Bacteria both lose, and at other times gain, a certain degree of virulence and toxicity. Since this is limited by the environment in which they live, it is natural to conclude that it is their environment that confers upon them their toxic nature and powers. But if germs are to be considered the cause of "disease," they cannot lose their degree of virulence, and at the same time still maintain their power of infecting men in the manner that they are supposed to do--even granting such a thing to be possible.
Dr. Weger says: "Germs--bacteria of all kinds, in whatever disease they may be found--receive their virulence from the state and condition of the tissues themselves. This accounts for the fact that, when they are successfully grown on various culture-media of the same kind, they gradually lose their virulence, until they are altogether inert and fail to reproduce the reactions accredited to the original strain. No one so far as we know, has ever been able to reproduce an infectious disease by taking disease-producing germs from the normal air, and we defy the bacteriologists to prove that they can obtain filth from any other source than from filth itself. This is, indeed, a significant fact. If the germs are endowed with an original virulence and toxicity, they cannot produce disease unless their powers for infecting the body remain a permanent and invariable quantity. Everybody knows that such is not the case. For instance, people know that there are fifty varieties of bacteria in the human mouth."
It is our advice to leave the poor bacteria alone. Settle once and for all the question of their function and mode of action, admit them to the symbiotic family of life, and leave them to their nefarious, or helpful work, and get after the real causes of their activity.
Germs are saprophytes; that is, they live off dead inorganic matter. They are omnipresent scavengers in Nature's great laboratory, working over dead organic matter into forms appropriate to the nourishment of growing vegetation. They are essential nitrifying agents in the soil. Without them, neither plant nor animal could long exist and the earth would rapidly become encumbered with dead bodies. In the septic tank, sewerage is reduced by them until it finally passes out pure water in which fish may live. From both the esthetic and economic viewpoints, they are benefactors. They are friends of higher life. We live in a balanced and inter-dependent world, which is too complex to ever fully understand, but our dependence upon the symbiotic support of germ life is, at least partly, known.
In the body germs break up and consume dead and dying cells and discharges from the tissues. They perform the same function in the body that is ascribed to them everywhere else in nature. Viewed from this angle, they are purifying and beneficial agents. "What a wonderful vista would unfold itself before our eyes," says Dr. Weger, "were we to base our future germ investigations on the theory that, primarily, pathogenic organisms are our friends and not our enemies."
Germs do not, cannot, attack healthy tissue. They are saprophytes, scavengers, and are busily engaged in reducing dead organic matter to the dust from whence it came. The mere fact that bacteria accompany a pathological process does not justify us in assuming that the microorganism is the primary factor in causation. If bacteria can attack and kill healthy tissues, organs and organisms, then it should not be long before these bacteria shall have destroyed all the higher forms of life and have the world to themselves.
Microbes are spread throughout nature, are ubiquitious in fact. Human groups swarm with them. They are in the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. We are reared in an environment laden with them. We cannot escape them. We can destroy them only to a limited extent. We must accept them as one of the joys of life. The modern theory of "disease" causation shuts its eyes to the sources of population; and overlooks the fact that natural children and pigs thrive on swill. "Children live in an atmosphere of germs and should be sick all the time if germs cause disease."
Germ theorists estimate that an average of 14,000 germs pass into the nose in an hour's breathing. In the subway and in a crowded building, we probably get this many into our noses in a few minutes. Many more are taken in in food and drink. Microbial populations abound throughout nature. Germs, in any location in which they are able to thrive, multiply so rapidly that they would produce more germs in a few days of their own activity than would be taken into the body in. a year in the most germ-laden environment. From the stand-point of Natural Science, germs cannot be regarded as the cause of "disease," for, if they are, we should all be the victims of one or more germs at all times.
The body is built to offer effective resistance to the entrance of germs. The unbroken skin not only prevents the microbes living on its surface from entering the organism, but it is capable of destroying them by means of substances secreted by its glands. The skin joins the mucosa at the nostrils, mouth, eyes, ears, anus, vagina and urethra. This mucous membrane, or internal skin, if unbroken, is impermeable to microbes while its normal secretions are germicidal. So long as the skin which covers man's body and lines his cavities remains intact, germs have no influence on him; and when the skin is broken, the air and sunshine keep the broken surface dehydrated, and the germs fail to cause fermentation.
The microbe is washed to his destruction by a flood of serum that the powers of life send immediately to every abrasion, tear, or cut in the flesh of the body. If the bungling "scientific" man does not check the flow of healing serum with astringent antiseptics and obstructive dressings, healing will be by first-intention--Nature's way.
The respiratory membranes allow oxygen to pass into the body, but exclude dust and microbes. The digestive membranes permit water and digested foods to enter the body, but resist the penetration of the bacteria that swarm in the digestive tract. Integrity of the respiratory and digestive membranes constitutes ample protection against bacterial invasion.
When health is normal the digestive secretions are sufficient protection against germs and parasites. Germs may cause putrefaction in a meal of lobsters when enervation prevents digestion; but when digestion is normal, the bacillus is utilized as food along with the lobster. All of the digestive juices are germicidal and the normal digestion digests germs as readily as it does apples or bread.
There is no susceptibility on the part of any healthy organ to bacterial injury. All of the body's healthy secretions and the blood and lymph are antagonistic to bacterial life and activity. It is obvious that, living in a world swarming with microbes, if these cause "disease," man must possess powerful resistance to them, else he would have perished long ago. Except for this resistance he could not live through infancy.