The community microbiome
by Toby Rogers Jul 11, 2023
In the medical freedom movement we focus a lot on the wisdom of the body’s innate immune system. But that’s just one (very complicated) piece in a much larger and more interesting system.
For the first year of life, infants don’t have much of an immune system. But nature already solved this problem. Infants are messy. They touch everything and so they are introducing a constant stream of dirt, bacteria, viruses, saliva, feces, and urine to everyone in their orbit, especially the mother. In the process, the mother is exposed to microdoses of a wide range of, for lack of a better word, germs, for which she develops immunity that she then passes on to the child through breastmilk.
But this process of building a shared microbiome starts long before that. The microbiome is the community of microorganisms such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses that exists in a particular environment. In humans, the term is often used to describe the microorganisms that live in or on the body, such as the gastrointestinal tract or the skin. But the individual microbiome exists within a community microbiome and the larger microbiome of the planet itself. Sometimes these microbes are beneficial, other times not so much, but life itself involves the interaction and exchange between our cells and the microbial cells in us and all around us.
When people are attracted to each other, one of the first things they do is to start building a shared microbiome, through touching, kissing, and sexual contact. Couples are saying, ‘Hey, I like you, let’s combine our microbiomes and see where that takes us!’
This happens (in a different way) in the community too. Children playing together, sports, community pools, and family gatherings are examples of people building a shared microbiome together. In each of these interactions they are sharing microdoses of the viruses and bacteria that make up the vast majority of our DNA and together building healthier and more resilient immune systems in every individual across the community.
This microbial exchange also happens, or at least it used to happen, through gardening and farming. Tilling the soil and working with the land involves releasing its microbiome, inhaling some of it, taking in some of it through the skin, changing it and being changed by it, through our interaction with nature.
When the microbiome gets out of balance, periodic fasting (whether through religious practices, personal discipline, or long forays into the desert) resets the microbiome.
All of our interactions in life involve this exchange between the human body and the microbiome within us and all around us. For most of human history this system worked remarkably well. Yes, periodically things went sideways (e.g. the bubonic plague) owing to (I take the terrain theorists’ point here) lack of clean drinking water, too much alcohol, and an addiction to grains, amongst other factors. The tendency for the various Inquisitions, that started in 1184, to murder natural healers and cats also may have played a role in the outbreak of disease.
Once society shed the shackles of feudalism & slavery, living standards advanced to the point where people had enough to eat, and large scale sanitation systems made sure we weren’t living in constant filth, humanity began to experience a massive leap in longevity and health.
Then the chemical industry inserted itself into each of the systems that I described above and broke the harmony of those natural systems.
Seemingly endless vaccines in the first year of life interrupt the microbial exchange between babies and mothers. Pharma tried to solve a problem that nature (and rising living standards) had already solved and in the process completely messed up our health.
The problem of sexually transmitted diseases (sexual liberation itself facilitated by Pharma) suggests that the sexual sharing of the microbiome can go too far. Okay so perhaps there is an important lesson there as well. One could theorize that there is an optimal amount of informed sexual microbial exchange and that, as we become urbanized, globalized, and sexually liberated, these natural limits can be exceeded.
As society becomes atomized, isolated, and sanitizes the heck out of our skin, gastrointestinal tract, food, and our surroundings, the microbial exchange that used to happen through play and daily family and community interactions drops off.
Industrial farming — with its heavy use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides — kills the microbiome in the soil and poisons farmers, the surrounding community, and consumers.
And with a constant supply of cheap, processed, and addictive food, combined with the decline in religion, fasting has become an unfortunate anachronism. So the microbiome is rarely reset even when it’s out of balance.
To be clear, I’m not talking about “herd immunity” per se. That concept has been used, abused, and weaponized by Pharma beyond any reasonable connection with the actual physical world.
This is really about a much broader concept of community health where the microbiome of the individual, family, community, and nature are all in harmony with each other.
Obviously I’m a novice at this. Zach Bush and others will narrate this story much better than I can at this point. But I’m just struck by this idea of the community microbiome, that existed for all of human history, and now is interrupted and under constant attack. It feels both literal and metaphorical to me. This shared sense of community was literal, communities used to share a microbiome, and now that is fractured and we no longer feel those bonds of connection either.
Anyway, that’s the thought that came to me in the middle of the night. In the comments, please help me to improve and refine this idea (or reject it altogether if you must).
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