By William Miller
Summary: In this 1955 article from Health Culture magazine, Miller revives the Pasteur–Bechamp debate, or, as he calls it, “one of the greatest though little known controversies in the history of science.” In the late 1800s, Louis Pasteur proposed that specific “bad” microbes, or germs, cause infectious disease. His colleague biochemist Pierre Bechamp thought “infection” had more to do with the environment within the host organism than with specific microorganisms. Miller says that Bechamp might have been right after all, citing observations made using Royal Rife’s famous Universal Microscope, which appeared to show species of microbes morphing into other species depending on the chemical nature of their environment. (For more on Rife and his work, see “The Rife Microscope, or ‘Facts and Their Fate.’“) From Health Culture, 1955. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 77.
[The following is a transcription of the original Archives document. To view or download the original document, click here.]
Germs: Cause of Disease?
The Super-Microscope Now Suggests That Good Nutrition and Elimination Are the Best Protection Against “Germ” Infections
Since the days of Pasteur, the germ theory of disease has dominated medical thinking and practices. Believing that for every disease there is a specific type of germ, bacteriologists and other research scientists have been devoted to endless quests to discover and isolate specific germs, viruses, and other microorganisms that cause specific diseases. As a result they have found untold thousands of different kinds of germs—so many it is impossible to classify and enumerate them all. Undoubtedly, there are thousands and thousands more they have not discovered.
With the advent of Pasteur’s theories, an immense industry for the manufacture of drugs, serums, antitoxins, vaccines, and germ killers of all descriptions came into existence. The fear of germs also became a phobia with many people, a phobia that haunts them every minute of their lives. They scrub, scour, and disinfect like mad, until their homes smell like hospitals. A bit of dust can drive them into states of fear that in turn lead to a state of nervous exhaustion that, also in turn, leaves them more susceptible to germs and disease. So it becomes a vicious circle.
However, with the discovery of vitamins and the rise of nutritional practices, the germ theory has weakened somewhat, though it is still very strong. Now the theory leads to thinking that good, sound nutrition builds up a resistance against germs, and they cannot find a foothold in the systems of healthy, well-nourished people.
Germ Theory Doubted
But among more independent scientists, there is a growing skepticism of the germ theory of disease, which postulates that virulent germs exist in fixed and unchanging forms, and when they invade the body, they cause disease. This theory now demands modification thanks to the invention of the electronic microscopes and other types [of scopes] with focusing powers far beyond anything ever before available. Magnifications of 150,000 times, now possible with ultra power microscopes, permit observations never before possible.
These observations have disclosed that there is no conceivable limit to the different kinds, sizes, and shapes of germs; but most importantly it has been discovered that germs have no fixed forms and can be put through many transformations. This naturally weakens the germ theory of disease.
Another consideration is the fact that disease germs are found only where there is disease. They cannot be found in a healthy environment but only where there is decay or toxic elements.
The new microscopes permit observing the transformations in size, shape, and character of microorganisms, and these changes in structure and character are shown to be related to the alterations in the nutriments and cultures in which they are grown. Data also points to the conclusion that there are really only a limited number of basic microorganisms—probably about ten or twenty—but there is no limit to the alterations that can be made in them.
The importance of these findings cannot be exaggerated. Eventually they must work to completely modify the germ theory of disease. This in turn will affect every branch of medicine and lead to new practices in hygiene, disease prevention, and health culture. It behooves the intelligent and progressive-minded layman to watch these developments with the greatest interest.
The gist of these discoveries will be outlined in this article, but those readers interested in the bacteriology, biochemistry, or physics of the principles involved may find it worthwhile to send for Reprint No. 47, “The Rife Microscope or Facts and Their Fate,” published by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research. This reprint also contains an extremely technical article published in the Journal of the Franklin Institute, “The New Microscopes,” which contains the technical data.
The Bechamp-Pasteur Controversy
According to the Lee Foundation, the vital information that germs are not immutable forms has been either suppressed or ignored by powerful interests. Changes in the germ theory would involve incalculable changes in modern pharmaceutical practices, entailing possible commercial losses in investments and equipment, all based on following the Pasteur theories. Curiously, this revision of the germ theory goes back to one of the greatest though little known controversies in the history of science, that between Pasteur and Professor Pierre Bechamp.
Anyone interested in this highly important struggle over ideas should read the book Bechamp or Pasteur? A Lost Chapter in the History of Biology by English author Ethel Douglas Hume. This fascinating work reveals how Pasteur—who was an authoritative, headstrong individual and extremely ambitious—appropriated Bechamp’s ideas, often without acknowledgment.
Mrs. Hume contends Bechamp was a far abler scientist than Pasteur, which may have aroused [the latter’s] enmity. Bechamp was a biochemist and a physician, whereas Pasteur was only a chemist. Bechamp, a tireless worker whose skill with the microscope was reputed to be phenomenal, lived to over ninety and worked almost to the last day of his life.
Bechamp’s Microzyma Theory
The Bechamp-Pasteur controversy now assumes greater significance because the new microscopes confirm the possibility that Bechamp was brilliantly correct in his theories of the “microzymas.” These, he believed, were the basic and indestructible forms of life—the elements that constructed cells and all forms of life.
He based his theory on several experiments in which he put the bodies of animals into sealed containers and then allowed them to decompose completely over a period of six or seven years. In each case, when there was not a shred of tissue or flesh left, Professor Bechamp demonstrated that only minute life forms, which he called microzymas, remained.
These, he said, would never disappear and only needed new material to construct new forms of life. He also demonstrated that he could find these microzymas deep in coal mines, attached to deposits that had been buried as long as 250 million years, during which time they remained completely inert. Yet when put under the microscope, they immediately displayed signs of life and motility.
Because of Pasteur’s ascendency—his greater publicity and influence—Professor Bechamp’s ideas never were accorded recognition except by loyal students and a few discerning scientists. Eventually his theory of the microzymas was integrated into the discovery of the chromosomes, but the larger application of his ideas was overlooked for a long time.
Yet the theory that life is based on some elementary form of energy, probably atomic energy, is certainly logical. While the outer forms of life may take many different shapes in animals, insects, and microorganisms, the basic material is the same for all. This is the possibility that the new, ultra powerful microscopes may prove, thus substantiating Bechamp’s brilliant ideas.
Dr. Rosenow’s Experiment
As far back as 1915, Dr. E.C. Rosenow, of the Mayo Clinic, was on that track. He demonstrated transmutations within germs of the pneumonia group. He took disease strains from many different sources, such as puerperal sepsis, arthritis, tonsillitis, and cow’s milk, and put them into one culture of a uniform media. After a while, there was no difference between the germs; they became all one class. Dr. Rosenow therefore concluded that there is no particularly fixed species of different germs and they all have the capacity to change their structure with changes in their nutriments.
Even at that time Dr. Rosenow believed his findings would have important repercussions in bacteriology, epidemiology, and medicine because they pointed to the possibility that diseased bodies transform germs into virulent forms, instead of the other way around. The new approach of healing disease would concentrate on finding the sources of [transformation and] infection, and he wrote:
“It would seem, therefore, that focal infections are no longer to be looked upon merely as a place of entrance of bacteria but as a place where conditions are favorable for them to acquire the properties that give them a wide range of affinities for various structures.”
The truth of that idea has been demonstrated in countless instances in sanitary practices. When typhoid fever was discovered to come with contaminated water, pure water quickly eliminated typhoid. The same is true of puerperal fever, which killed so many women in childbirth. Though [Dr. Ignaz] Semmelweis had a hard time convincing physicians they were spreading the disease with their contaminated hands and instruments, puerperal fever was eliminated as soon as such sources of infection were removed.
In recent years Dr. Rosenow’s researches have been duplicated by Dr. Rife, inventor of the Universal Microscope. His researches proved again that alterations in the media in which germ cultures were grown produced very significant changes in the character of the germs and could transform virulent forms into beneficial or harmless forms. The same was found true in germs taken from experimental animals. Changes in metabolism appeared to work corresponding changes in the germs infecting these animals. When the metabolism improved, the germs lost their virulence; with a lowered metabolism, the germs became more deadly.
Germs Lose Their Identity
Experiments were carried out that involved many changes in media. To each the germs responded with changes in structure and morphology. This [procedure] was carried out many times, until the germs produced were impossible to identify and would not respond to standard laboratory tests. In other words, the experimenters would create new forms of life.
Since our intestinal tracts are known to nourish various beneficial forms of bacilli, they are liable to become disease bearers if there is a marked change in body metabolism. This has been proven in the Rife experiments by taking a pure culture of a colon bacillus and transforming it into a typhoid germ by changing the culture by as little as four parts to a million.
It was also shown that the virus of cancer, like the viruses of other diseases, could be put through a series of four changes. The first enlarged the virus, and the second enlarged it more, but the third transformed it into a fungus identical to that of the orchid and mushroom. A fourth change in the media brought the most marvelous result of all—a change to the well known Bacillus coli. These changes could naturally also be reversed back to the cancer virus, which leaves some grounds for serious thinking.
A Thought-Provoking Conclusion
What does this mean to you and me and our health? As the Lee Foundation circular implies, first, it calls for scrapping the germ theory of disease. It is not the bacteria that produce diseases but the chemical constituents of these microorganisms—working on the unbalanced cell metabolism of the human body—that actually produce the disease. Therefore, if the metabolism of the body is perfectly balanced or poised, then disease cannot enter.
In other words, the human body itself is chemical in nature, being composed of the many chemical elements that provide the media upon which the wealth of bacteria normally present in the human system feed. These bacteria are able to reproduce. They too are composed of chemicals.
Therefore, if the media upon which they feed—that is, the chemicals produced by the human body—become changed from the normal, then it stands to reason that these same bacteria will also undergo corresponding changes. When the bacteria feed upon something that is not normal to them, or when they become supplied with too little or too much of what they need to maintain a normal existence, they will emerge as a new form. Thus a normal inhabitant of the body can be transformed into a virulent parasite.
Now, while the scientific principles on which these experiments were based may be extremely complicated, their practical effects are very evident. It means, for example, that a sluggish elimination can accumulate toxic materials in the human system and poison our internal bacilli, and they then turn on us, pouring out toxins of their own. It also means that when we ingest foods that are too [calorically] concentrated, such as starches, devitalized flour, or sugar, these poor media can cause changes in metabolism and corresponding changes in bacteria.
The most important conclusion resulting from Dr. Rosenow’s and other similar experiments is that the germ theory is false and misleading. Germs can only be related to the kind of environment in which they live. A typhoid environment breeds typhoid germs, a cancer environment breeds cancer viruses, and so on. All the efforts to kill germs—the use of serums, vaccines, and wonder drugs of all kinds—are therefore useless unless there is also instituted measures to restore the body metabolism and eliminate the conditions that breed disease germs.
Essentially these are the ideas that nutritionists and hygienists—men like Drs. Alsaker, Royal Lee, Norman, McCarrison, Mellanby, Albrecht, Price, and many others—have been advocating for many years. The revision of the germ theory will not call for any revision of their ideas but will serve to fortify their truths.
Unfortunately, where accepting such a new approach to the concept of disease requires the scrapping of many old ideas, there is usually great resistance. The tragic example of Semmelweis is proof of that. It took almost a hundred years before the medical profession was willing to accept the truth of his observation that doctors were themselves contaminating women in childbirth with puerperal fever.
However, in this age of widespread education, the intelligent layman’s interest in preserving and maintaining his bodily health and vigor need not wait for the diehards of the medical profession to get around to changing their theories. By realizing that beneficial forms of microorganisms can become dangerous and that virulent forms can be tamed, a layman need not be burdened with a germ phobia and live in dread of them. Maintaining a good state of metabolism through good nutrition and elimination is the best and only protection he needs against germs.
By William Miller. Reprinted from Health Culture, June 1955, by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research.[Note from the Lee Foundation:] For additional information on this subject, we recommend the following literature, which is available from the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research, 2023 West Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee 3, Wisconsin. [Address preserved for historical purposes only; follow links for digital versions of references:]
- Protomorphology by Royal Lee and William Hansen
- The New Microscopes by Seidel and Winter (“The Rife Microscope, or ‘Facts and Their Fate,’” Reprint No. 47)
- Critical Review: “The Protective Ferments of the Body” by R.L. Mackenzie Wallis from The Quarterly Journal of Medicine
Reprint No. 77
Reprinted by Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201
Note: Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research is a nonprofit, public-service institution, chartered to investigate and disseminate nutritional information. The attached publication is not literature or labeling for any product, nor shall it be employed as such by anyone. In accordance with the right of freedom of the press guaranteed to the Foundation by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the attached publication is issued and distributed for informational purposes.