Monthly Archives: November 2014

Alzheimer’s, Gut Bacteria and Music

LAST UPDATED 7/18/2018.






Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that gradually worsens over time, affecting memory, thinking and behavior – eventually becoming severe enough to interfere with all aspects of daily life. Alzheimer’s involves the progressive loss of brain function, is the most common cause of dementia and the 6th leading cause of death in the US.
In 2013 over 5 million American had the disease. The rates rise yearly and are expected to reach 16 million by 2050.

Continue reading Alzheimer’s, Gut Bacteria and Music

Essential Oils for Healing and Staying Well










For at least 10,000 years, people have used essential oils from aromatic plants as medicines – for physical, emotional and spiritual healing. The Bible contains many references to healing with essential oils and aromatic plants.
The Hebrew word for “anoint” means to massage a person with a healing oil. The Bible makes several mentions of Jesus’ feet being anointed with a widely prized essential oil called spikenard –  still used therapeutically today.  Spikenard provides many benefits, including having rich antioxidant properties, giving a boost to the metabolism and assisting with digestive upset. Anointing with oil was done for healing purposes.  (Martin, 2014)





The information below comes from an excellent article by AromaWeb on The History of Aromatherapy:

The Chinese burned incense made of aromatic plants to create harmony and balance. The ancient Egyptians availed themselves of volatile plant oils for medicinal, cosmetic, spiritual and cosmetic uses. The Egyptians also embalmed their dead with oils of cedarwood, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and myrrh. The ancient Greeks used the oils of aromatic plants for their anti-inflammatory properties, aromas, and to heal wounds.

A tome called De Materia Medica, written by Discorides during the time of the Holy Roman Empire, described the properties of over 500 medicinal plants. In the 11th century, a Persian named Avicenna designed a coiled pipe that allowed plant vapors and steam to cool down more effectively than the straight pipes that had been used for distillation before his invention.


In the 12th century, Hildegard, a German abbess, grew and distilled lavender for its medicinal properties. Then, in the 13th century, the birth of a pharmaceutical industry encouraged even greater use of distilled plant oils.

During the time of the Black Plague in the 14th century, herbal preparations were widely used as protection again the disease. It is believed that many perfumers were spared because of their constant contact with the volatile oils in the plants they handled.


In the 15th century, an even wider variety of plant oils were distilled – including frankincense, juniper, rosemary, rose and sage. Paracelsus, an alchemist and medical doctor, coined the term essence. His radical work challenged the practice of alchemy and led to an increased use of plants for their medicinal properties.

The 16th and 17th centuries saw the rise of apothecaries, which carried a wide range of essential oils for purchase. Perfume makers began to be viewed as artists and split off from the makers of therapeutic oils.

Moving into more recent times, 19th century science developed the ability to identify the major constituents of essential oils. Then, technical advances of the 20th century built on this new knowledge to create SYNTHETIC chemicals and drugs.

And that’s when we got into some trouble – with side effects from our medicines.
The late 20th and early 21st centuries saw a reaction to the widespread use of  synthetic pharmaceuticals, their side effects and high cost – and many healers and sensible people have sought to return to using natural, non-pesticide contaminated plants for their therapeutic, aromatic, cosmetic, and spiritual benefits.
Healers in many contemporary cultures continue to use essential oils medicinally – for physical, psychological, and spiritual healing.






Here’s an interesting, expanded story of the protective use of Thieves Blend essential oils (also referred to as Marseilles Remedy and Thieves Vinegar) during the Black Plague  (Horowitz & Devita, 2002):

Did you know that during the great plague in Europe in 1413, a small band of thieves were captured in Marseilles, France, and charged with robbing the dead and dying bubonic plague victims? Although this “Black Death” … was highly contagious, not one of this morbid band of thieves ever contracted the disease.

The king, eager to protect himself and the Royal family, demanded to know how the thieves had avoided the plague. Related by blood to a lineage of apothecaries, the thieves were familiar with a combination of specific plant oils that when rubbed over their bodies, protected them from contracting this most feared and deadly disease. They rubbed a concoction that included clove, rosemary, and cinnamon on their hands, ears and temples. This same formulation found in the Royal English Archives is available today from Young Living Essential Oils called the “Thieves” oil blend.

For 500 years it was thought that the Bubonic Plague/Black Death/Black Plague was caused by a bacterium transferred from rats to humans via the rats’ fleas. Recent DNA evidence extracted from Plague victims’ remains in London shows that the epidemic was caused by an airborne bacterium called Yersinia pestis, not spread by infected rat fleas.
Public Health England scientists point out that a disease that moved through the population at the rapid pace of the Plague could only have been spread directly from human to human, by pneumonic means (via bacteria from victims’ lungs expelled by coughs and sneezes). Spread via infected rat fleas biting a diseased person and then moving on to bite other people would have progressed at a much slower rate. (Hardin, 2014)
Then there are scientists who argue that the Black Death may have actually been a person-to-person transmissible virus similar to Ebola to spread as quickly across Europe as it did – at a rate of about 30 miles every two to three days. Ebola is able to spread person to person at a similar rate. (Paoli, 2013)








In mid-September 2014, as the media panic about Ebola was growing in the US, the FDA sent letters to Young Living and dōTERRA instructing them and their distributors to stop making claims that their essential oils could prevent or cure the Ebola virus:

From the website “[T]he Ebola virus cannot survive in the presence of a therapeutic grade Cinnamon Bark and Oregano essential oil.” 

From the website“Thieves oil can be . . . applied topically on the skin to help the body fight off infection . . . If Ebola was going around in my area . . . I would apply it to my feet and armpits 2x/day or more and take it in capsules at least 2x/day for preventive purposes,” and “If I were exposed to Ebola or had reason to believe I could be sick with it, I would use some of these oils every 10 minutes for a few hours, then cut back to every hour for the rest of the first day. Then I would use them every 2 waking hours of the day for at least a week, or longer if it was known I was sick.”

From a Twitter account credited to “MrsSkinnyMedic.”, a doTerra distributor: “Many Essential Oils are highly Anti-viral. I list here a few of them those (sic) oils that could help prevent your contracting the Ebola virus …

Young Living, doTERRA, and their representatives also posted these kinds of ads:






Essential oils may or may not turn out to be found effective against Ebola. Many essential oils do have strong anti-viral properties. Stay tuned.










The chart above shows the acupressure points on the feet where various therapeutic grade essential oils may be applied for therapeutic benefits. Researcher Jean Valnet, MD, has found that an essential oil applied directly to the skin can pass into the bloodstream and diffuse throughout the tissues in 20 minutes or less.
Reflexology is the practice of massaging acupressure points on the feet or hands to relieve stress, illness, pain; to stimulate healing and maintain health. It has been practiced for 1,000s of years. Each area on the feet connects to a particular body organ system via nerves and electromagnetic (Qi) energy channels (meridians). Rubbing stimulates that area.
The meridians run through our seven main life energy centers, called chakras in Sanskrit, which link to our seven main endocrine glands. The meridians supply the physical, mental and emotional energy in the chakras.
Combining the use of pure essential oils and reflexology is the perfect delivery system of these ancient medicines.
I can personally attest to refloxology’sbeing a very pleasant experience. Sometimes a particular acupressure point will feel very tender when rubbed – but it’s clearly a productive pain, not a bad pain. Often I can tell exactly why – for example, when I had stomach flu and the least bit of pressure applied to the corresponding areas on my feet produced an exquisite pain. But I did pranayama while the reflexologist was rubbing those areas and my stomach flu was totally gone an hour after the session.


Here’s a video demonstrating how to use the traditional Raindrop Technique and VitaFlex Technique to apply  oils to the feet and spine. The therapist is Laura Legere. She’s using a variety of Young Living therapeutic grade essential oils (Legere, 2010):



Laura Legere applying Young Living essential oils using the Raindrop Technique
Laura Legere applying Young Living essential oils to the souls of the feet using the Raindrop & VitaFlex Techniques



How to use essential oils on your feet:



How to apply oils using the Raindrop Technique on yourself:







YES. Many essential oils are known to possess strong anti-viral and anti-biotic properties and have been used for centuries for this purpose.




This article on Antiviral Activity of Essential Oils and Their Application by the respected Ananda Apothecary is worth consulting – it provides a lot of specific and helpful guidance. (Ananda Apothecary, 2014) 
Excerpts from the article:

Essential oils from many plant families have demonstrated antiviral properties in laboratory and real-world settings. Interestingly, different plant families exhibit varying degrees of effectiveness depending on the virus strain. This is due to the particular molecular structures found in each type of oil, which penetrate physical entities to varying degrees (different tissues, cell walls, mucous membranes, etc). The effect on each virus strain depends also on the virus structure (enveloped, non-enveloped, molecular symmetry, etc).

Many of the abstracts on Pub Med, the database of the National Institute of Health for peer-reviewed journal articles, describe essential oils’ activity as an excellent preventative measure (see Use before exposure can lessen the potential of infection. This is the case for any type of virus, be it our ‘regular’ flu season in the U.S., or where one might be exposed to an uncommonly high infected population. In this case, some advanced practitioners would apply small amounts of oil several times a day to the neck and sternum, and may even ingest one or two drops of an anti-viral oil blend.

Enveloped viruses are most sensitive to essential oils with a high amount of monoterpene alcohols (e.g. Linalool, present in Lavender, Coriander, Petitgrain and Thyme c.t. Linalool. Citronellol present in Geranium and Rose Otto; Geraniol present in Palmarosa; alpha-terpinol found in Eucalyptus Radiata, Niaouli and Ravensara; Terpinol-4 present in Tea Tree, Hyssop and Marjoram; and Menthol, found in Peppermint and Spearmint) and monoterpine phenols (e.g. Carvacrol in Oregano, and Thymol in both Thyme and Oregano). Influenza (Flu) viruses are Enveloped viruses.

Non-enveloped, or ‘naked’ viruses
are more sensitive to essential oils with a high content of terpenoid ketones
(eg. Pinocamphone in Hyssop; Verbenone in Rosemary c.t. verbenone, Pinocarvone in Eucalyptus Globulus, and Thuja in Sage). (Note: Other oils and components have also demonstrated anti-viral effects….)

It has been suggested by respected medical aromatherapists that essential oils have a powerful effect on the immune system, and can drastically alter our immune defenses to protect against the Influenza virus. The pH and electrical resistance in the ‘host’ (infected) cells and tissues can be altered in such a way as to be unfavorable to virus replication. Further, research has shown that many of these oils raise chemical markers in the body which indicate positive stimulation of the immune system. Essential oils may provide a dual-protective effect: by increasing the strength and efficiency of our immune response AND by limiting the ability of viruses to replicate.

The list of essential oils exhibiting antiviral effects is extensive: Melissa (as above), tea tree, juniper, eucalyptus, thyme, palmarosa, lavender, rosemary, clove, laurel, cinnamon bark, anise, rose, lemongrass, geranium, neroli, bergamot, clary sage, and dill. The antiviral effect of an essential oil is due to particular components of the oil – some oils will work just as effectively on a particular infection as another, because they contain similar amounts of a certain component. The components of essential oils showing antiviral activity, and the oils in which they can be found, are as follows (from K. Schnaubelt, Ph.D. – Advanced Aromatherapy, p. 36):

Anethol – found in Anise
Alpha-Sabines – found in Tea Tree, Laurel, and other oils
Beta-Caryophyllene – found in Lavender, Rosemary, Thyme Linalool, and other oils
Carvone – found in Dill
Cinnamic aldehyde – found in Cinnamon Bark
Citral – found in Melissa, Lemongrass and other oils
Eugenol – found in Clove
Gamma-Terpinene – Found in Juniper, Eucalyptus, Niaouli, Tea Tree and other oils
Linalyl acetate – found in Clary Sage, Lavender, Bergamot and other oils


Another research study (Friedman, 2002), done under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, tested the antibacterial activities of 96 essential oils and 23 oil compounds against three other bacteria: Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella enterica. It found 27 oils and 12 compounds to be active against all four species of bacteria:
The oils most active against C. jejuni were marigold, ginger root, jasmine, patchouli, gardenia, cedarwood, carrot seed, celery seed, mugwort, spikenard, and orange bitter oils.
The oils most active against E. coli were oregano, thyme, cinnamon, palmarosa, bay leaf, clove bud, lemon grass, and allspice oils.
The oils most active against Listeria monocytogenes were gardenia, cedarwood, bay leaf, clove bud, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, thyme, and patchouli oils.
The oils most active against Salmonella enterica  were thyme, oregano, cinnamon, clove bud, allspice, bay leaf, palmarosa, and marjoram oils.
The oil compounds  most active against C. jejuni  were cinnamaldehyde, estragole, carvacrol, benzaldehyde, citral, thymol, eugenol, perillaldehyde, carvone R, and geranyl acetate.
The oil compounds most active against E. coli were carvacrol, cinnamaldehyde, thymol, eugenol, salicylaldehyde, geraniol, isoeugenol, citral, perillaldehyde, and estragole.
The oil compounds most active against Listeria monocytogenes were cinnamaldehyde, eugenol, thymol, carvacrol, citral, geraniol, perillaldehyde, carvone S, estragole, and salicylaldehyde.
The oil compounds most active against Salmonella enterica  were thymol, cinnamaldehyde, carvacrol, eugenol, salicylaldehyde, geraniol, isoeugenol, terpineol, perillaldehyde, and estragole.
The authors discuss the possible significance of these results with regard to food microbiology.


Thyme oil kills Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella enterica








From Aromatherapy and Essential Oils (National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, 2012):

Many studies of essential oils have found that they have antibacterial effects when applied to the skin. Some essential oils have antiviral activity against the herpes simplex virus. Others have antifungal activity against certain vaginal and oropharyngeal fungal infections. In addition, studies in rats have shown that different essential oils can be calming or energizing. When rats were exposed to certain fragrances under stressful conditions, their behavior and immune responses were improved.

One study showed that after essential oils were inhaled, markers of the fragrance compounds were found in the bloodstream, suggesting that aromatherapy affects the body directly like a drug, in addition to indirectly through the central nervous system.











I’ve been wearing dōTERRA’s On Guard essential oil blend for a few years – a bit dabbed on my chest and wrists after a shower and at bedtime. On Guard is a therapeutic grade blend of cinnamon, clove bud, eucalyptus globulus, rosemary, and wild orange oils. It kills pathogenic bacteria, molds and viruses; is a good topical disinfectant and supports the immune system. On Guard has a fresh, spicy, rich aroma.




I use On Guard alternately now with Young Living’s Thieves Blend, which I’ve worn for years. The combination of therapeutic grade essential oils in Thieves is based on research about four thieves in France who covered themselves with cloves, rosemary, and other aromatics while robbing bubonic plague victims. It is highly effective in supporting the immune system and good health and has been university tested for its cleansing abilities.
The therapeutic grade oils in Thieves Blend are clove (Syzygium aromaticum), lemon (Citrus limon), cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum), Eucalyptus radiata and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis CT 1,8 cineol).
In addition to bottles of the oil blend, Young Living uses Thieves oil blend in their Thieves Household Cleaner, Thieves Spray, Thieves Wipes, Thieves Lozenges, Thieves Dentarome Plus and Thieves Dentarome Ultra toothpastes, and Thieves Fresh Essence Plus Mouthwash.




My holistic dental hygienist swabs a little Thieves oil on the gums before starting a dental cleaning – for its pain relieving and antimicrobial qualities.





While walking outside with a friend one summer, she said, “At first I thought we’d passed someplace with spice cake baking in the oven, but the wonderful aroma continued for blocks. And then I realized it was coming from you.”



Thieves-Cold and Flu



dōTERRA has also cleverly put two of their therapeutic grade essential oils, On Guard and Peppermint, into little beadlets. They come in slim bottles containing 125 beadlets – perfect to carry with you and use while traveling.



doTerra On Guard Beadlets
doTERRA On Guard Beadlets






You get the same immune-boosting benefits of dōTERRA’s On Guard Essential Oil Blend from their On Guard Beadlets – but in a more convenient, easy to take with you form. Put a beadlet or two on your tongue, bite down on the gelatin coated covering and you get a zingy dose of breath freshener and immune booster.  On Guard is a  proprietary blend of wild orange, clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary oils.
dōTERRA’s  Peppermint Beadlets are great breath fresheners and excellent for oral care, respiratory health, digestive comfort, and all other situations in which peppermint essential oil is used internally.
doTERRA Peppermint Beadlets (Source:

Other dōTERRA products containing On Guard as their active ingredient:
This is dōTERRA’s website, where you can read about their oils and other products.
And this is the Young Living website.


















Perhaps it would be wise to swap out some of the pharmaceuticals you’ve been taught to rely on for essential oils that achieve the same results – without the ill side effects.

















 And then there’s this – note the sources of the statistics:








Ananda Apothecary. (2014). Antiviral Activity of Essential Oils and Their Application.  See:

AromaWeb. (2014). The History of Aromatherapy. See:

Ettinger, J. (9/26/2014). Are Young Living Essential Oils a Scam? FDA Shuts Down ‘Ebola Cure’ Claim. See:

Friedman, M. et al. (2002). Bactericidal activities of plant essential oils and some of their isolated constituents against Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella enterica. Journal of Food Protection, 65:10, 1545-60. See:

Hardin, J.R. (2014). Staying Well: A Little Sanity About the Ebola Virus – and Other Epidemics. See: (10/23/2014). Ebola Fear Sparks New Interest in Alternative Health. See:

Horowitz, L. and Devita, S. (2002). Essential Oils for Biological Warfare Preparedness. See:

Inouyea, S. et al. (2001). Antibacterial activity of essential oils and their major constituents against respiratory tract pathogens by gaseous contact. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 47:5, 565-573. See:

Legere, L. (2010). Raindrop Technique Demonstration. YouTube video. See:

Martin, N. (2014). Healing Oils of the Bible – Holy Incense and Anointing. See:

National Cancer Institute. (2012). Aromatherapy and Essential Oils. See:

Paoli, J. (2013). Could the Black Death Actually Have Been an Ebola-like Virus? See:

Vincent, E. (undated). Essential Oils … More Than Basic Aromatherapy: Foot Applications. See:




© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


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

PREbiotics and PRObiotics

A lot is being written these days about the importance of probiotics for maintaining or restoring good health. Probiotics are micro-organisms, mostly friendly bacteria and some yeasts, that we consume to create a healthy and balanced gut microbiome. Probiotics are essential to our health – an unbalanced gut microbiome produces chronic inflammation in the gut and in other parts of the body, leading to all sorts of autoimmune diseases and other serious health problems. If your gut microbiome is lacking in probiotics, pathogenic bacteria can move in opportunistically and take over.
Did you know we also need PREbiotics to feed those PRObiotics and keep them healthy?Probiotics-vs-Prebiotics-Graphic


There are three types of probiotics (Huffnagle, 2008):
  • Ones that can live in your gut only a day or two after ingestion
  • Ones that are able to live in there for a few weeks
  • Ones that can colonize your gut and stay permanently – unless they’re killed off by taking antibiotics
Most probiotic supplements on the market are the second type. Remember to take probiotic supplements just before each meal (15 minutes or less before eating).
A variety of probiotics, including highly beneficial Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species, are found plentifully in naturally fermented foods such as:
  • Kefir
  • Yogurts with live bacteria
  • Probiotic “shots”
  • Aged cheeses
  • Cultured dairy products such as buttermilk, sour cream & enriched cottage cheese
  • Naturally fermented pickles, sauerkraut, kimchee & miso
  • Kombucha
  1. Probiotics are created naturally during the fermentation process. Pickles, sauerkraut, and other foods that have been “pickled” with vinegar do not contain probiotics.
  2. Probiotics are living micro-organisms. Exposure to heat kills them so they won’t be able to provide you with their full benefit if you cook them.
Here’s a useful WebMD slide show on the topic: Slideshow: Top Foods for Probiotics.
Information from Good Bacteria Supplements – Probiotics Create A Healthy Life Gut Check, an article about the role of probiotics posted on

Medical researchers are finding that one of the keys to good health could be tied directly to the good bacteria living in our guts – specifically, in the world of microbes that live in our digestive tracts.

Historically, until about 2001, probiotics were considered only within the realm of complementary and alternative medicine. As our understanding of the immune system and how it works has expanded, so has the understanding of the importance of probiotics and probiotic microbes in the gastrointestinal tract in regulating the immune system.

One of the country’s leading researchers into the world of probiotics is Gary Huffnagle, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan Health System, a professor of internal medicine and microbiology and immunology. He has published more than 90 articles about microbes and the immune system in peer-reviewed scientific journals, academic reviews and textbooks. He is the co-author of The Probiotics Revolution: The Definitive Guide to Safe, Natural Health Solutions Using Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods and Supplements.

Huffnagle’s research documents the key role of good bacteria probiotics and prebiotics in restoring healthy balance to our bodies, improving immune system functioning, and curbing inflammation.

He advocates the use of probiotic foods and supplements to prevent and relieve allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, yeast infections, and the negative side effects of antibiotic use.

He presents new evidence that probiotics may help fight asthma, cardiovascular disease, breast and colon cancer, autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, gout, etc), chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia—and even obesity (a factor in joint pain and overall health).

New evidence that good bacteria fight many diseases

“We’re now finding that eliminating all the good microbes from our body results in a weaker immune system, which we believe is leading to problems such as increased incidence of chronic disease, including allergies like asthma,” Huffnagle says. “Once you take antibiotics as your physician prescribed, follow it with some form of probiotic supplement to get the microflora in your gut back to where it should be. Your recovery and your health will be much greater.”

Since probiotic microbes do not cause disease, there’s no such thing as having too much of them.



PREbiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that promote the growth of beneficial micro-organisms in the intestines. Foods that are high in soluable fiber will provide good prebiotics in your gut, allowing your probiotics to thrive so you can avoid illness and enjoy good health.


If you want to learn more about prebiotics and probiotics, I recommend taking a look at Gary Huffnagle’s excellent book The Probiotics Revolution: The Definitive Guide to Safe, Natural Health Solutions Using Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods and Supplements.
It presents the important relationship between our digestive system and our immune system in an informative, easy to understand way. Huffnagle is Professor of Internal Medicine and Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Michigan Medical School and a leading authority on the role of the gut microbiome on inflammatory processes (Huffnagle, 2008).
From  a Publisher’s Weekly review of Dr Huffnagle’s book:

The Probiotic Revolution by Gary Huffnagle PhD – Holding antibiotics and poor diet responsible for any number of autoimmune disorders – allergies, asthma, skin problems and chronic inflammation – renowned immunology specialist Huffnagle presents, with infectious enthusiasm, the cure for a trigger-happy immune system: probiotics, the good microbes found in fermented foods like yogurt, aged cheese, kefir and kimchi. Once probiotics are introduced to the system, they begin killing off potentially harmful bugs by competing for resources; the resulting balance, Huffnagle shows, will restore proper
immunologic function.


If you want more information, I also recommend these books and websites:
By Sarah Ballantyne, PhD – AKA The Paleo Mom:
By Amy Myers, MD:

REFERENCES (2008). Good Bacteria Supplements – Probiotics Create A Healthy Life Gut Check. See:

Ballantyne, S. (2014). The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body. See:

Ballantyne, S. (2014). See:

Huffnagle, G. with Wernick, S. (2008). The Probiotics Revolution: The Definitive Guide to Safe, Natural Health Solutions Using Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods and Supplements. See:

Myers, A. (2014). See:

Myers, A. (2015). The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases. See:

WebMD. (2014). Slideshow: Top Foods for Probiotics. See:

© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

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

AUTOIMMUNE SUMMIT – dedicated to reversing & preventing autoimmune disease. Nov 10-17 2014. FREE online event.







An autoimmune disease, disorder or condition develops when your immune system, which defends your body against disease, becomes unbalanced and treats healthy cells as if they were pathogens needing to be destroyed. As a result, your immune system attacks healthy body cells. Depending on the type, an autoimmune disease can affect one or many different types of body tissue. It can also cause abnormal organ growth and changes in organ function. According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), autoimmune diseases affect up to 50 million Americans. (Roddick, 2014)
When the micro-organisms living in the body’s gut microbiome, a major part of our immune system, become chronically out of balance (gut dysbiosis), chronic inflammation develops there and elsewhere in the body and eventually leads to a diagnosable autoimmune problem or other illness – even cancer.



auto button 222


Here’s a useful A to Z list of over 100 autoimmune diseases, disorders and conditions and their symptoms. (, 3/18/2014)
The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association lists 80 autoimmune diseases and autoimmune-related diseases on its site. (American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, 2014)
Commonly occurring autoimmune diseases include (Roddick, 2014):
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: inflammation of joints and surrounding tissues
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: affects skin, joints, kidneys, brain, and other organs
  • Multiple Sclerosis: affects the brain and spinal cord
  • Celiac Sprue Disease: a reaction to gluten (found in wheat, rye, and barley) that causes damage to the lining of the small intestine
  • Pernicious Anemia: decrease in red blood cells caused by inability to absorb vitamin B12
  • Vitiligo: white patches on the skin caused by loss of pigment
  • Scleroderma: a connective tissue disease that causes changes in skin, blood vessels, muscles, and internal organs
  • Psoriasis: a skin condition that causes redness and irritation as well as thick, flaky, silver-white patches
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): a group of inflammatory diseases of the colon and small intestine
  • Hashimoto’s Disease: inflammation of the thyroid gland
  • Addison’s Disease: adrenal hormone insufficiency
  • Graves’ Disease: overactive thyroid gland
  • Reactive Arthritis: inflammation of joints, urethra, and eyes; may cause sores on the skin and mucus membranes
  • Sjögren’s Syndrome: destroys the glands that produce tears and saliva causing dry eyes and mouth; may affect kidneys and lungs
  • Type 1 Diabetes: destruction of insulin producing cells in the pancreas





Functional Medicine is a way of practicing medicine that focuses on optimal functioning of the body and its organs, usually involving systems of holistic or alternative medicine.
The Institute for Functional Medicine describes the approach like this:

Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. It is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century. By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, functional medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Functional medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. In this way, functional medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual. (Institute for Functional Medicine, 2014)











Amy Myers, MD, is a well known and highly respected Functional Medical doctor practicing in Austin TX and the author of The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases (available January 27 2015).
She has organized a very interesting  online AUTOIMMUNE SUMMIT dedicated to teaching you about the root causes of autoimmune diseases so you can reverse and prevent them.  It’s FREE and takes place November 10-17 2014. You can sign up for it here.
The participants in this AUTOIMMUNE SUMMIT are experts in the fields of Functional Medicine, nutrition, and autoimmune disease who will explain how leaky gut, genetics, and environmental triggers such as toxins, food sensitivities, infections, and stress all play a part in the development of autoimmune disease.





 * Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with one or more of the autoimmune diseases, disorders, or conditions?


* Do you have a family history of autoimmunity and want to learn how to prevent it?


* Or are you a healthcare provider who wants to better treat your autoimmune patients?


* If these describe you or you just want to learn more about preventing, treating, and reversing these conditions, The Autoimmune Summit is for you! The information you will learn will put you on the road to better physical, mental and spiritual health.






A sampling of the speaker line up and what you’ll learn about how to manage your autoimmunity problems naturally:
  • Mark Hyman, MD:  A Functional Medicine Approach to Autoimmunity
  • Alessio Fassano, MD: The Role of Gut Permeability in Autoimmune Diseases: How To Distinguish Facts From Fantasies
  • Robb Wolf:  What is the Paleo Diet, and How Can It Help Reverse Autoimmunity?
  • Sarah Ballantyne, PhD (AKA The Paleo Mom):  The Problem with Grains and Legumes in Those with Autoimmunity
  • Terry Wahls, MD: Macronutrients, Micronutrients, Mitochondria, and Autoimmunity
  • Datis Kharrazian, DC: Understanding Hashimoto’s and Other Thyroid Conditions
  • Chris Kresser, Lac: Updates on Low Dose Naltrexone and Autoimmunity




This is Dr Myers’ website. It’s worth taking a look at and reading her own story of the route that led her to practice Functional Medicine.








American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (2014). Autoimmune and Autoimmune-Related Diseases. See: (3/18/2014). Autoimmune Diseases List. See:

Institute for Functional Medicine. (2014). What is Functional Medicine? See:

Myers, A. See:

Myers, A. (2015). The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases. See:

Roddick, J. (2014). Autoimmune Disease.  See:




© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


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









Gluten is a protein composite comprised of gliadin and glutelin, conjoined with starch, in the endosperm of various grass-related grains, such as wheat, barley and rye.  Gluten is what makes bread dough elastic, helps it rise and keep it’s shape, and gives it a pleasantly chewy texture. Gluten is also used now in a large numbers foods as a thickener, binder, flavor enhancer and protein supplement.
Along with the obvious sources such as breads, cakes and pasta, you’ll encounter gluten  hidden in many processed foods – salad dressings, soups, beer, some chocolates, some licorice, flavored coffees and teas, imitation bacon bits and seafood, sausages, hot dogs, deli meats, sauces, marinades, gravies, seasonings, soy sauce. See Hidden Sources of Gluten: How to recognize gluten that’s not obvious on the label for a fairly comprehensive list.




Gluten is also found in a variety of pharmaceuticals (National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, 2014).









(Source: The New Yorker)
(Source: The New Yorker)



Michael Specter’s article about gluten in The New Yorker‘s food issue (11/3/2014) so irritated me I felt compelled to address the misinformation in it. The article is called Against the Grain: Should you go gluten-free? . (Specter, 11/3/2014)
Specter has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1998. His writings focus on science and technology as well as global public health. He has also written for The Washington Post and The New York Times.
Looking him up after finishing the article, I was amazed to learn that he was also the author of a book published in 2009 entitled Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives. Despite my hopeful reaction to the word ‘denialism’ in the title, I learned from its review on Amazon that the denial Specter was addressing in this book is Americans’ growing mistrust of science.
So now the focus of this New Yorker article makes sense – he’s a true believer in the gods of modern science, technology and ‘progress’. From the Amazon review of Denialism:

“In the United States a growing series of studies show that dietary supplements and ‘natural’ cures have almost no value, and often cause harm…. And pharmaceutical companies that just forty years ago were perhaps the most visible symbol of our remarkable advance against disease have increasingly been seen as callous corporations propelled solely by avarice and greed…. As Michael Specter sees it, this amounts to a war against progress.”



In the New Yorker article, Specter takes a belittling tone toward the many people who are finding their physicians unable or unwilling to help them track down the root cause of their various ill health symptoms so take over that search themselves.
But does it strike YOU as the least bit odd for people to look elsewhere when they realize they’re not getting adequate advice from their doctors, not being believed when they report noticing correlations between eating X and feeling Y afterwards, or – even worse – being given drugs for what ails them, only to develop other symptoms on top of the ones they already reported?
That was certainly my experience with the allergies I suffered with for 40 years. All my doctors ever offered me were various antihistamines and decongestants – and eventually surgery when my body had become so inflamed polyps were growing inside my sinuses making it difficult to breathe. I had horrible reactions to all the drugs and none of them stopped my allergies. After the second nasal polyp surgery, I told my ENT doc that I wasn’t willing to live like that anymore and was going to find a way to fix my allergies rather than just try to treat their symptoms. He was smart and a really good human being. His response was, “I believe you. Will you let me know when you’ve figured it out?” That conversation took place about 35 years ago and my journey to figure it out led to this website.
BTW, my other experiences over the years trying to get help with my own and my family’s autoimmune and other health problems were pretty much the same as the allergies tale above until I basically stopped seeing MDs and started working with so-called ‘alternative’ health care providers who knew about identifying and correcting underlying causes rather than treating symptoms.
So it makes sense to ME that many people have decided to eliminate gluten from their diets to see if that might help. We know something is wrong and we want help getting better and then staying healthy. If we were getting adequate guidance from our doctors, we wouldn’t be so inclined to look for it elsewhere.
Please note that I am NOT saying physicians are evil or stupid. What I AM saying is that too few of them understand much about nutrition or inflammatory processes in the gut and many of them practice exactly as they were trained, in a medical model focusing on identifying diseases after they’ve developed and then treating symptoms with drugs or surgery while ignoring what’s producing those symptoms – and this is not helping us get or stay well.
This Western Medical approach also costs a bundle of money and causes a lot of unnecessary suffering.















Specter writes, “At present, there are no blood tests, biopsies, genetic markers, or antibodies that can confirm a diagnosis of non-celiac gluten sensitivity.” This claim is  incorrect.
An example: Cell Science Systems is a company offering a blood test for food sensitivity/intolerance and celiac disease risk factors.
From the Cell Science Systems website:

CSS has developed the only gut health profile (GHP) that evaluates the GI tract on a genetic, antibody and cellular level. Nowhere else can you test specific genetic predisposition to celiac disease as well as antibody testing and immune system activation to food sensitivities. Understand your genetic based risk of celiac disease

  • Non celiac reactions to gluten, known as Test for Food Sensivity/intolerance
  • Determines genetic based risk for celiac disease
  • One simple blood draw
  • Comprehensive genetic, antibody, and cellular analysis

Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune condition affecting children and adults. When people with CD eat foods that contain gluten, it creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that causes damage to the small intestine and does not allow food to be properly absorbed. Even small amounts of gluten in foods can affect those with CD and cause health problems. Damage can occur to the small bowel even when there are no symptoms present. Celiac disease affects about 1 in 133 people, or close to 1% of the population. However, few people – some estimates are as few as 5% of the total – know they have the condition.

Test for Food Sensivity, also known as non-celiac Test for Food Sensivity or sometimes gluten intolerance, has been recently recognized as a stand-alone condition by the medical community. Many believe that Test for Food Sensitivity involves a different immune system reaction than celiac disease. A team of researchers, led by Dr. Alessio Fasano, hypothesizes that a person with Test for Food Sensitivity experiences a direct reaction to gluten – i.e., your body views the protein as an invader and fights it with inflammation both inside and outside your digestive tract.

Food sensitivity/intolerance is a non-IgE mediated reaction involving the innate immune system’s response to foods that are otherwise safe. The Alcat Test is considered the, “gold standard” laboratory method for identification of non-IgE mediated reactions to over 400 different foods, chemicals, and other categories of substances. It is a functional response test and captures the final common pathway of many of the pathogenic mechanisms, immunologic, toxic, and pharmacologic, that underlie non-IgE mediated reactions to foods and chemicals.











GI: Digestive problems, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel
Physical and Neurological: Headaches, cognitive impairment, brain fog, mood swings, depression, ADHD-like behavior
Bones and Joints: Osteoporosis, fractures, bone and joint pain
Skin: Eczema, psoriasis, rashes, easy bruising
Reproductive: Hormone imbalances, menstrual irregularities, infertility
General: Chronic fatigue, weight loss or gain

This table from the Wall Street Journal differentiates between gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy and celiac disease.






Specter expends some energy attacking the gluten free foods industry. I have to agree with him here. Of course trying to replace gluten-containing foods with a bunch of seemingly familiar gluten-free substitutes isn’t going to improve anyone’s health. As he points out, processed foods loaded with sugar, fats, non-gluten-containing refined carbohydrates and salt are quite just plain unhealthy.





What’s needed is a return to eating real, unprocessed, nutrient-filled, non-GMO  foods grown without a load of toxic pesticides.








Specter poses the reasonable question, “How could gluten, present in a staple food that has sustained humanity for thousands of years, have suddenly become so threatening?” After going through some possible clues to answering his question, he ends up focusing on what he calls “gluten anxiety” and classifies it as a food fad.
He says, “Doctors rarely diagnose non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and many don’t believe that it exists.” He goes on to quote Joseph A. Murray, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic and president of the North American Society for the Study of Celiac Disease: “Everyone is trying to figure out what is going on, but nobody in medicine, at least not in my field, thinks this adds up to anything like the number of people who say they feel better when they take gluten out of their diet. It’s hard to put a number on these things, but I would have to say that at least seventy percent of it is hype and desire. There is just nothing obviously related to gluten that is wrong with most of these people.”
Specter also interviewed Peter H. R. Green, MD, Director of The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University and Professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University, and Attending Physician at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Dr Green is recognized as a prominent celiac doctor. Green told Specter, “In the absence of celiac disease, physicians don’t usually tell people they are sensitive to gluten. This is becoming one of the most difficult problems that I face in my daily practice.”
Dr Green then goes on to rail against  chiropractors and psychiatrists who suggest giving up gluten to their patients to see if their symptoms reduce.
It seems both Specter and Dr Green are unaware that many chiropractors are highly trained in diagnosing and treating a wide variety of health problems – including digestive issues, allergies and food sensitivities, autoimmune conditions, chronic inflammation, migraines, sinus and respiratory problems, insomnia and other sleep problems, thyroid conditions, elevated cholesterol, fertility problems, PMS, PCOS, and symptoms that are unresolved after repeatedly seeking help from MDs.




Specter and Dr Green also seem oblivious to the existence of research on the connections between the probiotics in our intestinal microbiota and mental health. Here are a few examples, including one specifically about gluten and mental health:

Selhub et al. (2014). Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry

Ji, S. (2013). 60 Years of Research Links Gluten Grains to Schizophrenia

Bested et al. (2013). Intestinal microbiota, probiotics and mental health

In fact, it’s likely that the future of psychotropic medicine will be diet and microbes like probiotics, not pharmaceuticals. We’re learning that what we eat and the micro-organisms living inside our guts strongly influence both our mental and physical health.
Pharmaceuticals given for problems like depression and anxiety work this way:





Symptom suppression certainly doesn’t address the underlying causes of anything. Correcting imbalances in the gut microbiome does. And also, as anyone who’s ever taken pharmaceuticals knows, they’re sort of poisonous – producing “side effects”. Working to get your gut bacteria and the other micro critters in there to work well addresses your health problems directly and doesn’t involve introducing any poisons.
Stay tuned – there’s some exciting research underway now on the gut microbiome and all that it influences.


Kelley Brogan, MD. (Source:
Kelly Brogan, MD, is a psychiatrist who has looked extensively at the literature on gluten’s effects on the brain. She points out that gluten produces considerable inflammation in the body. It is well known that chronic inflammation leads to all sorts of autoimmune diseases and other serious problems. Her excellent and informative article This Is Your Gut (and Brain) on Wheat lays out a clear explanation of what happens in the body when it consumes gluten. Specter and Green’s annoying comments about psychiatrists who talk about gluten with their ailing patients aside, I highly recommend taking a look at this short article. (Brogan, 2013)




So back to Specter’s question from the beginning of this section:  What could have turned gluten into a widespread, serious health problem in the US in recent years.
Here’s a likely answer: the widespread use of the toxic chemical glyphosate.






Even though wheat is not a genetically modified crop, Monsanto’s glyphosate-containing weed killer, Roundup, is widely used on wheat fields before harvests to ‘dry down’ the wheat and even organic wheat fields are often  contaminated with glyphosate from poor farming practices.  (Shilhavy, 2014)
From Shilhavy’s article, ALERT: Certified Organic Food Grown in U.S. Found Contaminated with Glyphosate Herbicide:

In fact, beer brewers are having a problem with glyphosate. A few years ago, when one of my colleagues wanted to get more Abraxis test strips for testing materials for glyphosate residue, he was told that they had a 3 month backlog. He asked, what was causing this? He was told that every load of malt barley coming out of North Dakota has to be tested, because the glyphosate levels were so high that it kills the yeast in the brew mix.






The graph below plots celiac incidence against the use of glyphosate on wheat crops  between 1990 and 2010. You can see the two rising in tandem.  In fact, the connection between glyphosate and celiac disease correlates to a greater degree than glyphosate usage on either corn or soy, crops which are largely genetically modified to be able to tolerate heavy applications of Roundup.


Celiac Incidence/ Glyphosate Applied to Wheat 1990-2010

(Sources: USDA:NASS, CDC. Figure courtesy of Nancy Swanson)
(Sources: USDA:NASS, CDC. Figure courtesy of Nancy Swanson)
This graph appears in an article called Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance published in the journal Interdisciplinary Toxicology.  (Samsel & Seneff, 2013)
From the article’s abstract:

Celiac disease, and, more generally, gluten intolerance, is a growing problem worldwide, but especially in North America and Europe, where an estimated 5% of the population now suffers from it. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, macrocytic anemia and depression. It is a multifactorial disease associated with numerous nutritional deficiencies as well as reproductive issues and increased risk to thyroid disease, kidney failure and cancer. Here, we propose that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide, Roundup(®), is the most important causal factor in this epidemic. Fish exposed to glyphosate develop digestive problems that are reminiscent of celiac disease. Celiac disease is associated with imbalances in gut bacteria that can be fully explained by the known effects of glyphosate on gut bacteria….  Deficiencies in tryptophan, tyrosine, methionine and selenomethionine associated with celiac disease match glyphosate’s known depletion of these amino acids. Celiac disease patients have an increased risk to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which has also been implicated in glyphosate exposure. Reproductive issues associated with celiac disease, such as infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects, can also be explained by glyphosate. Glyphosate residues in wheat and other crops are likely increasing recently due to the growing practice of crop desiccation just prior to the harvest…. We conclude with a plea to governments to reconsider policies regarding the safety of glyphosate residues in foods.

I also recommend taking a look at this article: Why the Use of Glyphosate in Wheat Has Radically Increased Celiac Disease (Mercola, 2014)


Stephanie Seneff, PhD, Senior Research Scientist at M.I.T.
Stephanie Seneff, PhD, Senior Research Scientist at M.I.T.







Here’s a shocker that challenges current medical advice for celiacs –
The University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center, one of the US’s leading treatment and research center for Celiac Disease, reports:

“While healing may take up to 2 years for many older adults, new research shows that the small intestines of up to 60% of adults never completely heal, especially when adherence to the diet is less than optimal.”

If you’re struggling with celiac disease, you might want to read Jordan Reasoner’s interesting article The Gluten-Free Lie: Why Most Celiacs are Slowly Dying.
From Reasoner’s article:

Conventional medicine usually works like this…

I have a problem, the doctor figures out what the problem is, and gives me a conventional prescription generally supported by Doctors, researchers, and the FDA.

This prescription is supposed to be relatively safe and effective in accordance with the laws in the United States and most modern countries.

But what if the conventional prescription doesn’t work?

Like people with Celiac Disease that follow a strict gluten-free diet and don’t get better….


Only 8% of Adult Patients Healed on a Gluten-Free Diet…

A 2009 study in The Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics looked at 465 Celiac Disease patients and found only 8% of adult patients reached “histological normalization” after following a gluten-free diet for 16 months, meaning their gut tissue completely recovered to that of a healthy person. The authors stated:

“Complete normalization of duodenal lesions is exceptionally rare in adult coeliac patients despite adherence to GFD”

These people followed a strict gluten-free diet for 16 months and most didn’t heal their gut. The success rate of the conventional Celiac Disease prescription isn’t working… and the research is exploding the truth.

Another 2010 study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology looked at 381 adults with biopsy-proven Celiac Disease. The authors found small intestine mucosal recovery occurred in only 34% of participants following a gluten-free diet for 2 years. They concluded:

“Mucosal recovery was absent in a substantial portion of adults with CD after treatment with a GFD.”


65% of Gluten-Free Celiacs Still Have a Raging Fire in Their Gut

The same 2009 study in The Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics of 465 Celiac Disease patients 16 months gluten-free found that 65% still had “persistent intraepithelial lymphocytosis,” a.k.a. inflammation in the gut.


This is highly significant. It is well known that gut inflammation is associated with a huge variety of health issues, including all the autoimmune diseases and cancer. So if celiacs follow their doctors’ advice and only avoid gluten but are still at high risk for  chronic  gut inflammation, they are definitely not healed and will never achieve good health.
Again from Reasoner’s article:
56% Have Poor Vitamin Status After 10 Years Gluten-Free

A 2002 study in the of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics looked at the vitamin status of 30 adults with Celiac Disease showing “biopsy-proven remission,” after following a gluten-free diet for 8-12 years. They found that 56% had poor vitamin status, suggesting that proper nutrient uptake is not occurring. The authors concluded that:

“It is generally assumed that coeliac patients adhering to a strict gluten-free diet for years will consume a diet that is nutritionally adequate. This is supported by the demonstration of a normal bone mineral density up to 10 years of dietary treatment. Our results may indicate otherwise. We found signs indicative of a poor vitamin status in 56% of treated adult coeliac patients.”

Even after following the conventional Celiac prescription for 10 years, 56% still showed signs of poor nutrient uptake – meaning their digestive system still isn’t working like it’s designed to.

That means after 10 years of being gluten-free, HALF of all Celiacs are likely starving for the critical nutrients required for health and longevity. It’s no wonder we have a 77X increased risk for lymphoma.






The Gluten-Free Diet Doesn’t Fix Leaky Gut
Reasoner discusses the role of gliadin (gluten is comprised of gliadin and glutenin in equal parts) in initiating leaky gut* by increasing the zonulin** protein in celiacs. Zonulin levels do fall in celiacs following a strict gluten free diet – but a gluten free diet doesn’t eliminate leaky gut. Gluten free celiacs continue to have elevated levels of zonulin compared to non-celiacs.



* Leaky Gut Syndromes are clinical disorders associated with increased intestinal permeability. These disorders include inflammatory and infectious bowel diseases, chronic inflammatory arthrititis, cryptogenic skin conditions like acne, psoriasis and dermatitis herpetiformis, many diseases triggered by food allergy or specific food intolerance, including eczema, urticaria, and irritable bowel syndrome, AIDS, chronic fatigue syndromes, chronic hepatitis, chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis and pancreatic carcinoma.  (Galland, undated)





** Zonulin is a protein that modulates the permeability of tight junctions between cells of the wall of the digestive tract. (Wikipedia, 8/21/14)

I highly recommend looking at Reasoner’s site for information on what, besides avoiding gluten, is necessary to fix Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Dr Galland’s piece on LEAKY GUT SYNDROMES: BREAKING THE VICIOUS CYCLE is a bit technical and was apparently posted in the early 1990s but even if you skip over those parts, you’ll learn a great deal about how to protect or restore your health.








Bested, A.C. et al. (2013). Intestinal microbiota, probiotics and mental health.Gut Pathogens, 5:3 See:

Brogan, K. (2013). This Is Your Body (and Brain) on Gluten. See:

Camp, M. (2012). The Difference Between Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease. See:

Cell Science Systems. (2014). Test for Food Sensivity/intolerance and celiac disease risk factors with one convenient laboratory test. See:

EnteroLab. (2014). Which Test to Order. EnteroLab: Specialized Laboratory Testing for Optimal Intestinal and Overall Health. See:


Hatfield, H. (2014). Hidden Sources of Gluten: How to recognize gluten that’s not obvious on the label. WebMD. See:

Mercola, R. (2014). Why the Use of Glyphosate in Wheat Has Radically Increased Celiac Disease. See:

National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. (2014). Gluten in Medications: NFCA and the Pharmaceutical Industry. See:

Reasoner, J. (2014). The Gluten-Free Lie: Why Most Celiacs are Slowly Dying. SCD Lifestyle. See:

Samsel, A. & Seneff, S. (2013). Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance. Interdisciplinary Toxicology, 6(4):159-84. See:

Selhub, E.M. et al. (2014). Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry.Journal of Physiological Anthropology, 33:2. See:

Shilhavy, B. (2014). ALERT: Certified Organic Food Grown in U.S. Found Contaminated with Glyphosate Herbicide. See:

Specter, M. (2009). Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives.

Specter, M. (11/3/2014). Against the Grain: Should you go gluten-free? The New Yorker. See:

Wikipedia. (8/21/2014). Zonulin. See:



© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


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

Sign Petition to Obama for a National Food Policy




Sign the petition below telling President Obama it’s time to issue an executive order instituting a National Food Policy. What a legacy that would be.
Our food supplies and Big Ag agriculture system are broken and making people, other animals, our waters and the whole environment sick. The Union of Concerned Scientists has repeatedly demonstrated the costs of diet-related disease, the environmental toll of industrial agriculture practices, and the iron grip corporate giants have on information about what we eat.
Government agencies and policies have contributed to this disaster. So far, legislative attempts to improve the situation have been disjointed and frequently made the problems worse.
Recently in The Washington Post, the Union of Concerned Scientists  joined prominent food leaders Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, and Olivier de Schutter in a call to President Obama. The editorial urges the President to do something bold and necessary: ISSUE AN EXECUTIVE ORDER ESTABLISHING A NATIONAL FOOD POLICY.
This won’t happen overnight. But right now it can begin—with you, with  us acting in large numbers.
Sign the petition today to tell President Obama that you want a National Food Policy that will transform our food system to ensure healthy, sustainably grown food for all.





Read The Washington Post article – How a national food policy could save millions of American lives.
From the article:

The food system and the diet it’s created have caused incalculable damage to the health of our people and our land, water and air. If a foreign power were to do such harm, we’d regard it as a threat to national security, if not an act of war, and the government would formulate a comprehensive plan and marshal resources to combat it. (The administration even named an Ebola czar to respond to a disease that threatens few Americans.) So when hundreds of thousands of annual deaths are preventable — as the deaths from the chronic diseases linked to the modern American way of eating surely are — preventing those needless deaths is a national priority.
A national food policy would do that, by investing resources to guarantee that:

● All Americans have access to healthful food;

● Farm policies are designed to support our public health and environmental objectives;

● Our food supply is free of toxic bacteria, chemicals and drugs;

● Production and marketing of our food are done transparently;

● The food industry pays a fair wage to those it employs;

● Food marketing sets children up for healthful lives by instilling in them a habit of eating real food;

● Animals are treated with compassion and attention to their well-being;

● The food system’s carbon footprint is reduced, and the amount of carbon sequestered on farmland is increased;

● The food system is sufficiently resilient to withstand the effects of climate change.

Only those with a vested interest in the status quo would argue against creating public policies with these goals.


Sign the petition today to tell President Obama that you want a National Food Policy that will transform our food system to ensure healthy, sustainably grown food for all.












Bitman, M. (11/7/2014). How a national food policy could save millions of American lives. The Washington Post. See:

Union of  Concerned Scientists. (2014). Petition to President Obama: It’s Time for a National Food Policy. See:;jsessionid=A6B920252EDB24A97EE04C255A21F419.app338a?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=4383&autologin=true


© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


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

Staying Well: A Little Sanity About the Ebola Virus – and Other Epidemics




Ebola virus structure.  (Source:
Ebola virus structure. (Source:


As my chiropractor and main health care provider, Denice Hilty, DC, has always stressed, catching a virus, bacterial disease or other illness can generally be avoided by keeping your immune system balanced and strong. This means the whole immune system  – especially the gut microbiome, which bears 70-80% of the responsibility for keeping the whole body running smoothly and protecting us from pathogenic invaders.


Hearing about viral or bacterial infectious diseases that have turned into epidemics or pandemics is of course quite frightening. An epidemic describes a disease affecting a large number of people in a single area. A pandemic is an epidemic that spreads to a much wider area, across geographic areas.












OUTBREAK: Deadliest Pandemics in History is a  collaboration between GOOD magazine & Column Five Media. (Source:
OUTBREAK: Deadliest Pandemics in History is a collaboration between GOOD magazine & Column Five Media. (Source:





Smallpox is caused by a moderately contagious virus called Variola major. Initial symptoms began 12 days after exposure. (Fenn, 2003)
In the old world, smallpox was an ancient scourge dating back to prehistory.   Scientists have found DNA evidence that the virus originated 10,500 years ago. Some 3,000 year old Egyptian mummies show evidence of having been afflicted by the disease.
The conquest of the New World was achieved by disease, not by guns or ships, during the decades following Columbus’ arrival in 1492.  The mass deaths during the great smallpox plague in the New World was a profoundly significant, history-changing event. The indigenous people living in the Americas, unlike Europeans, Africans and Asians,  had not had the benefit of co-evolving with the smallpox virus for millenia and these people died in droves from it: perhaps 80-95% of the 50-100 million native people living on this side of the world – approximately the same number as had lived in all of Europe in the late 1400’s.  (Wayne, 2012)


When the Vikings landed in American 500 years before Columbus, they found groups of resilient indigenous people. Fortunately, the Vikings didn’t carry any terrible infectious diseases with them. But then Columbus’ second voyage to the New World (1493-96) brought 1,000 Spanish to settle in Hispaniola. These colonists introduced European epidemic diseases – such as influenza, smallpox, measles and typhus, which spread through the local people in the Caribbean, drastically reducing their population over the next 50 years.
The Spanish conquistador Cortes and his men inadvertently brought smallpox with them into the sophisticated Aztec empire in what is now central Mexico. A Spanish priest traveling with Cortes described the destruction he encountered in the Aztec’s capitol city of Tenochtitlán in 1520.  (Wayne, 2012):

“As the Indians did not know the remedy of the disease…they died in heaps, like bedbugs. In many places it happened that everyone in a house died and, as it was impossible to bury the great number of dead, they pulled down the houses over them so that their homes become their tombs.”

The drawing below depicts Nahuas of central Mexico suffering from smallpox transmitted to them by the Spanish conquistadors:


Drawing accompanying text in Book XII of the 16th-century Florentine Codex, compiled in 1540. (Source:
Drawing accompanying text in Book XII of the 16th-century Florentine Codex, compiled in 1540. (Source:


About 30% of smallpox cases ended in death, usually during the second week of the disease. Most who survived the illness bore some degree of permanent scarring. Lip, nose and ear tissue could be eaten away by the virus.  Blindness could result from corneal scarring.
The smallpox virus was spread through close contact with the sores or respiratory droplets of an infected person or through contact with contaminated bedding or clothing. A sufferer remained infectious until the last scab fell from the skin. (College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 2014)
See this interesting timeline of information about smallpox, from 1000, in China, through 2010, prepared by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. The last identified naturally occurring case of smallpox was in Somalia in 1977.
Throughout history, about 70% of  people who contracted smallpox survived – and apparently not everyone who was ever exposed to the virus became ill. Why?





MEASLES (World Health Organization, 2014)

Measles is a serious, highly contagious disease caused by a virus in the paramyxovirus family. The virus normally grows in the cells lining the back of the throat and lungs. Measles remains one of the leading causes of death among young children worldwide. In 2012, approximately 122,000 people died from measles. This amounts to about 330 deaths/day, or 14 deaths/hour – mostly children under the age of five. People who recover from measles have lifetime immunity to it.


The measles virus is highly contagious and spread by coughing and sneezing, close personal contact or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions.


Being malnourished and otherwise unhealthy increases the risk of contracting measles when exposed to the virus. A strong clue to how to avoid contracting measles in the first place?




INFLUENZA PANDEMIC 1918-1919 (Wikipedia, 10/8/2014)

Another viral pandemic, the co-called Spanish Flu or La Grippe,  was unusually deadly. Between January 1918 and December 1920 it infected 500 million people world wide, including on remote Pacific islands and the Arctic, killing 50-100 million of them. This represented 3-5% of the world’s population at the time. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history and, occurring during World War I, greatly interfered with the war effort in participating countries. The Spanish Flu was the first of two pandemics caused by the H1N1 virus.



The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic .(Source:
The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic. (Source:


Unlike other influenzas, it tended to strike young adults who were thought to be healthy. Modern research, using virus samples taken from the bodies of frozen victims, concluded that the virus kills through a cytokine storm, an overreaction of the body’s immune system. The scientists believe the  strong immune reactions of young adults overcame their bodies while the weaker immune systems of children and middle-aged adults resulted in fewer deaths among those groups.



Influenza ward at Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, DC, during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918–1919.(Source:
Influenza ward at Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, DC, during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918–1919.(Source:


Again, not every ‘healthy’ young adult who was exposed to this influenza virus succumbed to it. Why?








Black Death researchers extracted plague DNA from 14th century skulls recently unearthed in London. (Photograph: Philip Toscano/PA)
Black Death researchers extracted plague DNA from 14th century skulls recently unearthed in London. (Photograph: Philip Toscano/PA)
DNA evidence taken from human remains found in a 14th century mass burial site of Black Death victims and unearthed during recent excavations in London found evidence that the epidemic was caused by a contagious airborne bacterium called Yersinia pestis, not by rat fleas as had long been believed. Plague researchers extracted DNA of the Black Death bacterium from the largest teeth in some of the skulls and compared it to the DNA responsible for an outbreak of a pneumonic plague that killed 60 people in Madagascar in 2012. The DNA codes were an almost perfect match.
Public Health England scientists say a plague that moved through the population at the rapid pace of the Black Plague couldn’t possibly have been spread by rat fleas biting a diseased person and then biting other people. The speed of transmission could only have been spread by bacteria from the lungs of victims expelled by coughs and sneezes, making Bubonic* Plague a pneumonic  plague. The infection could only have been spread directly from human to human. The bacterial strain responsible for the Black Plague in the Middle Ages was no more virulent than today’s disease. It spread so quickly because its victims were malnourished and ill, with weak immune systems. (Thorpe, 3/29/2014)
* Buboes are inflammatory swellings of  lymphatic glands, especially in the groins or armpits. The Bubonic Plague derived its name from this symptom.



“Black Death” derives from the disease’s symptom of death of  tissue, often  in the extremities. The dead, gangrenous tissue turns black.




The Bubonic Plague pandemic in Central Asia and Europe killed an estimated 75 to 200 million people during the Middle Ages. Yet a significant percentage of people who were exposed to the plague bacteria either didn’t become ill or actually became ill from it but then survived. The Black Death arrived in Britain in the autumn of 1348. By late spring of 1349 it had killed 6 out of every 10 Londoners.
This means 4 in 10 Londoners were able to survive the plague. The interesting question is why the many survivors were able to resist catching this plague or didn’t succumb if they did become ill with it.






Here’s a list of some of the more recent viral epidemics and their death toll numbers (Wikipedia, 10/9/2014):
  • Asian Flu of 1957–1958. Death toll: 2,000,000
  • Hong Kong Flu of 1968-69. Death toll: 1,000,000
  • HIV/Aids Pandemic in the Congo Basin 1960-present. Death toll: >30,000
  • Smallpox Epidemic of 1974 in India. Death Toll: 15,000
  • SARS Coronavirus Epidemic of 2002-3 in Asia. Death toll: 775
  • Worldwide Flu Pandemic of 2009-10. Death toll: 14,286
  • Ebola Virus Epidemic of 2013-present in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, US, Spain. Death toll: 3866 (as of October 2014)



Again, many people who were exposed to these viruses, including Ebola, either didn’t become ill or caught the virus and survived. Why?





Current information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (10/22/2014) on how Ebola Virus is transmitted:

Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with

  • blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
  • objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus
  • infected fruit bats or primates (apes and monkeys)

Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. There is no evidence that mosquitoes or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only a few species of mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus.

Healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients and the family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick because they may come in contact with infected blood or body fluids of sick patients.

During outbreaks of Ebola, the disease can spread quickly within healthcare settings (such as a clinic or hospital). Exposure to Ebola can occur in healthcare settings where hospital staff are not wearing appropriate protective equipment, including masks, gowns, and gloves and eye protection.

Dedicated medical equipment (preferable disposable, when possible) should be used by healthcare personnel providing patient care. Proper cleaning and disposal of instruments, such as needles and syringes, is also important. If instruments are not disposable, they must be sterilized before being used again. Without adequate sterilization of the instruments, virus transmission can continue and amplify an outbreak.

Once someone recovers from Ebola, they can no longer spread the virus. However, Ebola virus has been found in semen for up to 3 months. Abstinence from sex (including oral sex) is recommended for at least 3 months. If abstinence is not possible, condoms may help prevent the spread of disease.







Also, Ebola is apparently difficult to catch. Read this – the information is from an article on called Largest ever Ebola outbreak is not a global threat: Although the virus is exerting a heavy toll in West Africa, it does not spread easily. (Butler, 2014). I’ve seen similar information about the difficulty of catching Ebola cited in many other places as well.

Wait, Ebola is hard to catch?

Though the strain of Ebola in the current outbreak appears to kill 56% of the people it infects, to become infected in the first place, a person’s mucous membranes, or an area of broken skin, must come into contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, such as blood, urine, saliva, semen or stools, or materials contaminated with these fluids such as soiled clothing or bed linen. By contrast, respiratory pathogens such as those that cause the common cold or flu are coughed and sneezed into the air and can be contracted just by breathing or touching contaminated surfaces, such as door knobs. A pandemic flu virus can spread around the world in days or weeks and may be unstoppable whereas Ebola only causes sporadic localised outbreaks that can usually be stamped out.


Some reasons there has been a higher rate of transmission in West Africa – also from the Butler article cited above (Butler, 2014):

Local health authorities and international organisations such as WHO and Médecins Sans Frontières (also known as Doctors Without Borders) are struggling to control the spread in these areas because of a lack of trust and cooperation among the affected populations. Doctors and health workers have sometimes been blocked from accessing affected places because of opposition from villagers who fear the medics will bring the disease. According to the WHO, not all people who are infected are getting or seeking care, and so are passing the virus on to family and other close contacts. Another major driver of new infections is that families are often continuing to perform traditional burial rites that involve mourners having direct contact with the bodies of the dead – and unfortunately all too often Ebola.

I hope this information will put your worry about contracting Ebola in perspective and reassure you.























Can you identify who is malnourished in the three photos below?










It’s obvious in the children who are all skin and bones. We expect them to have an impaired immune system from lack of nutrition. But what about the overweight children and man? And the normal picture of health man? The  overweight, so-called well-fed ones are also malnourished. And the normal-weight man may be suffering from malnourishment and a weakened immune system too – it depends on what kind of foods he’s consuming.



THE NEW MALNUTRITION (Turner, 2014) (Jeff & Dee, 2012)

Even people who appear quite healthy – at a reasonable body weight – can be malnourished and have unbalanced, weak gut immunity. Doctors tend to take our blood pressure, get our weight, listen to our hearts, and look at our blood test results. If those all look okay to them, they tell us we’re in good health.  If they were to investigate the state of our gut microbiomes, they would likely often come to contrary conclusions.
From Paul Rodney Turner’s article Malnutrition – the great killer behind the curtain. Turner is the International Director of Food for Life Global:

“Malnutrition is a far greater problem than world hunger. Why? Because even if a person gets sufficient quantities of food, they can still be undernourished and thus subject to chronic disease, if the food they consume does not provide the proper amounts of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to meet their daily nutritional requirements.

“In other words, being overweight does not necessarily mean being well nourished. According to the UN Hunger Report, nearly 870 million people, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012.  The vast majority of the hungry, 852 million, live in developing countries — around 15 percent of their population — while 16 million people are undernourished in developed countries. The FAO states that the world is increasingly faced with a double burden of malnutrition, with chronic undernourishment and micronutrient malnutrition co-existing with obesity, overweight and related non-communicable diseases (affecting more than 1.4 billion people worldwide).

“Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year. However, with much of the imagery related to these reports showing emaciated children in Africa and India, most people fail to realize that obesity is another form of this same chronic problem.

“According to the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition (SCN) malnutrition is the largest single contributor to worldwide disease.”





Without adequate nutrition, our cells don’t receive the nutrients they need to stay healthy. They become weak and unable to repair themselves. They start to malfunction and die prematurely.  Or they fail to die when they should and we develop cancers.
Without proper nutrition, our bodies suffer from chronic inflammation. Our immune systems become seriously compromised. We develop chronic autoimmune diseases. A virus comes along and we are unable to repel it.
If you’re eating the  Standard American Diet of fast and processed foods (aptly abbreviated as SAD), you’re probably consuming an abundance of calories. Your stomach may feel nicely full but what you’re consuming is typically nutrient-poor.  The empty calories you eat provide some macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) while robbing your body of micronutrients. You’re eating dead food that has a long shelf-life instead of foods that are alive with nutrients.


This is very important information. It explains why only some people become ill or succumb in an epidemic or pandemic.




Large contagions bring society to a stand still. A large number of people are too ill to work or they die, preventing society from functioning. (Source: (Source:
Large contagions bring society to a stand still. A large number of people are too ill to work or they die, preventing society from functioning.



Famine, malnutrition and suppressed immunity (from whatever cause) go hand in hand with epidemics and pandemics.







Turner’s article also points out:

The three greatest killers of the modern world are:

  1. Cardiovascular disease
  2. Cancer
  3. Diabetes

All are directly related to our food choices. According to WHO (UN World Health Organization) more than 30 million people a year die as a result of those three diseases. That means just changing our food choices alone can potentially save 30 million lives a year!

While these diseases aren’t the result of a bacterium or a virus, 30 million deaths per year certainly qualifies them nonetheless to be designated as worldwide pandemics.










Butler, D. (2014). Largest ever Ebola outbreak is not a global threat: Although the virus is exerting a heavy toll in West Africa, it does not spread easily. See:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ebola (Ebola Virus Disease) – Transmission. 10/22/2014. See:

College of Physicians of Philadelphia. (2014). History of Smallpox. The History of Vaccines. See:

Fenn, E. (2003). The Great Smallpox Epidemic. History Today, 53:8. See:

Horowitz, L. &  Devita, S. (2002).  Essential Oils for Biological Warfare Preparedness.  See:

Jeff & Dee. (2012). Can we be well fed but malnourished? Better Choices, Better Body. See:

Thorpe, V. (3/29/2014). Black death skeletons reveal pitiful life of 14th-century Londoners: DNA from emaciated London Black Death skeletons matches modern plague bacteria and supports airborne theory of spread. The Observer.  See:

Turner, P.R. ((2014). Malnutrition – the great killer behind the curtain. Food For Life Global. See:

Wayne. (2012). The Smallpox Plague. See:

Wikipedia. (10/8/2014). 1918 flu pandemic. See:

Wikipedia. (19/9/2014). List of epidemics. See:

World Health Organization. (2014). Measles: Fact Sheet no. 286. See:


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

© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

More About Poop – Sloths, A Poop Museum in Tokyo & More







Maybe you regard the whole idea of pooping as icky and weird and you’d rather not think about it. Or maybe the  topic fascinates you.
The facts of the matter are: We all poop, our food is the fuel that keeps our bodies going and the composition of that fuel is very important to the state of our health, and checking out the characteristics of our poop  provides valuable information about our health.
This post was spurred by some of the more unusual information about poop I’ve come across on the journey this website and blog about the gut microbiome has taken me on.












About 75% water. A smelly combination of fiber, living and dead bacteria, other cells and mucus. Soluble fibers from foods like beans and nuts that have been broken down during digestion to form a gel-like substance. Foods packed with harder-to-digest insoluble fiber (such as carrots, corn and oat bran)  may emerge looking pretty much unchanged.
This depends on what we’ve eaten. For instance, beets produce bright red stool, leafy veggies can cause green stool and some medications can turn out white or clay-colored stool. Jet-black poop could be from having taken iron supplements or having eaten black licorice –  or it could be a sign of bleeding in the upper GI tract.
Perfect human poop is log- and slightly S-shaped, not broken up into pieces. These are the ones that easily slide out of the body when we go. That ideal shape is achieved by eating enough fiber to bulk up the stool and act as glue to keep it together on its way out of the body. Pencil-thin poops might be a sign of rectal cancer narrowing the opening the stool has to pass through.
Particularly pungent smelling BMs are often a sign of infection. For example, anyone who’s suffered through a Clostridium difficule infection can tell you if it has returned by the particular smell of their poop. Terrible-smelling poop likely indicates the presence of the parasite giardia in the stomach, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s or celiac disease.
Some doctors say we should have a good poop every day. Others say the important thing is that you poop at a rate that’s consistent for you. A significant decrease in output could be the result of eating less fiber or working out less often. A decrease or increase in output could come from a GI disorder, an overactive or underactive thyroid, or colon cancer. Culture can also play a role: Indians in South Asia produce three times as much poop as the British due to the higher fiber content in the typical Indian diet. The average American man produces about one-third of a pound of poop daily – the equivalent of 5 tons in a lifetime.


Food typically takes anywhere from 24-72 hours to make the trip from mouth to anus. Diarrhea is your stool on speed – the result of food passing much too quickly through the large intestine, where most of its water content gets absorbed. Loose stool can be the result of stomach viruses, food-borne illness, food allergies or intolerances, or other digestive problems.


Constipation occurs when the stool takes too long passing through so its water content becomes much reduced.
Floaters are often an indication of high fat content in the stool, possibly from malabsorption of the fat and nutrients from your food. They’re often associated with celiac disease or chronic pancreatitis. Vegetarians and vegans often have floaters too.
Having some gas is normal. It’s produced as bacteria in the colon break down the food passing through. The body absorbs some of this gas into the bloodstream. From there it gets breathed out through the lungs. The rest of it gets expelled from the other end. The American College of Gastroenterology says it’s normal to pass gas 10-18 tunes a day.
A fecal transplant involves placing stool from a person with a relatively healthy gut microbiota in the colon of a person infected with a Clostridium difficile infection or someone with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to stop debilitating diarrhea. The trillions of good (probiotic) bacteria in the healthy person’s stool can help re-colonize the ailing digestive tract of the sick person.
Studies indicate a positive correlation between time spent on the toilet and developing hemorrhoids (swollen blood vessels inside and around the anus). The longer you’re sitting there trying to poop out hard stool, the more pressure you’re exerting on those vessels. Hard stool is generally a result of a diet containing too little fiber. Americans consume an average of 10-15 grams of fiber a day. We should be consuming 30-35 grams to keep us regular, prevent constipation and hemorrhoids.


Wash your hands well with soap and water after using the toilet or you may be spreading a bit of poop around via your phone. British researchers collected samples from 400 cell phones in 12 cities and found 1 in 6 of them were contaminated with fecal matter.
Still want to keep your cell phone next to your plate while you’re eating?






The Parrot Fish eats coral and poops out sand, helping create many of the small islands and beaches in and around the Caribbean.


The Parrot Fsh eats coral and poops sand.  This has led to the creation of many small islands and beaches in and around the Caribbean. (Source:



Scientists were monitoring whale stress levels by analyzing their poop and found that their stress was greatly reduced immediately following the 9/11 attacks. It turns out this was due to all air traffic being halted, which calmed the oceans of external low frequency noise. Whales communicate with each other at these low frequencies.


Scientists were monitoring whale stress levels by analyzing their poop and found that their stress plummeted immediately following the 9/11 attacks. It turns out this was due to all air traffic being halted, which calmed the oceans of external low frequency noise which whales use to communicate. (Source:








3 billion people around the world still relay on charcoal and dung to cook their food.






In the early years of the 20th century, the voluminous shit produced by  horses used for drawing carriages and delivery vans was causing so much pollution in city streets that automobiles were regarded as a healthier alternative.


Wombats, those adorable Australian marsupials, have cube-shaped poop which they use to remember where they live.









Japanese toilet manufacturer giant, Toto, has produced a motorbike that runs exclusively on human poop.  The bike also writes messages in the air as it whizzes along – and the toilet storage tank can talk.
Toto hopes the bike will help raise awareness about human poop in the environment and lead to a 50% reduction of  CO2 emissions in bathrooms  by 2017.
See Poop-Powered Bike: TOTO Releases Motorbike Toilet That Runs On Feces.


The creative Japanese again – there’s an exhibit at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo called TOILET!? HUMAN WASTE & THE EARTH’S FUTURE.  It features a giant toilet bowl slide and provides children with poop-shaped hats. Aside from being fun, its goal is serious – to teach visitors about human waste and toilets and especially to draw attention to the 2.5 billion people worldwide who don’t have access to sanitation or toilets.
You can read about the museum here. The article also has some wonderful videos.








3-TOED SLOTHS AND THEIR ODD POOPING HABITS (Soniak, 2014) (Thompson, 2014)



The strange pooping habits of a 3-toed sloth. (Source: animallistnews)
(Source: animallistnews)


3-toed sloths spend most of their time hanging around chilling out in trees amid the tropical rainforest canopy in Central and South America. They are very slow moving, live on the green leaves growing on their home tree, have very slow metabolisms … and poop only once a week. That’s unusual – and so is this: They slowly make their way down their tree to the rainforest floor to take that weekly dump.
Scientists have pondered why the animals would leave the safety of the treetops and risk getting eaten by predators just to take a shit.
A Mammalian Ecologist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison named Jonathan Pauli says, “It’s like if you had to go to the bathroom, and you were programmed to go run a 5K on an interstate before you could go to the bathroom. It’s really risky, and it’s really energetically costly.”
That weekly trek also uses up a hefty proportion of their daily energy production.
So why do they do it?
Scientists have several theories about this:
Pooping near a sloth’s home tree fertilizes the tree’s roots.
Its poop notifies other sloths of its location so they can mate.
The most complicated theory has to do with the variety of organisms that make their home in sloths’ thick fur: algae, fungi, arachnids and insects – including moths from the genus Cryptoses, AKA sloth moths. These moths depend on their host sloth’s weekly poop trek. Females lay their egg’s in the sloth’s dung. The emerging larva then feed on the dung until they become adults, when they fly up to move into the fur of their own sloth.
Researchers’ thinking is that the sloths are just as dependent on the moths. They found that sloths having more moths on them also had more nitrogen-rich hair and more algae growth. Analyzing the contents of the sloths’ stomachs, the researchers found the algae in there had been easily digestible and was rich in carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
So maybe the risky pooping process keeps the moths around and provides the sloths with a nutritious supplement to their nutrient-poor leaf diet .


And perhaps you thought your toilet habits might be a bit odd ….







Here’s a video about these sloths and why they do what they do: The Strange Pooping Habits of a 3-Toed Sloth
And another video offering some other possible explanations: Mystery of the Pooping Sloth – Science on the Web #55.



An adult three toed sloth climbs back up a tree in Costa Rica after doing its business below. (Source: Image: Zach Peery)
An adult three toed sloth climbs back up a tree in Costa Rica after doing its business below. (Source: Image: Zach Peery)


Thanks to Kelley O’Donnell for telling me about sloths and their mysterious poop habits.








 This is my earlier post about poop: THE LOWDOWN ON POOP.




REFERENCES (2014). 24 Poop-Related Facts. See:

EverydayHealth. (2014). 11 Icky But Interesting Facts About Poop. See:

Hardin, J.R. (3/15/2014). The Lowdown on Poop. See:

Huffington Post. (10/7/2011). Poop-Powered Bike: TOTO Releases Motorbike Toilet That Runs On Feces. See:

Soniak, M. (2014). The Mystery of the Sloth Poop. See:

Thompson, H. (2014). What Drives a Sloth’s Ritualistic Trek to Poop? Scientists trace the odd bathroom behavior to relationships with bacteria and moths that inhabit their fur. See: (2014). This New Museum In Tokyo Looks Like A Sick Joke, But Kids LOVE It. You’re Not Gonna Believe It. See:



© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


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