This section is from the "Health and Survival in the 21st Century" book, by Ross Horne.
Bernard was right, the germ is nothing--
the milieu is everything.
There is great concern these days about the environment. We are at last realizing that human activity--farming. fishing, mining, manufacturing, etc--has steadily upset the balance of Nature and has already caused irreparable change to our world and the destruction of many forms of life. With forests destroyed, soil degraded, rivers, oceans and atmosphere polluted, Planet Earth is diseased and humans are the cause of it all.
The damage man has caused to the environment was not done maliciously, but out of ignorance, and the same applies to the damage man has caused--and still is causing--to himself with his personally destructive habits of living. This self-inflicted damage, more often than not put down to bad luck, is reflected in daily newspaper reports concerning the increasing problems of public health. The problem of declining public health is a problem of equal importance for humanity to the environmental issue, and the sooner people realize that they are themselves as much responsible for the welfare of their own bodies as they are for the welfare of the environment, the sooner both problems can be resolved.
When considering the health of the body as a whole, including the mind, it must first be understood that the body is made up of many billions of living cells, each one a separate, tiny, living organism which needs to be individually sustained. If each individual cell receives the nutrition and oxygen it needs and has its personal waste products removed, it will be healthy. And if every cell in the body is likewise healthy, then it follows that the entire body will be healthy too.
Thus total health can only be achieved by first attending to inner health, because the two are indivisible: they are one and the same.
To achieve a state in which the various organs of the body function as they are meant to, and are protected by a fully functional immune system, the environment within the body must be just right. The principle of total body health being directly related to the purity of the fluid environment in which the body cells dwell was conceived by the great 19th-Century physiologist Claude Bernard of France. Bernard coined the term "milieu interieur", which in French means "environment within".
This gently flowing fluid is called extra-cellular fluid, or lymph, and consists of plasma, the clear liquid component of the blood, which seeps from the capillary vessels of the main blood circulation into the body tissues to deliver oxygen and nutrients to them and to convey the cells' waste products away for elimination. The "spent" lymph returns to the main blood circulation via a network of vessels similar to veins called the lymphatic system, propelled by the squeezing action that occurs with muscle movements of ordinary activity and better still by exercise of a more vigorous nature. The chemical composition of lymph is almost the same as seawater, which reflects the fact the cells of our bodies are descendants of the primitive single-celled animals of the sea which preceded the higher forms of life billions of years ago.
The purity of the milieu interieur therefore depends on the quality of the blood and lymph and the vigor of the circulation, the cleansing action of the lymph being as important as its nourishing action. And, in turn, the quality of the blood is dependent primarily on the efficiency of the liver and kidneys and the quality of the food and water from which the body makes new blood.
When the quality of the milieu interieur is just right the blood and lymph flow freely, rich in nutrients and oxygen and free of unwanted substances or toxins; the red cells float freely and so too do the white cells of the immune system, vigorous and efficient. When this ideal condition is achieved, all the organs of the body harmonize and everything works the way it should. The condition of perfectly balanced body chemistry is called "homeostasis", a term coined by the great physiologist Walter Cannon, MD Sc.D, of Harvard University. In his famous book, Wisdom of the Body (1932, W.W. Norton Publishers), Dr Cannon explained how, regardless of conditions that may vary widely, the "bodywisdom" works constantly to maintain homeostasis.
If there are any deficiencies in nutrition, if there exists any form of pollution, or if there is inadequate oxygen or poor circulation or organ malfunction, the milieu interieur will suffer, and with it the health of the body. The nature of the milieu's degradation will affect the extent of upset to homeostasis and how the body will react. One way or another, the body will be ill at ease or "dis-eased", and according to whatever symptoms the body displays, so one or another of a textbook full of medical names will be given to it.
The most common and most serious form of degradation of the milieu interieur is toxemia caused by improper diet. In most cases the diet is reasonably adequate in necessary nutrients, but the problem of malnutrition nevertheless exists because of excesses of some components, the de-naturing effect of cooking and the inclusion of harmful substances such as salt, condiments and refined sugar, etc.
As toxemia can occur in countless different forms and degrees, not only through improper diet but through stress, lack of fresh air and sunshine, etc, once the limits of "body wisdom" are exceeded the resultant effects may vary widely, which explains why there are so many different diseases listed in the medical textbooks and why doctors, not realizing the true nature of the problem, sometimes have so much difficulty deciding which disease is "attacking" their patient and which drug to "fight" it with.
When the usual blood tests are made for chronically sick people, the blood is assessed for various chemical compounds and elements and a count is made of the red blood cells (erythrocytes) and white blood cells (leucocytes). A more thorough inspection of the blood under a microscope, however, reveals a lot more. Such an inspection of the blood of someone chronically ill shows that the blood is polluted with sludge and that the red cells and blood platelets tend to stick together (aggregate), so that the blood becomes sticky (high viscosity); it cannot carry oxygen properly and it cannot circulate properly. This, of course, is a demonstration of a diseased milieu interieur, reflected in medical tests by increased blood pressure, high sedimentation rate of red cells (ESR) and high platelet adhesion index (PAI).
It is common knowledge among doctors that these poor blood conditions accompany the various chronic diseases, but their conventional drug-oriented medical training does not permit them to see that the impure, high viscosity, sludged blood is the disease itself, and that what they think is the disease is only a symptom of disturbed homeostasis.
When it is suspected that an unidentified illness may be caused by a germ or virus and a more highly powered microscopic inspection of the blood is made, confusion again arises because of the many forms of microbes displayed and because the forms do not always remain constant (see Chapter 5: Germs and Viruses). The more the blood deteriorates, the greater the number of microbes present, which multiply not as the cause of the illness, but as a result of it. One way or another, a patient receiving medical treatment is assured of one thing-he will not go short of antibiotics and other drugs until he either escapes the system or is finally and expensively "cured" to death, when the initial problem was really toxemia and lost homeostasis.
Although medical drugs may sometimes provide relief from disease symptoms, in the long run they cannot do anything but harm to the patient because, as unnatural substances in the body, they place further strain on already overworked organs which correctly sense a drug to be a poison to be neutralized and expelled. Thus drugs only cause further deterioration of the milieu interieur with consequential additional distress, the symptoms of which are nonchalantly referred to as "side effects". When, as often happens, additional medicine is prescribed to counter the side effects, the vicious circle is complete. Thus it is easy to understand why iatrogenic disease * is now recognized as a major cause of death, which of course it always has been.
*Disease caused by medical treatment.
Many intelligent doctors, after realizing the absurdity of allopathic medical methods, have abandoned their old beliefs in medicines and drugs and become medical heretics, which of course brings them disfavor in orthodox medical circles and no chance to present their newfound beliefs in professional journals. Therefore many such experienced doctors write books* to present their information direct to the populace. Two such doctors are Hans Selye, author of The Stress of Life and Reino Virtonen, author of Claude Bernard and Experimental Medicine. These books are mentioned here because they both quote Louis Pasteur, father of the Germ Theory of Disease, who, just before his death in 1895, said to his friend Professor Renon: "Bernard was right, the germ is nothing, the milieu is everything. "