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The Terrain is Everything

Every one of us grew up with the idea that germs cause disease. We accepted this notion from a very early age, passed down by our parents, our teachers, our caretakers, and our culture in general. We have taken this assertion as infallible truth, so much so that most of us have never even thought to question it. 

When someone experiences a sniffle or a sore throat, they immediately think they “caught something” somewhere. We are taught to cover our mouths when we sneeze, not just as a courtesy, but in order to keep from “spreading germs.” Grade schools are jokingly referred to as “germ factories.” Our culture so deeply and pervasively believes this idea that one might think it an absolute truth, as if there has never been any other possible viewpoint to consider. 

If the germ theory were true, no one would be alive to believe it! 

–BJ Palmer, the Developer of Chiropractic 

The theory that germs cause disease began in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with the invention of the first compound microscopes, which allowed for the discovery of microorganisms. Many scientific minds (such as Hooke, Leeuwenhoek, and Semmelweis) are credited with aiding in the development of germ theory over the years, but it did not gain prominence until the work of Louis Pasteur in the mid- 1800’s. Pasteur’s experiments showed that bacteria could cause food, wine, and beer to spoil. These experiments led to the development of the process we know today as pasteurization. The connection between food spoilage and microorganisms was then applied to disease in living beings, and paved the way for widespread acceptance of the germ theory. 

Many people have never heard that Pasteur had contemporary colleagues who strongly disagreed with his perspective and interpretation. Claude Bernard and Antoine Bechamp were prominent French scientists of the time. They theorized that a weakened, imbalanced, or compromised bodily environment was the cause of illness, not the germ itself. Therefore, the strength of the host, not the presence of the germ, was the true causal factor. 

We now know that microbes inhabit just about every area of the body. The human body normally contains trillions of microorganisms, outnumbering human cells by 10 to 1! That literally means we have ten times more germs within our bodies than we have of our own cells. These microorganisms provide vital functions essential for human survival, such as aiding in digestion, producing certain vitamins, detoxifying harmful chemicals, and regulating emotions. 

Many microbes thought to “cause” disease were frequently found to exist in healthy people. Health, overall, began to improve with higher standards of living, and these ubiquitous microbial agents in the body became less tenable as a true cause of disease. As diseases declined (“infectious” and non-“infectious” diseases alike), we began to recognize that more important factors were responsible, not merely the presence or absence of germs. 

As reported by the National Institutes of Health: “Microbes inhabit just about every part of the human body, living on the skin, in the gut, and up the nose. Sometimes they cause sickness, but most of the time, microorganisms live in harmony with their human hosts, providing vital functions essential for human survival. (National Institutes of Health, 2012) 

The differences between Pasteur’s germ theory and Bechamp’s host theory are summarized below (Ayoade, 2017): 

Germ Theory (Pasteur)

  • Disease arises from microorganisms outside the body. 
  • Microorganisms are generally to be guarded against.
  • The function of micro organisms is constant.
  • The shapes and colors of microorganisms are constant.
  • Every disease is associated with a particular microorganism.
  • Microorganisms are primary causal agents.
  • Disease can “strike” anybody.
  • To prevent disease we have to build defenses. 

Host Theory (Bechamp)

  • Disease arises from microorganisms inside the body.
  • These intra-cellular microorganisms normally function to build and assist in the metabolic processes of the body.
  • The function of these organisms changes to assist in the catabolic (disintegration) processes of the host organism when that organism dies or is injured, which may be chemical as well as mechanical.
  • Microorganisms change their shape and color to reflect the medium.
  • Every disease is associated with a particular condition.
  • Microorganisms become “pathogenic” as the health of the host organism deteriorates. Hence, the condition of the host agent is the primary causal agent.
  • Disease is built by unhealthy conditions.
  • To prevent disease we have to create health. 

Yes, sometimes microorganisms will enter areas of the body where they don’t naturally belong, as in the case of a leaky gut, injury, or from physical damage to the blood-brain barrier. However, if it’s true that we need germs to survive, that everyone carries them throughout life, that they live in harmony with us, and only contribute to issues in compromised organs, then why should we fear and blame germs? (Editor’s note: For a comprehensive guide to the natural role of germs within the organs of the body, explore the 4th biological law of the German New Medicine.

Legend has it that Pasteur, on his deathbed, recanted his theory, stating, “Bernard was right. The germ is nothing. The terrain is everything.” So the next time the big industry purchased media tries to drive fear into you over the latest germophobic scare, please remember that you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (King James Bible, 2020). As Dr. BJ Palmer once stated, “The master maker of the human body did not create you and then run off and leave you masterless. He stayed on the job as Innate, as the fellow within, as nerve transmission controlling every function of life, as spirit from above-down, inside-out, expressing, creating, exploring, directing you in every field and phase of experience so that your home is truly the world and the world is your home.” (Barge, 2001, p. 126) 

Following is the affirmation I invite you to embrace: I have no fear of West Nile, Zika, H1N1, measles, influenza, or coronavirus. I am built to be well and to live in harmony with all other living creatures, including the entirety of the microbial world, as long as I am sufficient, pure, and whole. Abundant health and vitality for a lifetime are my nature and my birthright, just as they are for the germ. All there is to fear is that interference, that toxicity, that deficiency that would disconnect me from my healing source, weakening my defenses, and distorting the fullest expression of my inner life potential. 

You are built to be well, period. That is your natural state. To achieve and maintain it, simply live as closely to Mother Nature’s design as possible. Seek the fullest expression of that inborn strength through consistent chiropractic care of your spine and nervous system over a lifetime, proper nutrition, basic supplementation, regular exercise, sufficient sleep and hydration, adequate sun exposure, prayer and meditation, avoidance of toxins/ chemicals, and minimization of drug usage.