By Jonathan Glass
“If the fish is sick, then change the water.” Robert Young, Ph.D.
HEALTH IS DEFINED by having an abundance of energy, physiological balance, mental clarity, and joy. In Chinese medicine, health is attained through strong chi (life energy) and vital blood, along with the balance of yin and yang, as well as the five elements. More recently, there have been passionate debates over health and disease. Historically, in the West, three prominent perspectives compel these debates.
Theory One: The Germ Theory, by Louis Pasteur (1822–1895) Pasteur’s germ theory states that disease is caused by an outside influence such as a germ, bacteria, virus, or parasite. It claims that microbes from an external source invade the body, creating a specific disease. Initially accepted by allopathic Western medicine in the late nineteenth century, it remains the foundation of modern-day medicine worldwide.
Theory Two: The Terrain Theory, by Claude Bernard (1813–1878)
Bernard coined the term ‘Milieu intérieur’ which means internal environment. He believed that the internal environment or terrain of the body determines our level of health. He found that when the bodily fluids and tissues are balanced, the whole system works harmoniously. Bernard’s research showed that an effective immune system can effectively handle the pathogens (toxins, parasites, viruses, bacteria, and germs). Bernard did not believe, as Pasteur did, that germs are the enemy of life. Instead, he saw our bodies as living ecosystems full of life-promoting microorganisms that protect us from pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Although, he agreed that people with severely weakened immune systems should be careful to avoid pathogenic germs.
Theory Three: Pleomorphism, by Antoine Béchamp (1816–1908)
The primary cause of a disease is in us, always in us, according to Béchamp. A fierce opponent of Pasteur, Béchamp believed that germs are merely by-products that act upon weak, imbalanced, and dysfunctional cellular metabolisms and tissues. He showed that a dysfunctional cellular metabolism is the cause of disease; that is, an acidic (low pH), low-oxygen, environment is created by a nutrient-deficient diet, toxic emotions, and a toxic lifestyle. Béchamp advocated the principle of pleomorphism: disease develops in a toxic and acidic environment through the unhealthy transformation of microorganisms (which according to Béchamp are not inherently disease forming) to bacteria, bacteria to viruses, viruses to fungal forms, and fungal forms to diseased cells.
Summary of the Battle
After some controversy, Pasteur’s germ theory took prominence within mainstream medicine. This was likely due to the fact that his simplistic symptom-treating theory enabled mainstream medicine to profit from patented drugs and treatments designed to fight germs.
In the end, however, Pasteur acknowledged on his deathbed, “The microbe is nothing; the terrain is everything.”
Pasteur initially had believed that the only way to fight illness and treat symptoms was to kill the germs involved. Eventually, like Bernard and Béchamp, he came to understand that maintaining health and fighting illness requires a healthy internal terrain—one that can prevent diseases from developing and decrease its duration when it occurs.
Our Internal Biological Terrain
There may be times in our lives when an injury, infection, or illness is so serious that extreme intervention—surgery, antibiotics, radiation, or other emergency measures— may be needed. However, for long-term health and prevention of disease, improving the quality of our inner biological terrain is essential.
The negative environmental and dietary factors—stress, pesticides, herbicides, GMO foods, antibiotics, NSAIDs, sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, and excess animal protein —that are prevalent in modern society cause our terrain to deteriorate, opening the door to pathogens, while simultaneously weakening the body’s ability to manage them.
The Importance of Blood pH
In any solution, pH is a measure of the solution’s acidity or alkalinity. The pH scale ranges from 1 to 14, with 1 being extremely acidic, 14 extremely alkaline, and 7 neutral. The ideal pH of the blood is around 7.35, which is slightly alkaline. To maintain health, the blood must stay in this pH range. If it creeps toward being too acidic due to stress and negative environmental and dietary factors, the body will do everything it can to bring the pH back toward 7.35. There are, however, consequences when the body must force blood pH back into balance, because when it does so, our body “steals from Peter to save Paul”; that is, with the help of our kidneys, the body pulls alkaline ions from our tissues and carries them into our blood, increasing its alkalinity. Most commonly, the body steals calcium and magnesium ions, especially from the muscles and bones. However, doing so can tax our alkaline mineral supplies and weaken our tissues. In the short run, we will survive, but the process takes its toll on the body, promoting imbalances that can show up as Osteoporosis Pain (tight muscles), gout, arthritis, kidney stones, gallstones, inflammation, and autoimmune disorders.
An acid pH imbalance in the blood is understood to decrease the negative electrical charge on a cell’s membrane and causes the red blood cells to stick together. This leads to thick and sticky blood and impaired circulation, especially to the extremities, bringing our body temperature down and depriving our cells of optimal levels of oxygen. Eventually, this leads to an acidic pH and a stagnant environmental terrain, causing the proliferation of yeast, fungi, parasites, and bacteria ultimately caused by poor diet, emotional stress, environmental toxins, and harmful actions. Some common early symptoms of an acidic internal terrain are headaches, fatigue neck, and shoulder tension, joint and muscle pain, insomnia, hormonal issues, digestive disorders, allergies, excessive body fat (fat stores toxins) anxiety, irritability, and mood swings.
Urination, sweating, and breathing are the three main ways in which the body eliminates acid waste. The kidneys eliminate the majority of it. However, dehydration inhibits their ability to efficiently perform this task, so drinking plenty of pure water is essential. The lungs and skin are meant to eliminate whatever acid waste the kidneys cannot handle. Therefore, it is essential to sweat and to breathe deeply on a regular basis, especially while cleansing. When the kidneys, skin, and lungs cannot keep up with the acid waste burdens in the body, our pH shifts toward an acidic condition. An acidic body is a toxic body, and a toxic body manifests disease.
Balancing Your Terrain
To maintain proper pH and allow the microbiome to flourish, follow these basic dietary and lifestyle guidelines:
Eat a whole-foods plant-based diet. Drink plenty of water. Include in your diet alkaline-rich minerals: magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Eliminate coffee. Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates. Eliminate or seriously minimize meat and dairy. Meditate, practice yoga, and other mindfulness exercises. Spend time in nature. Exercise and sweat. Breathe deeply.
As quoted earlier, “If the fish is sick, then change the water.” Eliminating all acidic sources and following the above suggestions.
It is important to remember that eliminating acid waste from the body is not just about preventing disease or increasing longevity. It’s about improving how we feel—better mood, less pain, stronger immunity, a clearer mind, and more energy. An enhanced capacity to experience life with a positive and contented outlook, along with a body that cooperates, is a gift. All of us will take our final breath one fine day. The quality of our breath and the moments of our days and years are what matter most.
Modern Health Paradigms
The present dogma of Western medicine lacks interest in balancing the terrain, strengthening immunity, and promoting optimal wellness. Instead, it’s mainly concerned with eliminating infectious pathogens and palliating symptoms with statistically studied “one size fits all” drugs and therapy protocols. These therapies can be effective in acute and critical conditions. However, for ongoing conditions, symptoms, and chronic low-grade infections, Western medicine is severely limited by its disease-care perspective, lack of attention to the terrain, and lack of personalized care. Western medicine can dangerously force the physiology to override symptoms, especially in cases of chronic conditions. This is not how the body heals, nor does it get to the root cause of disease.
Both Chinese medicine and Ayurveda follow a principle known as fu zheng qu xie, which means “dispel the evil by supporting the righteous.” Following this principle, we fight disease by honoring individuality, strengthening immunity, and boosting vitality while at the same time eliminating infectious pathogens. A good diet, herbs, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, exercise, and lifestyle practices (to kill the infectious evil and support righteous immunity and energy) are all terrain-oriented treatments that enhance our body’s energy and defensive capacity.
Modern allopathic medicine can be effective at destroying the pathogen (the evil) but lacks in strengthening immunity (supporting the righteous). Unfortunately, it often leaves patients in a weakened condition, vulnerable to reoccurrences of the original condition or to new and more serious ones.
If you break a bone, go to the hospital! Otherwise, eat well, live well, and think well. As much as possible, base your care on your own individual needs and terrain, and practice fu zheng qu xie.