The Terrain Within: A Naturalistic Way to Think

Suggested Citation: Garko, M.G. (2012, August).   The terrain within: A naturalistic way to think about and practice good health and wellness. Health and Wellness Monthly. Retrieved (insert month, day, year), from


The Terrain Within: A Naturalistic Way to Think

About and Practice Good Health


Michael Garko, Ph.D.

Host – Let’s Talk Nutrition


The microbe is nothing. The terrain is everything.”  Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) is purported to have made this statement on his deathbed. The origin of the quote is attributed to Claude Bernard (1813-1878), a physiologist and contemporary of Pasteur. By quoting Bernard, Pasteur was recanting his germ theory, a theory that assigned the cause of disease to microbes invading and reeking havoc on the body, with specific germs causing specific diseases.


In contrast to Pasteur, Claude Bernard and Antoine Bechamp (1816-1908), another contemporary of Pasteur, believed disease was a condition of imbalance in the internal terrain of body. Bernard and Bechamp emphasized the context or environment in which germs lived and not the germs. On the one hand, if the terrain was balanced (homeostatic), then germs could not flourish. On the other hand, if the terrain were out of balance, then germs would thrive. In short, germs do not cause disease. Instead, they are a sign of the diseased conditions of the terrain and not the cause of those conditions (see Stockton, 2000).


The August, 2012, issue of Health and Wellness Monthly, explores the principle that the “terrain is everything” with the intention of emphasizing the importance and usefulness of adopting a naturalistic approach to health and wellness.


Natural Healing Perspective


Viewing the cause of disease as a function of the condition of the terrain represents a move away from the medical model to a natural healing perspective. The medical model, which dominates Western medicine, relies in large measure upon the tenets of germ theory, thereby, rendering humans as the reactive targets who are the mercy of microbes. In contrast, the natural healing perspective shifts the focus from the power of germs and puts the emphasis on the environment, the terrain, in which microbes seek to live. It also recognizes people as proactive agents of health who can make choices to create a terrain that remains in balance and impervious or at least less vulnerable to the potentially deleterious effects of germs.






Homeostasis, Energy and Health


Stockton (2000) provides further descriptive details of why the terrain is everything:


… anything that alters terrain causes disease by upsetting homeostasis. Homeostasis is the body’s balancing mechanism, and balance is a key word in health. When the body is out of balance, energy can no longer flow freely. Energy blockages are set up, and that leads to disease conditions. Health, in a very real sense, is energy, energy flowing freely through the body without obstruction. Where there is imbalance, there is obstruction to energy flow Therefore, it is very important that we get the body in balance and keep it in balance (p. 14).


Stockton (2000) identifies eight key contextual factors holding the potential to undermine the homeostasis of the terrain or otherwise make people susceptible to disease:


  1. 1.    Poor nutrition


  1. 2.    Malillumination (poor lighting, a deficiency of light frequency)


  1. 3.    Hypoventilation (under breathing, shallow breathing)


  1. 4.    Inactivity (lack of exercise)


  1. 5.    Electromagnetic pollution (the effects of 60 cycle current, microwaves, etc.)


  1. 6.    Environmental toxins (primarily man-made chemicals and heavy metals)


  1. 7.    Negative thoughts/emotions


  1. 8.    Structural Imbalance


According to Stockton (2000), all of these factors are direct links to the development of disease conditions within the terrain of the individual, affecting the cells, tissues, organs and mind. In her book, The terrain is everything: Contextual factors that influence our health, Stockton presents a full explication of these contextual factors and what people can do to prevent them and modulate their effects.




Explaining disease as a reflection of the condition of the terrain provides a practical and natural way to think about and practice good health for anyone interested in preventing disease and living with physical, mental, spiritual and social vitality.


From this perspective, the terrain is indeed everything. Unfortunately, Pasteur’s deathbed admission was not heeded and the impetus for the medical model of health was set into motion. At the time, perhaps it was easier to think about the body being under attack by microbes and to develop the pharmaceutical weaponry to kill germs rather than to focus on how to keep the terrain within in balance and infertile for disease. Little did the advocates and practitioners of the medical model know how difficult it would be to create an arsenal drugs to kill the seemingly infinite number of microbes and their potential to mutate into more virulent variations.


This is not to say that the science of medicine and pharmaceuticals and have no place in the treatment of disease. However, it is to say that on a day-to-day basis people need to be provided more practical and natural methods to think about and maintain a healthy body, mind and spirit, along with the necessary education on how to carry out those methods. This beats the alternative of wringing one’s hands with anxiety waiting for the next germ attack. The terrain is everything not the microbes.


To learn more a naturalistic approach to health and wellness, Stockton (2000) in The Terrain is Everything outlines a framework for a natural healing perspective on health. It is recommended readers make her book a staple of their reading diet.




Stockton, S. (2000). The terrain is everything: Contextual factors that influence our health. Clearwater, Fl. Power of One Publishing.


Suggested Citation: Garko, M.G. (2012, August).   The terrain within: A naturalistic way to think about and practice good health and wellness. Health and Wellness Monthly. Retrieved (insert month, day, year), from