Focal Infections

FOCAL INFECTIONS Back in the early 80’s when I was living in Japan there was a renowned acupuncturist who made quite a name for himself with his flamboyant manner and outspoken views. A medical doctor originally, he had a knack for the publicity and often challenged conventional western medical ideas.

I remember watching a TV show once where he was exchanging views with a western physician. In response to the suggestion that acupuncture was unsafe because the possibility of infecting the patient with unclean needles, instead of reassuringly stating that he was careful to use sterile needles and disinfect the skin at the insertion point - like acupuncturists are trained to do and how any other acupuncturist might have answered - he took out a needle from his breast pocket, licked it, rubbed it against the bottom of his foot, then stuck it in his arm while exclaiming, “That is what I think of all your germs!”

The Terrain

As the story goes, in a flash of either insight or honesty, Louis Pasteur supposedly recanted on his deathbed. Pasteur is canonized as the person who brought us the germ theory and as such is considered one of the father’s of modern medicine. The germ theory, of course, tells us that germs are the cause of infectious diseases.

The germ theory is part of our contemporary common sense. It has an aura of irrefutably about it, like the fact that the sun is going to rise tomorrow morning. So, what was there for Pasteur to recant? He did not refute the existence of micro-organisms nor the fact that certain of these were closely associated with disease processes.