Germ Versus Terrain Theory of Disease

Although Germ Theory stands as widely embraced and underpins contemporary medicine, Terrain Theory presents an alternative viewpoint emphasizing the importance of overall health and immune function in both preventing and treating diseases.

The Germ Theory

Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) was a French chemist and microbiologist renowned for his groundbreaking contributions to the fields of microbiology and medicine. Born in Dole, France, Pasteur initially studied chemistry and pursued a career in academia. His reputation grew steadily as he engaged in various scientific endeavors.

Scientific Contributions: Pasteur is most famous for developing the Germ Theory of Disease[i], which posits that specific microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses, are the primary agents responsible for causing infectious diseases.

His experiments disproved the idea of spontaneous generation, demonstrating that microorganisms do not arise spontaneously but come from pre-existing microorganisms.

Vaccination: Pasteur’s work on vaccination has had a profound impact on public health. He developed vaccines for diseases such as rabies and anthrax, establishing the foundation for immunization practices.

Pasteurization: Pasteurization, a process named after him, involves heating liquids (especially milk and wine) to destroy harmful bacteria without significantly affecting the taste or nutritional value. This process has been instrumental in preventing the spread of foodborne illnesses.

Contributions to Chemistry: Pasteur made significant contributions to chemistry, including his work on chirality and the discovery of molecular asymmetry.

Pasteur passed away on September 28, 1895. On his deathbed, Pasteur admitted that one of his rivals, another advocate for the Terrian theory Claude Bernard, a contemporary and scientific rival, was correct in advocating for the Terrain Theory over his Germ Theory. Pasteur allegedly acknowledged that the internal environment or “terrain” of the body played a more significant role in determining health than the presence of specific germs, he was quoted as stating; “the germ is nothing, the terrain is everything.”[ii][iii][iv]

The Terrain Theory:

Antoine Béchamp (1816-1908) was a French scientist whose contributions to the fields of chemistry and biology have often been overshadowed by the more widely accepted work of Louis Pasteur. Béchamp was born in Bassing, France, and pursued a career in academia and research.

Béchamp is most associated with the Terrain Theory of Disease, which emphasizes the internal environment of the body (terrain) as a critical factor in determining health and susceptibility to disease.

He proposed that maintaining a healthy internal terrain is essential for preventing the proliferation of pathogens, challenging the predominant focus on external germs.

Microzymas: Béchamp introduced the concept of microzymas, tiny entities that he believed played a fundamental role in maintaining health and could transform into pathogenic forms under certain conditions. This concept was a central component of his Terrain Theory. This is a similar finding made by Canadian scientist Gaston Naessens about a century later, appeared to rediscover the microzymas, which he “Somatids”[v].

Contributions to Biochemistry: Béchamp made significant contributions to biochemistry, particularly in the study of fermentation processes and the understanding of organic compounds.

The rivalry between Béchamp and Pasteur was marked by scientific disagreements, personal conflicts, and competing theories. Béchamp’s ideas, including the concept of microzymas, faced skepticism and criticism from Pasteur and the broader scientific community.

Antoine Béchamp’s legacy has seen a resurgence of interest in recent years, particularly among proponents of holistic and alternative medicine. While his specific theories did not gain widespread acceptance during his lifetime, some aspects of his work are now revisited in discussions about the importance of the internal terrain for overall health.


[i] Smith KA. Louis pasteur, the father of immunology? Front Immunol. 2012 Apr 10;3:68. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2012.00068. PMID: 22566949; PMCID: PMC3342039.