An Alternative View of Infectious Disease

“Le microbe n’est rien, le terrain est tout.” 

(The microbe is nothing; the terrain is everything)

- the final words spoken by Louis Pasteur as he lie on his deathbed

(the father of the “Germ Theory” of disease)


While most people may not recognize the name “Louis Pasteur”, many people are familiar with the term “pasteurization”, which is credited to the 19th century French scientist.

Pasteurization involves heating raw milk to very high temperatures in order to kill the germs and bacteria inside the milk and prevent infections.  The idea behind pasteurization is that “germs are bad” and that they are the cause of disease and ill health.  Following that assumption it makes sense that “killing germs” would be the solution to both treating and preventing states of disease.  This is the basic concept upon which Western medicine, based on Pasteur’s idea that germs (virus, bacteria, fungus, parasite, etc.) are the cause of illness.

But there is a fascinating history behind both the “germ theory” of disease as well as its controversial proponent…Louis Pasteur.  I invite you to do your own research by Googling “Pasteur vs. Bechamp” to see the many sources of information on this controversy.  Meanwhile I will try to summarize our thoughts on this issue and how it relates to patients who come to us with illness related to chronic infections.

In 19th century France, while Pasteur was advocating the notion of germs as the cause of disease, another French scientist named Antoine Bechamp advocated a conflicting theory known as the “cellular theory” of disease.

Bechamp’s cellular theory is almost completely opposite to that of Pasteur’s.  Bechamp noted that these germs that Pasteur was so terrified of were opportunistic in nature.  They were everywhere and even existed inside of us in a symbiotic relationship.  Bechamp noticed in his research that it was only when the tissue of the host became damaged or compromised that these germs began to manifest as a prevailing symptom (not cause) of disease.

To prevent illness, Bechamp advocated not the killing of germs but the cultivation of health through diet, hygiene, and healthy lifestyle practices such as fresh air and exercise.  The idea is that if the person has a strong immune system and good tissue quality (or “terrain” as Bechamp called it), the germs will not manifest in the person and they will have good health.  It is only when their health starts to decline (due to personal neglect and poor lifestyle choices) that they become victim to infections.

You can see this when a group of people go hiking in the woods.  It often seems that the mosquitoes attack only one or two people out of the group.  And as it turns out, it’s always the same person that always gets attacked by the mosquitoes.  This person is usually the one who always catches the latest flu and has the weakest immune system.  This is because these germs (including insects) are opportunistic in nature and only attack the weak.

To treat illness, Bechamp’s cellular theory also applied.  Bechamp was less concerned with killing the infection and focused more on restoring the health of the patient’s body through healthy lifestyle choices.  Bechamp saw the infection as a footnote to the state of illness and not the primary cause.  As the person restored health through diet, hygiene, and detoxification the infection went away on its own…without needing measures to kill it.

Pasteur and Bechamp had a long and often bitter rivalry regarding who was right about the true cause of illness.  Ultimately Pasteur’s ideas were accepted by society and Bechamp was pretty much forgotten.  The practice of Western medicine is based on Pasteur’s germ phobia which gives rise to the use of vaccinations, antibiotics, and other anti-microbials.

The irony is that towards the end of his life, Pasteur renounced the germ theory and admitted that Bechamp was right all along.  In the 1920’s medical historians also discovered that most of Pasteur’s theories were plagiarized from Bechamp’s early research work.

At Neighborhood Natural Medicine, we treat patients diagnosed with infectious illness using the guidelines set forth by Antoine Bechamp:  “Treat the patient, not the infection.”  We do this through a threefold approach of detoxification, nutritional healing, and restoring internal communication grids (endocrine/hormonal and nervous systems).

We feel that Bechamp was indeed right when he said that as health returns to the patient, the germs and infections leave on their own and do not come back unless health becomes compromised again.  We have found this approach to be very satisfying in terms of results for the patient.

We feel that it is a mistake to try to kill the infection directly, rather than searching for the cause as to why that person’s immune system did not handle the infection on its own.  Sadly, Pasteur’s approach of killing germs is used by a large number of so called “natural” healers who use large amounts of anti-microbial herbs in the same philosophical fashion as antibiotics.  We feel that if all you do is kill the infection without addressing the dysfunction in the patient’s immune system (which allowed the infection to manifest in the first place), the patient will simply become sick again at a later date.

Another problem with this approach is that in chronic infections you almost never see just one type of infection.  When a person’s immune function becomes compromised one infection such as a bacteria will open the door to other infections such as viruses, parasites, and fungi.  It’s like when one burglar enters your home and holds the door open for his friends to come in.  When this occurs, as it does in almost all immune-compromised patients, focusing on treating the infection directly becomes a never-ending nightmare.  Once one bug is gone the next one appears.  However, if you focus on treating the body’s self-defense mechanism against infections (immune function), the body will handle the infections on its own … as it should have in the first place.  We hope you understand how big of a difference in an approach it is to treat the patient’s immune system and not the infection.

Treat the cause of the infectious illness, the underlying dysfunction of the host’s immunity, and the infection will leave on it’s own as the health of the patient’s body returns. That’s our opinion.

Disclaimer:  Regarding the controversial topic of vaccinations and antibiotics … we at NNM take a completely neutral stance on the topic.  We neither advocate nor discourage their use and leave that up to the patient to decide.  We do this mainly due to legal reasons being that it is against the law for us to advocate one position vs. another.  We only ask that you become as educated on this topic as possible and make your own informed decision.  We will respect your decision either way.