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Of Worms And Germs

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As an outspoken proponent of raw foods for pets, I am often, VERY often, asked about the risks of germs and parasites in raw meat. This is perhaps the leading reason more people are not taking to feeding their pets this type of diet. As a homeopath, I have a different perspective on these various critters. First, we need some basic science.

Susceptibility X Pathogen = Infection

What this equation means is that there are two factors which determine whether an individual develops symptoms of infection from exposure to some type of invader. If there is no susceptibility, then no matter how much pathogen is present, you won't get an infection (or infestation.) On the other hand, no matter how susceptible the individual, if there are no pathogens present, there will be no infection. This is the boy in the bubble situation where children born without immune system function are placed in sterile environments in order to prevent exposure to germs.

Most of us, however, would rather not be confined to a sterile bubble. Our best defense, therefore, is a good defense. That is, we need to focus on reducing susceptibility to disease and not eliminating exposure to germs. Since there is an endless supply of microorganisms and parasites, we will not succeed by trying to decrease susceptibility one (or several) pathogen at a time or by killing them. The only rational approach is to think of the body as an ecosystem. Within the body, there exists a balance of many germs and parasites, much like a rain forest contains a variety of flora and fauna. As long as the forest environment remains stable, the various inhabitants maintain balance. If, for example, the environment is disrupted by hunters killing off a particular predator for its fur, the entire ecosystem will be affected. Those animals that were normally eaten by the predator will increase in population. The plants they eat will be greatly reduced causing starvation of the smaller species that eat the same plants, and so on. The body is a similar situation. The various species residing in a host maintain a balance. If the host is healthy, it will not react negatively to the visitors nor will they be able to over–populate. If the balance is disrupted or the host is weakened, symptoms and susceptibility to infection and infestation occur. To take this idea a step further, current research suggests that not only are germs and worms not are enemies, they are actually are friends. There is increasing evidence of the benefits of bacteria such as acidophilus. Dr. Joel Weinstock a gastroenterologist at the University of Iowa recently postulated that as our society got cleaner, we got sicker. He has recently begun treating patients with inflammatory bowel diseases with a new therapy. He has them drink a glass of water containing a million WORM eggs. That's right, he gives the patients intestinal roundworms and flatworms. He believes that the worms improve the immune system's function. Many of the patients have seen their bowel functions return completely to normal. In the world of animal health care, inflammatory bowel diseases are increasingly common. Perhaps we should rethink our idea of deworming.

Essentially, these modern ideas support exactly what homeopaths have been saying for over 100 years. The symptoms of disease that occur in reaction to germs and parasites are a problem in the function of the system, not a result of the presence of the foreign organism. Therefore, the best way to correct and cure such diseases is to treat the system in such a way as to maximize its ability to function thereby decreasing susceptibility to disease. This is why homeopaths have successfully cured tuberculosis, typhoid, cholera, colds, flu and many other infectious diseases for 200 years. Best of all, organisms cannot develop resistance to the better functioning immune system nor will superorganisms result.

  • Russell Swift, DVM, Classical Homeopath

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