Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Infection Connection Reviewers’ Comments


Shirley A Bentley, President of the U.S. Chapter of the Common Cause Medical Research Foundation, a Canadian public interest non-profit foundation that publishes the Journal of Degenerative Diseases

“My husband and I have just finished reading Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Infection Connection. What an excellent job you’ve done. The research and endnotes – pretty impressive.  You’ve written in a language easy for everyone to understand.  Interesting, helpful, important, well done! Your book should be in the hands of every RA/Fibro/Lupus/CFS/Scleroderma patient.”



Dr Joseph Mercola (Maintains www.mercola.com,

the most-visited natural health website in the U.S.:

“For severe rheumatoid arthritis I have found my revision of Dr. Brown's protocol useful in producing remission in over 2,000 patients with RA that I have cared for in the last 13 years.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Infection Connection is a new book written by Dr. Poehlmann. It summarizes quite nicely the state of the art today in treating RA.  I consulted with her in putting the book together so you can be sure I consider it first rate. I highly recommend obtaining a copy if you or someone you know has rheumatoid arthritis.”



Dr. Gabe Mirkin (Radio Talk Show Host):

“Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Infection Connection is scientifically impeccable and well documented yet highly readable. I'm sure that will be well received by the millions of arthritis sufferers and their loved ones, and by caring members of the medical profession.

“Your work is incredibly thorough and convincing. I get e-mails every day from people who want to know how they can persuade their doctors to try antibiotic therapy for rheumatoid or reactive arthritis. Now I tell them to arm themselves with your book; hopefully it will cause a major attitude shift among rheumatologists and family practitioners.

“…I have recommended … your excellent book … to patients and listeners. We will add it to our list of recommended books at www.DrMirkin.com and will continue to mention it on the air.”



Amazon Reviewer and Former RA Sufferer: Lisa Olson from Bellevue, WA 
“A great book, chock full of information and hope,” December 19, 2002

 “For anyone who is going through RA, this book is something to treasure. When this surprising and debilitating disease started dragging me down, I became overwhelmed by the power of it to change my life and that of my family. I made a choice early on that I did not want to take the litany of drugs that was prescribed to me by the Rheumatoid Arthritis specialist. I read many books on the subject, but none of them were as comprehensive or full of eye-opening facts as this one.

“I was already on a tetracycline regimen by the time I read this book but it confirmed much of what I was already doing and clearly explained why I was making progress. With much effort including dietary changes, antibiotics, exercises and a few other therapies I have made it back from nearly wheelchair bound to almost symptom free.

“The information that Dr. Poehlmann has given us in the book is important and can give anyone who suffers from RA hope that it can be overcome. I wish that everyone that has this disease would read it. I wish also that the medical establishment would read this book with an open mind and start to offer their patients something other than the toxic drugs that they are now prescribing.”



Henry Scammell, President of The Road Back Foundation (www.roadback.org)


Henry co-authored The Road Back with Dr. Thomas M. Brown who successfully treated thousands of patients with the tetracycline protocol.  This book was the starting point in my study and led to my successful trial of the protocol.  Henry revised The Road Back to publish The New Arthritis Breakthrough, which contains the entire text of The Road Back.


Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Infection Connection is, in a sense, a validation and treatment-oriented update of these books, leaving out the many successful patient case histories that Henry’s books contain. Henry has published a review of my book in The Intercessor (June 2002), the newsletter of The Road Back Foundation.


Henry writes….

Almost everyone who has experienced the benefits of minocycline in connective tissue disease is familiar with the fantasy: someone really, really famous comes down with a CTD, minocycline saves the day, and when the grateful patient tells the story, the antibiotic protocol becomes the therapy of choice throughout the world.


            Former RA patient Katherine Poehlmann isn't yet a celebrity, although she deserves to be. But she's something almost as good: she's really, really smart. A senior analyst at the RAND Corporation in the early 1990s, her fall down a flight of stairs triggered an abrupt descent into debilitating RA. Relying on her high-tech background as a mathematician and research analyst, she set out to identify the probable cause of her illness and find an effective treatment.


            “Fortunately for her and for us, she discovered the book, The Road Back, weighed Tom Brown's theory and treatment against the alternatives, and then located a doctor willing to get her started on antibiotic therapy. In 1993, several physicians and rheumatologists concurred that she was '25% disabled' from the crippling effects of the illness on her ankles. Since then, however, those same ankles have carried her on long treks through Tibet and Chile, and along the Great Wall of China, and she describes herself today as "completely ambulatory and pain-free."


“Her dramatic recovery after such a bleak diagnosis may be familiar material to the many who have followed the same path to a like result. But Katherine Poehlmann's odyssey is distinguished by at least two outstanding landmarks. First, she organized the story of her suffering, search and eventual remission into the dissertation for a 1997 Ph.D. in health counseling. And then, to the point of this review, she turned it into a book.


“And a very good book it is, delivering in full on the compound promise of its title, RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS The Infection Connection; Targeting and Treating the Cause of Chronic Illness. If this carries a whiff of déjà vu for readers of THE ROAD BACK Rheumatoid Arthritis - Its Cause and Its Treatment, don't be misled into thinking you have already read this same story.


“Dr. Poehlmann's book was written almost a decade later than Road Back, and although the author is unstinting in acknowledgment of her debt to Dr. Brown, she pays very little attention to the political history of the therapy, focusing instead on the scientific evidence that supports his thesis (much of which accumulated after his death in 1989), and solid, practical advice on how to get the most out of Brown's treatment.


“The 400+ information-packed pages are divided into nine chapters. They are:

1.      What is Arthritis?

2.      How the Immune System Works;

3.      How Infection Works;

4.      Links Between Infection and Arthritis;

5.      Infections Other than Mycoplasma;

6.      Diagnostic Tests;

7.      Natural Methods to Revitalize the Immune System;

8.      Trends in Infection Research; and

9.      Conclusions:  set of pragmatic but hope-giving conclusions about the future of research, antibiotic therapy, and the degree to which the patient is responsible for the management of his/her own disease.


“Along the way, Dr. Poehlmann was blessed with input and support from some of the great stalwarts of antibiotic research and therapy, most particularly

    Tom Brown's long-time director of research at the Arthritis Institute of the National Hospital, Dr. Harold Clark (whose own book, Why Arthritis? was a useful addition to the field);


    Pioneering cell microbiologist and prolific author Dr. Garth Nicholson, (a valued member of our Medical Advisory Board, and, like Dr. Clark, a contributor to The Intercessor); and


    Nutrition maven Dr. Joe Mercola, one of the earliest and now one of the most experienced practitioners of antibiotic therapy as part of an integrated, holistic approach to patient care.


“She couldn't be in better company. And she couldn't have written a more useful book. If it isn't yet in your local bookstore, you can order it through www.amazon.com, searching by title and author's name.



Perry Chapdelaine, Sr. (Executive Director of the Arthritis Trust, a non-profit

foundation with offices in the U.S., Canada, England, Republic of South Africa):

“Mycoplasmas are certainly a very, very important part of not only rheumatoid diseases, but also many other degenerative diseases. Dr. Poehlmann has covered this aspect with great attention to accuracy and detail. This foundation certainly welcomes and recommends Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Infection Connection.”



Dr. Steven Maier, M.D.

“Congratulations on your new book! It is a well-written, well-researched, lucid attempt to shed some light on one of the world’s most puzzling diseases. I learned a lot from it. I enjoyed your discussion on toxins, infection and the immune response but I thought you were a little tough on us HMO docs!”



Dennis Littrell is one of Amazon.com’s top 50 reviewers

 (Over 470 books reviewed, 3719 helpful votes)


Mr. Littrell found Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Infection Connection so impressive he needed to write two (2000 word Amazon Reviews to fully express his thoughts.


A clarion call to the medical establishment, May 27, 2002…. Dennis Littrell

This is a book written in a fever with the enthusiasm of a born-again true believer so that the mass of information and associations come streaming out like water from a fire hose. The effect on the reader is somewhat marvelous since it is obvious that Dr. Poehlmann, a systems engineer who has a PhD in Health Science, is onto something important.


The key idea in this enormously detailed and intensely researched volume, updated and revised from her doctoral dissertation, is that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other chronic diseases of unclear etiology are actually caused by microorganisms. In particular mycoplasmas and/or L-shaped [sic*] bacteria, stealthy pathogens only a little larger than viruses, are to blame.


This is a revolution in medical thought. RA, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, Gulf War Illness, etc., have long been thought to be autoimmune diseases, that is, diseases caused by the body's immune system attacking the body itself. What Poehlmann is saying is that mycoplasmas cause these diseases and make them chronic because these minute pathogens are able to hide from the immune system within the body's tissues. They are able to strategically slow down their growth and to lie dormant for months or even years only to erupt when conditions suit them, typically when the body is weakened by fatigue, stress or another illness. By stopping their growth temporary the pathogens are able to dodge antibiotics. By changing their shapes, especially by going without an outer cell wall (the immune system identifies pathogens by their surfaces), they are able to fool the immune system. Consequently they are extraordinarily difficult to pin down, or to even identify, and of course even more difficult to get rid of. Incidentally, routine blood tests apparently do NOT test for mycoplasmas. (p. 171)


The medical establishment, as Poehlmann points out, has been slow to embrace this theory for a number of reasons, not the least of which is simply an inability to accept new ideas that go against the conventional wisdom. The germ theory of disease was thought some decades ago to have nearly exhausted its potential as medical theorists looked to the environment and a malfunctioning immune system as causing chronic illnesses. But the germ theory of disease is back stronger than ever, and a revolution in the way we think about chronic disease is taking hold.


It was in an article in the February, 1999 edition of The Atlantic Monthly, written by Judith Hooper, that I first heard about the possibility that chronic diseases were caused by pathogens and not by genetic defects or environmental stresses. Not only heartburn--known to have been caused by bacteria since the forties (but, amazingly enough, forgotten for decades by the medical establishment!)--but also heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's and even schizophrenia, are now thought to be caused or triggered by pathogens. Poehlmann credits Dr. Thomas McPherson Brown as first proposing in the 1940s the theory that the primary cause of RA was bacterial infection. (p.xxvii) One of the people responsible for igniting the current revolution is evolutionary biologist Paul W. Ewald, author of Plague Time: How Stealth Infections Cause Cancers, Heart Disease, and other Deadly Ailments (2000) which I recommend as a companion to this book.


Ewald's argument is that "Genetic traits" unfavorable "to an organism's survival or reproduction do not persist in the gene pool for very long. Natural selection, by its very definition, weeds them out in short order." Furthermore, as Hooper notes in her article, if an environmental cause cannot be found, "then we must look elsewhere for the explanation." Poehlmann's research shows that microbes are the best suspects because it is these organisms that have lived in, on and around us since long before we were human, even long before we were mammals. These parasitic creatures have formed a relationship with larger organisms through what is referred to as the "evolutionary arms race" of pathogen and host. This is the so-called 'Red Queen' hypothesis (from Alice in Wonderland), in which both host and pathogen stay in the same place relative to one another by running as fast as they can.


What Poehlmann adds to the literature is a demonstration of the interconnectedness of chronic complaints through a focus on rheumatoid arthritis from which she has personally suffered and from which she is now free of debilitating symptoms. She is also trying to show that the differing illnesses can be caused by the same pathogens, pathogens that may have changed form (going one up on the immune system in the evolutionary arms race). Again and again she makes the telling suggestion to the medical establishment that more research is needed.


In Chapter 5, "Infections other than Mycoplasma," Poehlmann gives us an in-depth look at a number of other chronic diseases, especially Lyme Disease and how it is transmitted and how it may be related to RA. She also looks at HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, Dengue Fever, amoebic infections, hepatitis, etc., and shows what they have in common. Included is an examination of household molds and how they can bring about RA-type symptoms and what can be done about them.


There is so much more here that warrants comment, but I am running out of space. In another review I hope to concentrate on the treatments and lifestyle modifications that Poehlmann recommends especially in Chapter 7, "Natural Methods to Revitalize the Immune System," a chapter that contains some of the best nutritional and lifestyle information that I have ever read anywhere. By itself, it is worth the price of the book.


In short, Poehlmann's exciting book is a tsunami in a rising tide of information that is beginning to swamp the old ideas. It is hoped that Poehlmann's call for the medical establishment to wake up will be heard and that there will be a major shift in research toward identifying the microbial basis of chronic disease so that we can work toward cures instead of just treating symptoms.


[sic*]  The bacteria are not L-shaped.   Karl Poehlmann’s comments.


The term is L-form (of esp. streptococcus and other bacteria that have cell walls), rather than just membranes, like nanobacteria which include Mycoplasmae, Chlamydiae, Chlamydiaphyla


The term L-form derives from their discovery by the Lister Institute in France. L-forms were named by Dr. Emmy Kleinberger-Nobel who discovered them at the Lister Institute. Search GOOGLE [bacteria L-form Lister institute]


When cell-walled bacteria are attacked with Penicillin most of the bacteria die, but some cell wall-less small bodies are found. The bacteria have morphed to a new (said to be embryonic) form that is slow growing and much like mycoplasma, has a membrane, and the cell wall is gone. These so-called L-forms can morph back to the cell wall-containing form if conditions are favorable. 


The scope of human knowledge of the morphology of many pathogenic bacteria is very incomplete. In morphing to various forms the bacteria can adapt to different environments (cellular/organic regions of the body) and some can also invade cells, like viruses do and like Protozoa plasmodium (malaria) does.  Bacterial morphology will be one of the most fruitful areas of study in biology/medicine for about the next 25+ years.


The really important point is the multi-stage morphological adaptability of bacteria -- seed/spore/cyst; L-form; cellular invader; membrane-bounded; cell wall-bounded; forming colonies in close association and building protective structures with lipids, calcium/phosphorus; ring shapes; and so forth. The various bacterial stages/forms are often more or less susceptible to certain antibiotics—penicillins, antimalarials, tetracyclines, metronidazole, methotrexate, etc. Thus, we see the need for stage-specific treatment to kill those forms as they emerge from intracellular forms, from seed/cyst/spore forms, or from colonies where they are protected. Too often, long-term treatment with many varied antibiotics is not safe. To combat specific bacterial types, safe/effective protocols for multi-drug long-term/cyclic administration will need to be developed.


 A second look at an important book, May 20, 2002 …. Dennis Littrell

 How much hope is there for victims of the chronic illnesses discussed in this important and ground breaking book? At first glance it may depend on your perspective.


The treatment described by Dr. Joseph M. Mercola in Appendix II using an updated version of the pioneering protocol developed by Dr. Thomas McPherson Brown suggests that a magic bullet does not yet exist, and that in addition to a lengthy antibiotic regimen ("remissions may take up to 3 to 5 years," p. 346), during which the severity of symptoms may actually increase, the patient will have to undergo significant lifestyle changes, in particular nutritional ones.


Furthermore, remissions or outright cures are not guaranteed. The percentage of patients helped, according to Dr. Mercola is significant, but the conventional medical establishment remains skeptical, and the results of the clinical studies reported on pages 356-357 are unclear.


Yet, for those who are actually suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis or Gulf War Illness or Fibromyalgia or any of the other chronic illnesses described by Dr. Poehlmann, this is a giant step in the right direction. Because prior to this treatment, there was virtually nothing available that might cure the diseases, only medicines that temporarily (and with very limited effectiveness) masked the pain. Now there is hope, at least.


But I believe a closer look at what Poehlmann's research shows gives us reason for more than just hope.


The central idea, that chronic illnesses are caused by stealthy pathogens and not immune deficiencies is itself reason for optimism. As Dr. Brown is quoted as saying in a frontispiece page, "No major disease has ever been cured before science first developed an understanding of how it works."


Now with a likely cause, researchers may close in on how these diseases work, and from there a real cure may be found. Certainly, in the past, because we had no idea what was causing the disease, there was no hope of a cure beyond a supernatural miracle. Now, a very real scientific miracle is possible, and may be just over the horizon.


What needs to be done, as Poehlmann insists, is more funding for research into the nature of the suspected pathogens and their interactions with living organisms.


These pathogens, the very small mycoplasmas about which little is known (partly because they cannot [easily] be cultured outside the body) must become the focus of the new research. These tiny microorganisms have the ability to hide within human tissues, to dodge the immune system and to replicate and spread at will.


An important point made by Poehlmann is that the standard for proving that a particular microbe is responsible for disease, the so-called Koch postulates, developed by Dr. Robert Koch in the nineteenth century, and taught to all physicians and believed in dearly by most researchers, must be updated to allow for the identification of pathogens and disease syndromes not imagined by the legendary doctor.


As Poehlmann points out on page 197, it is impossible to follow the postulates because microbes like mycoplasmas cannot be grown in vitro, and indeed, because they change shape and mutate they do not appear to be the same microbes from one inculcation to the next.


Also research into a holistic, integrated program of treatment must be ongoing. Doctors need to open their eyes and go with the best treatment now known regardless of preconceptions, and not just prescribe drugs to mask symptoms.


In a very real sense this book is directed at physicians who, for whatever reason, have not been able to keep up with the latest research. Medical doctors, perhaps as much as if not more than any other profession, face the overload of information characteristic of our times that allows relevant and needed facts to hide in plain sight. Poehlmann's book is an attempt to boldface this information. She also wants to educate the patient, so that patient and physician may work together more effectively.


I personally believe that she is on the right track because, from an evolutionary point of view, it must be pathogens that cause these crippling and debilitating diseases and not a faulty immune system because if our immune system were so ineffective we would never have emerged from the savannahs in the first place.


Indeed, chronic illnesses represent a phase in the continual arms race between host and parasite that is the natural order of things. Furthermore, these chronic illnesses typically affect people in the middle years of their lives or later, a time when, throughout our evolutionary experience as a species, most of us would have been dead, and so a natural defense to these pathogens would have evolved only imperfectly or not at all.


It is similar to the logic about ageing as seen from an evolutionary point of view. The further the organism is from the age of maximum reproductive effectiveness, the less the evolutionary mechanism is able to develop the means to protect the organism from disease, predation and just plain disintegration. (The less it "cares.") Chronic illnesses have become the major plague of our times partly because we do live so long.


By the way, the other appendices in the book, those on nutrition, herbal treatments, and especially the appendix giving website addresses for health-related research, are excellent. The latter gives dozens of addresses and is a virtual "open sesame" for what's available on the Web. Do yourself a favor and buy this book. It is an education in itself.


The Infection Connection, May 14, 2002

 Amazon Reviewer: frandall from Torrance, California

I'm not used to reading highly technical books, but Dr. Poehlmann has provided a list of definitions that help me understand the unfamiliar scientific terms. Dr. Mercola's suggested Eating Program in Appendix 5 is difficult to follow, but it makes sense and I'm trying it as far as I am able. The book covers a lot more than Rheumatoid Arthritis. I learned a lot about allergies and keeping cartilage and bones healthy. I found surprising facts (all well documented), for example, that people can have both RA and Osteoarthritis, or why milk is not good for you, or what is the real cause of ulcers (and what to do about it). Mold and mildew are in the headlines right now, and this topic is covered in the book, so I know the text contains the latest research. So much information for such a small price!



 Don't suffer in silence!, May 1, 2002

 Amazon Reviewer: John Medvetz from Longmont, Colorado

I have encountered very few authors who possess Dr. Poehlmann's ability to take such a broad and complex subject as this and present it in an understandable and readable fashion. Her well-researched investigation into the causes behind the symptoms, the wealth of practical treatment methods she supplies, and the extensive supplemental information contained in the appendices make this book an invaluable resource for those who suffer from a chronic illness. This book offers real hope for becoming symptom-free!



 Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Infection Connection, April 30, 2002
 Amazon Reviewer: Paula Larich from West Hills, CA USA

Well-written, well-researched, thought-provoking look at the link between infection and arthritis. Dr. Poehlmann's careful study of the subject is a breakthrough in the research of the causes and treatments of arthritis and other chronic diseases. The work is a good resource both for suffers of the disease and for those who care for them, especially in cases when a diagnosis has proved elusive. The detailed appendices provide important information on herbal treatments, the use of antibiotics, dietary guidelines, and a lengthy list of health-oriented websites. Highly recommended for sufferers of chronic illness who wish to learn more about its origin and the treatments available.





Amazon Reviewer: GG, Indiana

Some books change lives. This is one of them! Dr. Poehlmann's book is like a life jacket offered to each and every one of us, the millions who feel like we are drowning in a sea of sickness, misunderstanding, misdiagnosis, ineffective treatment and unnecessary progression toward disability.

RA--The Infection Connection is a profound, timely book of hope and understanding, a practical and promising healthy guide for the prevention and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other afflictions which disable and can kill.

The title says it all, explains it all. Now, it is a matter of listening, of carrying through with the healing plan of action.

It's tough to tackle and promote a controversial healthcare plan, yet Dr. Poehlmann took the risk. Changing times, changing attitudes, advocation for treating the cause of RA, not merely the symptoms--indeed, this is the book to get the job done, to help rheumatoid sufferers fight their horrendous battles, to win their war against disease.

Dr. Poehlmann is a true warrior for wellness. Thank God for brave soldiers who never surrender!



Return to RA-Infection-Connection Home Page