Louis Pasteur 1822 – 1895
June 19, 2008
Louis Pasteur 1822 – 1895 was a French chemist and microbiologist best known for his remarkable breakthroughs in the causes and prevention of disease.
“The microbe is nothing. The terrain is everything.” Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) is purported to have made this statement on his deathbed. The origin of the quote is attributed to Claude Bernard (1813-1878), a physiologist and contemporary of Pasteur. By quoting Bernard, Pasteur was recanting his germ theory, a theory that assigned the cause of disease to microbes invading and reeking havoc on the body, with specific germs causing specific diseases (Stockton, S. (2000). The terrain is everything: Contextual factors that influence our health. Clearwater, Fl. Power of One Publishing).
The claim that Louis Pasteur ‘borrowed’ his groundbreaking ideas from homeopathy is not new. It was made at the time by homeopaths who criticized him for taking certain parts of their method and then misapplying them, and by allopaths who vituperously attacked him for ‘being a homeopath’ and who called him ’Paracelsus II’.
Harris Livermore Coulter page 44: In 1880, Pasteur published his articles on chicken cholera, and he discusses the variability in the virulence of infectious diseases. He suggests that virus’ can be weakened or ‘attenuated’, somehow, and he notes how ‘attenuated’ microbes simply renders his chickens sick, and when they are recovered, they are ‘preserved from further infection’.
Pasteur applied ‘attenuation’ extensively to vaccine production, but passing his virus’ through a series of cultures and exposing them to the air at each stage.
Harris Livermore Coulter page 46: In 1885, he extended this ‘attenuation’ process to treat rabies in rabbits. He finally acknowledged that a microbial species ‘could invest itself with such different characteristics as to become unrecognisably different from its original form’.
Harris Livermore Coulter page 48-9: ‘The significance of ‘attenuation’ for the emergence of bacteriology and immunology can hardly be over estimated. Whence did Pasteur derive this concept?’
Harris Livermore Coulter page 49-50: John Hunter 1728 - 1793, stated that the ‘morbific principle’ of disease resides in the pus and other secretions which it produces. He concluded that every disease is specific; that every disease is of the whole person, such that two different diseases cannot co-exist in the same individual; and that medicines act by their ‘stimulating’ power on the organism, not by producing evacuations of by neutralising toxins.
Harris Livermore Coulter page 21: Discussing the Cholera epidemic of 1831 - 1832, Samuel Hahnemann postulated that the ‘contagious matter of the Cholera most probably consists… of an enormous brood of… excessively minute, invisible, living creatures’.
Harris Livermore Coulter page 51: Samuel Hahnemann, John Hunter and his friend and mentor Edward Jenner, Joseph Alexandre Auzias Turenne 1812 - 1870 and Casimir Sperino were all influences on Pasteur, and they all published their ideas before Pasteur’s 1878 publications. They all defined the disease ‘virus’ and described its characteristics and also its behaviour in a host organism. Specifically, Casimir Sperino described how a virus changes depending on the ‘terrain’ of the host. Joseph Alexandre Auzias Turenne described that virus’ ‘differ in force and intensity’, that cold ‘attenuates’ the Cholera virus, and that virus’ degenerate or modulate their forms and weaken and vary their modalities.
Harris Livermore Coulter page 52: Pasteur initially mentions ‘attenuations’ in 1880, refusing to explain his method or to name the source of his ideas ‘despite exhortations from his colleagues and from the Academy of Medicine’, he refused to give further details.
Harris Livermore Coulter page 53: This caused a ‘scandal’ and Pasteur drafted a letter of resignation which was never sent. In October 1880 Jules Guerin, aged 79, ‘tried to assault Pasteur physically at a convention’ and the meting was ‘adjourned in tumult’. The next day Jules Guerin ‘challenged Pasteur to a duel’.
Pasteur was forced to offer that his ‘attenuation’ was performed by exposing the cultures to the ambient air, but he refused to elaborate further, even when Joseph Lister asked him for an explanation, and Robert Koch argued that ‘…anyone expecting to be accepted in the scientific community must publish his methods’.
Emile Duclaux claimed that the ‘attenuation discovery’ was an accidental discovery in 1879, when Pasteur returned to his laboratory after the summer vacation to find that most of the Cholera cultures had died, but Pasteur decided to inject these dead cultures into chickens anyway. These chickens were then subsequently injected with fresh virulent culture and some of them actually recovered.
However, when Pasteur then injected new chickens brought from the market place and not previously injected with ‘dead culture’, they all succumbed and died. Thus it was proved that the ‘dead cultures’ were indeed most ‘active’.
Harris Livermore Coulter page 54: Post 1979 research from Pasteur’s laboratory manuals actually show that Pierre Paul Emile Roux 1853 - 1933 discovered how to ‘attenuate’ bacterial cultures by exposing them to air by deliberately testing this technique, thus disproving Pasteur’s ‘lucky chance’.
The question remains. Why did Pasteur conceal the circumstances surrounding ‘attenuation’ and expose himself to such hostility and charges of unethical behaviour? Why insist it was due to chance? Why was such an elaborate myth concocted after Pasteur’s death? And why did Pierre Paul Emile Roux never write his own memoirs, and why did Charles Nicolle claim this was a deliberate decision by Pierre Paul Emile Roux?
Harris Livermore Coulter page 55: Harris Livermore Coulter believes this mystery can be explained easily enough. ‘Attenuation’ was inspired by and ‘borrowed’ from homeopathy. Pasteur and Pierre Paul Emile Roux could not disclose too much for fear of accusations of heresy and disclosing the influence of such ‘untouchables’.
Harris Livermore Coulter page 56: ’Attenuating’ morbific substances was a standard homeopathic procedure in use for decades at this time, and it was accomplished by serial dilution. The very word ‘attenuation’ was a homeopathic term, widely known at the time. ‘Pasteur and Pierre Paul Emile Roux did not heed any ‘secret instinct’, any ‘spirit of divination’ any ‘incesant ponderings’ or even a ‘faculty of imagination’.
They had only to peer out of the window of the laboratory on Rue d’Ulm and observe the homeopath down the street, which is undoubtedly what they did’.
The ’hair of the dog’ has been part of Western Medical folk tradition for centuries, and its practices were already widely known and practiced, for small pox inoculation (introduced into England in 1721 by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu), swine typhus in 1820 by French and German farmers, bubonic plague in Constantinople in 1835 (many other examples are quoted by Harris Livermore Coulter page 56).
In 1837, Constantine Hering published his findings, one of the first publications of the emerging American homeopathic movement, and it included several venomous snake remedies. This work was closely followed by provings of many poisonous spider, toad, insect and snake remedies used isopathically to treat bits and stings, and also to treat states of disease to which they were homeopathic.
Harris Livermore Coulter page 57: Constantine Hering’s work with venoms suggested to homeopaths that these remedies could be used as ‘vaccinations’, but they would be much safer, properly prepared by trituration in view of the sometimes terrible consequences seen with existing vaccination procedures.
Constantine Hering concluded that small pox scabs could be prepared homeopathically, and that other morbific matter of other diseases could be prepared homeopathically to treat corresponding disease condtions, and in 1833, Constantine Hering believed ‘the plague and anthrax would cease to be terrifying…’
Harris Livermore Coulter page 58: Cholera patients should swallow the matters they ejected, potentised; and yellow fever patients should be treated in like manner, the scales of scarlatina convalescents should be used as a prophylactic… and the typhus patients should have milk sugar laid on their skin to catch the typhus virus, which could then be used as an anti typhus remedy…
Constantine Hering suggested the first homeopathic nosode in 1831, psorinum, from scabies, and in 1833 he published his article on this fundamental remedy, still very much in use today by modern homeopaths.
The Viennese homeopath Johann Emanuel Veith advocated ‘autopsorin’ to avoid conveying the donor’s other possible diseases to the recipient, thus Johann Emanuel Veith and Constantine Hering become the forerunners of our modern ’autogenous vaccines‘.
Harris Livermore Coulter page 59: Through homeopathy, Isopathy opened up an ‘unimaginably vast field to therapeutic research’, and through Isopathy, homeopathy exploded as John Ernst Stapf wrote in 1834 ‘The discovery of the effectiveness of contagious substances against the diseases which produce them is one of the most important discoveries to be noted since the birth of our method’.
Johan Joseph Wilhelm Lux wrote in 1833 ‘If we potentize every contagium and use it in the same way as a homeopathic medicine, we shall be able to heal all these diseases’. In 1830 Constantine Hering potentized anthrax = anthracinum, and in 1830 Constantine Hering potentized rabies - hydrophobium. Measles - morbillinum followed in 1834 and 1835 Pierre Dufresne and George Adolph Weber in 1836 were treating anthrax successfully in people and in cattle and sheep.
Harris Livermore Coulter page 60: The allopaths of course, reacted with horror but could only watch in frustrated impotence as they homeopaths raced ahead.
Harris Livermore Coulter page 65: The allopaths of course, reacted with outrage, accusing homeopathy of being a medieval throwback:
‘The Medical world in general considered isopathy as the acme of homeopathic nonsense. Such a position is no longer tenable since isopathic treatment has been introduced and scientifically entrenched by the anti rabies vaccination of Pasteur and the tuberculosis therapy of Robert Koch. The nonsense has changed into a far seeing heroic hypothesis’. August Bier 1925.
Harris Livermore Coulter page 69: Pasteur watched this debate as it was published in Pierre Dufresne’s Bibliotheque Homeopathique issued from 1832 - 1837, and in Philip Griesselich’s Handbuch, and sixteen lay and professional homeopathic journals published in France between 1834 - 1890.
The ongoing debates between allopathy and homeopathy were widely reported in the press and followed eagerly by the public at large.
Pasteur would have been torn in two directions. Association with homeopathy or the ideas of homeopaths would have been an anathema and would have destroyed his reputation, but his vitalist inclinations, fanned by his friendship with Empress Eugenie, an advocate of homeopathy, must have taunted him.
Even as a non physician, Pasteur could not risk association with homeopathic ideas, but could he risk ignoring them?
When Pasteur did finally jump with both feet, he was widely ridiculed at the time, by homeopaths and allopaths alike.
Harris Livermore Coulter page 72: ‘Many rightly accused Pasteur of homeopathy when he announced recently in the Academy of Sciences the great fact of the variable virulence of certain virus’, and of protecting from one virulence by using another of weaker intensity…
And indeed, Pasteur’s ideas stem from those of isopathy, specifically, research on rabies, anthrax, syphilis, cholera, and plague.
* On 14th June 1886, James John Garth Wilkinson wrote to Anna Bonus Kingsford from 4 Finchley Road: ‘… _My Dear Friend… I am deeply thankful to you for your lecture on Pasteur. It cannot be said that it exhausts the subject or settles the controversy, only because human evil, with its folly and embruted stupidity, once it is fairly master of an inveterate will, dominates flocks of men and women, and has inevitably its devil’s time of success, and waits God’s time of judgment. You know this too well; and your militancy for good will not be impaired by the apparent uselessness of present effort against the overwhelming flood of scientist wickedness and quackery. I am sorry for the lady you mention whose faith in the good God is strained by Pasteur’s success. Evils, says our friend Swedenborg, must come out, in order that they may be seen, acknowledged, and exposed, and that they may be got rid of. The diabolus of atheist scientism, with its hideous methods, is now allowed to show itself in all its deformity, yet in its full robes of infernal pretext that its judgement may, when the season comes, be condign. I send you a little translation of mine of a book I admire. My handwriting is difficult to me now*, and I am more in the upper planes of thought than any longer in controversy with materialists. But I thoroughly love and appreciate your work. Yours fraternally. J J Garth Wilkinson_…’ Edward Maitland, Anna Kingsford: Her Life, Letters, Diary and Work, (Cambridge University Press, 20 Jan 2011). Page 236. (\I think James John Garth Wilkinson means this book… Emanuel Swedenborg, James John Garth Wilkinson (translator), _Angelic wisdom concerning the divine love and the divine wisdom_, (Otis Clapp, 1843)). _(\* Garth Wilkinson is aged 74 in 1886). _