Germs VS. Terrain


There are two popular theories on how disease comes about in the body…


The Germ Theory is the most popular belief in Western civilization and medicine, it has influenced how we live as well as why use disinfectants (all the time), medications and antibiotics on a regular basis.  This theory is what makes pharmaceutical companies and the western practice of medicine sustainable.  This theory brings in billions of dollars a year in revenue.  It is the belief that a germ or a microbe enters the body and is the cause of illness.

Louis Pastuer

Louis Pasteur who is credited with discovering the microbe and the development of the germ theory believed that the body was sterile.   This micro organism would enter into the body, invade it and ultimately cause illness.  He believed that if you rid the environment of these illness causing microbes (also called pathogens) disease would be eliminated from our world permanently.  You can easily see how this theory is part of modern culture.  Our overuse of hand sanitizer, as well as the sights and smells of the very sterile environment of a hospital and doctors office mirrors this belief perfectly.  Eliminating pathogens is what the medical field is trying to do on a regular basis and it explains why nutrition is for the most part absent from the medical profession.

Although this theory is quite popular in our American culture it does have many holes in it…

If this theory were true we would all be sick all the time.  There is no way to wipe all the bacterium and microbes from our environment.  We don’t just suddenly catch a germ here or there, they are everywhere. Sure, some may be stronger than others, but disease would be more typical than being well.

Have you heard those stories about children who their parents were so germ-o-phobic that they disinfected everything?  The result was that their child is sick all the time.  If this germ theory were true the child in the completely disinfected environment should be the healthy child don’t you think?

Don’t you find it interesting that when there is something going around some people get sick and other people don’t get sick?  I remember last winter when the flu was being passed around like crazy.  However, there were still many (including my children) who did not ever get the flu.  Even within a family one person could get sick an others in the family will not get sick at all.  These scenarios poke lots of holes in this theory.  If these microbes are in your living environment and “catching” them is what causes you to get sick then you should always get sick when other people in your home are sick.

Throughout history plagues and deadly sicknesses have passed through whole towns, cities and villages and yet many still survived and did not come down with the disease at all.  Those who didn’t get sick were still able to care for the sick, and be very close to the disease and yet they seemed immune.

Deadly staph infections are becoming more common in our culture and people are typically getting them from sterile hospital environments.  Environments that are meant to be free of debilitating germs.

There has to be more to the story…

Throughout much of the 1800s Claude Bernard, a french physiologist became known for his theory that the terrain or the “milieu” as he called it of a person made them healthy.  He believed that blood plasma, lymphatic fluids, and other bodily fluids made up the body’s terrain.  When all parts of the body’s system worked as it was designed and maintains a sense of balance called homeostasis.

Bernard’s research allowed us to see that when challenges come our way including foods we eat, disease and other life stresses that the body can maintain health if its terrain is also healthy.  When the terrain of the body is sick then that person will also gets very sick.  He believed that maintaining the health and balance of the body was truly the key to living a full and healthy life.

Bernard and Pasteur did not get along and sources say that Pasteur went so far to duplicate some experiments of his colleagues and claim them as his own research.  On his deathbed sources quote Pasteur as saying, “Bernard was right. The germ is nothing, the terrain is everything.”  Yet Pasteur seems to get all the credit.  What is wrong is wrong with this picture?

Let’s Get this Straight…

Germs can causes our immune system to stumble, but not unless our terrain is unhealthy.  Although good hygiene is important we must NOT focus on germs when we want to experience good health. Instead, we need to train our minds to shift and think about what it takes to have a healthy terrain.  This is what will fuel our body to heal itself and cope with outside stresses.  Bacteria in our environment is actually beneficial and helps protect us against germs that can make us sick.  Changing our lifestyle to where we are eating well and helping it to create healthy cells instead of sick ones are what will keep us in good health.

This winter, instead of spending money on hand sanitizer or  processed foods take a stab at healthy, whole foods and allowing your body to create healthy cells and maintain homeostasis to stay well.  Put good stuff in the body and get good health out.

How has the germ theory influenced how you think about staying healthy?  Will a shift to becoming more familiar with the terrain theory influence you to change your life style?

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