In a previous chapter we learned how lowered vitality weakens the resistance of the system to the attacks and inroads of disease germs and poisons. The growth and multiplication of microorganisms depend furthermore upon a congenial, morbid soil. Just as the ordinary yeast germ multiplies in a sugar solution only, so the various microorganisms of disease thrive and multiply to the danger point only in their own peculiar and congenial kind of morbid matter. Thus, the typhoid fever bacillus thrives in a certain kind of effete matter which accumulates in the intestines; the pneumonia bacilli flourish best in the catarrhal secretions of the lungs, and meningitis bacilli in the diseased meninges of the brain and spinal cord.

Dr. Pettenkofer, a celebrated physician and professor of the University of Vienna, also arrived at the conclusion that bacteria, by themselves, cannot create disease, and for years he defended his opinion from the lecture platform and in his writings against the practically solid phalanx of the medical profession. One day he backed his theory by a practical test. While instructing his class in the bacteriological laboratory of the university, he picked up a glass which contained millions of live cholera germs and swallowed its contents before the eyes of the students. The seemingly dangerous experiment was followed only by a slight nausea. Lately I have heard repeatedly of persons in this country who subjected themselves in similar manner to infection, inoculation and contagion with the most virulent kinds of bacteria and disease taints without developing the corresponding diseases.

A few years ago Dr. Rodermund, a physician in the State of Wisconsin, created a sensation all over this country when he smeared his body with the exudate of smallpox sores in order to demonstrate to his medical colleagues that a healthy body could not be infected with the disease. He was arrested and quarantined in jail, but not before he had come in contact with many people. Neither he nor anyone else exposed by him developed smallpox.

During the ten years that I have been connected with sanitarium work, my workers and myself, in giving the various forms of manipulative treatment, have handled intimately thousands of cases of infectious and contagious diseases, and I do not remember a single instance where any one of us was in the least affected by such contact. Ordinary cleanliness, good vitality, clean blood and tissues, the organs of elimination in good, active condition and, last but not least, a positive, fearless attitude of mind will practically establish natural immunity to the inroads and ravages of bacteria and disease taints. If infection takes place, the organism reacts to it through inflammatory processes, and by means of these endeavors to overcome and eliminate microorganisms and poisons from the system.

In this connection it is of interest to learn that the danger to life from bites and stings of poisonous reptiles and insects has been greatly exaggerated. According to popular opinion, anyone bitten by a rattlesnake, gila monster or tarantula is doomed to die, while as a matter of fact the statistics show that only from two to seven per-cent succumb to the effects of the wounds inflicted by the bites of poisonous reptiles.

In this, as in many other instances, popular opinion should rather be called "popular superstition."

In the open discussions following my public lectures, I am often asked: "What is the right thing to do in case of snakebite? Would you not give plenty of whiskey to save the victim's life?"

It is my belief that of the seven percent who die after being bitten by rattlesnakes or other poisonous snakes, a goodly proportion give up the ghost because of the effects of the enormous doses of strong whiskey that are poured into them under the mistaken idea that the whiskey is an efficient antidote to the snake poison.

People do not know that the death rate from snakebite is so very low, and therefore they attribute the recoveries to the whiskey, just as recoveries from other diseases under medical or metaphysical treatment are attributed to the virtues of the particular medicine or method of treatment instead of to the real healer, the vis medicatrix naturæ, the healing power of Nature, which in ninety-three cases in a hundred eliminates the rattlesnake venom without injury to the organism.

To recapitulate: Just as yeast cells are not only the cause but also the product of sugar fermentation, so disease germs are not only a cause (secondary) but also a product of morbid fermentation in the system. Furthermore, just as yeast germs live on and decompose sugar, so disease germs live on and decompose morbid matter and systemic poisons.

In a way, therefore, microorganisms are just as much the product as the cause of disease and act as scavengers or eliminators of morbid matter. In order to hold in check the destructive activity of bacteria and to prevent their multiplication beyond the danger point, Nature resorts to inflammation and manufactures her own antitoxins.

On the other hand, whatever tends to build up the blood on a natural basis, to promote elimination of morbid matter and thereby to limit the activity of destructive microorganisms without injuring the body or depressing its vital functions, is good Nature Cure practice. The first consideration, therefore, in the treatment of inflammation must be to not interfere with its natural course.

By the various statements and claims made in this chapter, I do not wish to convey the idea that I am opposed to scrupulous cleanliness or surgical asepsis. Far from it! These are dictates of common sense. But I do affirm that the danger from germ and other infectious diseases lies just as much or more so in internal filth as in external uncleanliness. Cleanliness and asepsis must go hand in hand with the purification of the inner man in order to insure natural immunity.