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The Germ vs. the Terrain

Updated: Mar 6, 2021

Germs include bacteria, viruses and even some fungi (i.e. yeast, such as candida albicans).

Louis Pasteur is the where the "Germ Theory" originated from, it was his important work in understanding microbes and that they have a relation to disease. From Wikipedia:

"His medical discoveries provided direct support for the germ theory of disease and its application in clinical medicine. He is best known to the general public for his invention of the technique of treating milk and wine to stop bacterial contamination, a process now called pasteurization. He is regarded as one of the three main founders of bacteriology, together with Ferdinand Cohn and Robert Koch, and is popularly known as the "father of microbiology".(1)

Now consider Antoine Béchamp and The Terrain Theory (2). Béchamp stated:

"We do not catch diseases. We build them. We have to eat, drink, think, and feel them into existence. We work hard at developing our diseases. We must work just as hard at restoring health. The presence of germs does not constitute the presence of a disease."

His ideas make a lot of sense, because not every person exposed to a bacteria or virus will be susceptible to it. This is also demonstrated in how we calculate our risk of infection:

Exposure size

or how much virus you’re exposed to


Virus virulence

or the strength of the virus to get passed your immune system



or the overall strength of your immune system

If Pasteur were 100% correct, we wouldn't have susceptibility even be a part of this equation. If we were exposed to an infectious organism, we would be infected and have symptoms, but this is not the case. This is evident in that we can have no symptoms, but still test positive for having the virus (i.e. COVID-19).

Béchamp theorized that "Bacteria are scavengers of nature, they reduce dead tissue to its smallest element. Germs or bacteria have no influence, whatsoever, on live cells. Germs or microbes flourish as scavengers at the site of disease. They are just living on the unprocessed metabolic waste and diseased, malnourished, nonresistant tissue in the first place. They are not the cause of the disease, any more than flies and maggots cause garbage."

I find myself reminding patients all the time that it's not about the germ, it's about their individual terrain, just as a mosquito is drawn to stagnant water, we need to ensure our internal terrain isn't drawing in viruses, bacteria and other microbes which can grow out of control. Flies, maggots, and rats do not cause garbage but rather feed on it. Another example commonly used includes firemen - you always see them at burning buildings, but that doesn't mean they caused the fire.

The Rife Universal Microscope, developed in the late 1930's and early 1940's, clearly established that germs (microorganisms) are the result of disease (scavengers of dead cells) rather than the cause thereof. Rife, who observed these living microbes under his powerful microscope stated:

"In reality, it is not the bacteria themselves that produce the disease, but we believe it is the chemical constituents of these micro-organisms enacting upon the unbalanced cell metabolism of the human body that in actuality produce the disease. We also believe if the metabolism of the human body is perfectly balanced or poised, it is susceptible to no disease." (3)

Traditional Western medicine teaches and practices the doctrines of French chemist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), and mostly ignores the work of Béchamp. The traditional Western model claims that fixed species of microbes from an external source invade the body and are the cause of infectious disease. But if this were really the case, wouldn't we all get sick when exposed to someone with a cold or a flu? Wouldn't we all be sick all the time, as microbes are everywhere in our environment?

It's a lot easier to get behind killing out a single bacteria and making it the enemy, especially when the discovery of penicillin arrived on the scene. It's also a lot more profitable to sell a pill that can eradicate a pathogen, instead of the process of adjusting the terrain, which takes time, more knowledge of the human body and may take several steps. Much like how we can use a pesticide to eradicate a garden infestation, it's more profitable to design, patent, mass produce and sell a chemical product than to educate the gardener on creating ecological balance between the plants, bugs and microbes in their garden in order to adjust the environment and eliminate the infestation.

The problem with this model, is a problem we see happening in medicine and the environmental health of our planet daily. Wiping out an entire species of creature has dire consequences in both cases. Using an antibiotic to wipe out a few species of bacteria create resistance over time, and problematic imbalances of beneficial bacteria, one of the most common examples of this is when women are prescribed an antibiotic, they are more likely to suffer a vaginal yeast infection after treatment (4, 5).

The loss of many wolves from the Olympic peninsula in the early 1900s created ripples of change in the ecosystem of the area, all the way from increased elk population who ate all the plants and shrubs which had their part in preventing soil erosion, altered the pathways of the rivers and streams and changes in the habitats of salmon and songbirds (6).

We have to change our line of thinking here. We, humans, are also a part of nature, and we need to have a balance with our environment in order for us all to survive and thrive. This is of upmost importance in clinical practice, as we can't just kill all the germs we think are "bad". They have a crucial role in the system. Germs are ubiquitous - meaning they are e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e! There is no avoiding germs, they are often more of a part of us than our own cells are.

"Microbes are found throughout the human body, mainly on the external and internal surfaces, including the gastrointestinal tract, skin, saliva, oral mucosa, and conjunctiva. Bacteria overwhelmingly outnumber eukaryotes and archaea in the human microbiome by 2–3 orders of magnitude. We therefore sometimes operationally refer to the microbial cells in the human body as bacteria. The diversity in locations where microbes reside in the body makes estimating their overall number daunting. Yet, once their quantitative distribution shows the dominance of the colon... the problem becomes much simpler. The vast majority of the bacteria reside in the colon... followed by the skin... (7)."

Microbes are also on everything we touch, eat, drink and breathe. I often joke it's easier to dodge oxygen molecules than to dodge germs (I'm embellishing a bit). Our immune system develops and grows with introductions to new bacteria, viruses and fungi. Without that exposure, the immune system begins to fail at its job and become hyperreactive, or simply unable to handle a simple exposure to a common bacteria. This is why we don't raise our children in "bubbles", when they teethe they put toys and microbes into their mouths, when they nurse they get the microbes from mother's skin and milk rich in antibodies to help train that early immune system. This is known as "The Hygiene Hypothesis", and a classic study shows children raised on farms or rural areas around the microbes outdoors and with livestock helps reduce incidence of asthma, allergies and eczema - diseases of a hyperreactive immune system (8).

Right now, we're all wearing masks, washing our hands like mad and handing out hand sanitizer like crazy. We're staying in our homes, limiting our exposure to the variety of microbes around our communities and quarantining the healthy, the people who could more easily survive (or even have no symptoms) of COVID-19. These healthy persons would then develop immunity, and continued exposure to the virus would boost that immunity, creating real herd immunity that could help protect those at higher risk. A classic example of this is the Varicella virus which causes both Chicken Pox and Shingles. Getting Chicken Pox as a child confirms long lasting immunity in that individual. With the introduction of the Varicella vaccine, Chicken Pox is now hard to find in the community and without the community exposure to children with Chicken Pox, the adults (10-44 year olds) are losing their previously acquired immunity and are now more susceptible to reactivated Varicella in the form of Shingles (9,10). For COVID-19, this might mean the virus is then able to continually reinfect those who previously had it as our bodies can lose that immunity over time without the "booster" that comes from it being ubiquitous in the community.

Here's an interesting video from Dr. Erickson, an ER physician in Bakersfield, CA and what he's experienced there:

(FYI, this video keeps getting censored from various sites, first YouTube, now Vimeo, so I was able to find it at the American Institute for Economic Research.

I'm not saying don't wash your hands, reducing exposure size is also essential to reducing your chances of infection. But, as we learned from Béchamp , so is being healthy, and that means eating healthy, avoiding your individual food intolerances, getting fresh air, exercise and sunlight. Support the terrain, then you don't have to fear the germ. In today's depleted world, it may mean taking some mineral and nutrient supplements to support the immune system and consulting with your doctor on reducing your need for chronic medications. Read more about immune support in these articles:

Colds and Flus, Getting Over it Fast:

Our 5 Favorite Immune Supports:

Stay well!


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