Germ Theory vs Terrain Theory and how this applies to COVID19

For those that know me, know that I always like to lean back to Nature, to what it is showing us. To observe what is happening and try and get an understanding. Since I was young, I have believed that our bodies can heal themselves. That we just need to support and nurture it’s needs and it will repair what is needed. Recently, I have been diving into Nature’s microbial world studying & researching soil, soil microbiology & gut microbiology.

Learning more about the microbial world, I am learning just how important these micro-organisms are, not just in soil, but inside and outside our body.

According to Dr Josh Axe:

To keep us in good health, our gut relies on carefully maintaining a symbiotic relationship with trillions of microorganisms, the cells of which out number our human cells by a factor of ten to one. These microorganisms are a mix of the good guys (mutualists), bad guys (pathogens), and neutral bystanders (commensals) that basically just go with the flow. Most experts believe the average healthy mix of microbes is about 85 percent positive/neutral and 15 percent negative, which creates a lively balance that keeps the immune system well trained and on its toes to defend against unhealthy viruses and other antigens

Axe, Dr Josh; Eat Dirt!, 2016

In the last few days I have been diving into a couple of ideas that have surfaced, namely the difference between Germ Theory and Terrain Theory.

What is Germ Theory?

It states that microorganisms known as pathogens or “germs” can lead to disease. These small organisms, too small to see without magnification, invade humans, other animals, and other living hosts. Their growth and reproduction within their hosts can cause disease.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germ_theory_of_disease

So in my very new understanding, my simple explanation of Germ Theory, is that there are “bad germs” and they must be eliminated. Hence we have things like antibiotics to kill these bad guys. But what I have observed, is that those that take antibiotics often, often get more and more sick and slowly over time can deteriorate in health. So I suspected there was something more to the story, and germ theory wasn’t the whole encompassing truth.

Also another thought about germ theory is that if it were 100% true, that everyone who had evidence of the germ in your blood, you would therefore get sick. Yet people can carry these “bad guys” in their system and never get sick. So again I feel that germ theory is part of the story, but not the whole story.

It is important that I say here, that the work of Louis Pasteur and germ theory improved human health dramatically! Dr Grisanti says it well below:

It is of utmost importance to be grateful for the wonderful discovery of the works of Louis Pasteur. Infectious diseases that were once lethal can now be effectively treated thanks to Louis Pasteur. Unfortunately, his theory of acute disease management has not been fruitful in the treatment of many chronic diseases.

Dr Grisanti’s comment: https://www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com/public/937.cfm

This is where I have discovered the lesser known Terrain Theory, which to me is starts to align with my current understanding of the microbial world and how our body works when it comes to viruses, disease, etc.

What is Terrain Theory?

Claude Bernard and Antoine Bechamp (1816-1908), …believed disease was a condition of imbalance in the internal terrain of body. Bernard and Bechamp emphasized the context or environment in which germs lived and not the germs. On the one hand, if the terrain was balanced (homeostatic), then germs could not flourish. On the other hand, if the terrain were out of balance, then germs would thrive. In short, germs do not cause disease. Instead, they are a sign of the diseased conditions of the terrain and not the cause of those conditions (see Stockton, 2000).

Michael Garko, Ph.D. http://letstalknutrition.com/the-terrain-within-a-naturalistic-way-to-think/

Again, I agree with Dr Grisanti’s comment below:

“…[when it] relates to chronic, long-standing health issues….we need to embrace the workings of Claude Bernard [Terrain Theory]. He was absolutely correct in stating we need to spend more of our time in fixing the balance in the body’s internal environment.”

Dr Grisanti’s comment: https://www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com/public/937.cfm

When watching his brilliant interview on The Highwire, Dr Zach Bush, although he doesn’t directly talk about Germ Theory vs Terrain Theory, his overall view seems to align with the idea of the Terrain Theory: That we need to improve our the balance of our internal microbiome, as well as stop killing the microbiomes in our soil.

What is emerging is a new view, one that isn’t at the polar extremes and is still based on Science. One that makes sense when you really look and observe what happens in Nature.

So where does COVID19 fit in with all of this? Well, for starters, the idea of social distancing and killing ALL microbes with disinfectants, wearing masks – this is all actually killing the good guys that we need to help create the balance! We need to stop killing microbes, and start building and nourishing the good guys. We even need the bad guys to help keep a balance in our system. Even wearing masks prevents us to breath in biomes around your area, that can ultimately help your internal system survive your local environment.

Long term, what we need to drive forward on is improving our agricultural system to regenerative organic, so that we can start to build the soil microbes and nutrition in our plants. This source of food will help to increase the diversity in our own gut microbiome and improve our immune systems. Expose ourselves to our local environment. Get into the local neighbourhood and walk around, get in Nature and breath in the natural biomes. Expose ourselves to all good and bad microbes. Even try some fermentation to bring a new variety of microbes into your internal terrain!

Then of course it’s feeding your microbiome – fibre is the key! Lots of fruits and veggies! Your microbial community LOVE it and thrive on it. This keeps them, and ultimately YOU, healthy!

My hope for the future is that we can soften on the extreme polarities and start to see that there is some truth in both views. That really if we align with Nature, not only will our human health improve, so will the global environmental situation. I believe it has the potential to eliminate the effects of pandemics. Will they stop happening? I don’t think so, but having a better understanding may decrease the intense amount of fear that caused the world to shut down and hide. And if we all have improved the internal balance of our own microbiome, then more people will potentially have a strong immune system to ward off any serious affect of the next virus that comes.


2 thoughts on “Germ Theory vs Terrain Theory and how this applies to COVID19

  1. What of the claim that it’s a virus that is seen in the blood that causes the disease when what is seen is actually the last line of defense of the body for getting rid of toxins, and that no one has ever isolated a virus ever and that they are not living nor are they found outside the body? And what are bad germs, when it is actually toxins that make us sick?

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