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Hormesis: The Word COVID-Warriors Don't Want Us to Learn

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

On November 30, 1847, Marcus and Narcissa Whitman were among thirteen whites massacred by Cayuse Indians at Waiilatpu Mission, near present-day Walla Walla, Washington. This came about because, as the expression goes, certain facts were somewhat misunderstood.


Various tensions had arisen between the Indians and settlers, only to be made much worse when a measles epidemic broke out. About two hundred natives died of a disease that was mostly a nuisance among settlers. The Whitmans died because they were thought to have poisoned the natives with the disease.

White settlers didn’t have the “foolproof vaccine” that Pennsylvania Governor Wolf demands before re-opening his state. What they did have was a very effective lifetime of casual exposure. Most people were exposed in their childhood. They got a minor illness, recovered and became immune.

Since most of the public believed illnesses were just part of life, little effort was made to avoid them. Many people got sick. Most recovered and became immune. But when an adult with a mild case passed through Waiilatpu, the result was “COVID-19.” White settlers had herd immunity that limited measles to a minor illness. Cochise Indians had none.

There’s another group with immunity. Some people get infected but don’t get sick. That’s right, there’s a big difference between getting infected and getting sick. Jeffrey Singer MD, describes how he chanced to be tested for SARS CoV-2. To his great surprise, he had antibodies, even though he hadn’t been sick for a single day since “COVID-19” entered the language. To make life more interesting, his wife was negative. He got infected, became immune, and probably didn’t pass the bug on to anyone.


Dr. Singer demonstrates how such immunity spreads. Most people don’t get enough exposure to get sick. But even at lower exposures, they develop immunity. And this brings us to the word of the day: Hormesis.

“In the fields of biology and medicine hormesis is defined as an adaptive response of cells and organisms to a moderate (usually intermittent) stress. Examples include ischemic preconditioning, exercise, dietary energy restriction and exposures to low doses of certain phytochemicals.”

On the street this might be expressed as, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” 

Your body has a host of defense mechanisms. But if they aren’t exercised, they atrophy, just like your muscles. So at low levels of exposure, your defenses perk up. “There’s something bad here!” Defenses ramp up and repairs get going. Those low levels of carcinogens in your diet just improved your health. And that improvement continues until the biological insults become overwhelming. Then disease takes over.

As you might imagine, there are dozens of examples. Many people are afraid that diagnostic x-rays will increase their risk of cancer. But multiple studies show that the low level of radiation in diagnostic x-rays may actually reduce the risk of cancer. If radiation breaks a DNA strand, repair enzymes fix it, and the body makes more of the enzymes to get ready for a bigger challenge. 


The same applies to infections. If you are exposed to low doses of virus, your body defends against it, making more antibodies to protect against a bigger threat. This is what happened to Dr. Singer. He was exposed and infected, but the infection simply wasn’t enough to make him sick. Instead, it made him stronger by turning his immune system on. As long as a person isn’t exposed to overwhelming numbers of virus particles, turning on their immune responses makes them healthier. They will make antibodies and increase their immunity. It’s only when the insult it massive that they head for the bottom side of the daisies.

Vaccination is alleged to be the way we will get herd immunity. But we haven’t been able to make vaccines for any coronaviruses. Not SARS, not MERS, and not the common cold. HIV has no vaccine, and neither does Ebola. Even our influenza vaccines are based on guesses. But we don’t die out because we develop herd immunity through casual exposure.

That’s right. It is essential to public health for large numbers of people to get exposed to low doses of SARS CoV-2. As immunity spreads, illness will stop spreading. It will become part of the background of disease risks we live with daily. But as long as we do paranoid social distancing, trying to “prevent the spread of the disease,” we can’t develop herd immunity. All those useless masks just make us look stupid and may even increase our risk. If you’re under 60 without bad diseases, you should be back in public. Your chance of becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID-19 is almost nil.


“Hormesis” needs to be understood as the answer to the pandemic. The incalculable financial and medical damage the lockdowns are causing have done us no good. They have kept us from taking advantage of the natural defense mechanisms our Creator built into us. The lockdown is making us worse. It’s time to stop committing mass suicide.

Doctor Noel spent 36 years in clinical medical practice, including intensive care medicine. Find him on Twitter and Facebook as DoctorTed.

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