Which Health Care Is "Alternative"?
I had no idea what a can of worms (or "germs," more literally) I would open as I set out to determine the most politically correct title for a new page on my website. It began with what I thought would be a quick definition look up on the internet and turned into an all night study.
My starting statement about the type of health care one would consider "the real health care" was formed during childhood, and based on brief medically related snapshots such as these:
From my four-year-old perspective, it seemed that our family doctor's concern over my allergic reaction to the miracle drug Penicillin meant that I was living in great danger. So concerned was the doctor, I was denied the experience of attending Kindergarten. (Apparently there are not as many germs in first grade.)
The next medical memory was made a few years later. That time however, I was present at a school, along with the entire community. We had come as families to wait in line for our sugar cubes on a Saturday morning. The sense of relief and security was evident with each family as they received and swallowed their cubes of pollution against the polio virus and threat of a future in an iron lung.
Now, put my childhood memories together with the fact that I tend to be a real left-brain thinker (compartmentalized facts, details, logic – rather than getting the big picture first). I think you will begin to understand why I embroidered what is now most commonly known as conventional practice as "real health care".
You know the conventional medicine I'm referring to – you get "sick," go to the doctor, have some pills prescribed, take them, suffer through any ill-side effects, and get "well" within a week. Perhaps conventional medicine was easy to accept because we did not have to work at anything, like learning to take better care of ourselves in the first place, or worry about who to blame when we became too sick to repair.
I knew that not everyone would be as comfortable as I was in omitting alternative medicine from the "real health care" category. Therefore, I was not surprised when the search engine results for definitions of "holistic," "natural," and "alternative" medicine revealed a trail of controversies between two schools of thought.
What I was shocked to find is that this trail of controversialy is not a "new age" split in thinking; but rather it leads to France, dives back into the late 1800s, and begins with two men of science.
The name I recognized was that of Louis Pasteur. Pasteur did pioneering work for decades in many aspects of biomedicine. This greeted him both accolades and lots of strong criticism from his peers, although he remained a relative unknown to the world at large until he came up with a treatment for rabies in the mid 1880s.
The other man, Antoine Bechamp, was also an active researcher and biologist. He taught in universities and medical schools, and was widely published on cell biology, disease, botany and related subjects.
While both Pasteur and Bechamp studied cellular biology and it's relation to disease, they worked with markedly different theories.
Pasteur believed that the basic unit of any organic life is the cell, and that cells are aseptic. In other words, disease comes from micro-organisms (germs) outside the body. He felt that germs are designed to do one thing and one thing only: to cause a particular disease; and that every disease is associated with a particular germ.
Pasteur apparently brave no regard to the condition of area of the disease or of the person, in regard to the likelihood of a disease striking them. His narrow focus led him to believe that to cure a specific disease a specific defense would have to be created … by finding a drug that would kill off the germs without killing the patient.
Bechamp saw a larger picture, and noted the "nanobe" as the basic unit of organic life, a unit with the capacity of change. He believed that diseases come from micro-organisms (germs) within the body.
Normally these germs would be working to build and help the processes of the body, but when the body or a portion of it dies or is injured – either chemically or mechanically – the germs stop what they are doing and change to help in the disintegration getting rid) of the injured area.
More poetically put, his work showed those diseases are always processes of rescue or repair – and life; and are only serious when the medium is in poor condition to start. The conclusion from Bechamp's work is that disease is built by unhealthy conditions and that to prevent disease we have to create health.
So we see here in two different men of the same era, both members of the French Academy of Science, the very basis for the two schools of thought on health care.
Conventional Medicine, which positions us somewhat like sitting ducks at the mercy of random raging germs and focusses on beating back each illness or disease after the fact, is to a large degree based on the work and conclusions of Louis Pasteur.
The studies and findings of Antoine Bechamp are the scientific root of what has come to be commonly known as Alternative Medicine. Here's the concept: get the body healthy, keep it healthy, and facilitate the body's work as its own best defense to prevent or cure disease.
When I saw it stated in those terms, I must admit that a signal went off in my logical left brain.
I read further and found that Pasteur critics believe that his overshadowing of Bechamp's work is due to his "genius of publicity and public relations." Some have gone further, citing Pasteur's own lab notes (released only after his grandson died in 1975) to deem him a "fake scientist," and accuse him of stealing ideas (mainly from Bechamp), falsifying experimental data, and making claims which had no basis in fact.
At this point I'm beginning to believe that my left brain has been duped into following accepted customs in health care that have little to do with science or logic. My right brain, in this case, agreements by deeply resonating with Antoine Bechamp's thoughts on Pasteur's theory …
"The [Pasteur theory] is monstrous fatalistic doctrine which supposes that at the origin of the things, God would have created the germs of the microbes intended to return to us sick" ~ Professor Antoine Bechamp
Footnote: Louis Pasteur, who avoided handshakes due to his fear of germs, died of a stroke at age 46. Antoine Bechamp was still clear on his theory and giving interviews until weeks before his natural death at age 93.