GERMS ARENT ALWAYS GUILTY.
Reprinted from J.A.I.H., Vol. 47, No.1 (January, 1954).
Germs Arent Always Guilty, Doctor Says.
Blamed Too Often as Cause Of Disease, Group is Told.
By Thomas R. Henry.
Medicine may have gone too far in blaming sickness on germs, says Dr. Rene J. Dubos of the Rockefeller Institute, himself one of the foremost scientists in the field of anti-biotics to kill disease-causing micro-organisms.
There is strong evidence, he told National Institutes of Health scientists the other night, that bacteria and viruses become dangerous only when the setup is fixed for them. Otherwise even the most virulent of them are harmless. Every person, Dr. Dubos said, carries in the body throughout life a host of supposedly deadly “microbes” which live in blood and tissues as harmless guests until something happens to start them on a rampage.
Although the presence of the right micro-organisms is necessary for the particular disease, Dr. Dubos insists, the real cause is the “something,” or combination of “somethings,” of which the present-day physician is usually quite ignorant. There even is danger, he told the National Institutes physicians in a lecture given in honor of Dr. Rolla H. Dyer, the retired director, that doctors who eliminate one form of supposedly malignant micro-organism with some of the extremely potent new drugs are just making room in the body for the increase of some worse kind.
Recent experiments have shown, Dr. Dubos said, that it is practically impossible to infect volunteers picked at random with some supposedly highly infectious diseases, because experimenters do not know how to upset the internal environment so as to produce the right conditions.
During the last war, he explained, an epidemic disease causing great concern to military authorities was bacillary dysentery. In some areas nearly all soldiers were victims. The causative organism was well known. But when investigators tried to reproduce the malady in the United States with human volunteers the effort was a complete failure. However, when doses of the bacillus, obtained directly from sick soldiers, were fed to the volunteers not a single case of bacillary dysentery was produced. The best that could be obtained, and only in a few, was a mild syndrome of food poisoning.
Efforts to transmit the common cold, to which everybody seems susceptible, to volunteers have been equally unsuccessful. The cause of this malady which sweeps through communities is almost certainly a virus. It is contained in nose and throat washings of cold victims. But it is almost impossible to transmit these at will. Volunteers simply cannot be made to develop sniffles, except in a few cases. Most striking, Dr. Dubos said, have been recent English experiments.
Volunteers were kept in complete isolation for two weeks to make sure they were not on the verge of colds at the start of the trials. Then they were placed in conditions supposed to be favorable to colds-placed in drafts, subjected to quick changes of temperature, made to wear wet socks and sleep in wet clothes. Still inoculation with the supposed virus produced only occasional colds. The real precipitation factor which must be very common in everybodys environment remains unknown.
The same thing was demonstrated very strikingly more than a century ago when a cholera epidemic broke out in Hamburg. This was at the dawn of the germ theory of disease advanced by Pasteur and Koch. It still had many bitter opponents among the foremost physicians of the day. They held that the micro-organisms the two great biologists had discovered were not the causes of diseases but only secondary invaders of diseased tissues, Koch had just demonstrated the germ of cholera and it was found in the blood of all the Hamburg victims.
One of his principal opponents ridiculed the idea; he obtained tumblerfuls of the live virus from the Hamburg dead and he and his students drank them. one developed any symptoms of cholera. There was something unknown in the temporary environment of Hamburg which made it possible for the germs to cause disease. This “something” did not exist in the environment of the bold scoffers medical school. A similar experiment was performed, with much the same results, with the tubercle bacillus, which Koch also had just demonstrated.
Doctors of the Past.
Long before anybody knew anything about germs, Dr. Dubos told the National Institutes doctors, many physicians were very successful in treating patients-and some of them acquired large fortunes. They had no sulfa drugs, no anti-biotics, no immune serums. They were not faith healers or fakers but extremely honest, reputable men. The secret of their success, Dr. Dubos said, probably lay in a highly developed and perhaps instinctive skill in treating the patient as a whole rather than looking, as does the modern doctor, for one cause of a condition and treating only that.
The germ theory of disease, he insisted, now is probably in its twilight despite its magnificent successes during the last century and despite the fact that new germs and new germ killers doubtless will be discovered. It will remain as only part of a new medicine which will try to find scientific bases for the “art” of the cold doctors.
“Every living cell,” Dr. Dubos said, “is the result of all sorts of evolutionary forces which have put it into equilibrium with outside forces and with forces within itself. Disturbance of any factor in this equilibrium will result in disease”.
The next age of medicine, he held, will concentrate more on the equilibria than on germs.
The above article, reprinted in full, appeared in The Evening Star of Washington, D.C., November 6, 1953, and is a report of a memorial lecture delivered by Dr. Rene J. Dubos of the Rockefeller Institute to the National Institutes of health.
This article should be perused carefully and thoughtfully by readers of The Journal. In a number of instances, Dr. Dubos has expressed ideas concerning the role of pathogenic organisms in relation to disease entities which are confirmations of those held by Homoeopathy for many years.
Dr. Dubos gives the opinion that, while bacteria or viruses are necessary for the development of a particular infectious disease, the real cause is a “something” or “somethings” in the internal environment which, being disturbed, gives micro- organisms a chance to establish their deadly activity. Without this disturbance they are harmless.
Hahnemann gave a name to this “something,” calling it the dynamis or vital force. No disease could exist unless there was interference with the harmonious action of the dynamis as a prior cause. Hahnemann looked upon disease manifestations or symptoms as the outward and visible signs and evidence of the disturbed dynamis.
The unsuccessful attempts to reproduce diseased states in healthy volunteers, cited by Dr. Dubos and which he seemed to ascribe to conditions of external environment, appear to be due, rather, to an inability of the experimenters to influence the internal environment-the “something,” the dynamis-of the volunteers.
The successful treatment of disease by physicians who had no knowledge of the “germ theory,” Dr. Dubos feels, was due to their instinctive skill in treating patients as a whole rather than looking for one cause of a condition and treating only that. Except in the case of homoeopathic doctors, there is some doubt as to the validity of Dr. Dubos theorizing. He does not seem to take into account the vis medicina nature possessed by all and which, no matter what the therapeutic method, is responsible for all cure. Homoeopathy utilizes this principle, when applying its methodology, in such a manner as to enhance rather than to obstruct this vital force.
Its fitting and right that the fallacies and weaknesses of the “germ theory” should be recognized and that the importance of treating the patient as a whole should be emphasized. But that is not enough. What is needed is a method by which the recognition of the importance of treating the patient as a whole may be implemented to the patients benefit and ultimate cure. Homoeopathy supplies this method.– A.D.S.
THE HANDICAPPED HOMOEOPATH.
Much has been written and much heart searching has taken place upon the decline in popularity of the Homoeopathic system of therapeutics. All manner of reasons have been put forward by its faithful followers to excuse this evident decline.
We have been told that we do not examine our patients as fully and thoroughly as do those of the dominant school. It may be true and probably is that our patients are, as a general rule, not subjected to the very numerous, expensive and frequently fruitless or pointless tests to which many of their friends have been subjected while in hospital for observation or otherwise. The sum total of these tests can be classed, in union terms, as “fringe benefits” and are not “basic” or “take home pay”, as far as the patients actual welfare is concerned. Rather do they, perhaps, benefit the physician in charge who is able to say, “We have left nothing to chance or guess work”.
By this admission he has placed his trust in laboratory findings rather than diagnostic skill. You have all known physicians and surgeons of great skill as regards their diagnostic abilities and you would accept their judgment ahead of a summation from a laboratory and you would be wise in doing so.
In the years when Homoeopathy flourished there were more practitioners of our art, more homoeopathic journals, more colleges, more enthusiasm and a militant spirit. Only one basic repertory was then in print, that of Boenninghausen. But despite this handicap there were more cured cases published by far than there are now. The obvious answer is that the earlier physicians knew their materia medica much more thoroughly than do their followers of today.
All this intensive study of materia medica was laborious and many physicians tried to create a better repertory than Boenninghausens. It fell to the genius of Dr. James Tyler Kent, with help from others likewise inspired, to compile a practically complete and, for the time, workable repertory. Since that day homoeopathic prescribing has become much simpler and also more mechanical. With it, in a relatively short space of time, one can arrive at a choice of from one to five remedies.
It then remains to choose the correct one from these few. For a student or young homoeopathic physician-and by young I mean not in years but relatively new in the homoeopathic art-this choice is made much more difficult if he lacks a good working knowledge of the materia medica. In fact, the case is very parallel to the physician of the dominant school who reviews the results of the laboratory tests and makes his diagnosis from them. It is too mechanical; the art is missing.
Hahnemann said to look for those strange, rare and peculiar symptoms as an said in remedy selection. How are we to look for, or recognize, these symptoms if they have not been thoroughly drilled into us? If we are making the cures today which were made by the early homoeopathic masters, there would be no decline in our numbers, or our personal enthusiasm. Physicians would be applying in eagerness to take the post-graduate courses in Homoeopathy.
We have no remedies to cure or alleviate many chronic disease states such as multiple sclerosis, pernicious anaemia, diabetes mellitus in the young, and many others even if we get them in their earliest stages. There are, undoubtedly, remedies useful for these conditions.
We have practically stopped proving new remedies. We are using our repertories because it is easier and quicker, and we do not know as much as the old masters of the materia medica.
—K.A. McL. The World Homoeopathic Medical Congress will meet jointly with the Pan American Homoeopathic Medical Congress at Riode Janeiro October 10-21, 1954. This date is now definite and will not be changed.
We have received 108 written reservations, divided into 77 by air, 13 by boat and 18 who state either ship or air but prefer ship.
(Continued from page 219).
In the last while, the role played by mental symptoms has gradually been shown in our practice, quite as brilliant as the action today, demonstrated in an acute abdominal inflammation with severe continuous pain, responding promptly and bringing quiet restful sleep to this harassed man who otherwise in modern practice would have been treated surgically.
SHARON CENTER, OHIO.