Improve your understanding on how to address the cause of disease
I am so excited to be able to go into more detail with you about what it means to address the cause. I mention this so often and I want to ensure that people understand what addressing the cause really means. For instance, is a headache the cause, or is caffeine (or withdrawals from caffeine) the cause? I think that you will be interested in the answer. If you haven’t already, you need to go get my FREE Basic Health Guidelines (BHGs). With the information in this blog, and the BHGs in hand, you’re all set to start taking steps to improve your health.
As a naturopathic physician, I feel proud to mention that addressing the cause is actually one of our Six Naturopathic Principles, the guiding philosophy behind everything we do. Addressing the cause hinges on the idea that the body knows how to heal (another naturopathic principle) and that our job is to identify and remove the obstacle to cure. This is in contrast to addressing symptoms. Symptoms are signals from our body that something isn’t working and we need a change. Ignoring or suppressing symptoms drives them into chronic disease. Making the symptom disappear should not be our goal; finding the reason should.
Let’s take a moment to break down this phrase and really understand what we are doing when we say “address the cause.” To “address” something means to “think about and begin to deal with (an issue or problem).” This is important because this is what we are going to do. We are going to put our focus onto the cause of our disease with the intention of stimulating the healing process.
“The cause,” is a little more nebulous and we need to spend a little time on it because it can be different for everyone. The definition of cause is the “thing that gives rise to an action, phenomenon, or condition.” Essentially, we have a cause and an effect. Here, the effect is our chronic disease, or decreased quality of life; our symptoms. We will be focusing our attention onto what is the cause of our symptoms to try to identify what we can change.
For instance, let’s look at this story I got from a real patient. This patient decided that it was a beautiful early spring weekend morning and assumed it was going to continue throughout the day. Packing her car, she drove out into the woods for a day hike. As she made it to the trailhead, she saw darker clouds start to roll in. She decided that she didn’t want to miss the opportunity, so she chose to continue. Trying to avoid getting drenched, she hiked faster hoping to avoid the rain. Halfway through, the sky opened and the rains came down, light at first but quickly they became torrential. She hadn’t prepared for this and was soaked to the bone. The last stretch was downhill and she decided to jog. Within sight of the trailhead, gravel covered the path, and she slipped, fell, and twisted her ankle. The next day, she woke up with a swollen, bruised, and painful ankle. The question is, what is the cause of her swelling and pain?
When we talk about addressing the cause, we are really asking what is the root cause, the deepest cause that is creating our symptoms. In the previous story, the symptoms are really easy to identify. Bruising, swelling, and pain are the signals from the body that something isn’t working. We now have the effect, so let’s identify the cause.
It’s easiest to say that the cause of her bruising, swelling, and pain is that she twisted her ankle. Simple, done, let’s go home, right? Let’s look a little further. The gravel caused her to slip on the path, so that could be the cause, right? What about her decision to pick up the pace? Maybe she twisted her ankle because she really wasn’t prepared for the rain, or even that she decided to continue on the hike despite knowing it was going to rain? Is the root cause actually her decision to go hiking in the first place? A beautiful spring day is ultimately the cause of her ankle bruising, swelling, and pain?!?
Finding the root cause is a little more difficult than looking for the immediate cause of the symptoms. Most of us would immediately go to her injury on the trail to find the cause of her symptoms, and not many of us would think to even go beyond that. Did you consider her decision to go on a hike to be the root cause of her symptoms? This illustrates that sometimes a good idea can end up with an unfortunate and unintended result. This is true for most of the root causes of our chronic diseases. We are trying to do something positive for ourselves and it ends up causing more harm in the long term.
We have body pain and take aspirin to get rid of it. We have high cholesterol so we take a statin to lower it. We have diabetes so we take metformin to stabilize our blood sugars. What if I was to tell you that your headache, high cholesterol, and diabetes were all still symptoms? They are the signals that your body is sending to let you know that something isn’t working and that the treatments are actually causing us more harm. Treating the symptom is so ingrained into how we view our health that it really becomes difficult to step back and understand the true cause of our chronic disease.
This is where a good plan with predictable results becomes vital to addressing the root cause and restoring health. The thinking that has led you into a place of chronic disease cannot lead you out; you need to think differently. Go download my Free Simple 3-Step Plan and Basic Health Guidelines for more ideas on how to change your thinking and get a plan that’s right for you. I’m confident that you can change your life. I’ve seen it happen again and again. I am honored to being part of your health recovery and look forward to connecting more soon.