Bechamp or Pasteur? A Lost Chapter in the History of Biology
By E. Douglas Hume
Reviewed by Consuelo Reyes, President of F.A.C.T.
In his classic work The Stress of Life, Hans Selye, M.D., quotes these words of Louis Pasteur, famed proponent of the Germ Theory of disease, on his deathbed: “Le germe n’est rien, c’est le terrain qui est tout.” (“The microbe is nothing, the soil is everything.”)
Could this little-advertised admission indicate that Pasteur had renounced the very concept that he worked so hard to propagate — the model upon which modern medicine has been functioning for the past 150+ years? Most of us would have to admit that there are more than a few holes in the Germ Theory. For instance, if germs in the air cause disease, why don’t all people exposed to the same virulent microbes become ill? Why do many people harbor so-called “infectious” germs in their bodies for years and yet remain healthy? Why with all the body’s openings to the air — mouth, ears, nose, skin, etc. — are we all not sicker a lot more of the time? And why does not the killing of these germs by our ultra sophisticated pharmaceutical armamentarium necessarily create a healthy society?
Could it be, as Pasteur ultimately noted, that germs are less consequential in causing illness than other host-related factors and that modern medicine has been operating on the wrong paradigm all this time? A little known, fascinating book, Bechamp or Pasteur? A Lost Chapter in the History of Biology, written by E. Douglas Hume in 1922, offers powerful evidence that, indeed, the more productive path would have been the one traveled by Bechamp rather than Pasteur.
Documenting with impressive detail the “discoveries” of Monsieur Pasteur, along with his considerably greater gifts for self-promotion, Ms. Hume demonstrates quite conclusively that many of the chemist’s celebrated insights were plagiarized from a brilliant contemporary, the chemist-physician-naturalist-biologist Pierre Jacque Antoine Bechamp. Moreover, she shows that Pasteur, in his rush to greatness, borrowed badly, such that he failed to appreciate the subtlety of Bechamp’s experiments. In a nutshell, Pasteur missed the whole point that germs do not cause disease, but are essentially a symptom of disease!
Bechamp’s character was the complete opposite of Pasteur’s. Oblivious to worldly recognition, this scientist found his reward in observing with “infinite pains” the lessons of nature. Through his incessant inquiries he learned that disease originates primarily from within the organism, rather than from some external invasion. He saw that this occurs because of a chemical breakdown — e.g., nutritional or mechanical — in the internal environment which leads to a transformation of certain cellular granules. Under favorable or balanced conditions these granules (“little bodies”) serve to buildup or “nourish” healthy tissue and in an unbalanced terrain they metamorphose into bacteria — “germs” — which act to breakdown or “feed” on inferior tissue in order to preserve the integrity of the whole. He called these entities (granules) “microzymas” — the smallest and most indestructible units of life.
Two themes intertwine in Hume’s account: one, the documentation of Pasteur’s shallow plagiarisms and, two, the progress of Bechamp’s experimental journey in which all is corroborated by nature. While the former plot is enlightening indeed, I found the development of Bechamp’s revelations absolutely riveting. Hume has allowed us to glimpse nothing less than Bechamp’s understanding of the origin of life itself!
But with the wonder, there comes an underlying distress. Though Pasteur may have finally seen the misplaced emphasis of his work, he launched the “boat” that has been boarded by forces far more powerful ever since. Today’s conventional (allopathic) medicine, uncontested by the public mind, embraces the simplistic and inconsistent Germ Theory. The pagan notion that demon outsiders are the cause of all our ills was and is very attractive and lucrative, such that a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry has evolved to design ways to destroy these “enemies” and enable us to avoid examining the choices we make that may be compromising our health.
Along the way, a truly frightening specter has emerged: man, the victim —prey to the whimsy of every new and more malevolent pathology — ebola, bird flu, H1N1, sars, mers, covid, etc. When no clear explanation is at hand, the default position becomes — aha! — it must be an infectious disease caused by some new microbial or viral invader. Ever more lethal chemical “solutions” are sought with bated breath, accompanied by a panoply of devastating side effects accepted as part of the price paid for conquering the external foe. Can it be that modern man finds this specter of victimhood less horrific than the thought of actually assuming responsibility for his own condition? Can it be that these “invasions” have more to do with the way we are living on this earth and that, rather than fear microbes, we need to learn how to live in balance with them?
We must look at the factors that are making us vulnerable to disease, that are unbalancing our internal terrain, e.g., processed junk foods devoid of vital nutrients, full of pesticides, chemical additives, GMOs; food from factory farms that overload animals with antibiotics and hormones to counteract cruel, crowded, filthy living conditions; the routine overuse of toxic pharmaceuticals prescribed to manage symptoms brought on by unhealthy lifestyle habits; industrial air pollution, often concentrated in impoverished areas; the current massive increase in electromagnetic radiation (5G) that weakens immunity and has been shown to lead to a host of chronic and acute disease conditions, etc., etc.
It is time to rock the boat of myopic status quo thinking about health and disease. Bechamp showed the way. He was really the father of the wholistic approach and, fortunately — slowly — his ideas are entering the mainstream. We see it in the increasing interest in enhancing host resistance via nutrition and biological therapies, the growing respect for the microbiome (the gut — “the soil”) which is key to the well being of all our bodily systems. We see it in the movement toward regenerative agriculture with its emphasis on the natural richness of the soil instead of the quick fix dependence on chemical fertilizers that deplete and unbalance; the importance of small farms where animals graze on grass in fresh air without toxic interventions; in the striving for clean renewable energy and addressing climate change. Instead of simply increasing punitive actions against transgressors, we seek to understand the causes with ever more fervent activism for equitable treatment and opportunity for all in order to create healthy conditions upon which life can flourish — quality schools, affordable housing, fair paying jobs, etc. This is Terrain Theory.
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It is up to us to demand a health system that is in sync with nature. But change is not easy, especially when billion dollar industries are dependent on maintaining the Germ Theory model. Indeed, life-saving drugs have their place, but a doctor’s primary role ought to be teaching healthy living, not prescribing a drug for every symptom.
Copernicus’ blasphemous notion that the earth revolves around the sun, rather than the other way around, took several centuries to become common sense. Let us not wait that long. This book is an excellent way to get the ball rolling.
“All great truths begin as blasphemies.” — George Bernard Shaw