Understanding Pleomorphism and Regenerating the Bio-Terrain
Nicholas Corrin, L.Ac.
Part 1: Pleomorphism
Louis Pasteur is the father, and in some senses the godfather, of modern germ theory. His belief that the invasive presence of a single micro-organism lay at the causative origin of all infectious disease process rapidly became the ruling dogma in allopathic medicine, and was the philosophical and ontological underpinning for the systemic administration of anti-biotic, and later, anti-viral therapies, not to mention anti-fungal and anti-protozoal medications, indeed all manner of anti-bacterial agents – even anti-bacterial soaps – and last, but not least, anti-inflammatories. The germ was the villain of the piece, and the message was simple: kill the germ. Any physician who deviated from this dogma found himself in a precarious position at odds with the institutional powers that be, much like a so-called heretic during the times of the Spanish Inquisition.
Yet, on his deathbed, Pasteur recanted, acknowledging his profound error of judgement. “Bernard is right,” Pasteur famously declared, shortly before expiring, “ the microbe is nothing. The terrain is everything.”
In this recantation, Pasteur was referring to his contemporary Claude Bernard who, along with Antoine Beschamps had subscribed to an alternative view of disease causation, a view which to this day has been ridiculed and vilified by mainstream medicine, even though its conceptual forefather, Louis Pasteur, eventually espoused it. The theory of terrain refers to an original field pertaining to the individual which, when in balance, confers a state of health, and when out of balance confers a state of disease. In this view, the offending microbe is not the true disease causation, but merely an expression of the inherent imbalances in the terrain. The microbe appears when and only if the terrain is disturbed from a homeostatic equilibrium. The French word terrain connotes the vigor of the natural earth (terre) as well as the particular regional characteristics of place (terroir). Thus, it evokes both the robustness of the natural realm itself and the highly diversified nature of topography – connotations wholly at odds with our prevailing attitudes of generic functioning and generic prescribing. In the terrain, individuality and vitality (disease resistance) are bound up together, complementary aspects of a unified dyad.
Allied to the concept of terrain, which we will henceforth in this article refer to as the bio-terrain, is the concept of pleo-morphism. The archetypal recognition of metamorphosis is deeply embedded in the human psyche, and mostly likely takes root in the metamorphogenic nature of being and becoming. A fertilized ovum morphs from embryo through fetus into fully fledged human form. An acorn morphs into an oak tree, and vice versa. Clouds morph into rain, and summer into winter. The cyclic and mutagenic essence of things is encoded in myth, music and art, and above all, perhaps in the Chinese Classic Of Changes, the I Ching. This primary logic of change and mutation is the basis for the theory of pleomorphism, a concept introduced by Antoine Beschamps and later developed by Gunther Enderlein in Germany (1) and Gaston Naessens In Canada (2). A similar logic to that which underpins evolutionary theories of natural selection applies in pleomorphism, except that the movements are not linear but cyclical, and that morphic states can move in two directions, both forward and backward. In pleomorphism, instead of a micro-organism existing in a single, unchanging morphological state, microbes are understood to undergo radical morphological changes conditioned by alterations or fluctuations in the bio-terrain.
Enderlein gave the appellation Protit to this smallest unit of microbial life, one capable of multiple morphic changes, whereas Naessens gave to it the name Somatid. In both cases, the shape can morph from a spore form into bacterial, globular, yeast or mycelial forms. The resistant mycelial form is considered to be the most noxious state of development in Naessens’ somatidian cycle. Whether we call it protit or somatid, the mutagenic microorganism will mutate into a progressively more virulent form depending upon conditions within the internal milieu, or bio-terrain. Hence it becomes of utmost therapeutic importance, not so much to kill the microbe (the anti-biotic tactic unquestioningly used by allopathic physicians, and further extended to attack viruses, yeasts, fungi and cancer cells), but rather to adjust the internal milieu back towards a healthier state. If this is done, the virulent forms of the protit/somatid will automatically begin to regress back towards less noxious forms as they recoil, temporally speaking, towards their points of origin.
It is tellingly ironic that conventional bio-medicine, which denies the reality of pleomorphism and prefers the illusion of a fixed-target enemy – the identifiable and static “germ” – has ended up generating a cascade of dangerous mutations in microbes as a result of its point-and-shoot approach. It is a well known and worrying fact that today, increasing numbers of bacterial diseases once treatable by antibiotics have recently developed drug resistance, some of these to the point where all known anti-biotics now fail to make any impact. The same is true of viruses, in particular, new variants of HIV 1. Aggressive anti-microbial treatments with harsh pharmaceutical cocktails have only succeeded in triggering the emergence of superbugs, whether bacterial, fungal or viral.
It has been said that you can run anywhere, but you cannot run away from your own shadow. In psychological terms, the shadow is the split off part of our ego that we have disidentified with. Conventional medicine, by disidentifying with the mutagenic basis of microbial life-forms, and their direct correlation with modifications of internal milieu, or bio-terrain, has now cast a huge shadow over the entire earth, having spawned a slew of drug resistant microorganisms, always able to outsmart the big guns of an evangelizing pharmaceutical industry, and its pursuit of multi-trillion dollar returns.
Part 2: Regenerating the Bio-Terrain
Machaelle Small Wright, in her book, Perelandra Microbial Balancing Program Manual, quotes microbiologist Dr. Carl Woese:
“The problem with appreciating microbes is that they are invisible. But they make up at least 80% or perhaps even 90% of the biomass [total mass of living matter within a given environment]. In terms of living protoplasm, microbes outweigh all plants, insects and animals. If you took all the fish and whales out of the ocean, it would not make a dent in the amount of living matter in the oceans.” (3)
Resident bacteria perform two vital functions: 1) They help with the assimilation and metabolic synthesis of vital nutrients. 2) By occupational niches, they keep potentially harmful micro-organisms at bay. They even work synergistically with lymphocytes (white blood cells) in mysterious alliances to take out parasitic infections, and clear the body of toxins secreted by the corpses of dead parasites (4). It has even been determined, by a team of research scientists at George Washington Universty studying the human genome, that microbes outnumber our trillions of human cells by a factor of ten to one (4).
The notion that the interior domain of the human body is intrinsically sterile flies in the face of overwhelming evidence, yet it is the prevailing dogma of allopathic medicine, and its modus operandiis always, as we have seen, to attempt to kill off the microbes. Yet microbes, the oldest forms of biological existence on the planet, undoubtedly have accumulated vast reservoirs of intelligence and adaptive understanding. In a very real sense they are closer to an innate apprehension of nature’s many mysteries than we are — on top of which, as we have already noted, they take up, numerically speaking, more of our own physical “space” or “embodiment” than our own cells do. If we humans are to survive as a species, it is imperative that we come into a new and very different relationship with the most prolific, most ancient, and possibly the most mysterious species on the planet. Re-generating our individual bio-terrain means forming alliances, not antagonisms, with the microbial realms. Instead of an anti-biotic ideology, we must espouse a pro-biotic (pro-life) philosophy of medicine.
- Gunther Enderlein, Bacteria cyclogeny: Prolegomena to a study of the structure, sexual and asexual reproduction and development of bacteria, Enderlein Enterprises (1981), ASIN: B00073C4IQ
- Christopher Bird, The Persecution and Trial of Gaston Naessens, HJ Kramer Inc, Tiburon, CA, 1991
- Machaelle Small Wright, Perelandra Microbial Balancing Program Manual, Perelandra, Warrenton, VA, 1996, p.29
- Roy Dittman, OMD, Explore! Volume 16, Number 6, 2007