By Prashanti De Jager
“Immunity,” like the word “allergy,” did not come into use until about 130 years ago, when the French chemist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) and German physician Robert Koch (1943-1910) gave the world “The Germ Theory” of disease. Without doubt, the release of Pasteur's first vaccination in 1879, the creation of the word “immunity” and the beginnings of the pharmaceutical industry are three tightly woven events.
There is nothing wrong with the the Germ Theory of disease in and of itself as is evidenced by how many lives it has saved and its proponing of cleanliness as part and parcel to health. What gives people a terrible disadvantage to well-being is when the Germ Theory is taken out of context in a way that subsequently morphs the collective mind into equating “killing bugs” with “creating health.”
Germ Theory, antimicrobial substances and cleanliness is a model that is ardently adhered to as part of the 5000 + year traditional practice of Ayurveda - however there is a huge difference: Context! Ayurveda and other modalities of holistic medicine see a much bigger picture of true wellness, in which “germs” are a relatively limited aspect instead of being the primary focus. Dr. Pasteur was an astute man and an insight attributed to be among his last words shows the tragedy with taking Germ Theory out of context:
“The germ is nothing; the terrain is everything.”
Energy follows thought. When you focus on the germ and not on the terrain you create fear rather than empowerment; you create sickness rather than true wellness; you create monsters of superbugs that anti-germ drugs can’t touch; you create corporations who may not create health but do create wealth for themselves and their stock-holders.
Since 1879, as a horror-filled ironic turn to Pasteur's work, our mainstream collective mind increasingly thinks that “immunity” is when we kill, or become sufficiently distant from, what is “not” us. However, the plummeting of pharmaceutical antibiotic effectiveness is finally waking up the world to the limitations of Germ Theory. Holding the situation as being germ-centric, health is measured in terms of the chasms created.
Hence, the slippery slope that society finds itself on is no surprise as America, as of information published by JAMA in 2000, is getting sicker and unhealthier by the year. America was ranked 24th in the world for life expectancy and 37th in effectiveness of our health system, while spending more money than any other nation. It is time for those interested in True Wellness to return to terrain.
Concurrent with Pasteur and Koch, the French Doctors, Dr Claude Bernard (1813-1878) and Dr Antoine Bechamp (1816-1908), offered a very different model of disease based on health rather than disease, on what was right instead of focusing on what is wrong, on empowerment through balance with your environment instead of fear and distance from it. Their theory, later termed “homeostasis”, states that the interior terrain of physiology, especially the metabolism, is paragon. Bechamp summarized this in his famous quote:
"The constancy of the internal environment is the condition for a free and independent life"
“Free and Independent!” Now that sounds like what America was supposed to be, individually and collectively. Practically an antonym of the Latin meaning of “immunity,” homeostasis means “standing in balance with what is similar to or in common with self.” The one word that describes being healthy, stable, balanced and strong within an ever-changing internal and external environment is adaptation.
The concept of immunity supports seeing the world as dangerous and “out to get you;” a concept that is fantastic to support corporations specifically and fear in general. The concepts of homeostasis and adaptation support seeing the world as an externalization in common with your own self and your individual self as an internalization in common with the outer world.
|Creates distinction||Creates continuity|
|Creates separation||Creates unity|
|Generated by will||Generated by love|
|Polarizes individuals||Unifies community|
The key to true immunity is community. The entirety of the shared common environment, all Beings including herbs, is community. Immunity is simply not what we have been led to believe; it simply is not what we think. The “enemy” of immunity is not outer pathogens but rather inner imbalance. This imbalance is so vast and rampant these days that it has taken a life of its own. By convincing us that it is the truth we only fall deeper into its disempowering enervation.
Increasing your core vitality and integrity, and your systemic resilience to stress and change, amplifies the ability to accept, allow and adapt to “other,” and this is key to returning to the inner/individual and outer/collective health. This is what we all want for ourselves and our loved ones, and if you are a Bodhisattva, it is what you want for all Beings. This description of a path to global health and unity is also exactly a definition of a class of phytomedicines called anti-stress adaptogens.
To me, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a good way of seeing how Germ Theory and immunity can be placed in proper context with homeostasis and adaptation. In the case of using our herb allies to promote health one can take this metaphor quite literally. In general, I would rather have an ounce of adaptogenic herbs than have a pound of antimicrobial substances, because adaptogens support the stable balance of inner terrain in a way that increases the probability that that same terrain will rarely if ever require the aforementioned pound of antimicrobials. Adaptogenic herbs are like brushing your teeth and antimicrobial substances are like going to the dentist when you have a cavity. If you take care of your teeth in the first place you decrease the probability of getting a cavity.
Thousands of years of Vedic science observations and daily use shows that Tulsi, Ashwagandha and Shatavri are very strong adaptogenic herbs. Western science has confirmed this with studies over the last decade.
Tulsi is one of the best adaptogens and is especially good at stabilizing systemic aggravation by optimizing the digestive and metabolic functions of the body/mind.
Ashwagandha is often used as the standard to measure the adaptogenic properties of herbs and herbal formulas and is famous for minimizing systemic aggravation by supporting endurance and calm stability at all levels.
Shatavriuses cooling and deep nectar-like nourishment to help us adapt to systemic stress and aggravation. All of these herbs are very strong antioxidants as well. In fact, a significant amount of their support for us is mediated through their antioxidant activity.
If it seems that I am being vague in describing these epic herbal allies it is because the present laws of the land forbid me speak about these herbs in the language of allopathic medicine, and few people understand the Vedic language of energetics commonly known as Ayurveda. So please feel free to empower yourself and your right to “Freedom of Speech” by consulting qualified sources of herb information like the nationally recognized herbal medicine associations.
And remember, to the extent that community is the unifying factor with your environment that supports your inner and outer balance, having a good strong relationship and alliance with community is a key to true Immunity.
To empower yourself and your community with more herbal knowledge I recommend checking into and becoming a member of the following highly recommended organizations.
It is so rewarding to connect ever deeper with our herbal allies and a great way to get closer to your Nature.