The Normal Flora
( Originally Published 1918 )
Probably not, under the ordinary conditions of human life. We live under a great handicap that shortens our lives and subjects us to endless miseries and tortures. Nature has, how-ever, to some degree provided a defense against this great menace to life and health by supplying us at birth with a beneficent flora that is able to protect us against the attacks of the pernicious invading organisms.
Tissier showed that soon after birth the intestine of the infant is occupied by bacteria that produce harmless acids, the ordinary acids of sour milk. These bacteria are dominant so long as the infant nurses at the breast and is properly cared for. These acid formers are properly termed the normal intestinal flora. By a wise provision of nature they take possession of the intestinal tract immediately after birth, and there is every reason to believe that if these acid formers retained undisputed possession of the intestinal tract the span of human life would be extended very greatly beyond the present age limit and humanity would be saved from a vast multitude of physical, mental and moral disorders and miseries.
Why the Stools of Healthy Infants Are Not Putrid
"In the normal stools of healthy infants," ac-cording to Czerny and Steinitz, "sugar is either absent, or only present in very small amount (Wegscheider, Uffelmann, Blauberg). It must not, however, be concluded from this fact that sugar is completely or almost completely absorb-ed. According to our present knowledge a certain, by no means negligible, amount is decomposed by the fermenting agencies in the intestine, and escapes absorption. The products of its decomposition serve to maintain the acid reaction of the intestinal contents, which for their part, secure a normal bacterial growth and normal peristalsis of the intestine.
"Normally, in the intestines of infants no putrefactive processes occur. According to Senator, putrefaction is prevented by the rapid passage of the food through the gut. This being the case, the feces, if left to themselves, should putrefy outside the body. As a matter of fact, this does not happen."
Food is to the body what earth is to plants. The food is the soil out of which the body grows. The four million villi of the small intestine are the rootlets which suck up the nutrient material prepared by the digestive ferments to nourish the tissues. If with this nutrient material are mixed poisonous substances, the natural result is the manifold disturbances of the bodily functions and the varied degenerative processes, which through the labors of Bouchard, Combe, Roger, Brieger, Tissier and a host of other observers, have been shown to arise from the condition known as "intestinal toxemia." Prominent among these disturbances may be named, not only various gastric intestinal disorders, including gastric and duodenal ulcer, cholecystitis, cholelithiasis, pancreatitis, colitis, appendicitis, acute and chronic diarrheas and dysenteries, but also the grave disorders that are due to organic changes such as cirrhosis of the liver arteriosclerosis, myocarditis, Bright's disease, cardiovascular renal disease, and probably diabetes.
Modern experimental agriculture has shown that the ordinary soil often becomes so deteriorated through bacterial infection that its fertility is greatly impaired. The up-to-date green-house man sterilizes his soil periodically, by so doing doubling its productivity. Several methods are in actual use for the sterilization of the soil for the growing of ordinary farm crops, the in-creased production being found to be amply sufficient to repay the large expense involved. The subtle toxins produced by bacteria that infect the soil, dwarf the development of the growing plant and lessen its resistance, and thus prepare the way for blights of various sorts that are harm-less to the more hardy and vigorous plants that grow out of a clean uncontaminated soil.
The soil out of which the body grows needs to be changed or restored to its normal condition for the same reason that the soil of the greenhouse or farm needs changing. Unfortunately, however, the process is a much more difficult one.
Do Bacteria Penetrate the Intestinal Wall and Enter the Blood Current?
Do bacteria penetrate the intestine? It is well known that in typhoid fever and other infectious diseases, in which the infective agent enters the body through the alimentary canal, bacteria are found, not only in the intestine, but in the blood and in all parts of the body.
Until recently it has been believed that in health bacteria do not penetrate the intestinal wall, although the experiments of Ficker showed that the resistance of the body may be so diminished by fatigue and hunger that bacteria will pass through the intestinal mucous membrane.
It is now known, however, that bacteria are constantly entering the circulation from the intestine. The blood of the portal vein always contains bacteria, especially after meals, when absorption is most active. In the passage of blood through the liver most of these bacteria are destroyed or passed out in the bile, so that they do not in large numbers pass into the general circulation, except when taken in unusual numbers, or when the liver has become crippled and so no longer able to perform its defensive work.
Bacteria are often found in the urine in great numbers, having been eliminated from the blood by the kidneys after having escaped removal by the liver.
The gall-bladder often becomes an incubating chamber for bacteria. Gallstones are the result of the action of bacteria. Typhoid bacilli have been found in the gall-bladder many years after recovery from an attack of the fever.