Legacies from Twentieth Century Medicine

One of the most remarkable discoveries stemming from my research on the Cancer Salves book is that medicine has had a varied and controversial history, at least in the West. I left school with the impression that science has overcome the superstitions of the past and is heading in a linear manner towards deeper and deeper levels of understanding and truth. In fact, it seems theories not only come and go, but any individual with insights that are ahead of their time will almost certainly not live long enough to witness the acceptance of his ideas.dot_clear.gif (46 bytes)

As we are perched on the New Millennium, I have been particularly reflective about where we have been and where we are going. In is evident to me that 20th Century medicine was dominated by the theories of Pasteur, a man whose integrity has continually come into question and who himself recanted on his deathbed, saying that Bechamp should have won the debates that made the Pasteur name famous. Bechamp had a theory of terrain whereas Pasteur focused on germs as causative rather than incidental to disease.

Regardless of which side of the debate one favors, we can probably agree that germs do exist and that some people succumb to them more easily than others. If so, we might also conclude that immunity is the more critical aspect of health, i.e. more important than the infectious organisms themselves because many people who are exposed to pathogens do not succumb to illness whereas the same microorganisms can be truly dangerous for those with weaker immunity.

Twentieth Century Research

Much of the research money in the last century went to development of vaccines and drugs to conquer infectious diseases, yet nearly all experts agree that most of the improvements in health and life expectancy that have occurred are attributable less to the conquest of disease than to improvements in public sanitation. Almost no progress has been made in the treatment of chronic disease. Worse, some of the strategies used to prevent the spread of infections have been flawed by bad science and unacceptable side effects.  In short, progress in the realm of preventative medicine has been checkered by scandals over everything from Thimerosol to Simian Virus 40. The story that has not received much publicity is the critical loss of immunity due to suppression of natural responses to infection.

Only towards the end of the century did the concepts of immunity, psychoneuroimmunology, and terrain begin to gather some attention.


Science is a very complex field with many areas of specialization; very few within the ranks of professionals have an overview of the total spectrum of health issues facing residents on this Planet. Even fewer understand the person as a unit, as a whole, as a totality of expression.


If we examine the consequences of 20th Century medicine, we will see that countless new vaccines and wonder drugs have been developed to counteract the effects of germs, but the microorganisms are proving themselves not merely resistant but capable of almost endless mutation to stay ahead of the attempts to reduce their virulence.

New antibiotics were created but they are failing to meet the expectations of the very persons who invented them. In reality, we could say that the alleged progress was mainly in the area of infectious diseases, acute conditions, and that precious little progress was made in the area of chronic diseases. Instead of healing the heart, patients undergo bypasses, pacemakers, transplants, and even the replacement of the heart with promising new devices. Likewise, instead of curing cancer, a battle is waged against the disease that is nearly as dangerous to the patient as the disease itself.

Billions of dollars later, we mare faced with scandals over dangerous preservatives and contaminants in vaccines, antibiotic resistant microorganisms, and very little progress in the treatment of chronic diseases. I would propose that part of the reason for the failure of the hooplala of the 20th Century to produce the results anticipated (and often promised) is that the body's immune system was not understood, appreciated, or even seriously studied.

Historically, diseases were discussed as acute or chronic.  Acute diseases were characterized by sudden onset; and they were usually infectious and attended by high fever.  Some acute diseases resulted in epidemics, such as the bubonic plague or even influenza. Fatalities were often great so fear of such conditions is not only understandable but more or less part of our human heritage.  Throughout the course of history, such diseases have been blamed on everything bad air (malaria) to human contact with animals to sin.  Rarely was there an attempt to evaluate individual susceptibility in terms of life style or natural immunity.  Consequently, there has not been any real study of the manner in which immune suppression affects immunity.  Immunizations and antibiotics as well as mercury (in vaccines and amalgam dental restorations)—not to mention chlorine and fluorides in water and devitalized food—all suppress the functioning of the immune system.

Without the ability to throw off acute diseases, people are more vulnerable to the development of chronic conditions.  This easily explains the typical perception of cancer patients that they are healthy because they never have colds or fevers and they never missed a day of school or work.   Unfortunately, the very basis on which the assumption of good health was predicated is flawed by the fact that the dramatic responses to infection are normal and natural.  Therefore, their absence is suspicious and most likely attributable to a suppression of immune response rather than good health.

When I try to imagine how the twentieth century will be regarded by future critics and historians, I am certain that it will not be seen as enlightened, not politically illumined, not possessed of remarkable scientic prowess or creativity, and not even in touch with Nature enough to recognize our all important interrelationship with other lives and the effect these lives have on our survival.

Where medicine itself is concerned, I will grant that while progress has been made in certain diagnostic and surgical procedures, some operations, like the radical mastectomy are practically as barbarous as in 1895 when the Halsted procedure was first performed. It will probably take several generations to evaluate the place in history of twentieth century medicine. My assumption is that it will be regarded as pseudoscientific and rife with all manner of academic and industrial fraud.

In the meantime, survival of the fittest is no longer as much a matter of brawn as insight and awareness. One of the first steps towards enhanced health is to accept that the body has evolved over countless millennia and has forged natural responses to natural threats.  None of us have had time to develop resilience in the face of nuclear disaster or catastrophes due to global warming or depleted uranium.  Likewise, we have limited ability to deal with other manmade and iatrogenic problems such as pollution and contaminants in our food, water, and medicine. However, we all have the ability to insulate and protect ourselves as much as possible by making wise life style choices and using food and herbs to boost our immunity.

DNA and Cancer





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