Tag Archives: Bacteria

Quinolones in our Environment

Why do some people have relapses of their fluoroquinolone toxicity symptoms? Why is fluoroquinolone toxicity an ongoing illness–a syndrome–and not a one-time event that ends once the drug is metabolized? Why do people seem sensitized after suffering from fluoroquinolone toxicity–with exposures to things that would be benign to healthy people throwing them into a relapse? Why does fluoroquinolone toxicity seem more like an autoimmune or neuroimmune disease than a drug allergy? What does fluoroquinolone toxicity have in common with autoimmune or neuro-immune diseases?

These are all perplexing questions about FQT/FQAD that currently we have no answers for. On the
website http://fluoroquinolonethyroid.com/ many ideas about possible mechanisms regarding some
of these questions are explored (here, here, and here). I found the most recent of these posts,
entitled Nature’s Quinolones: The 4Qs, to offer additional thought-provoking and insightful new
ideas to consider when thinking about questions like these.

This post is a summary of Nature’s Quinolones: The 4Qs, to share the information in it with the
Floxiehope.com audience. There is information in the original article that I won’t be covering in this
post, and I hope this summary inspires you to read more about the details in the original article. I
also hope that any researchers reading this will check out the original article, as it provides a more
comprehensive explanation, along with numerous references, that may be of use in your thought
processes about this topic.


There is a bacteria that is ubiquitous in our environment called Pseudomonas aeruginosa, or P. aeruginosaP. aeruginosa is everywhere, including, “soil and water, lakes, streams, rivers, other fresh water, potable water, and sources such as sinks, showers, and hot tubs.” People with healthy immune systems deal with P. aeruginosa without incident. However, P. aeruginosa is a pathogen associated with hospital-acquired infections in immune-compromised individuals, and perhaps it may also be possible that some people have immune systems that over-react to to the bacteria, or its byproducts.

Like many other bacteria and some fungi, P. aeruginosa “communicate” with each other via something called Quorum sensing (QS). The P. aeruginosa QS molecules are able to turn bacterial genes on and off, such as instructing the bacteria to form biofilms under certain circumstances. Just as people with normal immune systems interact with P. aeruginosa without incident, people with normal immune systems also interact with the P. aeruginosa QS molecules without incident.

However, one of the possible ideas explored in Nature’s Quinolones: The 4Qs is that people who have been “floxed” may not react to the P. aeruginosa QS molecules without incident. Rather, perhaps they may be sensitized to the P. aeruginosa QS molecules, and their immune-system attacks these molecules, causing a potential autoimmune/neuroimmune reaction.

Why might “floxies” have an immune-system over-reaction to P. aeruginosa QS molecules?

Because one group of QS molecules that P. aeruginosa QS makes are actually quinolones–“nature’s quinolones” (heterocyclic 4-quinolone/quinolines – abbreviated the “4Qs”). These 4Qs produced by P. aeruginosa share the basic 4-quinolone backbone of the commercially synthesized quinolone antibiotics. (More information about this can be found in Nature’s Quinolones: The 4Qs, as well as the articles linked-to in the post, including 4-Quinolones: Smart Phones of the Microbial World.)

I don’t know about you, but this BLEW MY MIND.

The production of natural quinolones may answer the question – why do people have ongoing reactions to fluoroquinolone antibiotics that last long after the drugs “should” be out of their system? Could it be because they are constantly being re-exposed to quinolones in our environment–through a common bacteria producing them to communicate with other bacteria? Could it be that Fluoroquinolone Toxicity is an ongoing syndrome because it is an immune reaction (and/or sensitization) to chemicals that are ubiquitous in our environment?

Again, these are just possible ideas the author of  Nature’s Quinolones: The 4Qs is exploring, but it MAKES SO MUCH SENSE.

QS Qinolones act as “signaling molecules for other bacteria. FQs also act as “signaling molecules” within us. In particular, they seem to target cytokines, which are heavily involved in the signaling and amplification system in our immune systems.” Pharmaceutical fluoroquinolones are given in a large enough doses that perhaps they may signal the immune system to over-react–especially to the presence of other quinolones. Nature’s Quinolones: The 4Qs describes some possible mechanisms through which fluoroquinolones may affect the immune system, providing numerous references in additional links in the article supporting this. Fluoroquinolones (and/or the 4Qs if production in larger amounts due to severe infection such as sepsis, for example) may also trigger epigenetic “switches” to be “flipped” in the immune system, causing a change that leads to a constant over-reaction to quinolone molecules.

The author of Nature’s Quinolones: The 4Qs ponders:

“I wonder if some of my existing natural antibodies were “switched on” in a major way, leading to global or specific hypersensitivities. And based on what I now know about FQs acting as ‘signaling molecules,’ I’m guessing that one or more of my cytokines or receptors were hit especially hard by what my body perceived as a whopping dose of quinolones.”

An over-active immune system that is hyper-sensitive to minute amounts of molecules that are harmless, and even unperceived, to people with normally functioning immune systems, is not unheard-of. Many people with ME/CFS believe they have autoimmune/neuroimmune reactions to tiny molecules of mold, and even minuscule amounts of mold appear to make them severely ill. Common allergies are also a result of an over-sensitized immune system:

“If this seems like an extreme leap to make, consider, for example, two very common allergies: hay fever and peanut allergies. There are microscopic particles of pollen and dust floating around in the air that most of us never see, feel, are aware of, or react to – unless you’re a person with hay fever allergies. There are microscopic proteins and aflatoxins in peanuts that most of us never see, feel, are aware of or react to – unless you’re a person with a peanut allergy. The first allergy typically leaves people with itchy and runny eyes and nose. The second allergy can result in anaphylaxis and even death. The point being, it doesn’t take much of these substances to make a person miserable or even kill them – if they’re hypersensitive.”

Might some people suffering from fluoroquinolone toxicity be sensitive to minute amounts of quinolones in the environment? Might some people who live in more humid and moist environments, for example, have increased exposure to quinolones by P. aeruginosa QS molecules? Additionally, might the fluoroquinolones have made epigenetic changes to the immune systems of those suffering from fluoroquinolone toxicity that make them have autoimmune/neuroimmune-like reactions to quinolones, including the 4Qs? Again, it makes all the sense in the world to me, but it needs to be examined by someone with the capacity to test these ideas.

If fluoroquinolones change the genetic on/off switches in our immune systems, how do we flip those epigenetic “switches” again? That’s a very good question that I don’t know the answer to. Our environment is constantly affecting our genes though, and epigenetics is a burgeoning field of research. I’m hopeful that scientists will find targeted ways to flip gene switches. I’m also hopeful that, in the meantime, changes in your environment (eating healthy foods, reducing stress, supplements, etc.) may help you (the “floxie” reading this) to “switch” your immune system back to where you were pre-flox so that your body is not over-reacting to nature’s quinolones (if that’s occurring). I know that my body is not in a state of constant reactivity, and, as always, I hope that my recovery gives others hope for their recovery.




The Microbiome According to Michael Pollan

Cooked by Michael Pollan Microbiome

I recently read “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation” by Michael Pollan.  You can buy it HERE and a portion of the proceeds will go to the QVF.  I recommend that you purchase it, not just because some money will go to the QVF, but because it is beautifully written, enjoyable, interesting, insightful and poignant.

On the surface, Cooked has very little, if anything, to do with fluoroquinolone antibiotic toxicity.  Cooked is about the transformation of raw ingredients into food when fire, water, air and earth are applied to those ingredients through the process we call cooking.  The section of Cooked that has to do with how things from the earth–bacteria, fungi, etc., are used to transform and “cook” food, is the section I am going to connect to fluoroquinolone antibiotic toxicity.

Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are like a nuclear bomb to the gut.  They obliterate the microbiome, killing both good and bad bacteria in the gut and throughout the body.  They lead to a massive amount of oxidative stress within the gut that further damages the balance of bacteria in the gut.  It is only because of lack of knowledge about the importance of the microbiome that Cipro/ciprofloxacin only has a 43 page warning label, not a 100 page warning label.  In Cooked, Michael Pollan goes over the importance of the microbiome.  He explains the microbiome better than I possibly could, so I’m going to highlight some of my favorite quotes from Cooked in this post.

“Could it be possible that the microbiota also affects mental function and mood, as some of the fermentos I met in Freesone claimed?  The idea no longer seems preposterous.  A recent study performed in Ireland found that introducing a certain probiotic species found in some fermented foods (Lactobacillus rhamnosus JB-1) to the diet of mice had a measureable effect on their stress levels and mood, altering the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.  Precisely how the presence of a certain bacterium in the gut might affect mental function is unclear, yet the researchers found they could block the effect by severing the vagus nerve that links the gut to the brain.  Studies like this one make you wonder if it might someday be possible to cultivate, or garden, our microbiota, altering its makeup to improve our physical and possibly also our mental well-being.

Right now, of course, and for the last several decades at least, we have been assiduously doing exactly the opposite:  disordering the community of microbes in our bodies without even realizing it, much less  with any sense of what might be at stake.  Under the pressures of broad-spectrum antibiotics, a Pasteurian regime of ‘good sanitation,’ and a modern diet notably hostile to bacteria, the human microbiota has probably changed more in the last hundred years than in the previous ten thousand, when the shift to agriculture altered our diet and lifestyle.  We are only just beginning to recognize the implications of these changes for our health.”

A book that is on my reading list (but that I haven’t yet read) is “Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues” by Martin J. Blaser.  It’s supposed to be excellent.  It is about the diminishing diversity of our microbiota.

Back to Cooked:

“The average child in the developed world has also received between ten and twenty courses of antibiotics before his or her eighteenth birthday, an assault on the microflora the implications of which researchers are just beginning to reckon.  Like the pesticides applied to a farm field, antibiotics ‘work,’ at least in the short term.  Yet as soon as you widen the lens from a narrow focus on the ‘enemy species,’ you see that such blunt weapons inflict collateral damage to the larger environment, including, in the case of pesticides, the microbial community of the soil.  Resistant bugs and various other health problems soon emerge; the soil’s ability to nourish plants and help them withstand disease is also compromised, because the toxins have reduced the community’s biodiversity and thereby compromised its resilience.  As in the soil, so in the gut.  The drive for control and order ends up leading to more disorder.”

“An interesting question is why the body would enlist bacteria in all these critical functions, rather than evolve its own systems to do this work.  One theory is that, because microbes can evolve so much more rapidly than the ‘higher animals,’ they can respond with much greater speed and agility to changes in the environment–to threats as well as opportunities.  Exquisitely reactive and fungible, bacteria can swap genes and pieces of DNA among themselves, picking them up and dropping them almost as if they were tools.  This capability is especially handy when a new toxin or food source appears in the environment.  The microbiota can swiftly find precisely the right gene needed to fight it–or eat it.”

“Taken together, the microflora may function as a kind of sensory organ, bringing the body the latest information from the environment, as well as the new tools needed to deal with it.  ‘The bacteria in your gut are continually reading the environment and responding,’ says Joel Kimmons, a nutrition scientist and epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.  ‘They’re a molecular mirror of the changing world.  And because they can evolve so quickly, they help our bodies respond to changes in our environment.”

Bacteria gene-swap at the drop of a hat.  Isn’t that fascinating?  It also makes the fact that fluoroquinolones disrupt the process of bacterial DNA and RNA replication quite consequential.  I wrote this post about antibiotics altering bacterial DNA back in 2013 – http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/10/23/genetically-modifying-humans-via-antibiotics-something-you-need-to-know/.  The consequences of altering bacterial DNA are still being explored.

Another book of Michael Pollan’s, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals” goes over the hazards of applying the industrial model to biological systems–specifically, the folly of using the industrial model to produce food when food production should be a biological, not an industrial, process.  The same is true for medicine.  The medical system treats people as machines with inputs and outputs and predictable outcomes based on those measured inputs and outputs.  It doesn’t work though.  Humans are biological systems with feedback and feedforward loops, genetic differences and epigenetic differences, nature and nurture differences, and more–that make conceptualizing humans as machines with predictable outcomes foolish and wrong-headed.  When land and animals are used to make food in an industrial, rather than biological, model, unsustainability, externalities and consequences result.  When biological systems are respected for the complex systems that they are, sustainability comes naturally.  Likewise, when human complexity is ignored and stupid, foolish, one-size-fits-all, industrial medicine prevails, consequences occur in place of health.  It turns out that consequences look a whole lot like chronic illness.  Whoops.

Lisa’s one-sentence summary of Cooked and The Omnivore’s Dilemma is – Don’t eat processed food.  Read the books for a more thorough explanation.  They’re both excellent.


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Is Our Meat Floxed?

My favorite theory about the pathology/cause of floxing (of course, fluoroquinolone use is the CAUSE of floxing, but not all people who use fluoroquinolones get floxed – something goes horribly wrong in the bodies of the people who do), is that a neurotoxin is produced by the damaged bacteria within the body and that neurotoxin is the actual cause of the health problems that Floxies experience. More information on this theory can be found on https://floxiehope.com/2013/06/20/test-post/ and at the bottom of this page.

This theory, that neurotoxins are produced when fluoroquinolones mess up the bacteria, makes me think about a lot of things. One of these things is our meat.

Fluoroquinolones are used rampantly in agriculture, even though there has been some regulation limiting their use. If fluoroquinolones cause the production of neurotoxins, could it be possible that these neurotoxins are in the flesh of the animals that are exposed to fluoroquinolones – the meat that we eat? If so, what are the health consequences of this to the humans who eat that meat?

I believe that meat is tested for antibiotics and other agriculturally utilized pharmaceuticals before it goes to market, but if the meat is actually contaminated with a neurotoxic byproduct of the pharmaceutical, as opposed to the pharmaceutical itself, then maybe the wrong thing is being tested for. Is our meat contaminated with neurotoxic byproducts of fluorquinolone antibiotics? I don’t know, but it’s something that is definitely worth looking into.

Admittedly, this line of thinking involves a lot of unproven jumps and assumptions, but I don’t think that I’m being completely unreasonable. The theories described below seem more than reasonable, they seem right, and I think that looking into the health consequences of eating meat that is from animals that have been floxed is something that we should do. Question everything. It’ll keep you safer and make you smarter.

There are many good reasons not to use fluoroquinolone antibiotics on livestock animals. Antibiotic resistance is becoming a bigger and bigger problem and the thought that we may be breeding antibiotic resistant bacteria in our feedlots is appalling. This problem, though not without controversy, is generally acknowledged and some regulation is being put into place to try to prevent an atrocity from happening. However, humans are slow to change the status quo unless there is an emergency and I doubt that real, meaningful regulation will come about until an antibiotic resistant bacteria is bred in feedlots and that bacteria infects people. Antibiotic use in livestock also enables ranchers to keep their animals in dirty, unsanitary, inhumane conditions – something that is also appalling. Even though I haven’t done a whole lot of research into the topic, I think that with the research that has been done, we can add potential contamination with neurotoxic byproducts to the list of reasons that antibiotics generally, and fluoroquinolones specifically, should not be used in livestock.

I like meat and I eat it, but I’ve tried to exclusively consume organic meat since I got floxed. I’m going to try harder now. I suggest that you do the same.

From https://floxiehope.com/2013/06/20/test-post/

Is a neurotoxin produced by the damaged/bad bacteria after exposure to fluoroquinolones (or the die-off of the “good” bacteria that keep the bad ones in check)?  There are several interesting things noted in Beyond Antibiotics by Michael Schmidt.  Dr. Schmidt points out that both tartaric acid and tricarbalyte are noxious compounds produced by bad gut bacteria when good gut bacteria in the gut are not available to keep them in check.  Tartaric acid “is a known poison of the energy system of mitochondria,” and tricarbalyte “binds to magnesium and may reduce the availability of dietary magnesium.”  (pages 28-29) Dr. Schmidt also says that antibiotics cause the production of clostridiam which is a known neurotoxin producing organism (p. 44). And, on page 47 he says, “Whever a CPY enzyme is blocked or slowed, its ability to detoxify other drugs can be impaired.”  My thought on this is that the fluoroquinolones slowed our CPY enzymes then the NSAIDs, steroids, other toxins in our system, did other damage – and maybe that’s why each of us have so many different symptoms.

Also, John Travis reported in Science News (July 2003;164) that research performed by John F. Prescott found that certain antibiotics, such as the fluoroquinolones, the class of antibiotics that includes the name-brands and generic brands of Levaquin[R], Cipro[R], Tequin[R], and Avelox[R], actually are known to trigger a type of virus called bacteriophages (viruses that can infect bacteria) to change the genetic sequencing of the bacteria, causing the bacterium they have infected to start producing toxins. These viruses can act as genetic delivery vans, invading bacteria, such as spirochetes, often lying dormant, until activated by a change in the host (your body’s) environment. Once activated, these viruses insert their toxin-generating genes into the bacterial chromosomes. These viruses can turn basically harmless bacterium into killers through this genetic sequencing of toxins (Travis 2003).  Not only are these toxins released through bacteria die-off and not only can antibiotics actually increase the production of the toxins, but these viruses can cause the bacteria to rupture, spilling their toxins into the body (Waldor 2004).  http://www.benbrew.com/lb/lyme5.pdf

* I haven’t had the time to do a whole lot of research into this theory, so if anyone has any articles about it, please forward them on to me.

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