I chanced upon this article in The Economist of September 3rd-9th 2011 which talks about the experiments performed on rodents and suggests that bacteria dwelling in the gut can affect the brain, and thereby influence an individual’s mood and behavior. Research conducted by Javier Bravo of University College, Cork, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has been cited to prove this point. The researchers split their rodent subjects into two groups. One lot were fed a special broth containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus, a gut-dwelling bacterium often found in yogurt and other dairy products. The others were fed an ordinary diet, not fortified with microbes.
This idea is not new at all. Homeopaths have been aware of the effect of the bowel flora on the health for almost a hundred years. This was first highlighted by John Paterson in the early 1900s. He had classified the intestinal flora into the lactose fermenting and the non-lactose fermenting bacteria. He isolated the organisms and made clinical and bacteriological observations on 12,000 cases. His work is now published in the form of a small book on Bowel Nosodes. The Bowel nosodes are widely used in homeopathic practice for people who have a typical set of emotional and physical symptoms.
What is interesting is the question, aptly brought up by John Paterson- “In nature, where there is balance, there is no disease and the germ, in this case the B. Coli in the intestinal tract, performs a useful function. Where the intestinal mucosa is healthy the B. Coli is non-pathogenic. Any change in the host which affects the intestinal mucosa will upset the balance and will be followed by a change in the habit and the bio-chemistry of the B. Coli, which may then be said to become pathogenic, but it should be noted that the primary change, the disease originated in the host, which compelled the bacillus to modify its habit in order to survive. I would ask you to keep this sequence of events in mind as a great deal of what I have to say about the intestinal nosodes is based upon this conception which I have confirmed by clinical and laboratory observations over the last twenty years.”
Homeopathy believes that the germs that conventional medicine labels as the causes of diseases are actually scavengers. They do not and cannot cause disease unless the man himself is ill and provides a medium for them to thrive. In the healthy state, the human organism has these germs on the skin or the internal mucosa, but shows no signs of disease. When the organism is ‘sick’, these germs begin to show their pathogenic or disease producing effects. This concept of immunity has been described as susceptibility in homeopathic philosophy.
It is heartening to note that what was published by a homeopath in the early 20th century is being confirmed by modern day researchers.