In part my statement, “I don’t believe in the germ theory of disease” is meant to be provocative for my position is somewhat, err, nuanced. Consider the following to points:

  • 100 people are all exposed to a serious pathogen. Five get sick.
  • A number of you at work have a stressful situation at work, requiring serious overtime. For a week or so, along with the stress, you all work long hours and average four or less hours sleep at night. Many get come down with illnesses toward the end and after this time. This is unsurprising.

The problem with the germ theory of disease is the notion that germs cause disease. Germs do not cause disease. Germs are virtually omnipresent. Clean rooms however show that germs, when not present cannot cause disease. That is germs are a necessary condition for disease … and because of their omnipresence, when the real cause of disease occurs … people ordinarily get sick.

The real cause of disease is the failure of your immune system to prevent illness. There are a lot of reasons for that. Mental state, mental and physical stress levels, nutrition all enter in to keeping or failing to keep your immune system working as it should. Recently, I’ve been involved in a discussion in which notions of witchcraft were discounted as relevant in combating disease. However, if we put together realization that there exist communities in which witchcraft is given credence and that mental stress and state contribute to the effectiveness of the immune system one must conclude that witchcraft as a cause of disease, makes perfect sense.

Oddly enough we tend to ignore our immune system. Regarding physical and mental fitness, we have regimens and advice on how to increase, measure, and keep our mental and physical faculties at tip top condition. An athlete can measure his performance metrics precisely. Cyclists for example, can measure and track VO2MAX, watts/kg, and peak wattage to track and estimate his progress and current fitness. In a few months in the NFL, as another example, will migrate to Indianapolis to put draft prospects through a battery of tests to test fitness to succeed in the football arena. However doctors have no such metrics to measure the fitness of someone’s immune system. There are no “training regimens” to exercise and get your immune system working at optimal levels. In part that is because of the popularity of the “germ theory” of disease. If that catchphrase were replaced by the “immune system breakdown” theory of disease (that is the one to which I subscribe) then one would expect research priorities to be realigned.

Filed under: EducationMark O.Medicine

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