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Germ Theory vs Terrain Theory - Be a Good Host

Updated: Nov 16, 2021

LifeHakx – Be a Good Host

By Eva Wisenbeck 14/03/2021

Listen to the podcast here.

See the video interview here.

Firstly, it is not a question of either or, Germ or Terrain!

It is a question of priority, we can either concentrate on maintaining a vital and healthy internal milieu or ‘ecosystem’, or we can concentrate on waging a war with the external ‘enemies’. Concentrating on external threats is like the tail wagging the dog, it is massively inefficient. By inverting the priority, and concentrating on the external rather than internal function we end up with a maximum effort for a minimum result. Real Terrain enthusiasts even take it one step further, saying that germs are actually generated in a ‘foul’ body. This is where exosomes come into the picture and we have yet so much to learn.

And using our current world, and the “C” situation (aka the virus Sars-Cov-2 and it’s disease pattern of Covid-19) as an example this is what it would look like:

Germ Theory – we need to avoid and kill the enemy – lockdowns, social isolation, mask wearing, hand sanitising, bleaching etc.

Terrain Theory – we need to strengthen our internal ‘ecosystem’ so our innate immune system will assimilate any new material – healthy food choices, exercise, sun exposure, supplementation, prophylactic medicine etc.

This shows so clearly that only focusing on one part will not yield the result you want!

We need to do both in varying measures. Our internal terrain should be a focus every day of our lives – to Be a Good Host. Then when we are in a situation which requires more we can add select external measures however never forget that the external measures will not build health. Unfortunately, on the contrary they will most often, as is the case now, weaken our immune system.

So let’s back up and get a couple of definitions:

Germ Theory - “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.“

Terrain Theory - “Disease is a condition of imbalance in the internal terrain of the body. 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 are a sign of the diseased conditions of the terrain and not the cause of those conditions.“

And let's not forget that much of our very DNA is made up from viruses. A ‘war’ on viruses – see now how that makes very little sense! They are ubiquitous and necessary. Germ Theory (Louis Pasteur 1822-1895) says we are ‘under attack’ from viruses. Terrain Theory (Claude Bernard 1813-1878 and Bechamp 1816-1908) says, look after your insides and the viruses cannot proliferate and cause illness.

As a consequence of Germ Theory underpinning modern medicine we have a mainstream system that mainly treats symptoms rather than underlying causes and tends to forget about our immense self-healing powers, and the power of homeostasis (us and our internal ecosystem being able to, and strive to, be in balance).

The Human Microbiome Project has demonstrated that we all have pathogens in our bodies at all times, which under healthy conditions are just a natural part of our internal terrain and complexities. As Bechamp said in 1833, “the primary cause of disease is in us, always in us”. It is only when our self-regulatory systems (homeostasis) are compromised that these pathogens cease to be benign.

A problem of our own making! Many of the disease phenomena making news headlines these days underscore the deficiencies of the current pharmaceutical model and reveal challenges that are the direct result of our take-no-prisoners assault and warfare on germs.

Our ancestors were exposed to billions of microbes in their homes and in their foods. Most of my food comes from a supermarket. By inhibiting microbial growth in these foods to extend shelf life, or sterilising them for safety, most of my food is devoid of microbial diversity. By sanitizing my home and living space, furnished with unnatural and chemically produced materials, and eating these relatively sterile foods, my microbiome has become less diverse than my ancestor’s microbiomes were for hundreds of thousands of years. Even nowadays, populations living more traditional lifestyles have greater gut diversity than those of us in the industrialised world. We now know that industrialised gut microbiomes are less diverse than the microbiomes of more traditional lifestyles.

However before we all panic and go live in a forest somewhere, there are lots of things we can do to help our ‘ecosystem’. And as the wonderful Sarah Ballantyne says “It’s only effort before it’s habit”. By shopping and eating locally and seasonally, using gentler cleaning products, not being afraid of getting our hands dirty in soil we can have a massive impact on our ‘ecosystem’. By eating a diverse diet with as many types of plant foods as we can, remembering to eat the rainbow as each colour has different functions, focussing on the “How not the What” so how was the vegetable/animal reared, grown, handled is much more important.

We need to feed our guests prebiotics, invite more friendly guests by eating probiotics and encourage the right postbiotics. For more details read the Pre- and Probiotic blog.

And as we discussed one of the easiest and quickest way to become A Good Host is to avoid ultra-processed foods – so anything with 5 or more ingredients on the label – put it back!

Even better buy foods with no labels as Dr Mark Hyman says.

Right, now back to our warfare, dangerous superbugs are emerging, largely due to overuse of “anti-everything” drugs such as antibiotics and antifungals, and are ushering in a potential return “to a world in which infectious diseases drastically shorten lives.” Some have estimated that drug-resistant pathogens will become a bigger killer than cancer by 2050. Now that is something worth considering for sure!

Functional Medicine already utilise the makeup of a patients’ microbiomes for personalised and precision medicine as well as using phages and other microorganisms as treatments. It is a fascinating field of medicine, one which is moving very rapidly so stay curious and ask questions.

If you are curious and would like more information about Germ Theory and Terrain Theory and their duality here are some great resources.

Dr Jockers “Germ Theory vs Terrain Theory of Health & Disease”


Meet The Team


Eva Wisenbeck

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Eva Wisenbeck is a Co-Presenter of LifeHakx & a Wellness Coach

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Mary Collins

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Mary Collins is the Creator and Presenter of LifeHakx Media.

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