Monday, May 14, 2012

Germ Theory

It's hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that there might be people out there—doctors, even!—who dispute the germ theory of disease. But there are, and some of them are trying to provide medical treatment to terminally ill patients (and anyone else they can convince to put themselves into their hands), as is shown by this post about such a case.

David Gorski writes of the era when the germ theory was first developed:

Béchamp, as you may remember, was a contemporary of Louis Pasteur and proposed a competing hypothesis for the cause of infectious disease, which he dubbed the pleomorphic theory. The concept he championed was that bacteria do not cause disease but are rather a manifestation of disease. In other words, diseased tissues produce bacteria, arising from structures that Béchamp called microzymas, which to him referred to a class of enzyme. Béchamp postulated that microzymas are normally present in tissues and that their effects depended upon the cellular terrain. Of course, as we all know, ultimately Pasteur’s ideas won out based on evidence, experimentation, and clinical observation, relegating Béchamp to more or less a historical footnote. In fairness, it should be remembered that, 150 year ago, it wasn’t entirely clear who was correct, Pasteur or Béchamp. Given the technology and tools of the time, it was not a trivial matter to determine where bacteria arose, although it didn’t take long before experiments and methodology were developed that pretty much put Béchamp’s concepts to bed for good.

The point is well taken: when Pasteur was first developing his ideas, there were many other ideas in the air, and his ideas "won out" not because of some conspiracy to make them win out, but because they fit the evidence best.

If you're looking for an "alternative" doctor, at least try to find one who does not dismiss the germ theory and claim, among other things, that HIV "is not a virus but an alkaline antibody to buffer acid or antigens."

I'm not sure what I'll do when somebody comes along and says, "But Pasteur was wrong!"

No comments: