Part 3 of 6 of an interview with David Peck, D.O.
Oftentimes the mercury would be applied for a period of two to three weeks, until the patient would start to salivate excessively. Now, that was in part a poisoning action of some of this mercury that it had on these enzymes. For instance, a side effect of mercury poisoning is that the patient would slough oral tissue. This is a result of the mercury attacking the protein structure within our own body causing it to break down, causing some very ugly side effects. So, you can see that the treatment of mercury for syphilis was potentially curative because it could kill the bacteria by inactivating the enzymes and the protein within the bacteria, but at the same time it also attacks the protein structures within the human body. It is a very sharp double-edged sword. It kills the bacteria, but it also, unfortunately, does a great deal of harm to the patient.
Now, as I mentioned in my book, the side effect of salivation which occurred with mercury treatment for syphilis . . . Medical science in 1804 to 1806 believed that that was a sign that the patient's body was expelling what they called a contagion. Or that whatever it was . . . they didn't know at that time it was a bacteria . . . whatever it was that was causing the disease of syphilis, was being expelled, thereby producing these symptoms of salivation within the patient.
At that time they did not understand microbiology, they did not understand that syphilis was caused by a bacteria. It was over 60 years before medical science developed the germ theory of disease under the influence of Koch6 and Pasteur7 in Europe.
6. Robert Koch (1843-1910) was a German physician, and one of the founders of the science of bacteriology. In 1876 he discovered the anthrax disease cycle, in 1882 the bacteria producing tuberculosis, and in 1883, cholera.
7. Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), was the French chemist and microbiologist who proved that diseases are caused by microorganisms. His major discoveries began as efforts to assist industries, such as the treating of vinegar, wine, and beer—and later milk—by heating them to destroy germs.
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