Weston A Price On Vaccines – Evidence from “Physical Degeneration”

Did Weston A Price (WAP) promote the use of vaccines to help fight infectious diseases? It is hard to say for sure, but it is clear that he was a critic of modern medical science and was quick to qualify any acknowledgement of scientific progress with an emphasis on nutrition. In his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration published in 1939, he doesn’t mention vaccines but he does talk about Tuberculosis, and Small-Pox in a time when vaccines were available for these diseases.

I performed text-searches of “Measles”, “Small-Pox”, “Tuberculosis”, “Immun”, “Vaccine”, “Bacteria”, “Virus”, “Disease”, “toxins”, “mercury”, “Modern Medicine”, and “Science” and I found that Dr. Price’s overall philosophy was to strengthen the body’s own immune system. He repeatedly emphasized the role of locally-sourced nutrition in providing both resistance and recovery to disease. In his book he de-emphasizes the role of bacteria both in terms of his own dental practice and in terms of Tuberculosis around the world. He did not seem to believe in the microbial view of medicine and he was always quick to qualify an acknowledgement of progress in medical science with its limitations.
Note that the predominant disease in his time was Tuberculosis and its vaccine, Bacilli Calmetter-Guérin (BCG) Vaccine has been around since 1921, but only received widespread acceptance in the US and in Europe after World War II.

Evidence from the Loetschental Valley

In the figure below the caption emphasizes the lack of tuberculosis in the Lotschental Valley even though his investigations revealed that Tuberculosis was a leading cause of death in the rest of Switzerland. He also took the time to marvel and wonder over the use of “heliotherapy” which he reports showed promising results. Heliotherapy, meaning sun-therapy, makes use of light to treat Tuberculosis and that Vitamin D could be bio-synthesized from the Sun was just discovered in 1932. The Doctor was cutting-edge but he never explicitly marveled at the use of the BCG vaccine, which had been around for a few years by this time and he certainly had enough time to reflect on vaccines by the time the book went to press.

LoetschentalValley

“Notwithstanding the fact that tuberculosis is the most serious disease of Switzerland, according to a statement given me by a government official, a recent report of inspection of this valley did not reveal a single case… Both were largely modern diseases in that country.”

(Page 39)

Nutrition was the Key in the Isle of Lewis

Throughout his travels he continued to observe the role of nutrition as a key element in providing resistance to disease.

The younger generation of the modernized part of the Isle of Lewis is not showing the same resistance to tuberculosis as their ancestors… Apparently very little consideration was being given to the change in nutrition as a possible explanation for the failure of this generation to show the defense of previous generations against pulmonary tuberculosis. In this connection much blame had been placed upon the housing conditions, it being thought that the thatched-roof house with its smoke-laden air was an important contributing factor, notwithstanding the fact that former generations had been free from the disease….It had been noted that individuals with rampant tooth decay were more susceptible to pulmonary tuberculosis.

(Page 68)

Stay Strong Buy Local

The book quotes a report from a local authority of Innuit populations but it isn’t clear exactly where the report begins or ends, which matters when we try to identify whether he is advocating modern medicine or nutrition as a critical component to thriving populations.

Since contact with our modern civilization, the Eskimo population for Alaska is very rapidly declining. One authority has quoted the reduction of 50 per cent in population in seventy-five years….

Cordova, Alaska, Oct. 26, 1934–Due to susceptibility to tuberculosis and other diseases the average life span of the Eskimo of Alaska is only 20 years and their race is doomed to extinction within a few generations unless modern medical science comes to their aid.

(Page 92)

The next quote follows in a separate paragraph, which is my reason for attributing the quote to Weston A Price and it seems to contradict the above quoted report since he immediately places emphasis on native game and sea-foods as the keys to preventing decline and extinction.

Unless a very radical change is made in the interference with the native supply of game and sea foods, the Eskimo population seems destined to have a rapid decline and an early extinction.

The modern-medicine and the local-food point-of-views are not mutually exclusive and both could play a role, but if he wanted to emphasize their synergies he could have begun his sentence with “Indeed, and unless a very radical change…” which would serve to both continue and add to the point presented in the report by the local authority. To be fair, he doesn’t explicitly contradict the report either.

Modernization Spreads Tuberculosis to Indians

Many times Dr. Price noted that susceptibility to disease was correlated to dental health.

ModernIndiansDyingFromTB

The suffering from tooth decay was tragic.

… nutrition of infancy and early childhood will go far in determining whether .. the normal defense of the body will be adequate to protect it from various infections to which it may later be exposed.

(Page 111)

WAP Reports Recovery From Disease On Traditional Diets

Growing out of his experience, in which he had seen large numbers of the modernized Eskimos and Indians attacked with tuberculosis, which tended to be progressive and ultimately fatal as long as the patients stayed under modernized living conditions, he now sends them back when possible to primitive conditions and to a primitive diet, under which the death rate is very much lower than under modernized conditions. Indeed, he reported that a great majority of the afflicted recover under the primitive type of living and nutrition.

(Page 112)

Limitations of Modern Science

Below WAP quotes another author and seems to agree that the triumphs of medical science has only done so much to rid the world of bacterial diseases.

 Dr. Alexis Carrel in his treatise “Man, the Unknown” states:

Medicine is far from having decreased human sufferings as much as it endeavors to make us believe. Indeed, the number of deaths from infectious diseases has greatly diminished. But we still must die in a much larger proportion from degenerative diseases.

After reviewing the reduction in the epidemic infectious diseases he continues as follows:

All diseases of bacterial origin have decreased in a striking manner.  Nevertheless, in spite of the triumphs of medical science, the problem of disease is far from solved. Modern man is delicate.

(Page 21)

Role of Bacteria Limited

Weston A Price emphasizes other factors like nutrition rather than a bacteria-antibody response. This doesn’t fit into the microbiologist’s point-of-view that is based on virus/bacteria antibody response.

In a discussion of tuberculosis susceptibility before a meeting of specialists in that field, emphasis was placed upon the fact that other factors than the bacteria played controlling roles in the matter of susceptibility to tuberculosis.

(Page 368)

WAP extols Pyrotherapy

Below WAP is noting that the Masai Tribe were using malaria to treat syphillis long before Julius Wagner-Jauregg won the Nobel Prize for his work on the therapeutic work of malaria inoculation. This was a type of pyrotherapy that induced high-fever to kill off germs. Note that his tone is critical of modern medicine’s over-inflated ego since it “boasts” discoveries that were already put into practice by “primitives”.

Masai Tribe. The Masai are tall and strong. Fig. 39 shows a typical belle, also a Masai man who is much taller than our six-foot guide. It is interesting to study the methods of living and observe the accumulated wisdom of the Masai. They are reported to have known for over two hundred years that malaria was carried by mosquitoes, and further they have practiced exposing the members of their tribes who had been infected with syphilis by the Arabs to malaria to prevent the serious injuries resulting from the spirochetal infection. Yet modern medicine boasts of being the discoverers of this great principle of using malaria to prevent or relieve syphilitic infections of the spinal cord and brain.

(Page 151)

Conclusion

WAP noted that Tuberculosis was a modern disease and that infections could be prevented or could be reversed in individuals who followed traditional diets. While Dr. Price did not explicitly comment on vaccines it is equally telling that he decided not to talk about the medical advancements of the BCG vaccine that came into existence in 1929 (well over 15 years before his book was published). The theme of the book is decidedly diet-centric in its treatment of infectious diseases, but it does consider and wonder at traditionally available treatments like heliotherapy and malaria-induced pyrotherapy. The central finding of his dental work was that it was not so much bacteria that played a role in the development of cavities and we have seen the Doctor use the same diet-centric principles to discredit the role of bacteria in manifesting the severity of Tuberculosis which does not lend much credence to the suggestion that Weston A Price would have been a vigorous supporter for the use of Vaccines.

Geeky Joke

Weston A Price, a microbiologist, and a vaccinologist walk into a bar. Weston A Price asks for a large glass of local raw milk.
“I’m sorry says the bartender” in a thick French accent. “Vee don’t ‘ave anysing low-cal”.
“No, no, no I wanted a locally-sourced glass of milk”.
“Our glass iz not locale it iz eemported from France”
“No that’s OK, I just meant for the milk to be local. What’s wrong with you?! Let me have a look at your teeth!”
“Eye, see, OK Dr. Price. I understand now. And for you little Monsieur” asks the bartender who obviously has dental malformities.
The microbiologist thinks for a minute and asks for a BCG cocktail (made with Baileys, Creme de Cacao, and Green Creme de Menthe)…
“Just a small one but please don’t call me little” says the microbiologist. “That’s totally unnecessary.”
The vaccinologist is feeling virulent:
“Those sounds like excellent ideas. Cocktail or a glass of milk? – I can’t make up my mind… Dr. Price, Would you say I was feeling…. “mercurial”?”
“Oh brother” Sighs Dr. Price. “Please just have a shot of BCG like you normally do and leave me alone.”

About PD

PD is passionate about applying his background in math, statistics, and economics to apply new and interesting ideas about health, nutrition, and the incentives that drive products and the policies that surround them.
  • Aurelie

    Hello! thank you for very interesting articles!
    Talking about the BCG did you see this statement from the WHO : “The bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine has existed for 80 years and is one of the most widely used of all current vaccines, reading >80%of neonates and infants in countries where it is part of the national childhood immunization programme. BCG vaccine has a documented protective effect against meningitis and disseminated TB in children. It does not prevent primary infection and, more importantly, does not prevent reactivation of latent pulmonary infection, the principal source of bacillary spread in the community. The impact of BCG vaccination on transmission of Mtb is therefore limited.”
    Here is the link :http://www.who.int/biologicals/areas/vaccines/bcg/en/

    • Tariq

      Hi Aurelie!

      I didn’t see the link before, so thanks – that was interesting.