Monthly Archives: December 2015

uBiome – How to Get Your Microbiomes Sequenced

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Here’s an opportunity for people interested in understanding how the trillions of micro-organisms living in and on the human body contribute to their health – or lack thereof: uBiome, a Silicon Valley company, offers microbiome sequencing, allowing you to explore your body’s own unique microbiomes.



Scientists now know that various microbes living inside and on the human body outnumber our human cells by 10:1. Like a rain forest, the healthy human microbiome needs to have  a balanced ecosystem in order to maintain good health – and the balance needs to be in the types and amounts of good microbes as well as between those good microbes and pathological ones.


Our symbiotic microbial populations perform essential functions – including digesting food, synthesizing vitamins, and regulating all the metabolic functions in the body. Studies have also linked the gut microbiome to gut health and healthy development.
A poor mix of microbes in the gut microbiome impairs the immune system, playing a role in the development and progression of autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, asthma, acne, other skin conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid imbalances, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, chronic Lyme Disease, fibromyalgia, and many more – including probably some cancers.
Gut microbial imbalances may also aggravate common obesity.
Certain microbes are known to modify the production of neurotransmitters in the brain so research is being done on how to use them to relieve depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other neuro-chemical imbalances.


See here for a list of and information about autoimmune diseases and here for information on the role of probiotic and pathological bacteria in oral health.


Male vs Female Microbiome Proportions



You can get a kit from uBiome to obtain samples from these microbiomes living on and in your body and have an informative report of the findings sent to you:
  • Gut
  • Mouth
  • Nose
  • Skin
  • Genitals






uBiome offers three types of kits:
GUT KIT – $89 for a one-time purchase/ $71.20@ to subscribe for a kit to be delivered monthly:

From just your gut sample, you get a comprehensive picture of how your microbiome compares to other lifestyles. A starter kit for curious beginners.


Sample three times: before, during and after a diet or lifestyle change. uBiome’s most popular bundle allows you to submit multiple samples to see how your microbiome changes over time. This kit is a 25% discount off the normal Gut Kit, and allows you to use three time points for comparison.

FIVE SITE KIT – $399 for a one-time purchase/ $391.20@ to subscribe for a kit to be delivered monthly:

This kit lets you sample all five microbiomes – your gut, mouth, nose, genitals, and skin – to get a complete picture of the workings of your body.

To purchase kits.



This is how easy it is to obtain the microbial samples to send to uBiome for sequencing:

Open the tube you want to sample and the follow the site-specific instructions below:


  • Swab your used toilet paper to collect a tiny amount of poop.
  • Note – this probably way less than you think you need – just enough to change the color of the swab.


  • Vigorously rub the swab across the inside of each cheek for 30 seconds.
  • Note – do not touch your teeth or gums to the swab.


  • Wet the swab with the PCR water included in your kit. (Do not use regular water.)
  • Swab along the lower half of the crease behind your ear for 1 minute.
  • Note – pull your ear forward with one hand and pull your hair out of the way if necessary.


  • Wet the swab with the PCR water included in your kit. (Do not use regular water.)
  • Swab around the inside of each nostril at the depth of the cotton on the swab for 30 seconds each.


  • Wet the swab with the PCR water included in your kit. (Do not use regular water.)
  • Swab in a circular motion around the base of the head of the penis for one minute (where the head of the penis intersects the shaft).
  • Note – if your penis is uncircumcised, pull back your foreskin first.


  • Wet the swab with the PCR water included in your kit. (Do not use regular water.)
  • Swab the area just inside the vaginal opening, to the depth of the cotton on the swab for one minute.
  • Note – spread your labia with one hand and use the other to swab.


  • Put the used swab into the vial and stir it for 1 minute to transfer the bacteria.
  • Discard the swab in the trash.
  • Close the tube tightly and shake vigorously for 1 minute.


  • All of kits include a secure mailer, so that you can send your samples right back to us.
  • US kits come with prepaid postage. Just drop the envelope in the mail.






I highly recommend you take a look at uBiome’s website. It’s written in plain English, is user friendly, contains several interesting short videos and lots of information about our human microbiomes – plus you can order your sampling kits directly from the site.




For more information on those microscopic critters living in and on you – our important friends with benefits who keep us functioning properly – see these other posts:










Hardin, J.R. (2014). See: AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES: How they develop and how to put them in remission.

Hardin, J.R. (2014). Oral Health and Overall Health. See:

Hardin, J.R. (2015). Rob Knight’s TED Talk: How Our Microbes Make Us Who We Are. See:

Hardin, J.R. (2015). The Human Microbiome – Two Short Videos. See:

Hardin, J.R. (2015). What’s in the Human Microbiome. See:

Hardin, J.R. (2015). Your Microbial Fingerprints. See:

uBiome. (2015). See:



© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


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

Video of Food Moving Through the GI Tract



I found this video fascinating. If you’re squeamish, you might not. A man swallows a tiny camera that transmits what it encounters as it follows food being digested in his GI tract.
Here’s the video:


Many thanks to Zell Watson for sending the video to me.




BBC. (12/4/2015). The strange and disgusting path food takes through our gut. See:



© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


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


To Calm an Overactive Mind



You know that unpleasant feeling when you want to be feel centered inside but your brain keeps spitting out thoughts at a rapid pace – useless things like the name of a song you absolutely must remember right that moment, worries, things you’ll have to do next week, fears about the future, regrets about the past, guilt, anxiety, maybe even panic? One thought leads to another until you’re exhausted and in quite a state, unable to get anything useful done or calm down and fall asleep if this happens at bedtime.


I chose the brain scan images below not to advise you to meditate (though I do think meditation greatly enriches life) but to show how different an active and a relaxed brain are. There’s lots of active thinking going on in the brain on the left and very little in the one on the right.



The scans below show brain activity in a normal brain vs an obsessive compulsive brain. You can see there’s a whole lot more activity going on in the OCD brain, most of it probably not at all helpful to the person in which that brain resides.


No matter what your circumstances or how long your brain has been running you this way, you have the ability to calm yourself down and feel centered. Not overnight but with practice.
If you don’t already have helpful techniques for quieting your brain, perhaps these three suggestions will help you get out of your brain and reconnect with your body.





Oregon Coast Aquarium (Newport, OR)


Our powerful human brains keep generating thoughts even when we don’t want them to. Meditators call this phenomenon monkey brain – our thoughts jump around in our heads like playful monkeys.
In a meditation workshop I took with Sally Kempton, a well-known teacher and writer, someone asked her how to stop thoughts from popping into his head while he was trying to meditate. Sally offered this nice image for the hardest part in developing a meditation practice or quieting your brain when you’re trying to fall asleep – non-judgmental noting of distracting thoughts and emotions: “When you’re in front of a large aquarium looking at an interesting creature, you don’t jump into the tank and swim after it. Instead you say to yourself or the person you’re with ‘what a beautiful fish” and move on.
Sally’s advice to us was simply to note that we’ve had a thought, say silently to ourselves thought – and not swim after it.
With a little practice, this actually works. There are nights when my brain is abuzz with an ongoing stream of things I really don’t need to be thinking about right then. Thinking thought, thought, thought … to myself interrupts the stream and lets me fall asleep.


dogs cartoon.key to meditation.stay




We tend to tighten up the muscles in our faces, especially around our eyes, when our brains are racing. Helping those muscles relax also helps us be grounded in our bodies,  feel more spacious inside, and relax our minds.
The Emotional Freedom Tapping Technique is quite effective at relaxing those muscles – and other energy points you may decided to tap, releasing negative energy in them and restoring balance to the body’s bio- energy system.



EFT is an energy-based self-help method combining the principles of ancient Chinese medicine’s system of energy pathways (meridians) with modern psychology.  Its techniques are used to release negative thoughts and behaviors which have become stored in our bodies on a cellular level.
Descriptions of the tapping technique usually recommend saying positive affirmations out loud while tapping in order to clear  blockages. I’ve found mental, emotional, and physical relief solely from tapping, particularly around the eyes and the crown of my head,  without saying any affirmations. I do set intentions for myself. Maybe one of these days I’ll also add some affirmations.



In EFT,  you use your fingertips to tap on your body’s acupressure points.
See Tamsin Young’s EFT Tactics for Success, Meditation & Relaxation for a fuller explanation of the theory and practice of EFT.  The five minute video, Intro to EFT – Tapping with Brad Yates, about half way through the article, demonstrates how to perform the technique. It’s clear and worth watching to help you get started.
This 8 minute tutorial video by Dr Dawson Church offers more information on the technique: EFT Tapping How-to Video with Dawson Church.
Dr Patricia Carrington’s Using EFT to Relax Muscle Tension is also interesting.






A very smart and creative psychotherapy patient of mine, realizing he wasn’t ever going to be able to stop all the obsessive thoughts his brain generated,  came up with a clever way to co-exist with them: He ‘built’ a ‘room’ just outside his head to put them in. That way, they could still be yammering away out there but they wouldn’t take over his thinking. This ‘room’ has let him get on with what he wanted and needed to do with his conscious brain.



Alva Noë, a philosopher at UC-Berkeley, disagrees with Decartes’ famous formulation: I think, therefore I am. Noë’s version is I am, therefore I think. He argues that we are NOT our brains – that it’s considerably more than the neurons in the brain that determine our perceptions and sense of self, that  consciousness is created in a continual and lively interaction with our surroundings.
This view, that we are engaged in an ongoing dance with our environment,  that our perceptions are habits, makes it clear we can actively change our consciousness to alter what takes place in our brains. Which takes us back to don’t jump into the tank.








Carrington, P. (2012). Using EFT to Relax Muscle Tension. See: (undated). EFT Tapping How-to Video with Dawson Church. See:

Hardin, J.R. (2013). The Vagus Nerve. See:

Noë, A. (2009). Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness (1st Edition). See:

Young, T. (2015). EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique. See:


© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


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