From the perspective of natural medicine, the terrain of a human being is made up three things: what is inherited (i.e. what he came with), an individual’s personal history (i.e. nutrition, personal events and intoxifications) and finally, what suppressive medical therapies he has had, such as vaccination, antibiotic therapy or other ongoing drug treatment. This is all according to the teaching of Gérard Guéniot who mastered and taught these notions of modern French homeopathy.
Each of these areas can be extrapolated upon, but for now, it is important to understand terrain as a concept. It is that upon which we can intervene in order to address any sick patient. It is critical to understand that a “this-for-that” type of mentality in medicine is very limited. One must think on the level of the system-as a whole.
As Guéniot put it:
“terrain is a personal history. It is not simply our parents that gave us our terrain, but it is our story, everything that happened to us in this life and perhaps in other lives. It is what we bring as personal baggage, our memory.”
Before Louis Pasteur’s experiments with bacteria in the 19th Century, the nature of microorganisms’ relationship to disease was not understood. In and around this era, microbes, such as bacteria, viruses and fungi became the central tenet in the causative nature of illness, creating the “germ-theory of disease”. Since that time, the cause of nearly every health problem has been either temporarily or permanently attributed to some form of irrepressible, virulent pathogen and remains the central notion in many disease processes today. Predictably, the awareness that there were tiny, living organisms involved in the process of infectious disease caused a significant shift in the priorities of cleanliness and sanitation that led to great progress for our urban environments and communicable diseases. With this hygienic awakening, however, the other (and no less important) half of the equation has been forgotten: the terrain. The terrain is that environment in which a bacterium, or microbe, lives. The terrain is the soil for the germ, and hence the true ground for the disease. Without paying attention to terrain, we may never overcome the chronic infections and antibiotic-resistant microbes the world now faces.
So how do we act upon the terrain to improve a person’s health? It means managing the Diathesis, balancing the Temperament and addressing the Constitution, when necessary. Please see these pages for further information.