The medical science of Pasteur and Bechamp

Laboratory(109988)Credit: User:clarita / morgueFile

How the Germ Theory altered medical studies

While modern medicine continues to grow in complexity, through experimental research, advanced technologies and new pharmaceutical drugs, it is clear to see that its roots remain bound to a simple theory that originated more than one century ago.

Known as the Germ Theory, it was promoted in the latter part of the 1800s by Louis Pasteur. A trained chemist of French nationality, he reasoned that germs (ie micro-organisms) cause disease – more specifically, that a particular germ is responsible for each separate disease experienced by human and/or animal populations. Reaching this conclusion via his findings from experiments he conducted, he resolved to develop vaccines to fight disease.

In discussing this topic, it is important to acknowledge a second key figure of the period – Antoine Béchamp – and how each of these men related to the Germ Theory.

Antoine Béchamp / Louis PasteurCredit: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Louis Pasteur

Born on 27 December 1822, Louis Pasteur was well known for his talents in biology and chemistry, and his public ambitions. During his studies into the fermentation of beer and wine, he achieved success in developing the technique of pasteurization (or heat treatment) as a way to preserve food products that would otherwise spoil, ie milk. 

It was during this research in the 1850s, that Pasteur became curious about the nature and interaction of different micro-organisms, and decided to analyze them more closely for possible links to infectious diseases.

By 1857, he was Director of Scientific Studies at Ecole Normale in Paris where, through his research, he gained an in-depth understanding of the many aspects of bacteria and how they grew. “Pasteur’s research programme, probing the specific action of germs, blossomed into some of his most spectacular demonstrations of the relationships between germs, putrefaction and disease.” (Gosling, p. 3)

Pasteur received much recognition for his research and public vaccinations of animals as proof of curing specific diseases, such as anthrax in 1881. It was later found, in some cases, he had copied the work of other scientists, taking credit for ideas that weren’t his own, such as his fermentation studies which included ideas already developed by French biologist, Antoine Béchamp.

Antoine Béchamp

When it came to studying disease, Béchamp (1816-1908) took a different approach to Pasteur and believed “in the spontaneous development of micro-organisms in cells from material called mycrozymas. These minute particles were able, Béchamp maintained, under appropriate conditions to develop into viral and bacterial entities.” (Chaitow, p. 16). 

Germs, as Antoine Béchamp proposed, were not found in the outer environment but within the body and were the result of disease, not the cause. As explained, “whether such bacteria/viruses find their way into the body (via infection or immunization procedures) and then become latent, or whether they are formed from basic genetic material, it seems obvious that vaccination/immunization has little prospect of controlling ultimate chronic disease processes which may result. It is the status of the host which is critical in this regard.” (Chaitow, p. 133)

Other causes of disease

It is wise to assume when a person insists on keeping well, not only physically but emotionally and mentally, and values sound nutrition, exercise and rest on a daily basis, then strong and resilient health will comes naturally.

There can, however, be a number of variables associated with the health of a person and their response to disease, including genetic inheritance and environment. The idea that protection against disease solely depends on a vaccine (and/or booster shots) given by a doctor is, in my opinion, very limited in perspective.

Diseases have other points of origination, as in the case of scurvy. “In the latter part of the nineteenth century, the development and general acceptance of the germ theory of disease caused a setback in medical thinking about scurvy. Researchers were deflected from seeking a dietary origin and instead searched for a micro-organism – or a toxin produced by a micro-organism – that caused the disease . . . scurvy research was badly sidetracked for some 30 years into seeking a bacterial origin for the disease.” (Beck, p. 72-73) 

The cure for scurvy was eventually found to be Vitamin C – a nutrient naturally occurring in food sources like citrus fruit, such as oranges, limes and lemons.

Freshly cut orangeCredit: User:chamomile / morgueFile

The role of the microscope

The staying power of the Germ Theory in modern medicine has been closely related to the development of the microscope. Through the science of bacteriology, the microscope has provided humanity with increased knowledge of micro-organisms and their physical existence in our world, from their symbiotic behaviors to the fermentation and rotting of matter.

The Rife microscope was invented in 1929 by Royal Raymond Rife (1888-1971), whose “main goal was to find cures for disease, especially the most intractable of all diseases, cancer.” (Bird, 1976). This microscope was remarkable for its size and ability to highly magnify living organisms, including viruses and cancer.

Such developments in the microscope have confined medical science to the micro-reality of
the laboratory, where external everyday life is excluded. "The unfortunate emphasis on the importance of the micro-organism as the prime factor, rather than realization that its ability to do harm hinges on the health or otherwise of the host, has led to a shedding of individual responsibility of health maintenance.” (Chaitow, p. 19)

Microscope(109909)Credit: User:clarita / morgueFile


The Germ Theory has a narrow vision of what causes disease, leaving those who work in modern medicine and science with only a very small picture of what the wider, expansive world contains. Likely now an out-dated mode of thought, it no longer holds the same relevancy it once might have had.

In current times, it is possible to see a turning towards more holistic modes of being, and a need for healthy immunity along more natural lines. As many more alternative health therapies become available in the community, it is time for medicine to change and evolve into something bigger than its past, and empower people to be self-responsible in their health.

A theory, such as the Germ Theory, that arose out the panic and hysteria of 19th Century epidemics, no longer has a place in a world where a true connection between health, self and planet is just beginning.