Once upon a time there was a disagreement between two biologists, and the outcome changed the perspective of medicine for ever after . . . or has it? It happened in the 19th century; the biologists were Antoine Bechamp and Louis Pasteur, and the controversy was about the cause of disease. Bechamp held that the cause of disease lay within the body, while Pasteur was convinced that it had an external cause as presented in his germ theory. According to Pasteur, disease comes about when bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms foreign to the body invade and attack it. His view has dominated medical science and its philosophy ever since.
Yet there was always something in the blood that eluded definition. As they had no means to examine it more closely and no explanation for it, researchers called it "dross" in the blood and it was generally ignored. This was still the case even when instruments were constructed that allowed a much closer examination, such as the microscope invented in the 1920s by Royal Raymond Rife, which could magnify 30,000 times and could detect microorganisms in living blood that no one had seen before.
Another researcher intrigued by the dross in the blood is Gaston Naessens, a French-Canadian scientist who has discovered an alternative treatment for immunologically-based diseases, founded on a completely different approach to disease. His story is told in a new book by Christopher Bird, The Persecution and Trial of Gaston Naessens (H. J. Kramer, Tiburon, CA, 1991). It is a fascinating account of his various discoveries, his treatment of cancer patients, and his years of persecution by the modem medical establishment, ending in a trial in Quebec which he won. It also tells about the problems he encountered in having his remedy finally acknowledged and distributed.
To study this mysterious substance in the blood, Naessens needed a much stronger microscope. Unfamiliar with the work of Rife, he designed and built his own microscope with the assistance of technicians from the Leitz Optical Company. This unique instrument made it possible for him to view living entities far smaller than could be seen with existing light microscopes. And in studying these, he came up with a series of remarkable theories.
Naessens discovered a fundamental substance in the life juices of all living beings: a subcellular, living and reproducing microscopic form, which he named the somatid (tiny body). This "entity" developed in a form-changing cycle: the first three stages of this cycle (somatid, spore, double spore) normally occur in healthy living beings and are actually essential for their very existence. Naessens found these somatids to be indestructible. After the death of the host they return to the earth where they continue to exist. To him they are more basic to life than cells, which have long been considered to be the primary building blocks of life. Naessens found that these tiny entities change when the immune system becomes destabilized and weakens. Instead of the ordinary three-stage cycle, the somatid goes through a sequence of sixteen stages of growth, each one evolving into the next. He ascribes the weakening of the immune system to various kinds of trauma such as are brought on by shock, accidents, psychological states and pollution. He was able to relate the 16-stage cycle to many degenerative diseases, e.g., cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis. He has even succeeded in predicting the eventual outbreak of these diseases by studying the somatid cycles in human blood.
Naessens developed a treatment using the idea that when the immune system is strengthened, it regains its capacity to fight disorders by itself His cure is based on certain phenomena in the normal three-stage somatid cycle found in the blood (p. 301):
In the course of this microcycle, we can detect the production of a trephone. This is a proliferative hormone indispensable to cellular division. Without it, life does not exist. In healthy individuals, the evolution of this cycle is stopped at the level of the double spore because of the presence of trephone inhibitors in the blood. . . . If, because of stress or some biological disturbance, the inhibitors in the blood diminish in concentration, the somatid cycle continues its natural evolution and one sees the appearance of diverse forms of bacteria. . . .
Next come the mycobacterial forms, and then the yeastlike forms.
Naessens believes that when these inhibitors in the blood decrease and the polymorphism of the somatid is not stopped, an increased formation of trephone leads the cell to return to a simpler form (p. 303):
It then loses more or less those functions that give it its individuality and make it pertain to a specialized organ. The cell is divided even before it has utilized all its capacity for synthesis, thus prematurely interrupting the cycle of its activities and aggravating its disorder at each division. In response, it recovers old properties remembered from its origin - the most important of which is the aptitude to multiply rapidly.
The result is cancerization. Cells start multiplying quickly and a new "entity" occurs, which opposes the organism that has given it birth. In fact, we develop cancers daily, but a strong immune system gets rid of them quickly. When the immune system is weak, however, the new entity gets a chance to grow and is able to reach a "critical" mass of cells. According to Naessens, the entity that escaped the immune system is in need of great quantities of nitrogen for subsistence, which it draws from the organism through a certain substance it emits. At the same time this substance, CKF, paralyzes the immune system. The key to Naessens' cure is the suppression of CKF, so that the immune system is not paralyzed.
Naessens has offered his treatment to many cancer patients, never, however, calling it a cure for cancer, or ever promising anyone recovery. He has presented it as something that would strengthen the immune system, and he did achieve improvement and remission of cancer in very many cases. The medical establishment, however, denying the value of his discoveries, theories, and cure, has persecuted him for thirty years. It has gone to extremes to suppress this alternative treatment of immunologically-based diseases. When Christopher Bird asked Naessens about this, he replied that the attitude of modern medical science is understandable from its point of view. The medical community and Gaston Naessens speak entirely different languages. All approved cancer therapies are derived from the idea that cancer is a local affliction that becomes generalized. His theory claims that cancer is a general systemic illness that becomes localized. So modern therapy concentrates on cancer tumors and cancer cells with the philosophy that a cell-killing method must be used to get rid of all cancer cells in a diseased body: methods such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. When medical researchers investigate Naessens' product and find no cell-killing properties, they declare it worthless.
Some feel that Naessens' success in bringing about the remission of cancer comes only from a placebo effect -- people are cured because of a mysterious "psychological" faith. Other investigators maintain there was no cancer at all in these patients, that the diagnosis was wrong. Researchers who have come to Naessens' laboratory and looked through his microscope have seen for themselves the microorganisms he describes and the changing forms of their cycle. Yet most of them have responded that a) they did not know what they were seeing; b) they did not believe what they were seeing; c) they believed what they were seeing and became enthusiastic, determined to investigate but, after returning to their colleagues they denied what they had seen or tried to reason it away. Only a very small minority who believed what they saw and tried it for themselves have supported Naessens.
Gaston Naessens is not the only independent researcher who has experienced this reaction. Why does the medical establishment regard an apparently successful alternative cancer treatment with contempt and distrust? Why is so much research in the area of alternative medicine blocked? Several factors are at work. First, there is the financial element: the cancer treatment industry is a multimillion dollar business with very powerful lobbies in government circles. Actions undertaken by physicians and researchers which might undermine this power base are often met with formidable resistance. It is understandable, though certainly lamentable, that very few medical professionals are willing to risk being ostracized for daring to try something new.
A second, perhaps even more restricting, factor is the ruling dogma that the body is attacked from the outside by germs, chemicals, radiation, etc., or disabled from within by defective genes. In most cases medical science looks at a localized affliction rather than at the organism as a whole, though this is gradually changing. A third factor is the very real threat of quackery. Unscrupulous people have always tried to take advantage of the vulnerable position of those who are ill. A physician's suspicion and prudence are understandable. But this does not justify brushing aside everything at face value because it does not fit into existing theories. Ideally the task of science is to develop ideas that explain the phenomena of life, and formulate them into theories. The next step is to find the limitations of these theories. A dialectic process of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, repeated over and over, should provide an ever expanding horizon of insights; but when science clings to certain set theories which are more or less regarded as absolute, it ceases to be science, the search for truth - an ongoing process. As soon as science fastens on to any one theory, dogma paralyzes free research and everything is made to fit an exclusive paradigm. Whatever cannot be made to fit is declared untrue or is ignored.
Where darkness reigns there are always points of light. The idea of approaching the whole person instead of just the afflicted part is not new: it has inspired physicians throughout the ages. At the beginning of this century Edward Bach, M.D., wrote: "Disease will never be cured or eradicated by present materialistic methods, for the simple reason that disease in its origin is not material. What we know as disease is an ultimate result produced in the body, the end product of deep and long-acting forces, . . ." (The Bach Flower Remedies, Keats Publishing Inc., New Canaan, CT, 1977, p. 26) Bach's words call to mind Naessens' explanation of the weakening of the immune system through shock, accidents, pollution and, perhaps most important, our psychological states. Many Oriental medical systems, which regard the whole person as a functioning entity, would have us look inward for the cause of disease.
According to theosophy we create ourselves and our own state of health. Disease is the working out of the law of cause and effect (karma), for everything that comes to us is the consequence of seeds sown in the past. Passion such as hatred, anger, or lust disrupts our lower constitution. When it escapes from the control or guidance of the higher part of our being, it changes the flow of the life-currents, condensing them here, rarefying them there. Selfishness is at the root of most wrongdoing and therefore the underlying cause of most disease. Dr. Bach draws from the ancient wisdom in saying that disease should be understood as a purifying process, an opportunity to cleanse, to correct wrong thought patterns, to get rid of inharmonious thought and emotions. When we realize that the causes of disease come from within, we are impelled to take responsibility for our thoughts and acts. Any philosophy based on the belief that the causes come only from outside could easily lull us into comfortable complacency.
The essential message of this book on Gaston Naessens is not whether his remedy really works or not. The point is that the facts arrived at through all kinds of research should decide what is a real cure and what is quackery. To really help human beings afflicted with disease, medical science should explore new ideas with an open mind. Researchers should be encouraged to investigate any avenue that may lead to a cure for disease, however strange it may seem to orthodoxy. They should not end up in a vicious circle of presenting unaccepted theories that create unaccepted remedies, which are then declared worthless just because they are based on unaccepted ideas. It serves no purpose when certain ideas are not taken seriously because no so-called reputable and credible source will take the trouble to look into them. So the potential treatments that may result from these ideas will always be due to the vision and hard work of one or a few pioneers long before they are generally adopted.
Gaston Naessens has called attention to such considerations through his courageous battle and inspiring discoveries. Christopher Bird's report about this "frontier" scientist and his trials gives hope that other scientists will find them worthy of further investigation, and that more patients and professionals will stand up for free research and the realization that there is no medicine higher than truth.
(From Sunrise magazine, October/November 1992; © copyright Theosophical University Press)