by Jordan Rubin
One hundred and fifty years ago, two scientists engaged in what seemed at the time to be a minor squabble. They each had a theory they believed in, and, more importantly, neither man was willing to believe or even consider the other’s position.
One of those men was Louis Pasteur, whose name is enshrined in the annals of modern medical history. You’ve likely never heard of the other man, Antoine Bechamp. Because these men were so resolute in their own beliefs, they left no room for compromise.
￼And our health has suffered for it.
Louis Pasteur is best known for his development of the process of “Pasteur-ization”— an industrial technique designed to kill all living bacteria in foods and beverages in the name of safety. You probably know that part of the story.
However, how he arrived at the point where he believed these “germs” needed to be destroyed will probably surprise you. Building on the work of scientists before him and on his own experiments, Louis Pasteur finalized the “germ theory” of disease. Boiled down, the theory states that the cause of many diseases within the body are microorganisms that come from outside the body.
But what about the other theory? Antoine Bechamp was a contemporary of Pasteur, and he had an altogether different take on the cause of disease. He believed that the body’s “terrain,” when weakened, attracted disease. Known as the “terrain theory,” Bechamp’s idea was seen to be the direct opposite of Pasteur’s germ theory. The two feuded over their theories, and today it’s obvious who won out. Pasteur’s name is still recognizable. Bechamp’s name is little more than a footnote.
Perhaps the most regrettable fallout of this is that there is clearly room for both theories. However, Pasteur’s germ theory is the one that took hold. Much of what Pasteur believed has proven to be true. We now know that there are microorganisms that cause—or at the very least contribute to—certain diseases. Before Pasteur’s time, it was considered unnecessary for surgeons to wash their hands between the time they dissected cadavers and delivered babies, which, unsurprisingly, resulted in thousands of unnecessary deaths. Today, such a practice would be akin to homicide.
The question is: Have we taken the germ theory too far? While I believe in elements of the germ theory, for me personally, it stands a distant second to Bechamp’s theory, that disease can only occur in a body whose terrain (cells, extracellular fluid and blood) has become weakened.
I think that modern medicine has given up too much of itself to the germ theory because it has caused people to believe that poor health comes from outside the body. For every disease that exists, scientists have created, or are trying to create, a medicine to combat it.
I believe that our complete and utter reliance on these medicines as our only avenue to health is horrifying and totally misleading. And it’s almost all due to the underlying mindset that the germ theory is the only theory worth believing in.
That is something I have never accepted.
While I appreciate the science behind the terrain theory—and we’ll get to that in a bit—the reason I truly love the terrain message is more personal. I embrace the terrain theory because it puts us in control. This is why I titled my first book, Patient, Heal Thyself.
Bechamp’s theory basically says that germs are opportunistic. They seek out weakened tissue and invade it. Therefore, in order to combat poor health, it is of the utmost importance to support a healthy bodily environment—what came to be called a healthy terrain.
A great example of the difference between a healthy and unhealthy terrain is the story of 10 individuals dining at the same restaurant and consuming the same food. If each was served raw sushi that was loaded with germs, and within three hours, five of the 10 develop symptoms of food poisoning, what kept the other five from experiencing the same symptoms? The answer? The health of their terrain—the inner environment of the body’s cells and tissue.
The word “terrain” fits perfectly. It creates a potent image of the vast network of tissue and cells that weave throughout the body as terrain on which health either grows or dies. You can almost visualize it. The idea that I can take steps to make that terrain as healthy as possible—and in doing so, can avoid falling prey to ill health—has great appeal to me.
The crazy part is that as much as Pasteur’s work has been validated through science, so has Bechamp’s! Weston A. Price, a Harvard-trained dentist who travelled the world studying indigenous populations, noted that those who ate a native diet without processed foods and lived a vigorous life rarely suffered from the diseases of modern commerce. In other words, they cultivated a healthy terrain.
He also noted that when the “Western” diet of processed foods infiltrated their world, these cultures began to succumb to modern diseases.
While there are reams of scientific data to support the terrain theory, it may be more useful to apply common sense. In a nutshell, the terrain theory says that overall health is dictated by the health of your cells and the tissue they make up. As long as that terrain is healthy, then you are more likely to experience overall health. The thing is, this is totally accepted. Every medical professional in the world will tell you that eating and living healthy are the keys to being well.
One hundred and fifty years ago, two men had what they believed were competing theories. In reality, what we know today is that there is a common ground between the two. Yes, germs can lead to disease — in individuals who already have weakened terrain, that is. However, preparing a proper terrain within your body is the best way to stay healthy.
How did it happen, then, that the germ theory gained an incredibly strong foothold, while the terrain theory was brushed aside? There are roomfuls of conspiracy theorists who love to point out that there is a lot of money to be made from the fact that the germ theory relies on pharmaceuticals and vaccinations in order to combat disease. While this is certainly true, I don’t believe it’s quite that simple
The reality is that, at the time, the germ theory offered people hope. In the mid-19th century, coming just
off the Industrial Revolution and the urbanization of developed countries, disease was commonplace, especially in the densely populated cities. There was certainly a feeling of lack of control. Squalid living conditions, combined with a diet increasingly reliant upon processed foods, exacerbated the terrain issue. For many of the people whose families were struck down by disease, they had little hope of improving their terrain. The germ theory offered hope, and rightfully so.
Slowly but surely, though, the hope offered by the germ theory morphed into an utter reliance on it. The idea that you could treat your body and your health with disinterest—that you could essentially ignore your terrain— is born of the germ theory. Fast forward a 150 years, and the results are clear. We are as unhealthy as we’ve ever been. The diseases of modern society are somewhat held at bay with pharmaceuticals. However, Americans live sicker and die younger than people of other high-income countries, according to a new study released by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine.
As I mentioned before, when I first learned of the Terrain Theory, I immediately gravitated to it. My excitement was directly related to my own personal experience.
At the age of 19, my digestive and immune systems failed me. I now know that the root of my issue was a systemic breakdown in my terrain. What I found most interesting was this: after my initial diagnosis of Crohn’s colitis, a digestive health disease, I went on to suffer from more than a dozen seemingly unrelated health challenges. Once my terrain failed, my body was left open to predators—exactly as Antoine Bechamp predicted.
To be clear, supporting your inner terrain isn’t a panacea for all health—just like relying solely on pharmaceuticals isn’t. Instead, supporting your inner terrain is the simplest, most logical first step to embracing true health. Not only is it common sense, I can personally attest to its importance.
As someone who has manufactured and sold nutritional supplements for over a decade, formulating a supplement that supports the terrain theory has intrigued me. Until now, I’ve never been able to find the right combination of science and ingredients to make that possible. Thankfully, today I am very proud to introduce Terrain Living Herbals.
There has never been a product line like Terrain Living Herbals— ever. It is the single most unique herbal supplement concept I’ve ever seen. The secret to Terrain is that it combines two time-honored health practices in a way that has never been done before.
The starting point for Terrain Living Herbals, is, quite obviously, plants and herbs. Herbal formulas have a long tradition of use for their health- and life-affirming properties. Every civilization in written history has used herbal formulas to promote health. Today, herbal extracts are big business in the United States, accounting for a large portion of supplement sales in stores across the country.
A quick look at the typical process used to create herbal extracts reveals two issues that have prevented
me from personally manufacturing herbal supplements—one obvious and one not so obvious. Using harsh chemical solvents and heat fundamentally changes a product. Hexane, one of the most commonly used solvents, kills enzymes and beneficial microorganisms indiscriminately. Heat can do the same. That alone is an issue, but it’s the reason for using chemical extraction that bothers me the most.
When chemical extraction is used on herbs, the goal is to extract whatever active compound resides in the herb that is believed to make it “healthy.” All other nutrients that exist—and many of them have benefits of their own—are ignored. I have always disliked this concept. I have consistently asserted that it’s the “whole plant” that provides the benefit, not just one aspect. As you may have guessed, we’ve finally figured out a way to extract—or better yet, bio-transform—the entire essence of herbals. Fermentation, long-used as a means of preserving and improving the vitality of food, turns out to be the perfect process for truly unlocking the full spectrum of benefits found in herbs.
Fermentation applied to herbs offers a far more inclusive approach than chemical, alcohol or heat extraction. Much like these harsh extraction methods, fermentation unlocks the active compounds in herbs—but that is where the similarity ends. Where chemical or heat extraction seeks to isolate, fermentation seeks to express, create and expand. With fermentation, not only are the active compounds of the herbs released, but a bevy of other nutrients are also enhanced or created. If you have to choose between an extracted herbal supplement with one active ingredient or a biologically expressed, fermented botanical that includes everything that particular herb can offer, the choice is obvious.
It’s also incredible support for your personal terrain. Terrain Living Herbals are the result of a 3- to 4-month-long fermentation process. That fermentation process utilizes ancient symbiotic cultures which produce enzymes that aid the digestive system, and, most importantly, allow for the proper re-colonization of your gut. That means all of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are a part of the finished product are better able to be utilized by your optimally functioning digestive tract.
Beyond Organic is proud to offer Terrain Living Herbals in nine different formulas. All of them use traditional, fermented botanicals and herbs from around the world, including Holy Basil, Turmeric, Ginger and Kombucha Tea.
Terrain Living Herbals will allow you to Express your Health. They are the first and only Living Herbal Supplements that simultaneously rebuild your body’s healthy flora while providing a full complement of herbal nutrition. Terrain Herbal Living Supplements use probiotic organisms to unlock the raw power of traditionally prized botanicals, going beyond ordinary herbal extracts to supply a unique living herbal supplement containing vitamins, probiotics, enzymes and antioxidants alongside the powerful active compounds that give traditional herbs their health benefits. Terrain Living Herbal Supplements allow you to rebuild your inner-ecosystem and replenish the key nutrients your body craves, while also providing unmatched herbal nutrition.
It’s been 150 years since the Germ vs. Terrain debate started, but all that matters to you is realizing that it’s never too late to Reclaim Your Terrain.