Why do we get sick?

According to recent news reports, this has been a particularly bad flu season. When we come down with the flu, what is to blame, the virus, our immune systems, or a combination of both?

Two opposing theories that date back to the late 19th century are still espoused today: germ theory vs. terrain theory. Louis Pasteur, the primary scientist behind germ theory, would say the virus is to blame. He focused on the pathogen (virus, bacteria, fungus, parasite). He believed that to fight an illness, you must treat the symptoms. This is the basis of thought in allopathic medicine.

Claude Bernard and Pierre Antoine Bechamp, the scientists who established the terrain theory, would point to the immune system or the general health of the body. The idea is that we don’t get sick because germs are present; rather, germs can thrive because  our bodies are weakened, stressed, and malnourished. Complementary medicine lives more in this sphere.

As with all things in life, nothing is black and white. There are aspects of both of these theories that should be considered. That said, it is my belief that we should live by the premise of terrain theory, and add some cautions we have learned from germ theory.

How to prevent illness

Recognizing the fact that germs are everywhere, we need to take responsibility for our own health by eating well, avoiding toxins as much as possible, sleeping enough, exercising enough, and managing stress. The healthier we are, the less likely we are to get sick. We also have to accept the fact that it is normal to catch a cold occasionally, and when that happens, we should rest and support our body to heal itself.

Rarely are we ever in such perfect condition that we are completely immune from picking up a bug. This is where germ theory comes in. No matter how healthy you are, or how well you take care of yourself, take precautions when you are exposed to sick people. Wash your hands; wear a mask; and avoid exposure to sickness if you can.

If you can’t help but be exposed to illness, take extra good care of yourself. Rest more, take immune-boosting herbs and supplements, eat especially well, and avoid sugar as much as possible. Sugar has an immediate deleterious effect on the immune system.

How to treat illness

These disease prevention approaches work very well most of the time. Still, there are times when medical intervention is necessary. There is no need to be a hero and avoid medication at all costs. In more typical mild-to-moderate cases of the flu, there are many natural treatments that are effective, with little or no side effects. My favorite approach is to do Nutrition Response Testing/Morphogenic Field Technique to find out what the best supplement or herb is to treat the specific case.

Reasons to consider going natural whenever possible include:

  • There are herbs that are especially effective at treating all types of microbial infections. Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections, not viral or fungal infections.
  • Side effects are much less likely with herbal and nutritional supplements than with pharmaceutical medications.
  • As witnessed over the past couple of decades, overuse of antibiotics and vaccines has contributed to the development of super bugs. Responsible use is recommended.
If you need the pharmaceuticals, you need them. Just remember they aren’t a replacement for taking responsibility for your health by nurturing a sound and resilient terrain.