Laboratory Manual for Bion Experiments
Notes by a Laboratory Worker – Norway, February 1938
(Handwritten & Typed Pages in German only – 105 pages)
Bound photocopy $ 20.00
In his 2009 Summer Conference lecture, "Reich's Unpublished Laboratory Notebooks and Correspondence," Professor James Strick, Ph.D.--author and science historian--showed excerpts from this 1938 laboratory manual which he discovered during a visit to the Archives to research his new book about Reich's bion experiments.
Professor Strick strongly urged the Trust to make this manual available in our bookstore for those seriously interested in bion research, despite the fact that we currently have neither the time nor resources to translate this document into English and issue it as a regular book. We agreed, realizing that this primary resource has tremendous value for the serious scientific researcher.
We caution everyone that this publication will have limited interest and accessibility to the average reader. It is a bound-photocopy edition of the manual's original pages: all of the content is in German, some of is typed and some of it is handwritten. It also has an Introduction in English by Professor Strick, which we include below:
A Laboratory Manual for Bion Experiments
James Strick, Ph.D.
Franklin and Marshall College
I first found this document in the Reich archives in January 2009. Having for many
years attempted to replicate various parts of Reich's bion experiments and discussed
difficulties involved with others attempting to do the same, it was very exciting to find
what immediately appeared to be the "cookbook" for Reich's lab.
All the small (but often key) details of preparing culture media, staining, etc., are here.
For any serious student of the bion experiments, this is an indispensable source of crucial
technical instructions for carrying out those experiments. In these detailed recipes may
reside answers to why researchers in recent years have been unable to replicate important
parts of Reich's work, most notably the culturing of bions (especially on solid media)
and the production of SAPA bions. After Roger DuTeil visited Reich's lab in July and
August 1937 and observed at first hand the preparation of media, he was more consistently
successful in replicating Reich's results.
Such details are not the only potential source of difficulties. All the culture media in
Reich's time were prepared from scratch from fresh ingredients, for example meat, milk,
potatoes, etc. One can only wonder about the effects of our pesticide and antibiotic-laced
meats and milk, pesticide-laden potatoes, etc. today. Or in the case of the Norwegian
sea sand used in producing SAPA bions, whether oil spills from tankers or from North
Sea drilling have contaminated beaches in a way that will influence results. This might
well apply to beaches worldwide since the increasingly common oil spills of the past
Reich's findings on the crucial effect on bion experiments of carbon, especially carbon
compounds heated to incandescence, certainly ought to inspire caution in this regard.
The existence of such ubiquitous, difficult-to-control variables need not overshadow,
however, the major contribution made by publication of the details contained in the
document you now hold in your hands. Certainly, the more we know, the more likely
we are to locate and solve the problems with replication.
The only two of these recipes available in published form before were "Culture Medium e"
(this booklet p. 20) and "Culture Medium IV (eggwhite medium)" (p. 21), which appeared
in the 1939 booklet Bion Experiments on the Cancer Problem, e.g.:
- Egg Medium IV. Combine:
- 38 grams of potatoes. (Thickly sliced and finely hashed)
- 75 cc milk. (Note that milk has been crossed out and bouillon substituted
as of December 1937 when Reich realized the medium gave better results
with this substitution.)
- 3 grams of potato flour
- 5 grams of peptone (Whitte).
This mixture is boiled for half an hour, being stirred for the first five minutes until it
forms a pulp. It is then cooled to about 50ºC. Then to it are added:
- 10 cc of 0.1 normal (also = 0.1 molar) KCl solution
- 1/2 gram of lecithin
- 10 cc Ringers solution (See p. 58 this volume, for formula. Many variants exist.)
- 6 cc glycerin
- 2-3 eggs (sterile, washed in alcohol)
This mixture is filtered through gauze and poured into sterile tubes. It is left in the dry
sterilizer (80-90ºC) for two hours until it hardens. The next day it is again left in the hot
air (dry) sterilizer for two hours at 90ºC, then for 24 hours in the incubator for control.
Adjust pH to 7.4 with about 3 drops of NaOH solution.
Even the last, seemingly minor point, written in by hand on the typed recipe, is the kind
of tacit, craft knowledge from a lab's working experience that rarely gets recorded in print,
yet can make a crucial difference in how experiments turn out. In the experimental
spontaneous generation debates of the 1870s between Bastian, Tyndall, Roberts and
Pasteur, the pH of the medium was at times a crucial factor behind different results.
Similarly, here we have the specific formula (numerous variants exist) used by Reich's
laboratory for Gram-staining microorganisms and bions:
- (p. 30) Grams Farbemethode
- Farben mit Karbolmethylviolet 2 Minuten lang [Stain for 2 mins. with solution
- Jod- Jodkalium [Flood slide with Iodine-Potassium Iodide solution for 1 Minute]
- Absprulen mit Alkohol bis keine Farbe mehr abgeht [Flood slide with 95%
ethanol until no color remains visible]
- Gegenfarbung [Counterstain]
- Abspruling mit verdrinutem Karbolfüsein. [Flood slide with Carbolfuchsin.]
The next page has the recipe to mix all the stains from scratch, according to the procedure
A full English translation of this document should be prepared. But in the meantime it was
felt that the current form should be made available immediately, so that those researchers
around the world trying to replicate or extend Reich's work with bions could have access to
those crucial technical details that may make a big difference when trying to replicate the
For any serious student of the bion experiments, this document is quite indispensable.
Hopefully this may lead to solving some of the problems with culturability (especially
on solid culture media), with producing SAPA bions, etc.