, B5 — pantothenic acid — makes coenzyme A, which you use to make acetylcholine.
  • If you’re healthy you have four types of gut bacteria living inside you. Those bacteria need your vitamin D to grow properly, and in return they make eight B vitamins that you need. Without enough vitamin D the healthy bacteria are replaced by others that don’t require vitamin D but are unable to make the B vitamins that you need to sleep normally.
  • Ideally, you need to normalize your gut microbiome so that your gut bacteria make all the B vitamins your body and brain need.
  • To normalize your gut microbiome, maintain a vitamin D level over 40 ng/mL and take B50 or B100 (all eight B’s at 100 mg each) for three months (Mercola, 3/1/2020).

Source: The Endocrine Society

Given the current Coronavirus-19 pandemic and also the very high incidence of other diseases influenced by a Vitamin D deficiency, it would be wise to get a 25-hydroxyvitamin to learn your actual blood serum level. If your score is below 50 ng/mL – or you have warning signs of a Vitamin D deficiency, you might want to take a high quality, bio-available Vitamin D3 supplement daily.


“Vitamin D3 ensures that calcium is absorbed easily and K2 (MK-7) activates the protein, osteocalcin, which integrates calcium into bone. Without D3 and K2, calcium cannot do its job effectively. Vitamin K2 (MK-7) activates matrix GLA protein (MGP) to bind excess calcium and promote arterial flow and flexibility.” (Better You, 2020)

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that promotes the absorption of calcium, regulates bone growth and is important for immune function. It exists in two main forms: Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol – from plants) and Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol – from animals). The skin produces D3 when exposed to sunlight but it’s hard for those of us living farther from the equator to get adequate sun exposure – especially when we use sun screen and cover our skin with clothing.

Ask your doctor to do a 25-hydroxyvitamin test to learn your actual blood serum level. Based on the studies and recommendations above, if your score is below 50 ng/mL – or you have warning signs of a Vitamin D deficiency, you’d be wise to take a high quality, bio-available Vitamin D3 supplement daily for a few months then do a retest. If your repeat test level is 50 ng/mL or higher, you’re probably getting enough D3.

Dr. Joan Lappe and her colleagues looked prospectively at more than 400 postmenopausal women over a four-year period of time. Women in the study group were given 1100 IU of vitamin D and 1000 mg of calcium daily. The control group did not receive this. Results: Women who took the vitamin D and calcium reduced their rate of cancer by 60%. The authors found that for every 10 ng/ml increase in a woman’s vitamin D blood level, the relative risk of cancer dropped by 35%.”


On the recommendation of my Functional Medicine health care providers, and consistent with research I’ve read, I’ve taken a softgel cap containing 5,000 iu of bioavailable Vitamin D3 (Metagenics) every day after breakfast for many years. I also take a capsule containing 150 mcg of K2 MK-7 (Health As It Ought To Be) at the same time. And I frequently eat fatty fish, eggs, butter and mushrooms so am also getting some D3 and D2 from my diet. Spending a lot of time inside an apartment in New York City, I’m pretty sure the amount of D3 I get from sunshine is negligible.

My Vitamin D,25-OH blood level in mid-March was 65 ng/mL. (Reference Range: 30-100 ng/mL) This made me and my doctor very happy. When a virus is going around, I sometimes feel my body fighting it off if I’m also feeling stressed but it hardly ever turns into a full blown case.

If you’re looking for a high quality, non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free supplement that contains both 5,000 iu Vitamin D3, a balanced amount of K2 MK-7 and some calcium in a single capsule, there’s Dr Mercola’s Vitamin D3 & K2.

“Researchers from UC San Diego discovered that vitamin D levels of 48 ng/mL or higher were linked to a 67 percent reduction in cancer risk when compared to those whose levels were 20 ng/mL or less. Studies have shown that higher sun exposure throughout a women’s lifetime is linked to a 70 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer. In 2018 The British Medical Journal revealed that high vitamin D levels were associated with a reduction in cancer risk of 20 percent when it came to liver cancer. It is also known that ovarian cancer cases were more than three times more likely to have low 25[OH]D levels.” (Sircus, 2019)

For additional information on Vitamin D & how to choose a supplement, see:



“Mayo Clinic: Vitamin D toxicity is rare in people who take supplements, researchers report.” The evidence is clear that vitamin D toxicity is one of the rarest medical conditions and is typically due to intentional or inadvertent intake of extremely high doses,” writes Dr. Hollick, a professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at Boston University School of Medicine.” (Sircus, 2019)

IMPORTANT NOTE: Your Vitamin D serum level should be monitored with periodic blood tests to make sure it’s high enough to protect your health.


Better You. (2020). Vitamin D and Vitamin K. See:

Dairy Nutrition (undated). Vitamin D and Health. See:

Nguyen, H.C.T. (11/20/2019). Vitamin D3 25-Hydroxyvitamin D. MedScape. See:

Hardin, J.R. (1/25/2015). Whole Food Supplements (Bio-available) vs OTC (Synthetic) Vitamins. See:


Hardin, J.R. (8/28/2015). Prediabetics Have Fewer Gut Bacteria. See:

HealthLine. (2020). Vitamin D2 vs. D3: What’s the Difference?. See:

Illie, P.C., Stefanescu, S., & Smith, L. (4/20/2020). The role of Vitamin D in the prevention of Coronavirus Disease 2019 infection and mortality. See:

McRae, M. (5/1/2020). COVID-19 Deaths Are Being Linked to Vitamin D Deficiency. Here’s What That Means. See:

Mercola, J. (3/1/2020). The Importance of Vitamin D and B5 for Optimal Sleep. See:

Raman, R. (4/28/2018). How to Safely Get Vitamin D From Sunlight. HealthLine. See:

Sircus, M. (8/2/2019). Vitamin D Deficiency as a Cause of Diseases & Safe High Dose Vitamin D Treatments. See:

Spritzler, F. (7/23/2018). 8 Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency. HealthLine. See:

Torborg, L. (4/25/2017). Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic Q and A: How much vitamin D do I need? See:

© Copyright 2020. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Coronavirus-19’s infection fatality rate is about the same as for seasonal flu: Stanford University Epidemiologist Dr John Ioannidis

Source: Stanford University

Dr John Ioannidis is Stanford University’s Rehnborg Chair in Disease Prevention, Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Population Health, and (by courtesy) of Biomedical Data Science, and of Statistics; co-Director, Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS). 

His research findings on the Coronavirus-19 pandemic to date demonstrate that the infection fatality rate for this virus is about the same as for seasonal flu.

“We realized that the number of infected people is somewhere between 50 and 85 times more, compared to what we thought… compared to what had been documented. Immediately, that means that the infection fatality rate… the probability of dying if you are infected [with coronavirus] diminishes by 50 to 85 fold because the denominator in the calculation becomes 50 to 85 fold bigger. If you take these numbers into account, they suggest that the infection fatality rate for this new coronavirus is likely to be in the same ballpark as seasonal influenza. Of course, there is still a little bit of uncertainty about the exact number, but it’s clearly very different compared to the original thoughts or speculation or preliminary data that suggested a much much higher infection fatality rate.” (Ioannidis, 4/20/2020)

In this April 20 2020 video, Dr Ioannidis discusses the results of his three preliminary studies, including his latest that shows a drastically reduced infection fatality rate. In the video, he also talks about the worrisome effects of the lock down, Sweden’s approach to the pandemic, data from Italy, the ups and downs of testing and the feasibility of ‘contact tracing’.


If you’re interested and have a lot of time on your hands, you can also watch the previous interviews with Dr Ioannidis presenting his Perspectives on the Pandemic:

Episode 1:

Episode 2:

Episode 3:

These are links to his studies:

(4/14/2020). COVID-19 Antibody Seroprevalence in Santa Clara County, California. See:

(4/14/2020). Population-level COVID-19 mortality risk for non-elderly individuals overall and for non-elderly individuals without underlying diseases in pandemic epicenters. See:

(4/7/2020). What Other Countries Can Learn From Italy During the COVID-19 Pandemic. See:


The Vaccine Reaction. (4/27/2020). PERSPECTIVES ON THE PANDEMIC | Dr. John Ioannidis. 4/20/2020 interview; video published 4/27/2020. See:

© Copyright 2020. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Teddy Roosevelt on Citizenship in a Republic

After serving two terms as 26th President of the United States from 1901 to 1909, Theodore Roosevelt embarked on a tour of Northern Africa and Europe in 1910, attending events and giving speeches in places like Cairo, Berlin, Naples and Oxford.

On April 23 1910, Roosevelt delivered a speech on “Citizenship in a Republic” at the Sorbonne in Paris. In the speech, he spoke about his family history, war, human and property rights, and the responsibilities of citizenship. “The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer,” he said. “A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticize work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life’s realities—all these are marks, not … of superiority but of weakness.” (McCarthy, 2015, updated 2020)

This month, April 2020, marks the 100th anniversary of Roosevelt’s inspirational, impassioned – and lengthy – speech. It was very well received and came to be known by many as “The Man in the Arena”.

This excerpt is the most famous paragraph:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Roosevelt, who had been sickly and had a speech impediment as a child, was known to be a masterful public speaker as an adult. “Citizenship in a Republic” was perhaps his greatest rhetorical triumph. The speech ran in the Journal des Debats as a Sunday supplement. It was sent to all the teachers in France by Le Temps. Librairie Hachette printed it on Japanese vellum. It was turned into a pocket book that sold 5,000 copies in five days. And it was translated into many European languages. Roosevelt, Morris writes, “was surprised at its success, admitting to Henry Cabot Lodge that the reaction of the French was ‘a little difficult for me to understand.’” (Young, 2017)

See Theodore Roosevelt’s Citizenship in a Republic: The Man in the Arena to read the text of the entire speech.

Source: Voices of Democracy – University of Maryland

Roosevelt, who had been sickly and had a speech impediment as a child, was known to be a masterful public speaker as an adult. “Citizenship in a Republic” was perhaps his greatest rhetorical triumph. The speech ran in the Journal des Debats as a Sunday supplement. It was sent to all the teachers in France by Le Temps. Librairie Hachette printed it on Japanese vellum. It was turned into a pocket book that sold 5,000 copies in five days. And it was translated into many European languages. Roosevelt, Morris writes, “was surprised at its success, admitting to Henry Cabot Lodge that the reaction of the French was ‘a little difficult for me to understand.’” (Young, 2017)

See Theodore Roosevelt’s Citizenship in a Republic: The Man in the Arena to read the text of the entire speech.

On October 14, 1912 while campaigning in Milwaukee for a third term as president, Teddy Roosevelt was shot in the chest by John Flammang Schrank, a Bavarian born saloon keeper from New York City who had been stalking him for weeks with the goal of killing him. At his trial, Schrank claimed that William McKinley, the 25 President of the US, “had visited him in a dream and told him to avenge his assassination by killing Roosevelt”. McKinley’s assassination had made his Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt, President. (enWikipedia, 1 April 2020)

The bullet, shot at close range, “penetrated Roosevelt’s heavy overcoat and into the right side of his chest. Inside the breast pocket were two items that absorbed the impact and undoubtedly saved Roosevelt’s life. The first was a thick fifty-page speech manuscript folded in half. Behind that was a metal eyeglass case in which Roosevelt kept his spectacles.

“After he was hit, Roosevelt tottered a bit, then fell into the seat beneath him. Elbert Martin, his stenographer and a former football player, immediately jumped out of the car and wrestled Schrank to the ground, stopping the man who was aiming to fire again. “He doesn’t know what he is doing,” Roosevelt shouted, “Don’t strike the poor creature.” The wounded Roosevelt was able to restore order to the chaos at the scene before police arrived and took Schrank into custody.” (Thomas, 2019)

Roosevelt began his speech requesting his audience “to be as quiet as possible. I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot.”

The audience in the Milwaukee Auditorium “gasped as the former president unbuttoned his vest to reveal his bloodstained shirt. ‘It takes more than that to kill a bull moose,’ the wounded candidate assured them. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a bullet-riddled, 50-page speech. Holding up his prepared remarks, which had two big holes blown through each page, Roosevelt continued. ‘Fortunately I had my manuscript, so you see I was going to make a long speech, and there is a bullet—there is where the bullet went through—and it probably saved me from it going into my heart. The bullet is in me now, so that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best.’” (Klein, 2012, updated 2019)

He then spoke for the next 84 minutes. Only after his speech had been delivered did he agree to be taken to a hospital in Chicago to be operated on.

Bullet holes in Roosevelt’s speech manuscript

Bullet hole in Roosevelt’s glasses case, carried in his breast pocket

After losing that 1912 election to pacifist Woodrow Wilson, Roosevelt embarked on a seven month, 15,000 mile expedition into the Amazonian jungles of Brazil to explore the River of Doubt with his son, Kermit. After returning to the US, he spent the rest of his days writing scientific essays and history books. (Milkis, 2019)

“Criticism is necessary and useful; it is often indispensable; but it can never take the place of action, or be even a poor substitute for it. The function of the mere critic is of very subordinate usefulness. It is the doer of deeds who actually counts in the battle for life, and not the man who looks on and says how the fight ought to be fought, without himself sharing the stress and the danger.”

-Theodore Roosevelt, 1894


Cain, A. (2017). US President Theodore Roosevelt once delivered an 84-minute speech after getting shot in the chest. See:

enWikipedia. (1 April 2020). John Flammang Schrank. See:

Klein, C. (2012, updated 2019). When Teddy Roosevelt Was Shot in 1912, a Speech May Have Saved His Life: “It takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” See:

McCarthy, E. (2015, updated 2020).Roosevelt’s “The Man in the Arena”. See:


Roosevelt, T. (2019). Theodore Roosevelt’s Citizenship in a Republic: The Man in the Arena. Text of the entire speech. See:

Thomas, H. (2019). The Pocket Items That Saved the Life of Theodore Roosevelt. See:

Young, J.C. (2017). Was Teddy Roosevelt a Good Public Speaker? See:

© Copyright 2020. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

A Systems Biologist Explains How Our Immune Systems Work

Dr Shiva Ayyadurai holds four degrees from MIT, including a PhD in Biological Engineering specializing in Systems Biology. His doctoral thesis focused on modeling the whole cell by integrating molecular pathway models. In 2007, he was awarded a Fulbright US Student Program grant to study the integration of Siddha, a system of traditional medicine developed in South India, with modern systems biology.

Dr Ayyadurai founded CytoSolve, Inc. in 2011 to fulfill his life long mission to promote human health and well being by developing medicines and protocols, and integrating ancient and modern science with Eastern and Western traditional medicine.

CytoSolve provides the world’s first computational systems biology platform for scalable integration of molecular pathway models to enable predictive and quantitative understanding of complex biomolecular processes and diseases to determine risk, toxicity, and efficacy UPFRONT in the product development process. CytoSolve’s technology platform is enabling innovative and visionary manufacturers to develop and deliver products to end-consumers that truly advance health and well-being, faster, cheaper, and safer.” (CytoSolve, Inc, 2011-2020)



In the video below , Dr Ayyadurai presents a fuller and updated explanation of the parts of the immune system and how they work in concert to protect us from illness, including the Coronavirus-19.

These parts include the Innate Immune System, the Interferon System, the Gut Microbiome, the Neural System and the Adaptive Immune System.


In the video, Dr Ayyadurai also explains why vaccines are not a healthy solution for preventing diseases. Vaccines stimulate the production of antibodies for a particular disease but also short circuit the complex balance among the various parts of the total immune system. These artificially produced antibodies create a constant low-level inflammatory response in the body which, over time, creates autoimmune diseases and conditions.

This is important information on a down side of vaccines:

Unlike antibodies the body produces when you’ve had and recovered from a disease, vaccines artificially over stimulate the production of antibodies, creating a chronic low-level inflammatory response in the body, eventually causing autoimmune diseases and conditions.


The following are excerpts from an article by Dr Josh Axe about how a leaky gut produces chronic inflammation in the body, eventually producing most of the diseases we get.

“As more Americans are affected by poor diet choices, chronic stress, toxic overload and bacterial imbalance, it appears that the prevalence of leaky gut has reached epidemic proportions. The medical profession is just now agreeing this condition may even exist, which is especially shocking to me because “intestinal permeability” (another name for leaky gut) has been discussed in the medical literature for over 100 years!

“Why should leaky gut syndrome concern you? Recently leaky gut has been called a “danger signal for autoimmune disease.” (1) If you’re wondering if you may be experiencing leaky gut, the first thing to do is access your symptoms. Keep in mind that it’s very common for people on a Standard American Diet to struggle with poor gut function and high levels of inflammation — but just because digestive issues and autoimmune conditions are common doesn’t make them “normal”! ….

“Here’s how a report published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology describes the pathology of leaky gut: (2)

The intestinal epithelial lining, together with factors secreted from it, forms a barrier that separates the host from the environment. In pathologic conditions, the permeability of the epithelial lining may be compromised allowing the passage of toxins, antigens, and bacteria in the lumen to enter the bloodstream creating a ‘leaky gut.’

“When you have leaky gut, certain tiny particles that should never be able to enter your bloodstream start to make their way through. There’s also commonly abnormalities in the gut stemming from antimicrobial molecules, immunoglobulins and cytokine activities. This presents a major problem, as the vast majority of your immune system is found inside the gut.

“The result? A disruption of acute inflammation, and sometimes autoimmune reactions. A normal part of your immune response that serves to fight infections and diseases winds up over-performing, leading to chronic inflammation, which is at the root of most diseases.”

– Axe, 2018

See also INCREASED GUT PERMEABILITY – CAUSES & CONSEQUENCES to read more about the serious consequences of chronic low-level inflammation in the body. (Hardin, 2015)


Axe, J. (5/8/2018). Leaky Gut Syndrome: 7 Signs You May Have It. See:

Ayyadurai, S. (1/2/2020). MIT PhD Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai Explains the Reality of the Modern Immune System. Video. See:

CytoSolve, Inc. (2011-2020). See:


© Copyright 2020. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Antibodies

Source: PBS


The US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is issuing a call for donations of blood plasma from people who have fully recovered from COVID-19. The idea is to use the antibodies in this plasma to help people currently fighting the infection.

“If you have fully recovered from COVID-19, you may be able to help patients currently fighting the infection by donating your plasma. Because you fought the infection, your plasma now contains COVID-19 antibodies. These antibodies provided one way for your immune system to fight the virus when you were sick, so your plasma may be able to be used to help others fight off the disease.

“Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of blood that is collected from patients who have recovered from the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 patients develop antibodies in the blood against the virus. Antibodies are proteins that might help fight the infection. Convalescent plasma is being investigated for the treatment of COVID-19 because there is no approved treatment for this disease and there is some information that suggests it might help some patients recover from COVID-19.”

People eligible to donate “have fully recovered from COVID-19 for at least two weeks…. COVID-19 convalescent plasma must only be collected from recovered individuals if they are eligible to donate blood. Individuals must have had a prior diagnosis of COVID-19 documented by a laboratory test and meet other donor criteria. Individuals must have complete resolution of symptoms for at least 28 days before they donate, or alternatively have no symptoms for at least 14 days prior to donation and have a negative lab test for active COVID-19 disease.” (US FDA, 2020)

If you qualify, you can donate convalescent plasma by contacting the American National Red Cross or the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association to see the full list of eligibility requirements and find a donation site near you:


From a sampling of four recent articles:

This is from a Business Insider article published on 4/11/2020 titled New research raises questions about coronavirus immunity: 6% of recovered patients in one study didn’t develop antibodies at all:

  • A new study of recovered coronavirus patients found that patients develop different levels of antibodies to the virus. 
  • Ten patients of the 175 studied — 6% — didn’t have any detectable coronavirus antibodies in their systems. 
  • The study found that elderly and middle-aged people developed higher levels of antibodies.

“In the 10 patients in the study who did not develop detectable antibodies, ‘other immune responses, including T cells or cytokines, may contribute to the recovery,’ the researchers wrote.

“T cells are a type of white blood cells that aid in immune response, and cytokines are a type of molecule that cells release to fight infections. However, when too many cytokines are released, they cause inflammation — which has reportedly contributed to fatal outcomes in some COVID-19 patients.

“Even in patients who do develop coronavirus antibodies, scientists still aren’t sure how long they’ll last; the virus has not been around long enough to study long-term effects.

“Generally, once your body has antibodies to fight off a particular disease, you can’t get it again, though some types of antibodies weaken over time. Plus, with viruses that mutate — such as the common cold or seasonal flu — antibodies people build up against one strain aren’t effective against others.”

– Secon, 4/11/2020


A Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) article titled The Promise and Peril of Antibody Testing for COVID-19 raises questions about the current state of antibody testing.

“Unlike polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests—also referred to as molecular or nucleic acid–based tests—antibody tests aren’t intended to identify active SARS-CoV-2 infections. Instead of detecting viral genetic material in throat or nasal swabs, antibody tests reveal markers of immune response—the IgM and IgG antibodies that for most people show up in blood more than a week after they start to feel sick, when symptoms may already be waning.

“Serologic antibody tests not only can confirm suspected cases after the fact, they can also reveal who was infected and didn’t know it. Up to a quarter of people with SARS-CoV-2 infection may unwittingly spread the virus because they have mild or no symptoms….

“In their first therapeutic application, serology tests are being used to screen donor blood for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2. Plasma containing the antibodies from recovered patients is then transfused to gravely ill patients in an experimental treatment known as convalescent plasma. Early results from a small number of Chinese patients, published in JAMA in late March, were promising….

“However, a substantial number of the new commercial COVID-19 antibody tests aren’t ELISA-based* (see note below). They’re lateral flow assays, which provide a simple positive or negative result, with no quantitative information. These kits are cheap and easy to use and, depending on how they’re employed, may be helpful for disease surveillance, Elitza Theel, PhD, director of the Mayo Clinic Infectious Diseases Serology Laboratory in Rochester, Minnesota, said in an interview….

“Although commercial manufacturers claim their tests have high sensitivity and specificity, they haven’t published their data yet. This lack of transparency is worrisome, Theel said: “The question is, when following symptom onset were these samples collected to show that sensitivity and specificity?”

“Her laboratory has found that most people with SARS-CoV-2 don’t start producing antibodies—or seroconvert—until at least 11 to 12 days after symptom onset. “So, if we were using these rapid lateral flow assays at the point of care to test recently symptomatic patients,…they are more likely than not going to be negative,” she said.”

* Note: ELISA = an “enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay”, a common laboratory platform that can measure antibody titers.

– (Abbasi, 4/17/2020)

Source: Gulf News

An April 17 2020 article (updated today, 4/19/2020) titled WHO warning: No evidence that antibody tests can show coronavirus immunity states The World Health Organization “said there’s no evidence serological tests can show whether a person has immunity or is no longer at risk of becoming reinfected.” (Lovelace & Feuer, 4/17/2020, updated 4/19/2020)

See this 4/17/2020 video from WHO :

A fourth source of information, a New York Times article published today (4/19/2020) titled Antibody Test, Seen as Key to Reopening Country, Does Not Yet Deliver, describes the many problems with COVID-19 antibody tests as they exist at the moment.

“The tests, many made in China without F.D.A. approval, are often inaccurate. Some doctors are misusing them. The rollout is nowhere close to the demand.” (Eder, Twohey & Mandavilli, 4/19/2020)



Let’s fervently hope the US government, which so far has seriously bungled the entire Coronavirus-19 situation, can grow up, act responsibly and somehow get it together now.

Our country was egregiously unprepared for this or any other pandemic:

  • Comprehensive testing was delayed and still remains inadequate
  • Health officials have been ill prepared to gauge the spread of the virus and identify carriers
  • Adequate essential supplies and equipment have been dangerously unavailable to health care workers
  • Information provided about the virus has been both inconsistent and inaccurate
  • Federal and state agencies have failed to coordinate their efforts

The magnitude of this dangerous public health failure is mind boggling.

See 5 Ways the U.S. Botched the Response to COVID-19, from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins, for the gory details of these immense failures.

The article concludes with the question: So how can future public health crises be prevented? – and suggests these answers:

Sandra C. Quinn, chair of the Department of Family Health at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health, stresses the importance of maintaining consistent funding for public health preparedness planning. She points out the sad fact that, “When the problem goes away, the funding goes away”.

Thomas A. Burke, PhD, MPH, professor and associate chair of Health Policy and Management at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, points out that, for decades, public health leaders have sounded the alarm that the Strategic National Stockpile had an inadequate number of masks, personal protective gear and ventilators to face a pandemic. Recent reports indicate that this stockpile is nearly depleted. “I hope this is a big wake up call,” says Burke. “We’re all in this together, and we need to reinvest in our health care system and our public health system.”

And this should also now be abundantly clear: “U.S. public health policy must be guided by science, including recommendations offered in the Global Health Security Index.”

– Scharper, J. (4/3/2020)

Source: Stanford University Graduate School of Business


Abbasi, J. (4/17/2020). The Promise and Peril of Antibody Testing for COVID-19. Journal of the American Medical Association. See:

American National Red Cross. (2020). Plasma Donations from Recovered COVID-19 Patients. See:

Eder, S., Twohey, M. & Mandavilli, A. (4/19/2020). Antibody Test, Seen as Key to Reopening Country, Does Not Yet Deliver. The New York Times. See:

Lovelace, B. & Feuer, W. (4/17/2020). WHO warning: No evidence that antibody tests can show coronavirus immunity. CNBC. See:

Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association. (2020). Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Resources. Donating See:

Scharper, J. (4/3/2020). 5 Ways the U.S. Botched the Response to COVID-19. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. See:

Secon, H. (4/11/2020). New research raises questions about coronavirus immunity: 6% of recovered patients in one study didn’t develop antibodies at all. Business Insider. See:

US Food & Drug Administration. (Donate COVID-19 Plasma. See:

© Copyright 2020. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Are hospitals operating under an incorrect medical paradigm for treating COVID-19?

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This video posted on March 31 2020 by an ER/ICU doc in New York City who’s been treating a great many COVID-19 patients presents compelling evidence that COVID-19 does NOT produce a viral pneumonia causing Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). His observation of his patients indicates they are suffering from a state of oxygen failure, NOT respiratory failure.

But COVID-19 patients all over the country are being treated for respiratory failure. If the medical paradigm is wrong, then the treatments being offered are also wrong.

Dr Cameron Kyle-Sidell is an ER/ICU physician at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City who has been working at the bedside of COVID+ patients. He says, “I believe we are treating the wrong disease and that we must change what we are doing if we want to save as many lives as possible. I welcome any feedback, especially from those bedside: doctors, nurses, xray techs, pharmacists, anyone and everyone. Does this sound wrong or right, is something more right? Please let me know. @cameronks “

Many thanks to my son, Josh Hardin, for bringing this video to my attention.

Here’s another video debating the ventilator question posted on April 14 2020, two weeks after the video above:

Doctors say the coronavirus is challenging core tenets of medicine, leading some to abandon long-established ventilator protocols for certain patients. But other doctors warn this could be dangerous.

In the two weeks since Kyle-Sidell posted his first video, he and like-minded doctors “continue to spark impassioned debate within the medical community, with some doctors moving away from the use of ventilators and others defending the current standard of care. What’s clear, though, is COVID-19 patients on ventilators aren’t doing as well as doctors would hope—and health care experts are scrambling to fix it.

“Mechanical ventilation always comes with risks: a tube must be placed into a patient’s airway to deliver oxygen to their body when their lungs no longer can. It’s an invasive form of support, and most doctors view it as a last resort. Under the best of circumstances, up to half of patients sick enough to require this type of ventilation won’t make it.

“But for COVID-19, the numbers are even worse. Only a small portion of COVID-19 patients get sick enough to require ventilation—but for the unlucky few who do, data out of China and New York City suggest upward of 80% do not recover. A U.K. report put the number only slightly lower, at 66%.” (Ducharme, 4/16/2020))



Ducharme, J. (4/16/2020). Why Ventilators May Not Be Working as Well for COVID-19 Patients as Doctors Hoped. See:

Kyle-Sidell, C. (3/31/2020) FROM NYC ICU: DOES COVID-19 REALLY CAUSE ARDS? (Video). See:

New York Times News. (4/14/2020). Doctors Face Troubling Question: Are They Treating Coronavirus Correctly? | NYT News. (Video). See:

© Copyright 2020. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.



The informative article below, by holistic doctor Drew Sinatra, appeared in my inbox this afternoon. It explains in plain English the important role probiotics play in keeping us well – especially useful information in this time of Coronavirus-19.

Dr. Drew Sinatra is a well-respected, board-certified Naturopathic Doctor and self-described “health detective” with a passion for promoting natural healing, wellness and improving quality of life by addressing the root cause of illness in patients of all ages. His practice focuses on treating the whole person (mind, body and spirit) and finding missed connections between symptoms and health issues that are often overlooked by conventional medicine.

Drew Sinatra, ND

The following is his article, Benefits of Probiotics: What Doctors May Not Tell You, reprinted in its entirety:

When patients see me in my practice they often leave with a “prescription” to take probiotics. But to get the full benefits of probiotics you need to take the right ones in the right amount. Before I get to that, I want to explain what probiotics are and how they work.

Why You Need Probiotics

Probiotics are strains of bacteria that support your health. The term probiotic literally means “pro” for in support of and “biotic” pertaining to living organisms.

Probiotics help to:

  • Support healthy digestion,
  • Regulate your digestive function,
  • Boost your immunity,
  • Support your endocrine system,
  • Support cardiovascular health.

While there are many strains of probiotics, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are two of the most common strains you may see on food and supplement labels. These strains of bacteria improve digestion and help with the absorption of nutrients. They also help to modulate immune system function, reduce inflammation in the intestines, and even reduce symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Research has also shown that certain strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium probiotics support the cardiovascular system by regulating the production and breakdown of cholesterol particles, as well as supporting healthy blood pressure and circulation.

Fermented Foods Give You the Benefits of Probiotics

Many cultures around the world prepare and eat fermented foods rich in probiotics, including:

  • Sauerkraut,
  • Kim chi,
  • Miso,
  • Tempeh,
  • Beet kvass,
  • Pickled vegetables,
  • Kefir,
  • Yogurt,
  • And other dairy products.

In fact, kombucha, which contains several strains of probiotics, is becoming a popular drink.

But in the United States, we use pasteurization processes to kill pathogens or “bad bugs.” Although pasteurization is a necessary treatment for many of our foods and beverages since it destroys pathogenic organisms, it also destroys much needed probiotics. Unfortunately this means that most store bought fermented foods, including yogurt, contain few probiotics—unless they’re added back in after pasteurization.

The best way to get probiotic rich fermented foods is to make them in your own kitchen, just as your grandmother did. One of my favorite books on how to make fermented foods is called Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz.

There are also other foods that you can eat besides fermented foods that can positively affect your gut flora. A recent study from the British Medical Journal showed that increasing dietary fiber can increase the amount of Akkermansia muciniphila probiotics in the gut. These probiotics are associated with favorable cholesterol, a better waist-to-hip ratio, and reduced cardiovascular risk factors.

Other studies have also shown that that the bacteria in our gut can affect the way we store fat and balance blood sugar levels. So, getting enough probiotics in our diet—and through supplements—is critical to good health. Plus, you want to eat fiber with your probiotics, since non-digestible fiber compounds act as prebiotics, providing fuel for the probiotics.

If You Eat Fermented Foods Do You Still Need Probiotics?

If I had to answer this question 30 years ago I probably would have said “no.” Today, however, my answer is “yes” since the soil has become increasingly sterile with the overuse of pesticides and herbicides, and getting a steady influx of probiotics into your gut is absolutely necessary.

One of the most troublesome herbicides in our environment is a chemical called glyphosate. Glyphosate was actually patented as an antibiotic, and the antibiotic mechanism not only kills off bacteria and fungus in the soil, it also reduces beneficial soil microorganisms.

To add insult to injury, antibiotics have been overused in both the livestock we eat—and in us humans—over the last 70 years. While antibiotics can be lifesaving, they affect the gut microbiota by reducing healthy bacterial strains. This can lead to an overgrowth of fungus (candida) and other pathogenic bacteria (clostridium difficile).

How Can You Find a Good Probiotic Supplement?

There are many probiotic formulas available that can help to replenish and support your gut bacteria.

When searching for a probiotic, you want to:

  • Search for one with clinical studies that show it works.
  • Look at the label to see how many colony forming units (CFU’s), or number of probiotics are packed in a formula. While the optimal dose remains unknown, it’s generally recognized in the medical community that formulas should contain at least 100 million CFU’s for proper colonization. But doses can be as high as hundreds of billions. And for formulas that list their strength in milligrams, you want to look for one that contains at least 350 mg of probiotics.

Some people find that when they first take probiotics they develop more gas and bloating. This is actually quite common, and is likely due to the subtle shift in gut microbiota and a change in your bowel pH (acidity). If this happens to you, you can reduce the dose for a few days and within two weeks the symptoms should resolve. Plus, some probiotics contain fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which act as prebiotics to help stimulate the growth of probiotics. These FOS’s can also cause abdominal discomfort in a small population of people.

Should You Take Your Probiotics With, Or Without, Food?

There’s actually a debate in the medical community about the best timing when it comes to probiotic supplementation. Some people believe probiotics should be taken on an empty stomach so stomach acids won’t degrade the probiotics. I’ve also read research that recommends taking probiotics slightly before or with meals as this leads to greater assimilation along the GI tract. Personally, I recommend taking a probiotic whenever it’s most convenient for you.

In addition to taking probiotics, it’s important to:

  • Avoid foods that will affect your gut bacteria. I tell all my patients to eat an organic diet as much as possible as doing so reduces your exposure to glyphosate and antibiotic residues in foods that affect gut flora.
  • Reduce sugar! I can’t emphasize this enough. Sugar in its many forms provides fuel for yeast species like candida in the gut which alters the gut flora and can set you up for a whole host of ailments.
  • Invest in a water filter to remove chlorine from your tap water. Chlorine is a disinfectant that reduces the spread of viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms. But it can also reduce the “good” bugs including healthy gut flora, so you want to make sure you are eliminating chlorine exposure with water filtration devices.


Sinatra, D. (4/13/2020). Benefits of Probiotics: What Doctors May Not Tell You See:,%202020&emaildid=5951936&spMailingID=42232233&spUserID=Mzg3MDYzOTM2MDMzS0&spJobID=1741121820&spReportId=MTc0MTEyMTgyMAS2

Source: Harvard Health – Harvard University

© Copyright 2020. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Answers to Top 11 Coronavirus Questions by Amy Myers, MD

Amy Myers, MD is a two-time New York Times bestselling author and an internationally acclaimed Functional Medicine doctor. Dr Myers specializes in empowering those with autoimmune, thyroid and digestive issues to reverse their conditions and take back their health. She is also a wife, mother and the  founder/CEO of Amy Myers MD®

The following is a useful article she wrote about Coronavirus-19 and posted on her own website: Your Top 11 Coronavirus Questions Answered. It’s her answers to the most common questions she’s been receiving about how to stay healthy or respond to Covid-19 should you get it.

These are her answers, copied from her own site. See the article as it appears on her site for links to the information sources she has used:

1. How does COVID-19 affect the immune system?

There are two ways the immune system responds to this virus. The less severe response is your typical adaptive immune response which is triggered by your body’s “intruder alarm system” and used to fight off an infection. This is the common response after being infected with the coronavirus. 

Once you recover from COVID-19, your immune system has learned how to fight yet another virus! It can use this information to fend off similar viruses in the future. 

A different response occurs if your immune system is severely compromised by the virus, leading to a “cytokine storm.”1 Cytokines are a group of proteins responsible for signaling and communication in your body, including regulating your immune response.2  

During a cytokine storm, your body releases too many cytokines into the blood too quickly.3 With COVID-19, this particularly affects lung tissue and prevents inflammation from going down. Then a build-up of jelly-like fluid in the lungs due to proinflammatory activity causes respiratory distress. This severe immune response may require medical attention.

2. I have an autoimmune condition. How will COVID-19 affect me?

Generally speaking, autoimmune conditions are a result of an imbalanced immune system rather than a suppressed one. Therefore for most people having an autoimmune condition does not inherently put you at more risk of getting COVID-19. The exceptions to this are those who are on immunosuppressive drug or have an autoimmune condition such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis that can impact lung function.

Following preventive measures, such as I write in my book The Autoimmune Solution, which support, rather than suppress, your immune system. Refer to this article for steps you can take to avoid COVID-19.

3. Are there special concerns for those with thyroid conditions?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. Thyroid dysfunction is generally not related to an increased risk of viral infections. There’s no evidence that you will be in a higher risk group if you are not over 60 and don’t have any other underlying illness.

However, it is possible that if you were recently put on medication for hyperthyroidism such as propylthiouracil (PTU) or methimazole (also known as Tapazole),  you may be at higher risk of a complication if you are infected by the virus because hormone levels in your body are fluctuating. Contact your healthcare professional if you are concerned about your medications. Don’t stop or reduce medications without talking to your doctor.4 

In my New York Times bestselling book,The Thyroid Connection, I provide details on The Myers Way® to reverse the symptoms of thyroid conditions naturally. Now’s a great time to settle in with a book! 

You can also support a healthy immune system with the right vitamins and minerals. Try to ensure you’re getting optimal amounts of copper, folate, iron, selenium, zinc and vitamins A, B6, B12, C and D.5 I specially formulate my multivitamin for my thyroid patients to ensure the optimal amounts of these vitamins and minerals.

4. Am I more likely to get the virus if I’m taking immunosuppressive drugs?

You could be at increased risk because your body’s ability to defend itself against pathogens is lessened. Because there are a lot of variables including which medications you take, your age, and the severity of your symptoms, you should take every precaution to protect your health. Additionally, speak to your doctor about the advisability of reducing or changing your immunosuppressant medications during this time. 

Immunosuppressed patients who contract the flu may not get a fever. That means if influenza is suspected in an immunosuppressed patient with acute respiratory symptoms, even without a fever, they should be tested for the flu. 

That may also be relevant information for COVID-19. If you are immunosuppressed and are experiencing the following symptoms, even without a fever, contact your healthcare provider about testing for COVID-19.

Symptoms include:

  • Dry cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sputum (mucus) production 
  • Tiredness
  • Aches and pains
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose
  • Sore throat 
  • Diarrhea

5. Is it ok to take NSAIDS for COVID-19?

I recommend following the instructions of your personal healthcare professional. Your conventional doctor will likely treat mild cases of COVID -19  with fever reducers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and NSAIDS including aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®), and naproxen (Aleve®).6 

French researchers initially warned against ibuprofen because they hypothesized that an enzyme boosted by that anti-inflammatory drug could worsen the symptoms of COVID-19.7  However, the World Health Organizations, as well as other groups, have now determined that is not true.

However, NSAIDS can be extremely damaging to your gut, you may wish to add Omega-3 fish oil and/or my Liposomal Curcumin to your daily regimen. Both support a healthy inflammatory response. If you are recovering at home, rest and stay hydrated with plenty of fluids such as my gut-nourishing Bone Broth Collagen, which tastes just like a comforting bowl of chicken soup. Collagen from bone broth is full of amino acids and peptides that help maintain and promote a healthy gut lining health for optimum nutrient absorption.

6. What are the treatments
for more moderate cases of COVID-19?

Some more moderate cases are being treated with the drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. These are primarily used to treat malaria and several autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. These drugs seem to make it harder for the virus to attach itself to a cell and enter it. If the virus does manage to get inside the cell, the drugs kill it before it can multiply.

These antimalarials have also been used in combination with azithromycin, an antibiotic that’s often used to treat bacterial infections such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and infections of the ears, lungs and other organs. You may have heard of a “z-pack” which is a five-day course of this medication.8

If you are given antibiotics, it’s especially important to support the good bacteria in your gut, the home of 80% of your immune system. My Probiotics 100 Billion contains 14 of the most important probiotic bacteria strains for maximum digestive and immune support.

When you’re under stress, your body quickly works through its natural supply of the critical detoxifier, Glutathione. Made in your liver, it’s your body’s number one free radical scavenger. You may also wish to support your liver, your body’s main detoxifying organ, with my custom-formulated Liver Support.

7. What’s the best supplement for me to boost my immune function now?

My number one recommendation right now is the product I custom-formulated to support immune function, Immune Booster Powder. It offers high-quality colostral whey peptides. These peptides are protein fractions from colostrum, which is teeming with beneficial compounds such as bioactive proteins and novel growth factors. 

Immune Booster Powder is a concentrated source of immunoglobulins, special proteins created by your immune system. Your white blood cells create these glycoproteins to bind to all kinds of antigens including viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, and even inflammatory proteins from the foods we eat. Once they’re bound by immunoglobulins the antigens can be destroyed or carried out of the body through the bowel.

8. What are some other inexpensive ways I can support my immune system?

Whether or not you test positive for COVID-19, I recommend continuing  a diet of nutrient-dense, organic foods. This includes fruits and vegetables as well as grass-fed meats, organic chicken, and wild-caught fish. If you can’t purchase organic foods right now, concentrate on what you can do. Select foods that are as minimally processed as possible. Buy large sizes if you can — the big bags of frozen vegetables are less expensive than single-servings of fresh vegetables in the long run. 

Many food banks are actually gearing up to serve more people, not less. You may not be able to enter to select your groceries, however many sites offer pre-boxed or bagged groceries. Feeding America has a site that can help you find resources near you. Try to avoid resorting to cheap, toxic and inflammatory foods including gluten, dairy, sugar, and alcohol.

I know this is an extremely difficult time. Many families are facing economic hardships while they try to remain healthy. To help ensure my community has access to the supplements they need, I’ve extended free shipping on everything in my store for everyone in the contiguous US. You can also sign up for my newsletter to stay up to date on promotions and special offers on my supplements and programs.

9. What personal care & cleaning products should I use?

The most important thing to remember is to wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds frequently. You don’t need any special antibacterial soaps! Just wash in hot water and work up plenty of lather because the foam actually breaks down the fat layer on the outside of the virus, causing the virus molecule to disperse and break down on its own.

Fortunately, there’s also no need to purchase expensive disinfecting supplies. You can use chlorine-free bleach and dilute it with ⅓ cup per gallon of water.9 A spray bottle of a solution of 50/50  isopropyl alcohol and water works great too.

10. Does drinking extra water help prevent COVID-19?

No amount of water will prevent you from getting the virus if you are exposed. However, staying hydrated with plenty of filtered water can support your immune system, and prevent dehydration from side effects of illness such as fever and/or vomiting. 

You may want to boost your hydration with a liquid that includes electrolytes such as an infused water. aHowever, if you have diarrhea or can’t eat, consider a beverage with some added carbohydrates. Instead of a sports drink, which can be filled with all kinds of colorings and additives you don’t want, you can get the same effect by mixing one quart of water with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ cup of the fruit juice of your choice such as orange (if you tolerate citrus) or cranberry.

11. If I take Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN), does that mean my immune system will work better?

There is no evidence that LDN bolsters your immune system against this virus in either protecting you from contracting the virus or lessening your symptoms.

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, meaning it blocks the opioid receptors in your brain. These receptors are meant to respond to endorphins — your body’s natural “feel good” chemicals. These effects may be beneficial for autoimmune patients due to the fact that endorphins play a role in immune system modulation. Autoimmune patients typically have lower levels of endorphins than people without autoimmunity.

No one knows exactly how endorphins help modulate the immune system or why they are decreased in autoimmune patients, yet studies have shown anti-inflammatory benefits. You can learn more about that in this article.

– Amy Myers, MD (4/10/2020)


Myers, A. (4/10/2020). Your Top 11 Coronavirus Questions Answered. See:

Source: Al Jazeera

© Copyright 2020. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Conversations with Alexa

This afternoon I asked my Amazon Echo Dot, “Alexa, what’s the weather today?” She told me what it’s like outside in my zip code and I decided to thank her. She responded, rather warmly, I thought, “You’re very welcome. Have a good afternoon.”

My Echo Dot is an older model, 2nd generation, from 2016, so not as spiffy looking as the current models. If I can get used to having conversations with a 3″ voice-controlled smart speaker without feeling like I’ve gone round the bend, I think she’ll be helpful during this time of staying at home.

Amazon Echo Dot, 2nd generation from 2016

© Copyright 2020. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

From BIOHM Health:Immune Health & COVID-19

Microorganisms live in the human digestive system and affect our health — scientists are trying to work out how

Source: NATURE

Mahmoud Ghannoum , PhD, MBA, FIDSA, is the Director of the Center for Medical Mycology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals.

He has been called “the leading microbiome researcher in the world” by the Washington Post and has published over 450 scientific papers on his research specialty: how bacteria and fungi impact our health.

With his son, Afif, Dr Ghannoum is the founder of BIOHM Health, the first company to create probiotics and microbiome tests that address bacteria and fungi in the gut. He is also the founder of where his team offers personalized coaching programs for optimizing your microbiome.

Dr Ghannoum lectures at major scientific institutions around the world, including the Institute Pasteur in Paris and the National Institutes of Health, which has extensively funded his research over the last three decades.

For more information on Dr Ghannoum, see Dr Ghannoum’s Story.

Source: Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Below are a useful set of links to online resources and articles BIOHM Health sent yesterday (3/30/2020) as a BIOHM Science Report on the topic of Immune Health and COVID-19.

“During these unusual times, the team at BIOHM wanted to share some useful information, articles, research and resources from across the globe about things you can do to keep our immune system healthy and strong!

“We are also sharing information from various resources as it relates to COVID-19 and immune health.” (BIOHM Science Report: Immune Health and COVID-19, 3/30/2020)


Cleveland Clinic: Find Out Your COVID-19 Risk
Concerned about whether you may have COVID-19, but not sure what’s the first step?Try our free screening tool to find out your risk level, based on your symptoms and travel, and get the most appropriate care recommendations.
Cleveland Clinic – Start Your Screening Now

Johns Hopkins experts in global public health, infectious disease, and emergency preparedness have been at the forefront of the international response to COVID-19.This website is a resource to help advance the understanding of the virus, inform the public, and brief policymakers in order to guide a response, improve care, and save lives.
Johns Hopkins – COVID-19 Resource Center


How to Stay Healthy in the Time of COVID-19
Keeping ourselves and our family healthy is important especially in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.In the Philippines, the number of people infected with the virus is going up each day. With the country now declared in a State of Calamity and a Luzon-wide  “enhanced community quarantine” in effect, we need to level up our own defenses as well. 
Continue Reading on Greenpeace’s Website

The Science Behind Improving Your Immune System During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The thought of impending sickness has a lot of people on edge. It brings on anxiety, and when you’re anxious, you want to do something to relieve it. That’s why you see stories of people stockpiling toilet paper, and disinfecting wipes, and stealing face masks. (None of those things are going to help them stay healthy by the way!)
Learn More from Thrive Global


The Gut: Where Bacteria and Immune System Meet
Continue Reading at Johns Hopkins

Coronavirus: How to Keep Your Gut Microbiome Healthy to Fight COVID-19
These are unprecedented times. COVID-19 (the illness caused by the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2) has officially been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Many countries have sealed their borders and put the population under voluntary or enforced lockdown. Cultural and sporting events have been cancelled or postponed – including Euro 2020 and the Glastonbury festival – pubs and restaurants are closing, and people are panic buying staples such as toilet paper and pasta. But although it can feel like the situation is out of control, there are still plenty of things you can do to protect your health and that of the people around you.First and foremost, follow national guidance for preventing COVID-19: avoid spreading the virus and cut your chances of catching it by regularly washing your hands, avoiding touching your face and reducing social contact. This is particularly important for protecting at-risk groups including people with existing health conditions, the elderly and pregnant women.
Continue Reading on The Conversation

COVID-19: How to Use Diet and Supplements to Maintain Immunity… and Sanity
A dietitian and founder of a ‘good mood food’ startup has shared her tips for maintaining good mental health during the uncertain times of this COVID-19 pandemic.
Continue Reading on Nutra Ingredients

COVID-19 – Boosting Your Immunity: Is That Really Possible?
One of them being the ability to truly understand all the levels of interconnectedness and how to plug into that. There is no clear scientific evidence to date that clearly links lifestyle, food or vitamin supplements to a person’s immunity – a key to perfect immunity.Our immune system is quite efficient by itself, especially if you have the patience to let it function. It has the capabilities to manufacture its own antibiotics, but you need to wait it out.This is one of the prime reasons medical practitioners advise parents not to pump medications into babies for minor ailments. The building up of antibodies is what really boosts the immune system and that is a natural process. Nature cannot be rushed.
Continue Reading on Gulf News

This is a 3/19/2020 video of Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum and his son, Afif Ghannoum, co-founders of BIOHM Health, discussing the facts vs fiction around COVID-19 and immunity in general.

You can sign up to receive information from BIOHM Health and receive discounts on any of their products at the bottom of their FAQ page here.

Bacteria “make up our microbiome, an integral internal ecosystem that benefits our gut health and the immune system.” (Axe, 2016)

Source: Dr Josh Axe

Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CNS, is a doctor of chiropractic, certified doctor of natural medicine and clinical nutritionist. In 2008, he started a functional medicine center in Nashville, which grew to become one of the most renowned clinics in the world.

I’ve always found the information on his site,, to be well researched, clear and useful. You can subscribe to Dr Axe’s Newletters here.

Source: Asian Scientist Newsroom


Axe, J. (2020). See:

BIOHM Health. (2020). FAQ. See:

BIOHM Health. (2020). Dr Ghannoum’s Story. See:

BIOHM Health. (3/19/2020). Dr. Ghannoum Explains Immunity and Gut Health: What You Need to Know? BIOHM Health Video. See:

BIOHM Health. (3/30/2020). Science Report: Immune Health and COVID-19. In an email sent to me.

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