By Herbert Shelton, 1928

Germs are ubiquitous. They are in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink. We cannot escape them. We can destroy them only to a limited extent.

It is folly to attempt to escape disease by attempting to destroy or escape germs. Once they are in the body the physician has no means of destroying them that will not, at the same time, destroy the patient. We cannot avoid germs. We must be proof against them. We have to accept them as one of the joys of life, and if they are really causes of disease, we can avoid disease only by keeping ourselves in such a high state of health that they are powerless against us.

It is not yet definitely proven that germs are essential elements in the production of any disease. It seems probable that they are only incidental and perhaps beneficial factors. However, this much is certain; whatever part they perform in the production of disease, germs alone can no more produce disease than a seed alone can produce a tree. Just as a seed must have fertile soil, moisture, warmth, air and sunlight, if it is to grow into a tree, so the germ, if it is to produce disease, must find certain essential conditions existing in the bodies of those it enters before it can do the slightest harm. If the body is normal, if it has an abundance of nerve force, if its blood stream is pure, if there is prompt and vigorous action of all its essential organs, no germs coming in contact with it can grow and multiply. Good health is proof against germs of all kinds.

There is a class of individuals to which the medical profession and the bacteriologists have fastened the term “carrier.” This is an individual who carries around on or in his person the germs of some disease. Every epidemic, we are told, develops a number of such cases. But these people, while they are accused of harboring so many of the deadly germs and of spreading the disease wherever they go, themselves do not have the disease. “Typhoid Mary” is still fresh in the memory of many of us. These “carriers” when found, are isolated, quarantined, kept away from family, friends and work and forced to undergo many hardships. Why do not these people develop the disease they are said to be spreading among others, if the mucous membranes are especially susceptible to such germs? Why if not for the reason that these membranes are susceptible to bacterial invasion only under certain conditions? Medical men say they are immune but upon what does this immunity depend?

All the standard works on bacteriology state that a person may have germs of diphtheria, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, pneumonia or any other disease within his body, that is, in his mouth, throat, air passages, stomach and intestines, without having the disease these germs are supposed to cause. Why do not these germs produce disease? Isn’t it obvious, that, whatever their part in the production of disease, they alone cannot produce disease?

Medical men and bacteriologists are practically a unit in declaring that germs cannot secure a foothold in a healthy body, but that a “nidus” or “suitable soil” is essential to their genesis. They do no harm in a body that is in a normally healthy condition. If germs cause disease why don’t they produce disease in a healthy body? Why must the body already be diseased and its resistance low before they can produce disease?

If there is a natural immunity to germs as the above facts and many more easily show, if germs are powerless against a healthy body, then, is not the logical preventive procedure that of finding out the factors upon which immunizing health depends and cultivate these? The cultivation of health as a defense against disease is far more sensible than the mad-house effort to immunize everyone with serums and vaccines.

The natural antiseptics of the body are found within the body itself when it is not impaired, and it is maintained in a normal state by the proper use of those eternal elements of hygiene

  • sun,
  • air,
  • water,
  • proper food,
  • muscular exercise, etc.

Investigations in the bacteriological laboratory throw no light on the conditions in the body which permit the germs to grow or which prevent them from growing. They tell us of a few germs which, it is claimed, are the active agents in disease but they tell us nothing of the conditions which permit these agents to become active. They grow in those conditions and only in those conditions of life which give rise to such complaints as indigestion, catarrh, etc.

The view I would put before the reader is that disease is caused, not by the germ, but by the state of the body that allows the germ to flourish. And this condition of the organism or any part of it which renders possible the growth of the germ thercin is the much sought for “filterable virus.” It is the outgrowth of violations of the laws of life and is no chance or haphazard condition.

We also favor the view so long stressed by Dr. Tilden, and now made feasible by the knowledge of the transmutability of the various forms of germs, that the disease condition present determines the morphology of the germ and not vice versa. The germ takes on a form and character in keeping with its environment; – environment does not change to conform to the germ.

It is admitted that the body is built to offer very powerful resistance to the entrance of germs.

  • The skin is, if unbroken, impermeable by them.
  • The internal skin, or mucous membrane lining all the cavities of the body which communicate either directly or indirectly with the outside world, if unbroken, is invulnerable to them.
  • The normal secretions of these membranes are germicidal.
  • There is no susceptibility on the part of any healthy organ, to bacterial injury.
    It is obvious that, living in a world swarming with microbes, if these cause disease, man must have powerful resistance to them, else he would have perished long ago.EXPERIMENTS
    In Physical Culture for May 1919 is an article by John B. Fraser, M.D., G.M., entitled “Do Germs Cause Disease?”giving an account of some experiments in this connection carried out in Toronto during the period between 1911 and 1918. He says:“In an earnest endeavor to determine whether germs are dangerous, Toronto has taken an honorable part. In solving this question the first three years, 1911-12-13, was spent in studying a single point, viz. When does the germ appear?‘ The verdict was after the onset of disease; and this fact led to the supposition that germs were simply a by-product of disease, and possibly harmless.
    “In 1914 a small group of citizens undertook to prove the latter point by adopting Hunter’s method of direct action, viz., incorporating fresh vigorous germs in food and drink and then using that food in the ordinary way. …

    “The first experiment made was taking fifty thousand diphtheria germs in water, and after a few days suspense and no sign of the disease it was considered that the danger had passed. The reason for choosing diphtheria germs for the first experiment was that in aconite, we had an especially reliable remedy for aborting the disease, providing it showed signs of developing.
    In the second experiment, one hundred and fifty thousand diphtheria germs were used in milk, and again no signs of diphtheria appeared.
    In the third experiment, over one million diphtheria germs were used in food without producing any sign of the disease. …

    “Another series of experiments were carried out with typhoid germs, especial care being taken to infect distilled water, natural milk (not pasturized); bread, meat, fish, potatoes, etc., etc., with millions of the most vigorous germs that could be incubated, and but for the knowledge that they had been taken, one would have known nothing about it.

    “Another series of tests were made with the dreaded meningitis germs, and as the germs are believed to develop mainly in the mucous membranes of the nostrils, especial pains were taken to swab millions of the germs over the floor and sides of the nostrils, into the turbinated sinuses, over the tonsils, under the tongue, and back of the throat. In addition to these tests other tests were made in food and drink—millions of germs in each case, and yet no trace of the disease appeared.

    “The experiments with the tuberculosis germs were carried out in a different way – more time was given between the experiments so as to allow the germs to develop; for clinical evidence has shown that this disease may remain latent, or imperfectly developed for months. Consequently it meant months of watching and waiting before one could be positive that the germs would not develop.

    “Here again millions of germs were used in water, milk, and food of various kinds; every facility was given for the germs to develop as far as time and virility, numbers, and variety of food and drink was concerned; and as almost five years have elapsed since the experiment with T. B. began and no evidence of the disease has appeared I think we are justified in the belief that the germs are harmless. In addition to those experiments combinations of germs were used, such as typhoid and pneumonia, meningitis and typhoid, pneumonia and diphtheria, etc., etc., but no evidence of disease followed.

    “During the years 1914-15-16-17-18 over one hundred and fifty experiments were carried out carefuly and scientifically and yet absolutely no signs of disease followed.”

    from H.M. Shelton – Human Life Its Philosophies and Laws, 1928
    “Germs are ubiquitous. They are in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink. We cannot escape them.”