Its not the germs we need to worry about. It is our inner terrain. ∞ Louis Pasteur

There are two concepts in the field of medicine and microbiology that have assisted in our understanding of the causes of diseases and the strategies for prevention.

Germ theory, formulated by Louis Pasteur in the mid-19th century, focuses on the external pathogens (viruses and Bacteria) attacking our bodies, causing disease. These pathogens can be transmitted from person to person through direct contact, through the air, contaminated water, or other vectors.

Terrain theory, on the other hand, was proposed by Claude Bernard, Antoine Béchamp, and later popularized by Pierre Jacques Antoine Béchamp in the mid-19th century. This theory asserts that the state of the internal environment of the body, is the primary factor determining health and disease. The terrain puts emphasis on maintaining a state of wellness and internal balance to stave of disease.

Proponents of terrain theory argue that focusing on strengthening the body’s immune system and maintaining a balanced internal environment can be beneficial in preventing illnesses and supporting overall health.  It is important to note that a comprehensive understanding of disease causation often requires considering multiple factors, including genetics, lifestyle, environment, and microbial interactions.

I want to delve into this argument from very different perspectives that bring in certified medical doctors and psychologists who have all experienced both viewpoints of the debate.

Zach Bush MD, a triple certified physician specializing in regenerative medicine, regenerative farming and microbiome science, amongst other specialisations, provides a unique perspective on the germ theory vs. terrain theory debate. He emphasizes the importance of considering the role of the microbiome, the diverse community of microorganisms living within our bodies, in maintaining health and resilience.  ‘’a healthy microbiome is crucial for bolstering our immune system and protecting against pathogens.” He suggests that rather than solely focusing on eradicating germs, we should prioritize nurturing a robust and diverse microbiome through proper nutrition, reduced exposure to toxins, and healthy lifestyle choices. By fostering a balanced terrain within our bodies, we can enhance our overall health and reduce susceptibility to disease.

Psychologist and shamanic teacher, Alberto Villoldo,  brings another perspective to the germ theory vs. terrain theory debate by highlighting the effect of cultural conditioning on health. He proposes that our beliefs, emotional patterns, and social conditioning influence the terrain of our bodies and can either support or hinder our well-being.  Villoldo suggests that addressing cultural conditioning and emotional imbalances can influence the healthier terrain. Through practices such as energy healing, shamanic rituals, and inner work (aka shadow work), individuals can cultivate greater self-awareness, release limiting beliefs, and promote overall wellness.

Bill Plotkin, a depth psychologist and wilderness guide, emphasizes the importance of nature-based practices in developing a resilient terrain for holistic health. He recommends that connecting with the natural world and engaging in wilderness experiences can facilitate physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.  Plotkin proposes that spending time in nature, engaging in activities such as hiking, meditation, and ecological awareness, can strengthen our connection to the natural terrain. By fostering a deep relationship with the earth and its ecosystems, we can align our bodies, minds, and spirits with the rhythms of nature, enhancing our overall health and vitality.

Psychologist and holistic health practitioner, Heather Ensworth, advocates for a terrain-based approach to health. She highlights the importance of creating an optimal internal environment by addressing various factors such as nutrition, stress management, emotional well-being, and lifestyle choices.  She suggests that a robust terrain—comprising a strong immune system, healthy organs, and a balanced state of mind—plays a necessary function in preventing and overcoming illness. By nourishing and supporting the body’s natural healing mechanisms, individuals can reduce their reliance on external interventions and enhance their overall well-being.

One thing all these medical practitioners have in common is that they have worked in germ-based theory environments and found, through their own healing journey that they experienced a shift to the terrain-based theory, therefore having insight into both sides of the debate.  They all have common threads to gaining a balanced healthy lifestyle; interconnectedness of health, the importance of nurturing the terrain, and the role of cultural conditioning and nature-based practices in promoting well-being.

While the theories may differ in their approaches, integrating aspects of both germ theory and terrain theory can help individuals adopt a more comprehensive view of health, each theory has a place to be considered in the healing journal. By embracing a holistic approach that includes nurturing the microbiome, addressing lifestyle factors, acknowledging cultural conditioning, and fostering a deep connection with nature and spirit, we can strive for optimal well-being and cultivate a resilient terrain that supports our health journey.  There is a growing movement that poses our departure from spiritual connection (nature, a higher source or our internal God particle) being a large missing piece in our healing journey.  I note that all the cited experts all delve further into this concept.  This is opens an opportunity for further research and another article.

The challenge is creating a balance in your life and lifestyle choices so that you create health and resilience within your body, which is far more beneficial than the absence of disease alone.    If you have fallen out of balance or require a reset, contact me for a consultation to assist in removing your challenges to achieving optimal health.

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