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Pasteur vs Béchamp: The Germ Theory Debate

Louis Pasteur in labStory Highlights

  • Louis Pasteur’s “germ theory of disease” remains the basis of Western medicine, considering that disease is caused by specific microorganisms that invade the body from outside.
  • Antoine Béchamp believed instead that illness stems from an unhealthy system that triggered changes in minute particles of the body that lead to disease.
  • Western medicine has fully embraced germ theory and its dependence on drugs to treat symptoms, effectively minimizing the importance of nutritious food, fresh air, hygiene and sanitation.

“Louis Pasteur was a French chemist-turned-microbiologist, who proved the existence of microbes in air. His pioneering studies laid the foundation for the modern-day understanding of diseases, their etiology as well as vaccine development.”1

How that quotation is interpreted—whether as high praise or condemnation—depends on the perspective. Pasteur was not the only scientist who delved into the origins of disease. While he focused on the influence of invading microbes, or what has come to be known as the “germ theory,” his rival Antoine Béchamp, one of the period’s preeminent scientists, was promoting a different theory. Béchamp’s theory, referred to as the “microzymian” theory of disease, has since become known as the “cellular,”2 or “host”3 theory.4

By all accounts, Béchamp was a highly respected scientist whose teachings were accepted as fact by many of Pasteur’s contemporaries.5 So how is it that relatively few people today have even heard the name of Antoine Béchamp and that it is Louis Pasteur’s scientific conclusions that form much of the basis of contemporary medical thinking about infectious disease?

Origins of Germ Theory

The germ theory of disease holds that “specific microscopic organisms are the cause of specific diseases,” a statement that is so pervasive today that it seems self-evident. Historically, however, variations of the germ theory had been around for hundreds of years but had never taken hold. It was not until Pasteur’s work became publicized in the 19th century that it gained widespread acceptance. Reducing the idea of disease to a simple interaction between specific microorganisms and a host, the germ theory minimized the role of environmental factors on illness, conveniently dismissing social responsibility for disease, especially among the poor.

The work of Pasteur and his associates led directly to the acceptance of vaccines by “leading medical scientists—those longing for a sound and simple explanation for the inexplicable.”6

Host (Cellular) Theory Philosophy

Béchamp’s view was that disease-causing germs were essentially altered microzymas… a term he gave to minute particles he considered to be the common stuff of all living things capable of adapting to changing conditions in the body.7 Quoted as saying, “The microzyma is at the beginning and end of all organization. It is the fundamental anatomical element whereby the cellules, the tissues, the organs, the whole of an organism are constituted,”8 Béchamp maintained that disease developed in the presence of an unhealthy environment caused by an unbalanced state in the body. He held that disease could not take hold without a preexisting weakness.9

As summarized and greatly simplified by author Walene James10—and ridiculed by Mark Crislip11 in Science-Based Medicine—Béchamp’s basic message was that:

  1. Disease arises from micro-organisms within the cells of the body.
  2. These intracellular microorganisms normally function to build and assist in the metabolic processes of the body.
  3. The function of these organisms changes to assist in the catabolic (disintegration) processes of the host organism when that organism dies or is injured, which may be chemical as well as mechanical.
  4. Microrganisms change their shapes and colours to reflect the medium.
  5. Every disease is associated with a particular condition.
  6. Microorganisms become “pathogenic” as the health of the host organism. deteriorates. Hence, the condition of the host organism is the primary causal agent.
  7. Disease is built by unhealthy conditions.
  8. To prevent disease we have to create health.

Among those who rejected germ theory, instead championing the influence of diet, climate, ventilation, hygiene and sanitation in causing disease were Florence Nightingale and Rudolf Virchow.

Rudolf Virchow, an early opponent of the germ theory of disease, believed that germs do not cause disease but instead gravitate to the diseased area as scavengers, to feed on and clean up the dead tissue caused by the pathogenic process. Virchow stated in his later years, “If I could live my life over again, I would devote it to proving that germs seek their natural habitat—diseased tissues—rather than causing disease.”12

Western Medicine Rules

Western medicine fiercely protects the germ theory of disease, scorning and dismissing Béchamp’s ideas out of hand. There is no doubt that much of what Béchamp was able to determine has been supplanted now by scientific resources unavailable to him at his time, but that can also be said of Pasteur’s theories. Such a narrow view of disease misses the gist of Béchamp’s teachings: the importance of supporting a strong internal defense system to ward off disease and attain true health rather than relying on drugs and vaccines as a sledgehammer to treat symptoms and attempt to destroy germs.

Many disease-causing microbes are normally present in the body and do not cause disease as a matter of course but are kept at bay in people who have healthy immune systems. Other infectious microbes can spread from person to person via water, air, insect bites or exposure to infected body fluids and have the potential to cause serious complications in an immune compromised host.


References:


1 A Brief Summary of Louis Pasteur’s Germ Theory of Disease. BiologyWise C 2018.
2 Pasteur vs. Bechamp: An Alternative View of Infectious Disease. Marone Family Wellness. (undated).
3 Olien, D. Pasteur Versus Béchamp: The History of Germ Theory. SuperLife July 22, 2016.
4 Bechamp A. The Third Element of the Blood. [out of print, excerpt from the book, published in 1912].
5 Louis Pasteur Vs Antoine Béchamp and The Germ Theory of Disease Causation. LaLeva.org. May 14, 2004.
6 
Ibid.
7 See Footnote 4.
8 
Young RO. Who Had Their Finger on the Magic of Life – Antoine Bechamp or Louis Pasteur? Int J Vaccines Vaccin Sept. 19, 2016.
9 
See Footnote 3.
10 James W. Germ Theories. Whale [Undated].
11 
Crislip M. “It’s Just a Theory”. Science-Based Medicine Nov. 7, 2008.
12 See Footnote 5.

5 Responses to Pasteur vs Béchamp: The Germ Theory Debate

  1. James Rieker Reply

    February 9, 2018 at 2:38 am

    L. Pasteur was a genius and saved many lives. He proved to science of his time that Spontaneous Generation did not exist but was caused by faulty experiments, proof that Germs and viruses can live with out oxygen.much more than finding the cure for why some wines were ruined and others were not saving millions of $$ for the wine and beer industry.

  2. elijah varga Reply

    February 8, 2018 at 3:13 am

    Man discovering those submicroscopic species naturally became curious and the more it looked the more was found only to enhance his curiosity.Theories were invented as a natural consequences of.So the two opposing theories between Pasteur and Béchamp.Money was pumped into Pasteur’s concept by mainly Rockefeller(as far as i know) seeing the good yield for rewarding in this investment.Thus this is still standing for our great peril.Science deliberately ignoring the role of microbes,viruses, fungi etc.Their role and purpose in creation.If these were not, we would not be here either.They are doing nature’s recycling of old ,sick dying matter into a new source of food for the next generation of emerging life in biology.I observe this wisdom as I watch a malnourished, sickling plant for instance, becoming very quickly a host for insects and fungi as that plant has no vitality to resist,or immunity to diseases.This is life, biology.Same should apply to animals and humans too.It is said that we are carrying more germs by number than cells in our bodies.They not harming us until there is vigorous life in us. We became malnourished than sick and these little hosts become to turn against us , fulfilling their role in creation to start to decompose the cells,ending life cycle in death.

  3. Edgar A. Lucidi, MD Reply

    February 7, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    Speaking from my experience as a former US Army physician, director of the Orthomolecular Medical Society established by Dr Linus Pauling, and over 40 years of holistic medical practice,I wholeheartedly agree with the microzyme version and not with the germ
    hypothesis that has been advocated by the followers of Pasteur and the pharmaceutical industry.

    Dr. Lucidi

    • Evelyn Reply

      February 8, 2018 at 9:54 pm

      Thank you for your input! Just wondering…are you a member of the Vitamin C and Orthomolecular Medicine for Optimal Health Facebook group? I know you would find many likeminded folks on it! Just FYI…(:

  4. ROBERT TRAVIS Reply

    February 7, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    They are both partially right. Diseases can be caused by micro-organisms but they can be defeated by the host immune system. The black plague in medieval times killed many people but 2/3 of Europe lived. Polio for most people expresses as cold type symptoms. Some people are NEVER SICK, my wife and my self included. She said she used to have several colds a year, now none for about 10—she went off dairy and wheat, the 2 most allergy causing foods in human diet. Lots of D3, 5-10,000 IU’s daily is most important, and other micro nutrients are also. Read my blog—drchiptravis.com

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