There are definitely some people who seem to get sick far more regularly than others – have you noticed? Or some people who suffer a lot worse with the common cold or flu than others whilst some won’t catch anything at all!
My ethos has always been ‘if I look after my mind and body to the best of my ability, then it should be as well equipped as possible to deal with any virus, pathogen or illness that may come my way’ and there is reason that there is a lot of truth to this! We know there are many things that improve our health such as; exercise, eating well, sleeping well and letting go of negative emotion. Whilst on the opposite side, we know there are things that are detrimental to our health such as; smoking, drinking, leading a sedentary lifestyle, eating a diet full of highly processed foods lacking in protein and vegetables, poor sleep and poor emotional regulation.
In comes the Germ vs. Terrain Theory!
Germ theory has become the dominant scientific narrative and suggests that external viruses, germs, and bacteria invade the body and cause illness and disease and we must continue to try and kill them off (like with constant antibacterial hand rinsing which is SO BAD for your microbiome and immunse system – but story for another day).
This theory was popularised by Louis Pasteur where he proposed that microorganisms were the cause of most diseases, along with the politics at the time. This then helped introduce the use of antibiotics (which kill both good AND bad bacteria) and vaccines (which seek to target and prevent a single disease).
So today, we see people living in fear and anxiety of germs and battle with them using detrimental means such as antibacterial handwash, wipes, spray, and the works. These instead kill off good bacteria, leaving our body and immune system depleted of its good warriors!
Terrain theory originated alongside the germ theory in the 1850s, and it states that if the body is well and balanced germs/viruses/bacteria that are a natural part of life will be dealt with by the body appropriately without causing sickness. It emphasises that the ‘terrain’ of the human body is more important than the pathogens that infect it – this was popularised by Antoine Bechamp.
The terrain theory explains why some people get sick whilst others, when exposed to the same pathogens, do not. Once an individuals terrain is compromised, it gives the pathogens a chance to proliferate, leading to inflammation and disease.
Our terrain can become compromised through exposure to toxins and other contaminants that impact our immune system and microbiome. And on the other side, we know that we can improve our inner terrain through many things such as good nutrition, good sleep, exercise, social interaction, sunlight, fresh air, time in nature, meditation, breath-work, fasting and even cold exposure.
Have you ever compromised any of these things and noticed yourself get sick? Because I know I have…
So which theory is correct?
This can be such a polarising debate. The allopathic medical system is deeply rooted in the germ theory, whilst holistic and alternative health practitioners tend to be champions of the terrain theory.
Which camp tends to get the worse rap? (If you answered the holistic and alternative health practitioners then you are correct)
But to be honest, neither is 100% correct or incorrect. The truth lies in the middle and neither theory invalidates the other. But regardless of individual belief, we KNOW we can never do any harm by improving our internal terrain (which is where the truth lies for me), but we can do plenty of harm targeting the individual pathogens.
I personally find it suspicious how looking after yourself, strengthening your immune system and leading a healthy lifestyle remain absent from any health narrative we see, and this has been made even more apparent in the last few years – and that is another reason why I continue to prioritise and look after my internal terrain!