What and Why? 

Meningitis is inflammation of the coverings of the brain, so it is always a dangerous and unpleasant condition. Common virus infections such as mumps and measles can cause it, but not often. However since 1986 an old-fashioned germ has been found in increasing numbers of cases, outflanking attempts to control it and gaining ground each year so far. Doctors do not yet have the answer to it but you can take some useful precautions for yourself.


Bacterial meningitis linked to the germ Neisseria meningitidis has been well known since at least the early part of this century. It caused major epidemics in Britain in 1918 and 1940 during which up to three out of four victims died and many of the survivors were permanently brain-damaged. Antibiotic treatments available since then dramatically improved the outlook from the condition so that 95% or more of patients now survive, most of them without permanent harm. Fortunately the germ show no signs of becoming resistant to penicillin, although some other antibiotics no longer work very well.

There are two reasons why the germ is still a threat. The first concerns the germ’s own defences. Small changes in its structure from year to year mean that normal antibody immunity cannot protect you for long: you must keep it up to date. There are also several versions of the germ active at present, and no vaccine can yet be made against the most common one. This is the version that has caused quite serious outbreaks in Stroud, Plymouth and South Glamorgan during 1987 and 1988. Travellers to the Middle East may be exposed to a different version of the germ, against which immunization is fortunately available.

The second reason for difficulty is the germ’s unpredicable behaviour in human beings. On the one hand, it can hang about harmlessly for long periods in small colonies in the noses or throats of some people, yet it can rampage violently through less fortunate individuals (usually children or young adults), progressing from a vague ’flu-like illness to real danger of death within as little as two days. Doctors have no idea yet how to distinguish which of us is safe and who is in danger. On the other hand, although the germ does sometimes seem to cause highly infectious local outbreaks, it can also crop up in isolated individual cases, apparently at random and without any obvious infectious contact.

All this sets doctors and public health authorities a lot of problems. If they wait until people get ill, there is very little time to get treatment started. No suitable vaccine is yet available. Preventative treatment with another antibiotic (penicillin is reserved for cure) cannot be safely used except in the immediate contacts of known cases, and then only for a few days. No wonder this germ grabs the headlines!

We can however look at the germ’s behaviour in another way and discover important positive clues about it. Firstly, its unpredictable behaviour suggests that it does not always behave according to conventional infection theory: perhaps it can sometimes be created out of the flesh of susceptible individuals without infection, in the way Bechamp described. This would also help to explain the wide variations of resistance put up by different people, and the extremely rapid rate of growth and spread through the people worst affected.

If this is so, what matters is not the germ so much as the general immunity of everyone in your family, especially the younger members. Keep this at a high level and you are doing all you can (and more than any expert yet knows) to protect them not just from meningitis, but any other infectious disease.

What can I do?

Advice to prevent illness and maintain health

If your child is unaccountably ill, feverish, irritable, has a stiff neck, dislikes the light or has developed a rash of red spots that don’t fade on pressure — get them to hospital urgently!

1. Eat Well!  It is important to eat something every day that is not just raw or freshly prepared but is still in a whole, living condition shortly before you eat it. Grated root vegetables and seed-sprouts are ideal. See that everyone eats well, relying most on the protective fresh vegetables and whole-grain cereals, and keeping off processed or manufactured items, snacks and confectionery.

2. Supplementation: Vitamin C is a natural antiseptic as well as playing an important part in your immune system and your outer skin. It is also cheap and harmless. A daily dose of 500mg in a sustained release form, or several doses daily of crystalline industrial Vitamin C, helps to keep you in a strong position.

3. Other food supplements worth considering are minerals such as Zinc and Selenium, which are commonly deficient and very important to immune function. For this purpose the best form to take is Multimineral by Nature’s Own Ltd (see above), two tablets daily (one for a small child).

4. Keep well and buoyant in general. It is just as important to maintain a strongly positive outlook on life as strong defences: these are equal and opposite aspects of your immunity. Never be afraid to carry out with confidence whatever seems to you sensible and necessary. Do not be panicked or railroaded into a negative or fearful position.

5. The general precautions against unnecessary exposure to infections always apply (Click for information on immunisationChildhood infections, or  Whooping Cough.) Do not take children out unnecessarily to crowded places on foggy, damp days. Keep your baby out of reach of well-intentioned strangers: a sling across your chest is best. Do not exhaust or chill yourself under stress. Give yourself plenty of time and leaway to get over colds and ’flu.

6. Whether or not there is ‘anything going round’, take seriously any condition that quickly makes you or your children very ill indeed. The main danger signs with meningitis are shock, weakness, severe headache or dislike of the light, and a tendency to lie with head and spine arched back. These, or a rash of dark red spots or blotches, are always worth the urgent attention of your doctor. Two drops of undiluted Bach Rescue Remedy on the tongue can do no harm while you are waiting, and may help a lot. A tablet of homoeopathic Arnica 6 or 30 is a suitable alternative.

Helpful Links

Discussion Maximise

Sign In to Comment