Tag Archives: Clostridium difficile

Cipro & Levaquin can cause tendinitis & tendon ruptures

Updated 8/25/2018.

Source: MedPage Today
On top of all the other side effects caused by heavy duty, broad spectrum antibiotics like Cipro & Levaquin, I recently learned they can also cause tendinitis and ruptured tendons.
Source: Regenexx




“Federal regulators are ordering new warnings on Cipro and similar antibiotics because of increased risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture. The new warnings apply to fluoroquinolones, a class of antibiotics that includes the popular drug Cipro….

“The warning applies to drugs of the fluoroquinolone class, including Cipro, Cipro XR, Proquin XR, Levaquin, Floxin, Noroxin, Avelox, Factive, and marketed generics….

“Most of the tendinitis and tendon ruptures affect the Achilles tendon, behind the ankle. But the agency has also received reports of tendinitis and ruptures in the shoulder and hand. Tendons connect muscle to bone.

“Officials also say they are adding new warnings cautioning that patients over 60, those taking corticosteroids, and those who’ve undergone heart, lung, or kidney transplants are also at increased risk of tendon rupture or tendinitis if they take fluoroquinolones.

“Researchers don’t know exactly what fluoroquinolones do that promotes tendon rupturing. Theories suggest the drug may impede collagen formation or interrupt blood supply in joints …

“… Patients taking the drugs should tell their doctors immediately if they experience soreness or inflammation in muscles or tendons and that they should not exercise affected joints….”

 – (Zwillich, WebMD, 2008)


Source: ( Dr. William E. Morgan, 2013)






Source: Consumer Reports
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abnormal liver function tests
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Bleeding easily
  • Blurred vision
  • Bruising easily
  • Burning in the eyes
  • Confusion
  • Dark colored urine
  • Diarrhea, watery or bloody diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Fainting
  • Fast or pounding heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Nervousness
  • Nightmares
  • Numbness
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Pale or yellow skin
  • Rash
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling
  • Sleep problems (insomnia or nightmares)
  • Sore throat
  • Stiffness
  • Stomach upset
  • Sudden pain
  • Swelling of the face or tongue
  • Tenderness
  • Tingling
  • Unusual pain anywhere in the body
  • Unusual thoughts or behaviors
  • Urinating less than usual or not at all
  • Vaginal itching or discharge
  • Weakness
“This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. “
 – Cunha, RxList, 5/14/2018




Source: Drug Lawsuit Source
These are listed as  “serious and otherwise important adverse drug reactions” of Cipro, some “disabling and potentially irreversible”:
  • Tendinitis and Tendon Rupture
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Central Nervous System Effects
  • Exacerbation of Myasthenia Gravis
  • Other Serious and Sometimes Fatal Adverse Reactions
  • Hypersensitivity Reactions
  • Hepatotoxicity
  • Serious Adverse Reactions with Concomitant Theophylline
  • Clostridium difficile-Associated Diarrhea
  • Prolongation of the QT Interval
  • Musculoskeletal Disorders in Pediatric Patients
  • Photosensitivity/Phototoxicity
  • Development of Drug Resistant Bacteria
– (Cunha, RxList, 5/14/2018)




Source: SFGate
You can see from the following WebMD list of conditions treated with Cipro that this broad spectrum antibiotic is commonly used to combat a wide variety of established bacterial infections and is sometimes even given prophylactically :
  • intestine infection due to the Shigella bacteria
  • Intestinal Infection due to Campylobacter
  • Traveler’s Diarrhea
  • Acute Maxillary Sinus M. Catarrhalis Bacteria Infection
  • Pneumonia caused by Proteus Bacteria
  • Urinary Tract Infection caused by Klebsiella Bacteria
  • Infection of the Prostate Gland caused by Proteus
  • Continuous Bacterial Inflammation of the Prostate Gland
  • Skin Infection
  • Bone Infection caused by Enterobacter
  • Lower Respiratory Tract Infection
  • Complicated Peritonitis caused by E. Coli
  • Abscess Within the Abdomen
  • Infection of Urinary Tract due to Pseudomonas Aeruginosa
  • Urinary Tract Infection caused by Serratia
  • Skin Infection due to Klebsiella Bacteria
  • Acute Maxillary Sinus H. Influenzae Bacteria Infection
  • Complicated Peritonitis caused by Proteus Bacteria
  • Bacterial Infection of Kidney due to E. Coli Organism
  • Bladder Infection caused by E. Coli
  • Urinary Tract Infection due to E. Coli Bacteria
  • Infection of the Urinary Tract caused by Proteus Bacteria
  • Skin Infection due to Staphylococcus Aureus Bacteria
  • Skin Infection due to Streptococcus Pyogenes Bacteria
  • Skin Infection due to Enterobacter Bacteria
  • Pneumonia caused by Bacteria
  • Infection Within the Abdomen
  • Urinary Tract Infection due to Staphylococcus Epidermidis
  • Skin Infection due to E. Coli Bacteria
  • Skin Infection due to Citrobacter Bacteria
  • Infection of Bone
  • Prevention of Plague Following Exposure to Plague
  • Bacterial Pneumonia caused by Klebsiella
  • Staphylococcus Saprophyticus Infection of Urinary Tract
  • Infection of the Prostate Gland caused by E. Coli
  • Skin Infection due to Proteus Bacteria
  • Skin Infection due to Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Bacteria
  • Skin Infection due to Providencia Bacteria
  • Infection of a Joint caused by Serratia Bacteria
  • Treatment to Prevent Anthrax following Exposure to Disease
  • Pneumonia due to the Bacteria Haemophilus Parainfluenzae
  • Pneumonia caused by E. Coli Bacteria
  • Infection of Urinary Tract due to Providencia Species
  • Urinary Tract Infection caused by Citrobacter
  • Skin Infection caused by Morganella Morganii
  • Joint Infection caused by Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Bacteria
  • Bone Infection caused by Serratia Bacteria
  • Pneumonia caused by the Bacteria Enterobacter
  • Complicated Peritonitis caused by Pseudomonas Aeruginosa
  • Complicated Peritonitis caused by Klebsiella Bacteria
  • Bladder Infection caused by Staphylococcus
  • Infection of the Urinary Tract caused by Enterococcus
  • Joint Infection caused by Enterobacter Species Bacteria
  • Infection of a Joint
  • Diarrhea caused by E. Coli Bacteria
  • Bacterial Urinary Tract Infection
  • Typhoid Fever
  • Diarrhea caused by a Bacteria
  • Plague
  • Acute Maxillary Sinus S. Pneumoniae Bacteria Infection
  • Pneumonia caused by the Bacteria Pseudomonas Aeruginosa
  • Bacterial Pneumonia caused by Haemophilus Influenzae
  • Pneumonia caused by Gram-Negative Bacteria
  • Bronchitis caused by the Bacteria Moraxella Catarrhalis
  • Complicated Peritonitis caused by Bacteroides Bacteria
  • Infection of Urinary Tract due to Enterobacter Cloacae
  • Urinary Tract Infection caused by Morganella Morganii
  • Skin Infection due to Staphylococcus Epidermidis Bacteria
  • Bone Infection caused by Pseudomonas Aeruginosa
  • Short-Term Infection with Diarrhea
  • Discomfort & Weight Loss
  • Diverticulitis
  • Diabetic Foot Infection
  • chancroid
  • Heart Valve Infection caused by Haemophilus
  • Pneumonia caused by the Bacteria Anthrax
  • Cystic Fibrosis and Infection from Pseudomonas Bacteria
  • Bacterial Stomach or Intestine Infection caused by Anthrax
  • Infection of the Brain or Spinal Cord caused by Anthrax
  • Urinary Tract Infection Prevention
  • Skin Infection caused by Anthrax
  • Treatment to Prevent Traveler’s Diarrhea
  • Treatment to Prevent Meningococcal Meningitis
  • Presumed Infection in Neutropenic Patient With Fever
 – (WebMD, 2018)




Source: best-price-checker.com
The uses, potential side effects and warnings for Levaquin are similar to those for Cipro. See Levaquin (RxList, 2018A) if you want to check it out specifically.


Source: HealthHearty





Source: Drugwatch.com
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) posted this warning on July 27 2016:
“According to a July 26 FDA Drug Safety Communication these medications have been associated with disabling and potentially permanent side effects involving tendons, muscles and/or joints, as well as peripheral nerves and the central nervous system. Some patients may even experience more than one such adverse effect.
“Therefore, said FDA officials, fluoroquinolones should be used in patients with acute bacterial sinusitis (ABS), acute bacterial exacerbation of chronic bronchitis (ABECB) or uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs) only when no other treatment options are available, “because the risk of these serious side effects generally outweighs the benefits in these patients.”
“‘Fluoroquinolones have risks and benefits that should be considered very carefully,’ said Edward Cox, M.D., director of the Office of Antimicrobial Products in the agency’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in (a news release). ‘It’s important that both health care providers and patients are aware of both the risks and benefits of fluoroquinolones and make an informed decision about their use.’
“The agency has revised the boxed warning for all drugs in this class of antibiotics to reflect these serious safety concerns. Those drugs are
  • moxifloxacin (Avelox)
  • ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
  • ciprofloxacin extended-release (Cipro extended-release)
  • gemifloxacin (Factive)
  • levofloxacin (Levaquin) and
  • ofloxacin (Ofloxacin generic brand)….
Specific events reported include
  • tendinitis and tendon rupture,
  • muscle pain or weakness,
  • joint pain and/or joint swelling,
  • peripheral neuropathy, and
  • central nervous system effects (e.g., psychosis, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts).
“Effects can begin within hours of starting the medications, but they may not be seen until after weeks of treatment. Patients should be advised to discontinue the drugs immediately if they experience any serious adverse effects.
“The benefits of fluoroquinolones continue to outweigh the risks when used for certain serious bacterial infections (e.g., pneumonia, intra-abdominal infections) and the FDA says it is appropriate for them to remain available as a therapeutic option in such cases.”
 – (AAFP, 2016) & (FDA, 2016)
Source: medium.com



Since antibiotics target the good (probiotic)  bacteria in and on the body right along with their intended target, harmful bacteria, also be sure to take lots of the probiotic yeast, Sacharomyces boulardii, to protect your gut microbiome from being overrun by pathogenic bacteria anytime you’re given a course of antibiotics. This includes antibiotics you receive unbeknownst to you in your IV along with the anesthetic during surgeries. And remember that you can talk with your surgeon about exactly which antibiotic you’ll be given during surgery and why.
Sacharomyces boulardii is a probiotic YEAST, not a bacterium, so is not targeted by antiBIOTICS and can act as a place holder in your gut microbiome to fill up the space created when an antibiotic kills off your good bacteria.
See this earlier post for more information on Sacharomyces boulardii.
Dr Gabrielle Francis, who alerted me to the tendinitis and tendon rupture warnings for Cipro and Levaquin, recommends following this anti-inflammatory regimen during and for at least three months after a course of one of these antibiotics has been finished:
GLUCOSAMINE SULFATE (integrative Therapeutics) – to lubricate and strengthen tendons, build and support joint cartilage: 1 at breakfast/1 at dinner
BIOINFLAMAX (Nutra BioGenesis) – to maintain a healthy inflammatory response in joint and muscles: 2 at breakfast/2 at dinner
MAGNESIUM MALATE (Designs for Health or Integrative Therapeutics) – to protect joints and muscles: 1 at breakfast/1 at dinner
OSTEOFORCE SUPREME (Designs for Health) – to support bone health: 1 at breakfast/1 at dinner
For more information on these supplements (benefits, ingredients list, side effects, interactions), see:
Glucosamine Sulfate
What Are the Benefits of Magnesium Malate? and Magnesium Malate
OsteoForce Supreme
Source: The Herban Alchemist
In addition, Dr Francis recommends having a detoxifying smoothie for breakfast to keep your body strong while taking antibiotics. This is her version, the Detox Smoothie Bundle. Drink the detox smoothie in the AM and take the antibiotic in the PM.
Visit Dr Francis’s website, The Herban Alchemist, if you want to read more about her.


Source: Healthy Market
“The federal government must crackdown on the use of antibiotics such as cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones within the nation’s meat industry because of the threat that antibiotic resistance poses to public health, says one of the government’s leading veterinary drug safety officials.” (Webster, 2008)


Regions that produce the most pork and chicken also use the most antibiotics on farms. Hot spots around the world include the Midwest in the U.S., southern Brazil, and China’s Sichuan province. Yellow indicates low levels of drug use in livestock; orange and light red are moderate levels; and dark red is high levels.

Source: PNAS
If you eat meat made from factory farmed animals, you’re also consuming a variety of antibiotics – possibly including fluoroquinones – in each juicy burger, serving of fried chicken, and side of bacon you enjoy.


Source: winstonclose
Factory farmed animals (cows, pigs, chickens) are given fluoroquinones – among other antibiotics. (Doucleff, 2015) & (FDA, 2009). The 2009 FDA report lists 2 fluoroquinones and 47 other approved antibiotics for use on factory farmed cows. You can see the report for yourself: Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals .



Source: The Outdoor Journal
I was also trying to track down which antibiotics are known to be given to farm raised fish in the US and elsewhere and found only these five that have been detected in aquacultured fish:  oxytetracycline, 4-epioxytetracycline, sulfadimethoxine, ormetoprim, and virginiamycin.
But, lest you think wild caught seafood is antibiotic-free, oxytetracycline has also been detected  in wild-caught shrimp from Mexico, perhaps from coastal pollution, sewage contamination, mislabeling, or cross-contamination during handling and processing. (Lueing, 2015)


Source: MicrobeWiki
And, in case you noted the dates of the articles and the report cited above and figure the FDA has surely fixed the problem by now, here’s a quote from a recently published article on the rise of antibiotic resistant illnesses:
“The overuse and misuse of antibiotics in the meat industry is contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistance in the U.S. and across the world. This serious public health issue is estimated to kill 10 million people a year worldwide by 2050. In the U.S., antibiotic-resistant infections cause over two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths each year, costing society between $55 billion to $70 billion each year.
“The majority of antibiotics in the U.S. are given to animals that are not sick; they are mixed into animals’ food and water to make them grow bigger or to prevent illness in cramped and unhealthy environments.” (As You Sow, 6/14/2018)


Source: The Hearty Soul


Many thanks to Dr Gabrielle Francis for alerting me to this situation and recommending the protocol of supplements to take during and after a course of Cipro or Levaquin as protection against tendon damage.





Almost immediately after I published this post, Christian John Lillis, Executive Director of The Peggy Lillis Foundation (Lillis, 2018), sent me this article his friend Rachel Brummert just posted on DrugWatch.com about the  dozens of spontaneous tendon fractures she has experienced after taking Levaquin for a suspected sinus infection:  Levaquin Turned Me into ‘Frankenwoman’. (Brummert, 8/24/2018)
Source: Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics
These ghastly experiences motivated her to become a  trained Patient Advocate through the National Center for Health Research and a trained Special Government Employee (SGE) through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. She also works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on fluoroquinolone awareness communication campaigns.
Christian John Lillis and his brother Liam started The Peggy Lillis Foundation to fight Clostridium difficile by building a nationwide Clostridium difficile awareness movement that educates the public, empowers advocates, and shapes policy. Peggy Lillis, Christian and Liam’s mother,  died at age 56  after having a root canal and being prescribed the antibiotic Clindamycin to treat a dental abscess. Seven days later she became septic and went into cardiac arrest from the massive C. diff infection that had taken over her colon. (Peggy Lillis Foundation, 2018)
Source: Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics
“(Clindamycin) increases the risk of hospital-acquired Clostridium difficile colitis about fourfold.” (Wikipedia, 7/26/2018)
Source: beforeyoutakethatpill.com




American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP.) (July 27, 2016). Use Fluoroquinolones Only as Drug of Last Resort for Some Infections. See: https://www.aafp.org/news/health-of-the-public/20160727fluoroquinolones.html

As You Sow. (6/14/2018). Antibiotics & Factory Farms. See: https://www.asyousow.org/our-work/environmental-health/antibiotics-factory-farms/

Brummert, R. (8/24/2018).  Levaquin Turned Me into ‘Frankenwoman’. DrugWatch.com. See: https://www.drugwatch.com/beyond-side-effects/levaquin-turned-me-into-frankenwoman/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=post-organic

Cunha, J.P.  (5/14/2018). Cipro: Side Effects Center. RxList. See: https://www.rxlist.com/cipro-side-effects-drug-center.htm#overview

Doucleff, M. (2015). For The Love Of Pork: Antibiotic Use On Farms Skyrockets Worldwide. NPR. See: https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/03/20/394064680/for-the-love-of-pork-antibiotic-use-on-farms-skyrockets-worldwide

FDA. (2009). SUMMARY REPORT on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals. Center for Veterinary Medicine. See: https://grist.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/ucm231851.pdf

FDA. (7/26/2016). FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA updates warnings for oral and injectable fluoroquinolone antibiotics due to disabling side effects. See: https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm511530.htm

Francis, G. (2018). Personal communication.

Francis, G. (2018). Detox Smoothie Bundle. See: https://store.theherbanalchemist.com/collections/smoothie-bundles-1/products/zzzdet

Francis, G. (2018). The Herban Alchemist. See: http://theherbanalchemist.com

Hardin, J.R. (2014). Sacharomyces boulardii. See: https://allergiesandyourgut.com/superimmunity/saccharomyces-boulardii/

Hutchins, M. (2017). What Are the Benefits of Magnesium Malate?. LiveStrong. See: https://www.livestrong.com/article/280804-what-are-the-benefits-of-magnesium-malate/

Lillis, C.J. (2018). Personal communication.
Luening, E. (2015). Study identifies antibiotics in farm raised seafood. Aquaculture North America. See: https://www.aquaculturenorthamerica.com/research/survey-identifies-antibiotics-in-farm-raised-seafood-1559


Morgan, W.E. (2013). Tendon Rupture Related to Antibiotic Use: Fluoroquinolone induced tendon ruptures are a growing concern. See: http://drmorgan.info/clinicians-corner/tendon-rupture-related-to-antibiotic-use/

Peggy Lillis Foundation. (2016). See: https://peggyfoundation.org/about-plf/about-peggy/

Pure Formulas. (2018A). BioInflamax. See: https://www.pureformulas.com/bioinflammatory-plus-120-capsules-by-biogenesis-nutraceuticals.html

Pure Formulas. (2018 B). Magnesium Malate. See: https://www.pureformulas.com/magnesium-malate-chelate-240-tablets-by-designs-for-health.html

Pure Formulas. (2018 C). OsteoForce Supreme. See: https://www.pureformulas.com/osteoforce-supreme-180-capsules-by-designs-for-health.html

RxList. (2018 A). Levaquin. See: https://www.rxlist.com/levaquin-drug.htm

RxList (2018 B).  Glucosamine Sulfate. See: https://www.rxlist.com/glucosamine_sulfate/supplements.htm#HowDoesItWork

WebMD. (2018). What Conditions does Cipro Treat? See: https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-1124-93/cipro-oral/ciprofloxacin-oral/details/list-conditions

Webster, P.C. (2008). Crackdown on factory farm drug use urged. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 184:1, E23–E24.

Wikipedia, 7/26/2018). Clindamycin. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clindamycin

Zwillich, T. (7/28/2008). FDA Warning: Cipro May Rupture Tendons: Agency Issues ‘Black Box’ Warning for Antibiotics Known as Fluroquinolones. WebMD. See: https://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/news/20080708/fda-warning-cipro-may-rupture-tendons


© Copyright 2018. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

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

FIGHT C. DIFFICILE – 7th Annual Peggy Lillis Foundation Gala


Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Lovely and graceful, isn’t it? This is an image of a single Clostridium difficile bacterium. But it’s a pathological killer, definitely not something you want to take over your large intestine.
Have you ever even heard of it? And are you aware that antibiotics (taken as a prescribed drug or consumed in factory farmed meats) can kill off the good probiotic bacteria in your gut and make you very ill with a C. diff  infection – even kill you?
Source: National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
Source: National Foundation for Infectious Diseases


The Peggy Lillis Foundation was started by Peggy’s two sons, Christian and Liam, after their 56 year old mother died in April of 2010 from a C. diff infection six days after getting a root canal. Her dentist had prescribed the broad spectrum antibiotic Clindamycin to treat an abscess. She developed diarrhea and assumed she’d gotten a stomach virus. Several days later, when the ‘ stomach virus’ symptoms had intensified to the point that the diarrhea was much worse and she was pale, dizzy, and unable to keep any food down, she spoke to her doctor by phone. He apparently wasn’t aware of the symptoms of C. diff and prescribed a prescription strength anti-diarrheal medicine – without ever asking if she’d recently taken any antibiotics.
By the time her sons realized how sick she was and took her to a hospital, she was in septic shock. The ER docs eventually correctly identified her massive infection as C. diff caused by the Clindamycin  and made much worse by the anti-diarrheal.
The doctors did everything they could to save her, including removing her colon, where a C. diff  infection grows – but nothing worked. She eventually went into cardiac arrest and died.
The Cause of Death listed on her death certificate didn’t even mention C. diff.
Neither Peggy nor her sons had ever heard of C. diff  before. And maybe her dentist and doctor hadn’t either. At least they both acted as if they were unaware that antibiotics could lead to virulent, pathogenic C. diff bacteria opportunistically taking over the colon by killing off most of the probiotic bacteria in there, giving the pathogenic C. diff bacteria a chance to proliferate wildly until they killed their host.
Source: Slideshare
Source: SlideShare


So that their mother’s sudden horrific death not be totally in vain, Christian and Liam Lillis started a foundation in her honor a few months later. Its mission is:
To build a nationwide Clostridium difficile awareness movement by educating the public, empowering advocates, and shaping policy.




Now in its seventh year, the highly respected Peggy Lillis Foundation has become a leading actor in the fight against  C. diff. It has also become a key resource for patients, families, providers, policymakers and advocates.
The Foundation’s 7th Annual Fight C. Diff Gala was held yesterday evening, 21 October 2016. It was a chance for people working toward the PLF’s goals in various ways to come together to give and receive  support and encouragement. The food was good too!
At the gala, the PLF honored people and organizations who are making a difference in the fight against C. diff by furthering its goals of LEADERSHIP, INNOVATION, AND ADVOCACY.
A LEADERSHIP AWARD was presented to the Mount Sinai Health System (New York City):


“Over the past 18 months, Mount Sinai Health System has demonstrated that true leadership at every level of hospital and clinical operations can have an enormous and lifesaving impact in reducing C. diff infections. Since 2014, Mount Sinai has reduced its hospital-acquired C. diff infections  by more than 40%. This reduction not only saved the health system money, but it also prevented a great deal of harm.”

An INNOVATORS AWARD was presented to the CDIFFerently Care Team of Northwell Health (formerly North Shore-LIJ Health System):



“The CDIFFerently Care Team of Northwell Healthy’s innovative approach to assembling and mobilizing a multidisciplinary team on the 6 Monti unit reduced C. diff infections by 50% in a single year. The team is now working to spread its successful innovation to other parts of Northwell Health.”

An ADVOCATE AWARD was present to NY State Senator Martin J. Golden (R, District 22):

NY State Senator Martin J. Golden


“Senator Martin J. Golden was our mother Peggy’s representative. Senator Golden has long been an advocate for the public school system that Peggy loved as well as a fervent champion for our state’s senior citizens. As Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, Senator Golden was credited by nationally recognized advocacy groups for championing the rights of senior citizens through the Assisted Living Law of 2004. Under his leadership, a number of significant bills affecting older Americans have been enacted, including a new Elderlaw, the Senior Bill of Rights: Long Term Care Reform, internet posting of retail prescription drug prices and a single EPIC/Medicare prescription drug card.”

See A Q&A with Sen. Marty Golden, 2016 Advocates Award Honoree to learn more about Senator Golden’s work.
Another ADVOCATE AWARD was presented to NY State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D, District 36, retired):

NY State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (Retired)


“Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson’s career, first as a pediatric nurse, then as a successful executive, and most recently, serving 16 years as the state senator from New York’s 36th district, exemplifies public service. She is also a C. diff survivor, having  battled the disease following knee surgery. Senator Hassell-Thompson retired from the senate in July to serve as Special Advisor for Policy and Community Affairs, for New York State Housing and Community Renewal.”

See A Q&A with Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, 2016 Advocates Award Honoree to learn more about her work in public service and her own battle with C. diff.



  • In September 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designated CDIs as an urgent public health threat requiring “aggressive action”
  • 475,000 Americans incur a CDI each year averaging one new infection every minute
  • 250,000 require hospitalization
  • 29,000 die annually
  • 17,000 cases of CDI in children
  • In 2011, CDIs killed more Americans than drunk driving or HIV/AIDS.


The numbers of C. diff infections and deaths have been rising sharply each year since 2011.





Visit the Peggy Lillis Foundation website to learn more about its work, read personal stories by people who have successfully battled C. diff and some who have lost loved ones to it, and find out what is being done about this epidemic and how you can help – and why you should even care about any of this.


Peggy Lillis with Her Kindergarten Class






Like Peggy Lillis, I became ill with a C. diff infection in April 2010. I’d never heard of it before either. Unlike Peggy, it didn’t kill me. If you’re interested, you can read the story of how I won my battle with it: “Successful holistic treatment of Clostridium difficile gut infection: case study.”  (Hardin, 2011)


Source: SlideShare
Source: SlideShare



From the program booklet for yesterday evening’s PLF’s 2016 gala:
“77% of Americans have never heard of C. diff. As we learned with the tragic death of our mother, it is impossible to prevent a disease you don’t know exists.”





Hardin, J.R. (2011).  Successful holistic treatment of Clostridium difficile gut infection: case study. Oriental Medicine Journal, 19:4, 24-37. See: http://peggyfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/C.-difficile-OMJ-article-lo-res.pdf

Peggy Lillis Foundation. (2016). See: http://peggyfoundation.org/

Lillis, C,  (10/17/2016). PLF Blog: A Q&A with Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, 2016 Advocates Award Honoree. See: https://peggyfoundation.org/a-qa-with-sen-ruth-hassell-thompson-2016-advocates-award-honoree/

Tiffany. (10/1/2016). PLF Blog: A Q&A with Sen. Marty Golden, 2016 Advocates Award Honoree. See: https://peggyfoundation.org/a-qa-with-sen-marty-golden-2016-advocates-award-honoree/




© Copyright 2016. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


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

Please Join Me to Help Stop Clostridium Difficile Infections


I’m well aware that this topic, Clostridium difficile, is far from sexy and maybe is something you’d rather not ever think about. In spite of that, I’m going to talk a bit about it and the  epidemic it has become – and then suggest a way you can help stop it.





In 2011, C. diff caused nearly 500,000 reported infections in the US – a statistic rivaling car accidents and gun violence. That year, 29,000 CDI patients died within 30 days of diagnosis. For those who survived an initial CDI, the infection often recurred at least once in about 1 in 5 patients. And the number of reported C. diff infections has increased each year since 2011.



Image Credit: University of Michigan Medical School
Image Credit: University of Michigan Medical School


Clostridium difficile is a spore-forming bacterium that can colonize the human colon, creating a C. difficile infection (CDI) when the array of healthy microorganisms in the gut’s microbiome has become depleted – often from antibiotics, which kill off the gut microbiome’s good bacteria along with the pathogenic ones.



For the past five years, the Peggy Lillis Foundation has been engaged in building a nationwide C. difficile awareness movement by educating the public, empowering advocates, and shaping policy.
My interest in the PLF’s work was spurred by a personal encounter with this dire infection. While on vacation in 2010, I developed symptoms of C. diff (although at the time I had no idea what was causing my acute GI distress). I felt increasingly unwell after returning home, consulted with my health care provider, and was diagnosed with C. diff from a stool sample. Once I had the diagnosis, I did research on how it was treated and learned that heavy duty antibiotics like metronidazole (Flagyl) and vancomycin (Vancocin) were usually prescribed.



(Source: fatburningman.com)
(Source: fatburningman.com)


Since it had been years of antibiotics that had compromised the healthy bacteria living in my gut, this approach made little sense to me. Instead, my healthcare team and I devised a regimen of nutritional supplements to kill off the pathological C. diff bacteria while at the same time rebuilding a population of probiotic bacteria in my gut microbiome.
So you can see that the mission of the Peggy Lillis Foundation coincides with my own personal interests and goals.
The Peggy Lillis Foundation is a nonprofit devoted to fighting C. diff. through education and advocacy. The work of the PLF is highly regarded – the Centers for Disease Control and several federal Cabinet agencies have partnered with it to implement awareness and prevention strategies.



This past summer I took part in a nationwide Summit of Advocates  working with the Peggy Lillis Foundation to build awareness about the C. diff. epidemic. Since only 35% of Americans know about this deadly disease, advocacy on it is very important. Ignorance of C. diff. and failure to recognize its symptoms contribute to deaths from it. Many deaths and much chronic suffering caused by C. diff. can be prevented by greater awareness among consumers, healthcare professionals and policymakers – along with improved cleaning strategies and antibiotic protocols in healthcare settings.





I hope you’ll be willing to make a tax deductible contribution to help the Peggy Lillis Foundation continue to fulfill its mission of working toward a world where C. diff is rare, treatable and survivable.
You can donate by going to the Peggy Lillis Foundation’s home page. There’s a green DONATE button in the upper right corner. Any help you can provide (large or small) will be very much appreciated.
There’s still lots of work to be done.
Thank you,

Joan Rothchild Hardin, PhD




For information on C. diff from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, see Clostridium difficile infection.
If you’re interested in reading the article I wrote about the regimen I used to vanquish my C. diff. infection, see Successful holistic treatment of Clostridium difficile gut infection: case study on the Peggy Lillis Foundation site.



(Source: http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/organisms/cdiff/Cdiff_infect.html)
(Source: CDC. http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/organisms/cdiff/Cdiff_infect.html)





Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. (2016). Clostridium difficile Infection. See: http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/organisms/cdiff/Cdiff_infect.html

Hardin, J.R. (2011).  Successful holistic treatment of Clostridium difficile gut infection: case study. Oriental Medicine Journal, 19:4, 24-37. See: http://peggyfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/C.-difficile-OMJ-article-lo-res.pdf

Peggy Lillis Foundation. (2016). See: http://peggyfoundation.org



© Copyright 2016. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


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

Get Smart About Antibiotics Week – November 16-22 2015


This is information by the CDC on their Get Smart about Antibiotics Week program, from their website:

Get Smart About Antibiotics Week is an annual one-week observance to raise awareness of antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic prescribing and use.

Get Smart Week logo


Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result of these infections. Many more people die from other conditions that were complicated by an antibiotic-resistant infection.

On September 18, 2014, the White House announced an Executive Order stating that the Federal Government will work domestically and internationally to detect, prevent, and control illness and death related to antibiotic-resistant infections by implementing measures that reduce the emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and help ensure the continued availability of effective therapeutics for the treatment of bacterial infections.

The use of antibiotics is the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world. Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs used in human medicine. However, up to 50% of all the antibiotics prescribed for people are not needed or are not optimally effective as prescribed. Antibiotics are also commonly used for promoting growth in food animals, one type of use that is not necessary.

Get Smart About Antibiotics Week 2015

During November 16-22, 2015, the annual Get Smart About Antibiotics Week will be observed. The observance is a key component of CDC’s efforts to improve antibiotic stewardship in communities, in healthcare facilities, and on the farm in collaboration with state-based programs, nonprofit partners, and for-profit partners. The one-week observance raises awareness of the threat of antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic prescribing and use.

The observance is an international collaboration, coinciding with:




Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Get Smart about Antibiotics Week: -Overview. See: http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/week/overview.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (16 September 2013). Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013.



© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


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

Factory Farming Produces Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria





Information from the International Master on Sustainable Development (Behrend, 2013):
  • 80% of all antibiotics used in the US are administered to farmed animals to promote growth and prevent disease. That amounts to about 29 million pounds of antibiotics per year.
  • These antibiotics produce drug-resistant “superbugs” in farm animals and humans, causing widespread disease, deficiency, and death.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 76 million cases of food borne illnesses a year and 5,000 deaths a year from viral and bacterial pathogens related to the animal farming industry.
  • The treatment of these illnesses costs $26 billion in healthcare costs annually.


In the US and around the world, antibiotics from every major class used for humans are also used in agriculture. Antibiotic-resistant  bacteria spread from farm animals to humans via food, animal-to-human transfer on farms and in rural areas, and through contaminated waste entering the environment. (Food & Water Watch, 2015)
Antibiotics resistance is now a very serious global problem.


Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. The bacteria survive and continue to multiply causing more harm. Bacteria can do this through several mechanisms.





In September 2012,  more than 150 well-respected scientists and 50 farmers sent a letter  to the US Federal Drug Administration and the US Congress, presenting overwhelming evidence that the use of antibiotics in livestock production poses a serious risk to human health. The letter pointed out that:

Hundreds of scientific research studies and analyses by international scientific bodies support the conclusion that the overuse of critical human drugs in food animal production is linked to human diseases increasingly impervious to antibiotic treatment, putting human lives at unnecessary risk.


Also in September 2012, Food and Water Watch, a nonprofit organization advocating for safe food and water, issued a report called Antibiotics Resistance 101 describing the reality of antibiotics use in factory farming and its seriously negative impacts on the environment, the economy, and the health of all living things – including humans, animals and plants.



The FDA issued ineffective VOLUNTARY guidelines.





This graphic shows how  the antibiotic resistance cycle operates:










Examples of superbugs that have developed from the overuse of antibiotics, particularly from factory farmed animals:









See Food and Water Watch’s site for more information on factory farming, antibiotic resistance, and the many other issues they’re involved in – including labeling of GMO foods, fracking, and water privatization.

Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.





Behrend, K.E. (2013). Rural Development: Antibiotics in Factory Farming. International Master on Sustainable Development EOI. See: http://www.eoi.es/blogs/imsd/rural-development-antibiotics-in-factory-farming/

Food & Water Watch. (2015). Antibiotic Resistance 101: How Antibiotic Misuse on Factory Farms Can Make You Sick. See: http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/reports/antibiotic-resistance-101-how-antibiotic-misuse-on-factory-farms-can-make-you-sick/



© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


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


How Hand Sanitizers Are Bad for You and the Planet



(Source: www.personal.psu.edu)
(Source: www.personal.psu.edu)


I’ve written on the dangers of hand sanitizers here and there on this site but decided to devote a whole post to them after encountering a big wall dispenser of Purell above a sink in a lovely West Village church bathroom  yesterday – with no hand soap option. I’m sure the church believes they  made a sensible choice. This got me thinking about how thoughtful people have been seriously misled. So here’s the explanation of why Purell in a bathroom is a bad idea.



It’s important to understand how the heavy use of Purell and other hand sanitizers is doing harm to our health.
The prevalent obsession with germs, viewing all of them as harmful and in need of being killed, is based in ignorance and simply misguided. Without the billions of friendly micro-organisms living in and on our bodies, we wouldn’t be able to sustain life. When we ruthlessly kill them on our skin and inside our bodies, we are doing ourselves a great disservice and jeopardizing our health.
As Michael Pollan, a well known American author, journalist, activist and professor of journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, put it in his excellent article Some of My Best Friends Are Germs (Pollan, 2013):

… as a civilization, we’ve just spent the better part of a century doing our unwitting best to wreck the human-associated microbiota with a multifronted war on bacteria and a diet notably detrimental to its well-being. Researchers now speak of an impoverished “Westernized microbiome” and ask whether the time has come to embark on a project of “restoration ecology” — not in the rain forest or on the prairie but right here at home, in the human gut.







(Source: sciencefocus.com)
(Source: sciencefocus.com)


The HYGIENE HYPOTHESIS offers an explanation of why it’s important to be exposed to a wide variety of germs in childhood:
A lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents, symbiotic micro-organisms such as gut flora probiotics, and parasites increases susceptibility to allergic and other autoimmune diseases by suppressing the natural development of the immune system. The lack of exposure leads to defects in the establishment of immune tolerance.
The Hygiene Hypothesis is also sometimes called the Biome Depletion Theory or the Lost Friends Theory.


1932 news item from Nov, 1932: POOR KIDS MORE IMMUNE TO GERMS ... An early observation consistent with the Hygiene Hypothesis .(Source: Modern Mechanix blog.modernmechanix.com)
Canadian news item from Nov, 1932: POOR KIDS MORE IMMUNE TO GERMS … An early observation consistent with the Hygiene Hypothesis (Source: Modern Mechanix blog.modernmechanix.com)


The result of providing too sanitary an environment for our children is that they aren’t able to build up a natural resistance to pathogens, making them more susceptible to developing allergies, asthma, skin conditions and a wide variety of other illnesses and diseases – including all the autoimmune conditions, heart disease and depression. Specifically, lack of exposure to pathogens is believed to lead to defects in the establishment of immune tolerance. (Hardin, 2014)
In Some of My Best Friends Are Germs, Pollan mentions the interesting finding that children who live with a dog at home are healthier overall, have fewer infectious respiratory problems, fewer ear infections and are less likely to require antibiotics. This is strong support for the Hygiene Hypothesis. Researchers found that the effect was greater if the dog spent fewer than six hours inside – the longer dogs are outdoors, the more dirt they bring inside with them so the children are exposed to more diverse micro-organisms from playing with and being licked by their dogs. (Pollan, 2013)
Isn’t this the perfect point to make to parents who tell their children they can’t have a dog because dogs are too dirty?


(Source; newswatch.nationalgeographic.com)
(Source; newswatch.nationalgeographic.com)
Many schools in the US now require children to carry and use bottles of hand sanitizers. And, at least in the US, there are Purell dispensers all over hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics, airports, work places, grocery stores, bathrooms – and in people’s purses and pockets.
The widespread use of hand sanitizers and antibacterial soaps is seen by many as an unwelcome epidemic harming individuals’ health and contributing to the rise of drug resistant bacteria, often referred to as super bugs. (Hardin, 12/22/2013)
For more information on the Hygiene Hypothesis and why it’s important to be exposed to diverse populations of microbes, see Live Dirty, Eat Clean … The Gut Microbiome Is the Future of Medicine.





(Source: www.ecomythsalliance.org)
(Source: www.ecomythsalliance.org)
Hand sanitizers, antibacterial soaps, toothpastes, and other products that “kill 99% of germs” likely contain triclosan. In 1969 triclosan was registered as a PESTICIDE  and is now widely used as a potent germicide in personal care products.
Do you think it’s a good idea to rub a pesticide on your skin?
As with antibiotics, triclosan doesn’t distinguish between useful microbes and pathogenic ones in destroying that 99%.  Among the harmful effects of using anything containing triclosan is evidence that it interferes with fetal development. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports evidence that triclosan disrupts the body’s endocrine system, altering hormone regulation. Bacteria exposed to triclosan are apt to become resistant to antibiotics. It weakens the heart muscle, impairing contractions and reducing heart function. It is known to weaken skeletal muscles, reducing grip strength. It washes into sewage systems and pollutes our waters. And it has been found in the blood, urine and breast milk of most people. (Hardin, 9/6/2014)
Triclosan, originally used as a pesticide, is a hormone disruptor found in thousands of products like toothpaste, cutting boards, yoga mats, hand soap, and more. (Source: saferchemicals.org)
Triclosan, originally used as a pesticide, is a hormone disruptor found in thousands of products like toothpaste, cutting boards, yoga mats, hand soap, and more. (Source: saferchemicals.org)


At least Purell doesn’t contain triclosan.
For more information on triclosan, see my 9/6/2014 blog post Triclosan, Your Toothpaste and Your Endocrine System.




There is strong evidence that anti-bacterial soaps and hand sanitizers containing triclosan contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, often referred to as super bugs.
Ten years ago, in 2004, a research team at the University of Michigan exposed bacteria to triclosan and found increased activity in cellular pumps that the bacteria use to eliminate foreign substances. Stuart Levy of Tufts University School of Medicine, one of the study’s authors and a leading researcher on antibiotic resistance, pointed out that these overactive excretory systems “could act to pump out other antibiotics, as well.”




This is a serious problem. Pathogenic bacteria such as streptococcus, staphylococcus, and pneumonia are already in the process of evolving defenses against currently used antibiotics and pharmaceutical companies aren’t developing many new antibiotics.
In the 15 years between 1999 and 2014, the FDA approved only 15 new antibiotics – compared to 40 in the previous 15 years. The World Health Organization currently regards antibiotic resistant super bugs as “a threat to global health security”. (Butler, 2014)






(Source: devids.net)
(Source: devids.net)


And then there’s my favorite bacterium: Clostridium difficile – the one you may not have even heard of but which has reached epidemic proportions, infecting 250,000 people and causing 14,000 deaths each year in the US alone. I had a nasty C. difficile infection in 2010 and fortunately didn’t die from it – though there were times I thought I was going to and felt so miserable I sometimes wished I would.
You can read here about how I vanquished my C. difficile infection without resorting to antibiotics – the usual Western treatment for it. It just didn’t make sense to me to take more antibiotics since it was frequent antibiotics that had weakened my gut microbiota to the point that a C. diff overrun took over.
The bottom line about C. difficile and hand sanitizers is that NO TYPE OF HAND SANITIZER  KILLS IT. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012)




(Source: mommynotions.com)
(Source: mommynotions.com)






Educate yourself about friendly bacteria versus pathogenic ones, return to washing your hands the old fashioned way – with soap and water, use your “hand sanitizer” only for emergencies – and teach this to your children.
If you must, use a non-triclosan-containing hand sanitizer to clean surfaces on phones, keyboard and  laptops, and other high-touch surfaces. But clean your hands with good old soap and water.


Use the soap
Use the soap





Butler, K. (2014). Does Purell Breed Superbugs? The dirty truth (and the good news) on hand hygiene. Mother Jones. See: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/12/germophobia-superbug-hygiene-soap-bacteria

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Life-threatening germ poses threat across medical facilities. See: http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2012/p0306_cdiff.html

Hardin, J.R. (2011). Successful Holistic Treatment of Clostridium Difficile Gut Infection: Case Study. Oriental Medicine Journal, 19:4, 24-37.  See: http://issuu.com/davidmiller4/docs/c._difficile_omj_article_lo_res

Hardin, J.R. (12/22/2013). Asthma. AllergiesAndYourGut.com. See:  http://allergiesandyourgut.com/symbiosis-versus-dysbiosis/asthma/

Hardin, J.R. (2011). Successful Holistic Treatment of Clostridium Difficile Gut Infection: Case Study. Oriental Medicine Journal, 19:4, 24-37.  See: http://issuu.com/davidmiller4/docs/c._difficile_omj_article_lo_res

Hardin, J.R. (9/6/2014). Triclosan, Your Toothpaste and Your Endocrine System. AllergiesAndYourGut.com. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2014/09/06/triclosan-endocrine-system/

Hardin, J.R. (8/6/2014). Live Dirty, Eat Clean … The Gut Microbiome Is the Future of Medicine. AllergiesAndYourGut.com. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2014/08/06/live-dirty-eat-clean-gut-microbiome-future-medicine/

Polan, M. (2013). Some of My Best Friends Are Germs. New York Times Magazine, May 15 2013. See:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/magazine/say-hello-to-the-100-trillion-bacteria-that-make-up-your-microbiome.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0



© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


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

Climate Change Impacts Allergies and Asthma






Extreme weather events, from coastal flooding, intense heat, record amounts of rainfall in some areas and historic droughts in others, are becoming increasingly common as the Earth’s average temperature rises. The World Meteorological Organization has linked some of 2013’s most extreme weather events – think back to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines as well as flooding in central Europe and record high temperatures in Australia, Asia and Africa to human-induced climate change. “There’s been a general disruption of nature,” says Kim Knowlton, a senior scientist in the Natural Resources Defense Council’s health and environmental program. In may, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (GCRP) released a comprehensive report on the impacts of climate change. It bluntly states: “Over the last 50 years, much of the United States has seen an increase in prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures, more heavy downpours, and in some regions, more severe droughts.”

– Claire Cagne, Wild Weather & Our Allergies, Allergic Living, Summer 2014


This is very bad news for people with allergies and asthma – more moisture and higher temperatures mean increased levels of mold, pollen and air pollution.
Temperatures across the U.S. are projected to increase anywhere from 5-10  degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century so the challenges we encounter from climate change are likely to get worse. (Gagne, 2014)








According to the EPA’s report on climate change and air-borne allergens, A Review of the Impact of Climate Variability and Change on Aeroallergens and Their Associated Effects (EPA, 2011):
  •  Aeroallergens include pollens, which can be produced by weeds, grasses and trees,   as well as molds, dust particles, ash and indoor allergens.
  • Aeroallergens such as dust, ragweed, pollen and molds impact half of all Americans.
  • Treatment for allergies in the US costs $21 billion annually.
  • Three major allergic diseases have been associated with exposure to aeroallergens: hay fever, asthma and eczema.  Collectively, these three allergic diseases rank sixth for annual expenditures among chronic health conditions in the United States.
  • Beyond the direct cost of medical care are the indirect, but substantial, costs associated with lost time at work, school and play.
  • Increases in temperature, carbon dioxide and precipitation will cause the proliferation of weedy plants that are known producers of allergenic pollen.  Higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere act as a fertilizer for plant growth.  Warmer temperatures and increased precipitation will cause some plants to grow faster, bloom earlier and produce more pollen.
  • Climate-related temperature changes are expected to increase the potency of airborne allergens, increasing the concentration of pollen in the air, the length of the allergy season and the strength of airborne allergens.
  • Climate change will allow allergen-producing plant species to move into new areas.
  • Wind-blown dust, carrying pollens and molds from outside of the United States, could expose people to allergens they had not previously contacted.  Exposure to more potent concentrations of pollen and mold may make current non-sufferers more likely to develop allergic symptoms.



Wildfires in Colorado, 2012
Wildfires in Colorado, 2012



Drought in California, 2014
Drought in California, 2014









Flooding from Super Storm Sandy, 2012
Flooding from Super Storm Sandy, 2012


Molds can cause serious health problems in susceptible individuals. Here’s information from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on the city’s health crisis following Hurricane Sandy (RebuildAdjustNY.org, 2013):
  • Toxins produced by mold, known at myotoxins, can cause headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, inability to concentrate and memory loss.
  • Chronic exposure to mold can lead to permanent lung disease
  • According to the Institute of Medicine, “There (is) sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people.”
  • According to a World Health Organization-cited study, building dampness/mold increases the occurrence of respiratory and asthma-related health incidents by 30-50%.
  • A second study estimated that 21%of the cases of asthma in the United States could be attributable to dampness and mold in housing, for a total annual national cost of $3.5 billion.
  • Sandy-impacted neighborhoods are especially vulnerable to health effects from mold.
  • According to then Mayor Bloomberg, 70,000 – 80,000 homes suffered water damage due to Hurricane Sandy.
  • About 180,000 – 210,000 New Yorkers could be currently exposed to Sandy-related mold.
  • Mold is especially dangerous for 45,000+ children under the age of 5 and senior New Yorkers who are considered highly vulnerable to mod-related ailments.
  • Mold is especially dangerous for individuals suffering from asthma and other respiratory ailments.
  • Sandy-affected neighborhoods reported more than 30,000 asthma-related emergency room visits between 2008 and 2010.
  • Children and seniors comprise about 25% of the population in Sandy-affected neighborhoods.
  • Asthmatics comprise more than 25%of the Sandy-affected neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn.



Mold growth inside a home after Hurricane Sandy
Mold growth inside a home after Hurricane Sandy


Mold damage is not always as easy to detect as in the photo above. It can be growing inside walls or behind wallpaper so not necessarily be visible.
Mold growing behind wallpaper
Mold growing behind wallpaper
And dead mold spore can still cause allergic reactions in some people so killing the mold may not be sufficient – it must also be removed. (EPA, 2012)










We know that 80-90% of our immune system resides in the mucosa of our guts. An unbalanced, impaired gut microbiome produces chronic inflammation in the body. Over time, this inflammation produces autoimmune conditions (such as allergies and asthma) – as well as gum disease, repeating UTIs, heart disease, nail fungus, some cancers, and much more.
Mast cells located in our skin, connective tissues, and the mucosal linings of our stomachs and intestines, are an essential part of our immune defenses. These unique cells are tasked with activating the immune system to defend us from harmful invaders.
In people with allergies, the immune system misidentifies innocuous substances as dangerous pathogens and sends out mast cells to combat them – as if Attila’s Huns were at the gate and needed to be attacked at all costs, even to the point of destroying the body in the process.
The real solution for both allergy and asthma sufferers isn’t just treating the symptoms but working to restore the health of the friendly bacteria living in the gut with the goal of normalizing the immune system. A healthy, balanced gut immune system will stop producing inflammation and allow a return to health.
As climate change exposes us to increasing numbers of molds and other allergens, we’re all going to need immune systems that are up to dealing with the challenge.







For more information on allergies, asthma, autoimmune conditions, the role of inflammation in these problems, and how to strengthen your immune system, see:



















Cagne, C. (2014). Wild Weather & Our Allergies. Allergic Living, 4:2, 32-37.

EPA. (2012). A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home: Hidden Mold. See:  http://www.epa.gov/mold/hiddenmold.html

RebuildAdjustNY.org. (2013). Mold: NYC’s Health Crisis Post-Sandy. See:  http://www.rebuildajustny.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Resource-Post-mold-remediation-Sandy-Mold-Health-Fact-Sheet2.pdf

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2011). Allergies Getting Worse? See: http://www.epa.gov/research/gems/scinews_aeroallergens.htm





© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


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



Transfer Factor

In 2011 I was working with a knowledgeable nutritionist who was helping me restore my GI tract after I’d successfully vanquished a nasty Clostridium difficile infection that began in April 2010 while I was on vacation. Fortunately, the infection wasn’t fatal as it often is but it certainly was inconvenient and became debilitating after I returned home.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 30,000 people in the US die every year from C. diff and millions of people of all ages suffer with non-fatal infections. (Peggy Lillis Memorial Foundation, 2014).
If you want to read more about how I got rid of the C. diff infection without antibiotics, my Oriental Medicine Journal article Successful Holistic Treatment of Clostridium difficile Gut Infection: Case Study is online here.
The nutritionist recommended an interesting nutritional supplement called 4Life Transfer Factor Plus to help boost my immune system. I now take a maintenance dose of 1 capsule 3x/day.


TRANSFER FACTORS are molecules that actually transfer immune memory and knowledge from one immune system to another. The 4Life Transfer Factor Plus supplement is made from bovine colostrum and chicken egg yolk.  These molecules contain antigen information which educates, enhances, and helps maintain immune system balance.


COLOSTRUM is an important precursor to the milk produced by mammals (including humans) for nursing their offspring. It is very easy to digest; a yellow to orange color; thick and sticky; low in fat; and high in carbohydrates, protein, and antibodies to help keep the baby healthy. The concentration of immune factors is much higher in colostrum than in mature milk. All this makes it the perfect first food for a baby mammal.

Colostrum (on left) vs Milk (on right)

Colostrum works as a natural and 100% safe vaccine. It contains large quantities of an antibody called secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA). In the womb the baby received the benefit of another antibody, called IgG, through the placenta. IgG worked through the fetus’s circulatory system but IgA protects the baby in the places most likely to come under attack from germs, namely the mucous membranes in the throat, lungs, and intestines.