Despite all the good it does, sometimes the medical community gets hung up on perpetuating an untruth. An idea or theory that was never true in the first place infiltrates into the realm of the accepted and scientifically-substantiated. That idea or theory enjoys widespread endorsement by the medical community, enduring way past the time it has been disproved. The bacterial theory is one such idea that has been embraced and perpetuated, despite its failings.
GERM THEORY IS A NARROW VIEW OF DISEASE
Bacterial or “germ” theory is a good example of a concept that has been supported by Western medicine despite its shortcomings. Louis Pasteur created the germ theory and said basically, “germs make us sick.” Louis Pasteur is traditionally considered as the originator of modern immunology because he popularized the germ theory of disease in the late nineteenth century. That germ theory triggered hope that all infectious diseases were caused by germs and could be prevented (and even treated) by vaccination.
However, Pasteur was working at the start of understanding the microbial world, at a time when he and the medical community were unaware of the immune system and how it functions to protect us against invasion by the unseen microbial world. In Pasteur’s time, no one had even made the distinction between bacteria, fungi, or viruses, and no one had formulated any theories about immunity. In fact, Pasteur was entirely mistaken as to how immunity occurs.1
In Pasteur’s time, others argued with him about his theories. One, in particular, was a highly respected French scientist named Antoine Béchamp. Béchamp argued that germ theory was incorrect—that it wasn’t the microbes that caused the illness; whether or not a person becomes ill is actually determined more accurately by the terrain… meaning your internal environment has to be compromised to allow the pathogens to thrive. This is what is known as the “host” theory. Béchamp said (among other things) that:2
- Disease arises from microorganisms
- Microorganisms become “pathogenic” when the health of the host organism deteriorates
- The condition or terrain of the host organism is the fundamental causal agent in diseases
- Disease is built by unhealthy conditions
- To prevent disease, we have to create health
Florence Nightingale also famously rejected the germ theory, instead advocating the influence of diet, hygiene, climate, ventilation, and sanitation in causing and preventing disease. Pasteur and Béchamp argued quite famously. On his deathbed, Louis Pasteur admitted he was wrong, saying “The microbe (germ) is nothing. The terrain (milieu) is everything.” Yet, Western medicine ferociously protects the germ theory of disease, dismissing and looking down on Béchamp’s ideas. Germ theory is a narrow view of disease that misses the core of Béchamp’s research, which is the importance of supporting a powerful internal defense system to prevent disease and attain genuine health, rather than relying on drugs and vaccines to attempt to destroy microbes and treat symptoms.
Antibiotics were a significant medical breakthrough that came out as a consequence of the germ theory. But the idea that germs kill people and cause infection, and that if we just kill the microbes, the body will be healthy ignores the whole missing piece: that we need to work on the terrain of the body and on improving the health of the body. Antibiotics have a vital role in modern medicine, but their use has become so extensive—antibacterial soaps and cleaners, dental care, hand sanitizer, etc.—that this has allowed the bacteria to evolve and become more resistant.3 So instead of the antibiotic, antibacterial “kill everything” theory and model, we come to understand that we need to live in synergy with the germs around us and focus on maintaining a healthy terrain.
THE NOTION OF HEAVY METALS ALWAYS BEING HARMFUL IS ALSO A NARROW VIEWPOINT
The reason I bring up germ theory vs. host theory in a discussion of heavy metal toxicity is to point out that certain untruths catch on and are accepted and supported as known and valid scientific fact. The same has happened in our view of heavy metals and heavy metal toxicity. The accepted thought about heavy metals is: Heavy metals are harmful. They are toxic. They build up in the body. But what we need to understand that it just not that simple and straightforward.
Just because there is a heavy metal present, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s toxic, and we need to remove it from the body. On the contrary, some are minerals and trace elements that the body needs to survive. It’s the same kind of misplaced reasoning as the bacterial theory in that when there are heavy metals present, it doesn’t automatically mean that someone is going to become sick or die—a lot of it has to do with the terrain and whether the minerals and metals exist as inorganic compounds or organic compounds.
What Essential Metals Do for Us
Metals are used to make strong and lasting everyday items, like iron skillets and copper pipes. But they don’t serve the same purpose in our bodies. Instead, many metals are needed to activate enzymes, the essential chemical messengers in the body. Minerals and metals have many other vital roles as well. For example:4
- Builds teeth and bones
- Activates enzymes throughout the body
- Helps to regulate blood pressure
- Promotes muscles contraction
- Allows nerves to send messages
- Assists in blood clotting
- Important for the structure of bones and teeth.
- Required for ATP (energy) production
- Builds teeth and bones
- Aids in regulating blood pressure and blood sugar
- Enables muscles to contract
- Helps nerves to send messages
- Assists in blood clotting
- Helps enzymes to work
- Promotes fluid balance in the body
- Helps to maintain a steady heartbeat
- Assists in muscles contraction
- May benefit bones and blood pressure
- A major electrolyte of blood and extracellular and intracellular fluid
- Required for maintenance of pH levels and osmotic balance
- Required to produce essential amino acids methionine and cysteine
- Part of glutathione
- Needed for detoxification
- Balances fluids in the body
- Helps to send nerve impulses
- Aids in muscles contraction
- Helps blood clot
- Assists in proteins and DNA synthesis
- Supports and boosts the immune system
- Promotes wound healing and cell division
- Assists in bone formation
- Helps to metabolize amino acids, cholesterol, and carbohydrates.
- Activates several enzymes that break down toxins in the body
- Prevents the buildup of harmful sulfites
- Required to make thyroid hormones
- Helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels
- Helps cells draw energy from blood sugar
- Assists with metabolizing fuel
- Helps make red blood cells
- Regulates neurotransmitters
- Cleans up free radicals
- Assists in making hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying chemical in the body’s red blood cells)
- Helps make myoglobin (a protein in muscle cells)
- Essential for activating certain enzymes
- Helps produce amino acids, collagen, neurotransmitters, and hormones
- Helps the body make antioxidant enzymes that play a role in preventing cell damage
- Helps with thyroid hormone production
- Maintains solid bones
- An essential component of vitamin B12 production
Our bodies don’t manufacture essential minerals. We obtain them from our diet. The minerals and essential metals come from rocks, soil, and water, and they’re absorbed by plants as they grow or by animals as the animals eat the plants.
INORGANIC HEAVY METALS VS. ORGANIC HEAVY METALS
Where heavy metals come from matters. Metals are everywhere in our environment. But there is a difference when heavy metals and minerals are in found in food or plant-based supplements. Heavy metals are not always toxic, and it depends on whether the source provides the organic or inorganic form of the metal.5 So the question is: When exactly do they become dangerous?
When Heavy Metals Are Our Friends
Plant sources of the trace heavy metals we need, like the ones listed above, have gone through a microbial process. Essentially, the plant has “digested” and processed the inorganic heavy metals and minerals it absorbs from the soil. They are soluble organic minerals and metals which can be used in our bodies.
When you consume a plant-based, organically-bound heavy metal, it’s not toxic to the body because if the body doesn’t need it, it gets rid of it. The inorganic minerals that the body can’t process are actually what gets built up and becomes toxic to the body.
The same process occurs when plants or animals break down and decay. This process produces the fulvic and humic acids we find in the soil.6 These heavy metals are safe and non-toxic to us, having gone through this processing. The microbial activity (and processing) that breaks down the plant and animal material leads to balanced and safe organic essential mineral and metal compounds.
When Heavy Metals Are Our Foes
Inorganic “free form” minerals and metals have not been transformed through plant-based or microbial processing and are harmful to the body. It is essential to detox inorganic heavy metals.7
Conversely, heavy metals are not helpful and friendly to the body if they’re inorganic minerals and metals. These minerals and heavy metals are not transformed by the microbial process and are called “free form” heavy metals. These inorganic molecules cannot be used by the body, and they are not soluble. Although that may not sound like a big deal, the inorganic, insoluble heavy metals hang around and accumulate in our bodies, refusing to cooperate with our DNA and RNA. These free form heavy metals create damage by:
- Breaking DNA strands
- Inhibiting repair of these DNA breaks
- Generating many contributors to oxidative stress, leading to numerous disorders and diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and aging.8
These insoluble, inorganic compounds can cause damage in more ways than one. Freeform heavy metals break the blueprints for our essential enzyme chemical messengers. They also stop the proteins that would repair those blueprints.9 Once the blueprints are damaged, they can’t be “read” correctly, which can lead to mutations in our DNA. These DNA mutations are the foundation of many diseases and in the formation of cancer.10 These free form, insoluble kinds of metals are the foes we need to get rid of through heavy metal detox.
Heavy Metals Attract Energy
Insoluble, inorganic forms of heavy metals absorb energy. Think of how a dentist puts a lead vest over a patient to take x-rays. The lead absorbs the radiation energy so it can’t damage the thyroid gland and internal organs.11Inorganic metals attract energy. They are low energy molecules, so they tend to steal energy from whatever is around them.
However, the organic, soluble forms of heavy metals, the ones that are plant-processed, give us energy by contributing to crucial enzymatic processes in our bodies. As just discussed, the inorganic forms do just the opposite. They steal energy from our cells. And they also attract radiation, making us more vulnerable to electromagnetic radiation damage. It is essential to detox inorganic heavy metals.
Remember, whether a heavy metal is a friend or a foe depends on whether it has gone through microbial and plant processing. Organic (friend) vs. inorganic (foe). Granted, it can all be very confusing, and you may end up wondering how to assess your need for essential organic minerals and heavy metals versus your need to detox the harmful inorganic heavy metals. It can be an involved process, but one that we should soon be hearing more and more about as the outdated and incorrect “all heavy metals are bad” concept starts to (hopefully) fall by the wayside.