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The Germ Theory

Germ Theory


“The germ is nothing; the terrain is everything.”
(attributed to Louis Pasteur, at the end of his life)

 The germ theory is for wimps. And to prove it, let me tell you about the kid who was my lab partner in high school biology class, and who was always, always sick.

 Mike came to class coughing, sneezing and hacking on what seemed to be an everyday basis. Of course his assigned seat was right next to me, at our shiny black-topped lab tables-for-two that are so common in science classrooms. All through lectures, he sniffed, snorted and sneezed. All through lab, he hacked, coughed, and gagged. (This is a real test of my Thesaurus, and I am quickly running out of synonyms for "coughing" and "sneezing." Write your suggestions on a three-by-five card and mail them in, please.) Seriously, this kid was sickly. You have got to give him high marks for showing up at all. He had surprisingly fine attendance; just my luck. 

 Well. The teacher, whom we really liked, would occasionally leave the room during our long, double-period lab sessions. After all, this was back in the sixties, and we were an honors class. We were a particularly good class, usually. But this one time, the temptation proved too great and the opportunity too inviting.

 That day we had been doing agar culture plates. This means you mix up some diarrhea-colored, Jello-like stuff, heat it, and pour it into shallow, round, four-inch diameter glass dishes. After it cools, you add some bacteria or whatever microorganism you wish to grow. We'd stocked the incubator with a nice variety of specimens, and had a few extra, unused culture plates all dressed up and nowhere to go. 

 The lab manual said to leave one out in the classroom, uncovered, and see if a culture could be obtained from what settled out from the air. We went it one better.

 We used Mike.

 Everybody, almost at the same moment, came to the realization that Mike was our local one-stop source of pathogens. And, Mr. Thorensen being at that fateful moment out of the room, our chance had come. We had Mike cough all over a couple of agar plates. I mean, he really let it all out. The girls turned away into their handkerchiefs. The boys wanted to, but grimaced and kept watching, turning their heads briefly aside when a really shattering blast erupted from Mikes capacious lungs.

 We knew that this was going to be great; there had to be a Nobel just waiting for us here. As Mike was mopping up the table in front of him, we light-footed it to the rear of the lab, covered our forbidden new cultures, and stuck them in the incubator, on the bottom shelf, way in the back. We zipped back to our seats, and, as if rehearsed for a teen coming-of-age movie, in walked Mr. Thorensen. We gave him our best cheesy smiles and folded our hands to await his next pronouncement, or the bell, whichever came first.

 Naturally, we completely forgot about those culture plates. They were unlabeled, so nobody claimed them, but nobody threw them out, either. You know how kids are always forgetting to put their names on things.

 Considerable time went by.

 When Mr. Thorensen was out of the room again one day, either at the lav or having a smoke in the teacher's lounge, we recalled our impromptu research project. My pal Sid and I went back to the old gray incubator, opened it, and reached all the way in. Ah yes, there they were, still. We brought the two dishes out and all gathered around to see some real science.

 It was just gorgeous. Big, hairy black growths, white puffballs and layers of milky slime covered the culture surface. Ugh. It looked like you'd exhumed the guts of a rotting carp. Gross. To nearly quote George Carlin, it was enough to knock a buzzard off a manure wagon.

 Then and there, we knew two things: first, that Mike should, by all logic, be dead. Second, that since he all too obviously wasn't, the germ theory was complete bull.

 Being Mike's closest friend, in a literal geographic sense, I had my own more personal realization: I should, at the very least, have had Mike's symptoms in spades.

 Never again did I object to Mom giving me my daily multivitamin.

 Years later, I lived off campus as a college senior. Boy, that was fun. Four friends and I closely inhabited one third of a rented house, near the university but well out of reach of the local Board of Health. We demonstrated our pragmatism, our existentialism and our sloth on a daily basis. We reduced housekeeping to its most rudimentary form. Plan A: If the dirty dishes in the sink had more than 3/4 inch of black mold on at least 15 of them, it was time to clean up. Plan "B" was to throw them out. Plan "C" was to go out for pizza.

 Plan "C" was the one most commonly used.

 We were never sick. Sure, we were young and our immune systems were at their peak. But we were surrounded with germs, as all people are who live outside of a bubble. This is the whole point: we live in a world filled with pathogens, but only some of us are sick. 

 There are survivors to every massacre. There are even some HIV-positive patients dating from the early 1980's that show absolutely no signs of AIDS to date. Not a lot of them, but a significant number, are completely free of symptoms.

 As a child, I well remember sitting in my half-empty classroom during an epidemic or two, wondering why I had to be so darn healthy when all of my friends were home sick, watching daytime reruns of I Love Lucy, The Andy Griffith Show, and Queen for a Day.  As a former teacher, I can attest that when the flu comes through school, your absence rate can instantly soar to over one-third of all students. But the other two-thirds, exposed to the same viruses, coughs and flying phlegm of the school lunchroom, are quite well.

 So, with a reverent sense of history, I offer a revisionist view of the germ theory as Abraham Lincoln might have described it: You can infect some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot infect all of the people all of the time.

 The classic, perhaps the ultimate contagious disease would be bubonic plague. The Black Death killed better than one in four Europeans during the 14th century. We are talking 30 million people now, plus 45 million more dead in Asia. Pretty awful. Keep in mind, though, that nearly three in four lived through it. How? The plague being a bacterial disease, and neither vaccine nor antibiotic in sight, how did the great majority of people not die?

 Smallpox, that vanished viral disease, is another case in point. Even when smallpox reigned supreme, the vast majority of the population did not contract it, and most of those that did nevertheless survived the event. George Washington, to name one. Is smallpox all gone now because of vaccination, or because of our natural immune systems? Can you prove the first over the second? It is not possible to vaccinate everyone on earth even if everyone on earth could be or wanted to be vaccinated. Did you know that there have been dozens of plague cases diagnosed in the southwest USA in recent years? Have you had your plague vaccination? Do you really think you need one? Then why hasn't it spread?

 Unbelievably small as they are, we cannot possibly check every square millimeter of the world and know that all pathogenic bacteria, like the plague, and all viruses, like smallpox, are gone. And even if we could find them all, we couldn't kill them all. We can't even kill all the Japanese beetles in your home county, let alone all the mosquitoes in your home country. But all people have immune systems. 

 Viruses are stubborn little bastards, and are never gone for good. But they can be very thoroughly restrained. Herpes simplex, or the cold sore virus, provides a good illustration. People who have ever had cold sores know how uncomfortable they feel and how unpleasant they look. It is hard to predict their outbreak, but they are there, and in a somewhat sinister way, waiting. The viruses are waiting for your immune system to weaken. One of the best ways to mark such a weakening is that you are experiencing a common cold. You have noticed that when the cold goes away, the "fever blisters" go away, too. There is no drug cure for the common cold virus, nor for the herpes virus. But your body's militant immune system stopped them both.

 A gross but classic experiment was once performed where the subjects played cards with a deck that had just been handled by a first group of sickly, sneezing persons. The second group of card players handled these "freshly" contaminated cards and were seen to put their hands in their noses and mouths, as people are wont to do. The researchers waited out an incubation week or two to see if that second group got colds.

 Well, they didn't.

 A profound scholarly insight into disease trends in history is found in three classic, remarkable papers: Howard H. Hillemann, PhD (1960)  "The illusion of American health and longevity"  (Clinical Physiology  2(2), 120-177); and two monographs by William J. McCormick, MD: "The changing incidence and mortality of infectious disease in relation to changed trends in nutrition" (Medical Record. September, 1947) and his 1962 paper "Have we forgotten the lesson of scurvy?" (Journal of Applied Nutrition. 15:1,2; p 4-12). I concede that the titles are far from exciting. I first read them out of academic obligation while a student.

 They changed my entire way of thinking. 

 It comes down to this: If your immune system is strong (and a strong vitamin-nutritional component therein is indisputable) you will be among the ones who don't get the plague. Or a cold. And if your resistance were to be down, there is something you can immediately do about it: promptly take vitamin C to saturation, just as the vitamin C doctors mentioned at this website recommend.

 Vitamin therapy is about curing the real diseases. It is not limited to prevention, and it is certainly not reducible to a few cute platitudes about better food choices. One bold example: At Johns Hopkins, 281 HIV-positive men were studied for six years. One half received vitamin supplements. The other half didn't. There were only one-half as many full-blown AIDS cases in the vitamin group as in the no-vitamin-supplement group. If this were a new drug that reduced new AIDS cases by half, it would have been front-page news and even on Fox TV they might have interrupted "King of the Hill" to announce it. The study was released December 23, 1993.  I'll bet that you have not seen even one TV, newspaper, journal, or classroom mention of this.

 And the medical doctors and registered dietitians are still in a snit over what they think is a controversy as to whether vitamin C stops the common cold?

 Vitamin anti-virals are good news for America. Why is America yet to hear of them? Over 60,000 Americans each year die just from pneumonia and the flu. That is more Americans killed in one year than were killed by ten years of the Vietnam war. There is no memorial to them, but they are just as dead.

VITAMIN MYTH  #728:  "Vitamins are a promising area in health care, but more research is needed before they can be used therapeutically."

 Nonsense.  Already by 1953, there were literally thousands of studies compiled in one textbook alone, The Vitamins in Medicine, by Bicknell and Prescott. The vitamin quacks developed successful protocols for curing pneumonia, fibromyalgia, arthritis, chronic fatigue, encephalitis and even polio.  The work is already done; but the word has yet to get out. Want to believe this but can't?

 It is not a matter of belief.  Vitamin therapy is a matter of observed fact. There is no longer any doubt that a century of vitamin research has demonstrated this to any medical physician who reads her or his own journals. They don't, of course. After you listen to enough detail men from the pharmaceutical companies, and read dietitians' drivel in the newspapers or nutrition texts, you'll see why. I know; I've taught thousands of students.  My undergrads immediately see the value of supplements as primary therapy. Try and see for yourself. Results are what matter, and vitamins get them. The medical doctors and food-groups dietitians will see the light eventually, but can you afford to wait? 

 Again and again relentless science meets megavitamin therapy, and again and again the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of using vitamin and mineral therapeutics now. Still more proof is to be found in yet another large book consisting of several hundred one-paragraph abstracts (research summaries).  It is called Nutritional Influences on Illness, by Melvyn Werbach, M.D. (Second Edition). You don't have all day to read scientific papers, and Dr. Werbach knows it. He's done it for you, providing one of the best one-volume, one-stop collection of summaries of well-controlled nutritional studies ever. There simply just isn't any longer any serious argument: the world is round, headache is not due to an aspirin deficiency, and vitamins do cure disease. 

 This includes hepatitis. George had had chronic hepatitis B for seven years, and drug medicine wasn't helping. Here is his account of it:

 "I haven't had many serious symptoms over the years except fatigue. My liver function tests and bilirubin counts remained elevated.  Worse, the disease caused cirrhosis of my liver.

 "I have been treated on two occasions with Prednisone, a steroid drug. Although this did bring my liver tests down, the side effects were terrible and the tests elevated after discontinuance of the drug. In May, the tests were again rising to an alarming level and the doctors (by this time I had consulted a number of them) told me there wasn't anything else they could do.

 "It was at this time I came to you.  Since May, I have been taking megadoses of vitamins faithfully and have concentrated more on fresh fruits and vegetables. I now take 25,000 to 30,000 milligrams of vitamin C a day; large amounts of B-complex; a mega-multi vitamin; lecithin; desiccated liver tablets; chelated magnesium; and vitamin E.

 "The  results of my latest tests (taken last week) show the lowest level of bilirubin and lowest liver function scores in over a year. And this without any Prednisone.

 "My doctor is surprised and still skeptical about megavitamins. She says she can't condone what I'm doing (there's not enough "medical" research on it) but she does say I had better keep doing it.

 "Tell my case to people who remain unconvinced. I was a skeptic once myself."

 George got these results in 9 weeks. I met him again more than ten years later. He was still taking "all those vitamins." And he was entirely symptom-free. 

 So skepticism doesn't faze me a bit. 

 I see two kinds of people: those that are willing to change, and those that are not. There are two kinds of people who buy Cadillacs: those that can afford them, and those that cannot. There are two kinds of sick people: those that do not want to change their lifestyle, and those that do, but don't know where to start.  Prospecting for gold and seeking better health are similar in three ways:

 1. You need the motivation to get rich.
 2. You need information on where to dig.
 3. You need to do the digging.

 By the way, using megadoses of vitamin C, Dr. Frederick Klenner cured acute hepatitis in 48 hours. 

 I love this job.

Copyright C 2004, 2003 and prior years Andrew W. Saul.

Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at )

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Andrew W. Saul


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