Thursday, December 4, 2014

Microbes, Immune System and Health: The germ is nothing, the terrain is everything


Maria Teresa De Donato, PhD, RND, CNC, CMH, CHom

After having spent most of his life studying and fighting germs as 'cause of diseases', Louis Pasteur, the famous French chemist founder of microbiology and immunology, ended up stating – just before dying - “The germ is nothing; the terrain is everything.” How was it possible for a man of science to reach such a conclusion which appeared right away as denying all his previous convictions and beliefs?  The answer, contrary to most people expectations, is quite simple.

Millions of microorganisms living all around us, such as bacteria, virus, parasites and fungi, try, at any single moment throughout our lives, to penetrate our body by means of the air we breath, the food we eat and our skin, and this, without even considering all those which already live inside of us, in our body's cavities. (1)

However, not all of them are harmful to our health.  This is, for instance, the case of the beneficial bacteria we all need to make our digestive system work properly.  We can help this kind of bacteria to grow and stay in balance by regularly eating foods containing probiotic bacteria such as traditionally fermented foods in the form of yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and pickled vegetables, just to name a few.

But what about the microorganisms which can harm us?  Howe do we take care of them?

Our body is provided with an amazing self-defense mechanism, also known as immune system, able to recognize any pathogens which may cause an infection and a disease as consequence of it. Infections are colonies of either bacteria, viruses or fungi which might have penetrated and invaded our body and multiplied.  In some cases these colonies can represent a serious threat to our health by releasing toxins and by causing allergic reactions. Usually antibiotics are prescribed by allopathic physicians to restore health.  However, though they can be appropriate when dealing with life-threatening situations, their overuse is not recommended for several reasons: a) antibiotics are not effective in case of “viruses or inflammatory conditions”; b) they destroy indiscriminately both harmful and beneficial bacteria, this also causing “digestive and intestinal problems”; c) they can generate – as they have already done in many cases - “multiple-drug-resistant bacteria strains” which may pose a serious risk when dealing with certain issues and when attempting at restoring health in case of life-threatening conditions. (2)

When it works at its best, the immune system rarely fails, but is rather in a constant state of alert to identify potential enemies and destroy them.  This includes cancer cells as well which, according to our actual knowledge and understanding of the matter, regularly form in our body. (1)

The main reason why the immune system sometimes fails is because it has been weakened, when not even seriously compromised, for instance by the above cited use and/or overuse of antibiotics, pharmaceutical drugs in general, vaccinations and improper nutrition.  To the contrary, whenever we take all these factors into account and act consequently, we allow our self-defense mechanism to function correctly and, therefore, to fight all sorts of diseases and restore health.  In so doing, we prove – according to Pasteur's words - that “The germ is nothing; the terrain (= our organism and immune system) is everything.”

If you want to know more about what can harm your immune system and how to keep it healthy you can also read the following articles:

  1. Huch R. & Bauer, C. (2003). Mensch Körper Krankheit. Kapitel 6: Infektion und Abwehr. (p. 80). Munchen-Jena, DE: Elsevier/Urban & Fisher (English: Man Body Disease – Infection and Defence)
  2. Trivieri, L. Jr., Anderson, J. W. (2002). Alternative Medicine – The Difinitive Guide (Second Edition). Health Conditions. Infection. (p. 1033). Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts.


The information above are for educational purpose only and not intended as a medical advice. If you want to know more about my activity and how I can assist you, you can check my web site at