Myths about natural immunity need to go | Karin Schumacher

As reported on Jacob Weisberg’s Slate blog, the Republican House Energy and Commerce Committee is set to introduce legislation requiring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide information about its nonmedical natural immunity program.

First, let’s define natural immunity as the phenomenon whereby individuals are immune to infectious diseases due to exposure to naturally occurring environmental microbes (think: “bugs with mites”). The natural immunity program is not only supposed to protect us from pathogens, but also from natural microorganisms (i.e. bugs).

While exposure to naturally occurring organisms is fascinating and fun, it is also remarkably short lived. Over time, the microorganisms are released into the environment where we can then introduce new microorganisms into our environment and experience the cycle anew. That’s why you never see a person walking around with a lone tabby tail.

Now, the concept of natural immunity may have been around for over 2,000 years (and is actually a rather accurate term for an organic answer to ill-defined evolutionary mechanisms). However, despite its antiquity, it is still widely misunderstood and remains largely untested.

The truth is, the natural immunity program is actually a relatively new concept in the scientific world. Until recently, natural immunity was viewed as a myth – and, in some cases, even just a metaphor for a supernatural real-life remedy that most people could easily ignore.

That all changed this summer when a team of researchers from Monell Chemical Senses Center released the findings of a study which used 3D imaging technologies to demonstrate that the natural immunity program is actually based on a complex set of physiological and molecular signals. More significantly, they demonstrated that new strains of potentially deadly pathogens are ferried between humans via natural environments in transit and thus on movement, in the human body.

While the team’s work can definitely be viewed as a complementary body of evidence for the natural immunity program, it has also served to highlight the anti-scientific sham that a lack of evidence may be the worst kind of evidence.

As you can imagine, the findings prompted several powerful public health interests to swiftly attack the validity of the findings. We simply do not know for sure what caused the emergence of these new microbes and the natural immunity program (and many people in this study, including the scientific team members, do not think that the microbes they observed are necessarily harmful to humans) and since it is impossible to confirm without further experimentation, any attempts to use this idea to cure a misdiagnosed or chronic illness have a very uphill battle.

I doubt that the Republican Leadership in the House Energy and Commerce Committee will be showing the same level of skepticism and bravery as those scientists who provided information and funding to confirm their findings.

It is clear that the evidence and evidence-based conversation in the public health world is not working. Unless something radically changes, I expect that the new legislation introduced in the Energy and Commerce Committee will be quickly fought off by those promoting a traditional approach.

In light of the new findings, I urge you to:

Read all about the science – they demonstrate that the natural immunity program is real, stable, and profound.

Read all about the science – they demonstrate that the natural immunity program is real, stable, and profound. Stop the myth – proven experiments to demonstrate the natural immunity program will only clarify the lack of evidence.

– proven experiments to demonstrate the natural immunity program will only clarify the lack of evidence. Lead us to improve vaccination practices – when people are exposed to natural immunity and welcome the journey and immunity that comes with it, that increases vaccination rates. That will only be much more effective at preventing disease.

– when people are exposed to natural immunity and welcome the journey and immunity that comes with it, that increases vaccination rates. That will only be much more effective at preventing disease. Promote more research in the hopes of evaluating the natural immunity program and testing its efficacy in a variety of settings.

In short, I expect that the proposed legislation will only lead to more confusion and delay as we work to build a case for the natural immunity program in the popular media and at mainstream policy debates.

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