Abstract: Microbes are an essential part of ecosystem. Their existence is vital. The pathogenic microbes are able to produce disease in susceptible individuals. The goal of modern medicine to eradicate some harmful microbes is no doubt an enthusiastic effort, but a doubtful affair in making mankind free from disease.
Introduction: Ancient human civilization was using the good quality of microbes in very simple way although the scientific explanation behind it was a little known to it. The minor proportion of microbes’ species being harmful for human civilization, the majority of it is beneficial. Infectious diseases are not produced by microbes only, but the susceptibility of the host is essential. When body resistance decreases due to weak immunity the pathogenic microbes produce disease. On the contrary, when it is increased out of treatment added to healthy and hygienic mode of living, they hardly find the host suitable for their existence. In preventive aspect when modern medicine intends to eradicate some pathogenic microbes or apply vaccine against these, and in curative aspect to kill these by anti-biotics, the object of homeopathy is to live with these in harmony by increasing human body resistance though anti-miasmatic treatment added to healthy and hygienic mode of living.
Summary: Microbes are essential part of human eco-system. Antimicrobial measures are not enough to tackle the hazards resulting from them. Eco-friendly measures are essential to overcome their harmful effect. Homoeopathy believes in increasing the body resistance, rather than to kill the microbes.
Conclusion: Man has to live in harmony with the microbes in nature. The susceptibility of human beings should be healthy instead of being morbid. Healthy and hygienic mode of living is preferred to antiseptic and aseptic measures.
The grand mother of the author says that the ‘kanji’ or water of rice of twelve years is a good remedial measure for the several intestinal disorders like diarrhoea, practiced during their time, around the early twentieth century, in eastern Odisha. The fermented rice water was being contained in an earthen pot. Some amount from it was removed every day and nearly equal fresh amount of rice water was added to it. This procedure was being continued in this manner uninterruptedly, for several years. Such fermented fluid serves as a good domestic remedial measure.
Benefits of microbes: Had scavengers been not there our environment would be filled with dirty objects. Vulture, once considered ill by traditional belief, has become an endangered species. Much care is being taken for the regrowth of its population out of its importance in ecology and environment (10). The activity of this species is easily observed to common people. An equally important role is played by the micro-organisms which could hardly be observed before the discovery of microscope by Roger Bacon in 1200s and latter on modified in late 1500 (17). In the first century B.C., Varo and Columella postulated that diseases were caused by invisible beings or ‘Animalia minuta’. In 1683, Antony van Leeuwenhoek of Holland, communicated regarding the various types of bacteria to Royal Society of London, that he had observed by the lenses. Samuel Hahnemann in the topic ‘On the Mode of Propagation of Asiatic Cholera’ writes “… The most striking examples of infection and rapid spread of cholera take place, as is well known, and as the public journals likewise inform us, in this way: On board ships – in those confined spaces, filled with mouldy watery vapours, the cholera miasm finds a favourable element for its multiplication, and grows into an enormously increased brood of those excessively minute, invisible, living creatures, so inimical to human life, of which the contagious matter of the cholera most probably consists – on board these ships, I say, this concentrated aggravated miasm kills several of the crew; the others, however, being frequently exposed to the danger of infection and thus gradually habituated to it, at length become fortified against it, and no longer liable to be infected. …” (24) Louis Paster (1822-95) brought bacteriology to a scientific discipline. In 1857, he described that fermentation is a microbial activity and the different types of fermentations result from different types of micro-organisms (15).
These micro-organisms decompose the different dead organic as well as inorganic materials leading to the recycling of bio-degradable objects. The food-stuff adhered to our teeth are cleared, out of the action of bacteria in mouth cavity. As the mouth is warm, nutrition rich, continuously bathed with saliva and has a Ph 6.75 to 7.25, so it provides a suitable environment for many micro-organisms. Most of these are beneficial and live in harmony with each other and with the host (19). Both good and bad bacteria live in human intestine. Taking healthy fermented foods like curd, pickled vegetables, fermented drinks, and those made from fermented rice and pulses increase the good bacteria and help in digestion. Thus, immunity is improved and blood is purified through the removal of the toxins by them (25). Vitamin B is synthesised in our bowel out of the action of intestinal flora. Riboflavin is prepared there by Lactic acid bacteria; Thiamine by propionic acid bacteria; and Thiamine, Coenzyme I or II and perhaps biotin by some strains of dysentery bacilli. Not only in human beings but also in herbivorous animals like sheep the intestinal bacteria produce Riboflavin, Pyridoxine, and anti-haemorrhagic vitamin to fulfil the deficiency of these in the ingested food (16). In bakery and alcohol producing industry the role of this organism is vital, which produces fermentation. In the preparation of various food items like curd, different cakes, etc. their role is utmost important. The nitrogen and phosphorus fixation to the root of some plants is done by some soil bacteria resulting in availability of nutrition to the plants. Some beneficial fungi colonise in the upper parts of plants and increase the heat tolerance, draught tolerance as well as resistance to insects and that to plant diseases (18). Thus, their role in agriculture is in no way less. Bacteria living on the leaves and barks of plants when blown to atmosphere act as nuclei around which ice crystals are formed especially in mountains. This is known as ice nucleation. It ultimately results in snow formation, and rain out of formation of of ice in clouds (23). There are three hundred types of different species of bacteria (including Bacillus thuringiensis, B. sphaericus and B. cereus) in the droppings of birds yet discovered in killing mosquitoes (26). The different micro-organisms are our good friends without which our survival is questionable.
Harmful effect of microbes: On the other hand human civilization has faced horror out of their harmful nature. Ebola virus disease started in western Africa and spread to the various part of the globe through different means of communication is a challenge before the medical world in the recent time. Much effort has been done in the eradication of small pox and being done for that of polio. Similar effort has been taken in controlling the different infectious diseases like cholera, malaria, measles, leprosy, tuberculosis, AIDS, etc. These are the harmful micro-organisms destined for harm to the human civilization.
Susceptibility in the genesis disease: The disease producing property of the pathogenic micro-organisms is not invariable. They require further conditions like their sufficiency and virulence, and at the same time the susceptibility of the individual to them, as well as the nature of the environment in which the host or the individual resides. The susceptibility of an individual depends upon his gene and physical constitution, diet and regimen, age, habit, occupation, etc. The nature of the environment is determined by its temperature, humidity, light, flow of air, etc. E.g., the incidence of many infectious diseases is increased in hot humid environment and that is reduced in the dry cold one.
The susceptibility of an individual is very important in the process of infection. Infection means invasion and multiplication of micro-organisms in body tissues, especially that causing local cellular injury due to competitive metabolism, toxins, intracellular replication, or antigen-antibody response (1). This process, which involves both entry of micro-organism into and its multiplication in the human or other organisms require susceptibility in the host. The malaria parasite which enters into the blood stream of human organism through the bite of female Anopheles mosquito requires the susceptibility of the human being to enter into its red blood corpuscles. Unless the membrane of the said corpuscles possesses specific surface receptors then the parasite can not enter into these corpuscles. The presence of Duffy blood group antigen Fya or Fyb is essential in the surface of erythrocyte for entry of Plasmodium vivax into it. Most West Africans, without possessing this blood group antigen, are resistant to this parasite (2). The ova a of a round worm, which is being entered into the gastro-intestinal tract through faecal-oral route, simply pass through the intestinal canal of an individual unless he possesses a susceptibility to it, without being able to continue its life cycle there (3). According to Hahnemann it can grow in the intestine of the individual where the psoric miasm determine a susceptibility to it (21). The chronic miasms, syphilis and sycosis, don’t develop in every one despite exposure to the contagion, for an invariable susceptibility of being affected with these miasms is not possessed by every one nor under all circumstances; unlike that to psora, for which an universal susceptibility is is invariably present, almost, in every individual, especially in tender children (4). The experiment of Pettenkofer proved the inadequacy of germ theory of disease that was uni-factorial. He proposed multifactorial cause of disease. Cholera does not manifest in all persons exposed to Vibrio cholerae; nor tuberculosis in all, exposed to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The susceptibility of the host determined by his physical constitution, diet, habit, mode of living, etc. added to the effect of the environment he lives in, determines the possibility of manifestation of the disease, on being exposed to the disease producing agent (5).
When due to any reason like debilitating diseases, severe injury, continuous worry, anxiety, etc. our vital force becomes weak; or it becomes so out of physiological conditions like advanced age, childhood or pregnancy then we become prone to different diseases (6). E.g. different infectious diseases affect a patient affected with AIDS. Similarly, drug addicts, immuno-compromised hosts, children and pregnant women are more prone to malaria. The different microbes which were non-invasive prior to such debilitating condition of vital force, now become harmful, resulting in manifestation of disease. In the language of Hahnemann, it indicates that the latent psora turns to its developed state.
Effect of anti-microbial measures: Excess hygienic measures and the excess use of antibiotics are harmful. It results in several allergic manifestations, hay-fever, eczema, auto-immune diseases, etc. (8). Rather, early life exposure to high bacterial diversity protects children from allergies (9). How nicely the different maternal antibodies protect the child from several infectious diseases till around six months of age while the mother nurses it. Exposure to the microbes in a minimal degree yields resistance against them. That is the basic principle of active immunity applied in vaccination. The diseases which bring forth horror out of pestilence are overcome later on by hard immunity (7).
The microbes produce disease in human beings when the vital force of the later is weak or becomes so as happens in different physiological, pathological or accidental conditions or from prolonged bad habits like addiction or dissipations of various kinds; or when the former is highly virulent and the latter is exposed to its greater magnitude as happens in epidemic diseases like measles, cholera, plague, flues of various kind, etc.
It is not possible to make our environment free from microbes as has been done for Variola virus that was producing small-pox, and is being done for Polio virus which is responsible for disability of millions of victims. It would be a foolish Herculean affair to think so. Much effort, energy and economic resources has been spent in overcoming the former and in the process of doing so for the latter. And, human civilization will hardly achieve success if it tries to make the environment free from even the harmful microbes, leaving the harmless ones, despite turning all its blood to sweat. The resurgence of malaria and different pestilence like dengue, plague, various flues, etc. from time to time is the best example to signify it. Our effort to extinguish them would be futile in many cases, for the living organisms have the power of resistance to adverse conditions that happens in case of drug resistance to different infectious diseases as well as the resistance of vectors like mosquito to DDT, etc.
Eco-friendly measures are essential: It is not strictly necessary to make our environment free from harmful microbes through human effort. Nature’s cycle controls them in its own way. The best effort the human beings can exert would be to keep the environment clean and adopt eco-friendly measures. For instance, mosquito is hardly observed in sub-Himalayan hills. It was little found in Almora a few decades earlier. Now a day, when the population of the said town is increased and the drains are found in large numbers which are dirty due to polythene and other objets, the vector is found there, as a local resident opines.
500 to 1000 different species of bacteria live in the oral cavity of an adult out of which 100 to 200 different species are available there at any time. Streptococcus mutans, a common oral bacterium found there is a pathogen that causes pneumonia, sinusitis, meningitis and otitis media. Those who clean their teeth and mouth possess between 100 million to 1 billion bacteria on each teeth. Many of these are beneficial although some are harmful (20). Dr Weinberg, the associated dean for research at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine said, “You don’t want a sterile mouth, you want a mouth that has primarily good bacteria in it, in order to keep exogenous micro-organisms out and prevent them from colonising the mouth.” Yiping Wen Han of Case Western University said that our research goals is not to serch out and destroy all cells of F. nucleatum although it is associated with serious diseases in oral cavity and throughout the body. It is impractical and also not ideal because it will lead to a surface that exogenous bacteria can colonise. If we eliminate one species, we do not know the outcome because there is a lot of inter dependence among different species (19). A healthy person possesses 80 % good bacteria and 20% pathogenic. The entire gastro intestinal tract relies on good bacteria that outnumber and overpower the bad ones (22).
Human beings are blindly consuming the gift of science without reflecting over its dark side. The use of refrigerators and air-conditioners in innumerable house-holds, automobiles and mushrooming of industries results in global warming. Diclophenac, even if banned, is still in use in veterinary practice resulting in endangering vulture species (10). Food like fruits and vegetables grown by use of fertilisers and pesticides are 69% poor in antioxidants; and rich in toxic metals like cadmium, mercury and lead, as well as nitrogen compared to those which are organic (11). The use of polythene is a curse to civilisation that has disturbed the ecology and environment in several ways. The free flow of sewage from the cities and industries into the rivers has brought forth several health hazards and threat to aquatic life. Fishes are not found in several places adjacent to the cities in the course of the holy river the Ganges. Many people in the down stream of the river Nandira following Angul of Odisha are affected with fluorosis and other diseases out of the consumption of water rich in industrial exhausts.
It is not that human beings ought to live in caves and forest; breathing fresh air, drinking pure water, consuming fruits and crops free from intoxicants that is neither possible nor desirable; nor to defecate in open field (13). Man has to take the advantage of science and technology. But its demonly nature will clear its way to disease, disability and death. On the other hand its wise use will keep him overcoming this hazard. How nicely the people of Japan regard the attitude of keeping their environment free from pollution and at the same time reducing burden upon non-renewable source of energy as well as national economy, and keeping themselves healthy, simply by minimising the use of automobiles and emphasising manual means.
Man has to live in harmony with microbes by keeping its body resistance higher by observing the principles of holistic health through pure food and drink, spiritual upliftment, and reflecting over the measures which are friendly for ecology and environment.
How nicely the tribal children dare enjoy the rain by drenching in it and playing in the watery field, while those of affluent society fear it. The former category people sing and dance under the open sky in their happy life they live in a simple manner being with nature while the higher class spoil itself under the influence of air-conditioned clubs, theatres and bars in a modernised and sophisticated way. The former category is healthier and also lives long in many instances without becoming a victim of diseases of the civilised world like diabetes, hypertension, stress, allergy, asthma, etc. They are more exposed to the microbes than those of higher society. For instance, an allopathic medicine specialist working in the post of assistant professor around the year 2002 expressed at Bhubaneswar regarding his observation that there was a servant working in somebody’s house at Puri. He was residing in an unhygienic way near the cow-shed and was sleeping there hardly with any mosquito-net. On the contrary, the family members of the honour were residing in the hygienic house with a lot of precautionary measures. But, they were suffering from diseases more than their servant. Another instance is that, dental caries was not found in Swiss village of Goms, high in Alps until the rail road was leading to that area. The farmers in this isolated mountain were consuming the produce of the soil and meat of cattle. Wheat and fruit do not grow there. This disease was observed there when people began consuming modern food stuff, made available there through railway track, the incidence of which was higher in areas proximal to the railway line. Similarly, a community of white people in little island of Tristan da Cuncha, isolated in south Atlantic was found to have the least incidence of dental caries in the world although there is not a single tooth brush in that island . No cereal can be grown in that island owing to the infestation with rodents. The absence of sugar in diet may be the cause behind such phenomenon (14). Once, a philosopher at Bhubaneswar around the year 2002 criticised that foreigners drinking sterile water while in India are more diseased in the sense that their body resistance is less that obliges them to adopt such measure.
Object of homoeopathy: The sole object of homoeopathy is not to kill the microbes by means of medicine, rather to create an environment in the body preferably through antimiasmatic treatment added to healthy and hygienic diet and regimen (21).
Conclusion: A community can not boast it to be healthy by adopting several antiseptic and aseptic measures by maintaining an excessive hygienic state, rather by being with nature. The body resistance thereby grows making it robust. In the language of the father of Homoeopathy our body becomes hardy by living with and on exposure to nature, rather than by being away from it (12).
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