Are We Addressing The Root Cause, Or Just Treating The Symptoms?
No offense Thomas Edison, but were you ever wrong! Or could it be that this prediction has simply not yet come to fruition. One can hope for the latter. At this point in history though, not only do doctors give out medicine, but it has become the absolute BIGGEST of big business. Talk about a growth industry, as the population gets progressively sicker, the healthcare industry is exploding into a billion dollar per day nightmare. This is an epidemic that still continues to trend upward, largely due to the fact that doctors (in general) do not seek to treat the Root Cause of metabolic diseases.
The United States spends more than any other country on healthcare. Per capita, the U.S. spends more than twice the average of other developed countries. Unfortunately, we are not getting what we are paying for, when you consider that we are only the seventeenth healthiest country (according to 2016 statistics). This begs the question, are we addressing the cause of our health problems or merely treating the symptoms with inordinately expensive drugs?
Consider this: did you wake up one morning overweight, or with arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, or any of a number of other health issues? Or did these problems begin to develop over time as a result of annoying little sympoms?
Aside from annual checkups, most folks seek help from their doctor for a particular purpose, makes perfect sense, you have a symptom and you want it alleviated. That annoying cough, that throbbing pain, that “It hurts when I do this …” and we expect our physician to give us something to make us feel better. A quick fixin the form of a medication. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it’s just what we’ve come to expect. After all, that is what most doctors do, they medicate symptoms. Wham bam, in and out …and in many cases, that is enough. But when it comes to a situation that has become chronic, perhaps medicating a symptom isn’t the solution.
Indulge me this common scenario:
A patient presents with a fever and cough. After further investigation, it’s discovered that a bronchial infection is the diagnosis. The patient is prescribed an antibiotic and a cough suppressant. The patient takes the prescribed medications for the suggested amount of time and eventually the symptoms are alleviated. Victory. This treatment was effective because it addressed the Root Cause of the symptoms. Does this patient then return to the doctor to get more medication to stave off the return of his symptoms? Of course not. That would be ridiculous, as the problem has been solved.
Why then can’t we seem to apply this same logic to other common symptoms like high blood pressure, or high blood sugar, or joint pain, or acid reflux, or high triglycerides (yada, yada, etc. etc.)? The answer is simple. Because the common medicinal treatments for these symptoms are NOT addressing the Root Cause.
To what end?
Why are we so quick to just accept the notion that some diagnoses require the use of medications for the rest of our lives? Why are we not seeking to address the actual reason that our blood pressure (or blood sugar, or triglycerides, etc.) is high? Why do we take such solace in the idea that “all will be well” as long as we keep taking this magic little pill. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for medications, but is there no end game? Should the goal not be to eventually discontinue the medication? You know, actually fix the problem. I mean, if this medication actually has any kind of healing properties, there should most definitely be an end to this, right? Well, apparently not. Across this great country of ours people are waking up to a breakfast that looks a lot like this:
Peeling the onion …
Remember, your doctor is busy and spends an average of 10 -12 minutes with you during an average visit. If you are not an advocate for yourself, it is likely that no one will be. Ask questions until you feel that you have an understanding of what kinds of things could cause the symptoms you are experiencing. Follow up that question with another and another so you will know what topics to research and educate yourself about.
The first set of questions you should ask your health care provider when given a prescription for a medication is “are these drugs going to make my body stronger and healthier? Are they addressing the root cause of the problem, or do they only merely address a symptom?” Most prescribed medications only treat a symptom. They rarely help strengthen your body, immune system, heart, joints, intestines, liver, kidneys, etc.
- Are cholesterol lowering drugs and blood pressure medications helping your heart, or are they just lowering the markers we measure that tell us our cardiovascular system is in jeopardy?
- Are the acid blockers and antiacids fixing your digestive system, or are they just reducing the gastro intestinal pain?
- Are pain medications for arthritis, joint pain, or fibromyalgia fixing the problem, or are they only disrupting the pain signals your body is sending?
- Are hormone replacement drugs balancing out the imbalance by adding hormones, or addressing what’s causing the imbalance so you don’t need to take the hormones?
Remember, drugs have side effects. Some can cause serious problems, problems that are far worse than the symptom you originally presented with.
This is where I explain that your body is like a car … because I can’t think of a better example to illustrate diagnostics:
The human body is however similar to a car in that it gives you signals, little warnings that something isn’t right. It seems like most people do a better job of responding to the signals their car gives them than their body. Unfortunately our bodies don’t have warning lights, but they do exhibit symptoms. Symptoms like fatigue, indigestion, cravings, headaches, elevated cholesterol, and blood sugar are nothing more than signals that let us know that something isn’t functioning properly. It’s our job to address what is causing those problems. If we don’t, those simple annoying problems could grow and be at the root of your major health complaint. This graphic illustrates the “5 Whys” method of Root Cause Analysis:
Some prefer a thought map similar to this one to help guide them to the discovery of Root Cause:
Here are some ideas to help develope the thought process for Root Cause Analysis in the context of some common symptoms:
- All of those digestive problems (bloating, gas, reflux, heartburn) are telling us our digestive system isn’t functioning properly. This can lead to poor absorption of nutrients and even deficiencies. How can you expect your body to overcome any ailment or re-build itself if the food and nutrients aren’t absorbed?
- If fatigue is your problem, could your hormones be so out of whack that it throws your metabolism off?
- How about cravings? Are we eating the wrong foods, too many carbs and not enough good protein and healthy fats? Either way, it throws our blood sugar off and leads to moodiness, irritability, inability to concentrate and focus, and is a prime cause for adult ADD/ADHD.
- Don’t assume that blood sugar problems only cause diabetes. That is a huge mistake and one of the biggest reasons traditional medicine hasn’t been able to help the chronic and degenerative problems (fatigue, weight gain, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, depression, hot flashes, PMS, nightsweats) our nation faces. They are not addressing the true cause.
- Blood sugar imbalances and insulin resistance can put additional stress on your adrenal glands, which cause an overproduction of the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. This also contributes to weight gain and fatigue. In addition, it throws our reproductive hormones (estrogen,progesterone, and testosterone) out of balance. Blood sugar imbalances also cause high blood pressure and elevated triglycerides, which eventually can lead to high cholesterol.
- Even conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, and fibromyalgia can be a result of inflammation. The best way to overcome inflammation is with a good diet. The body makes its own natural ‘anti-inflammatory drugs’ if we feed it the right foods. For example, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, fish oils, olive oil, nuts, and seeds can dramatically decrease inflammation. Conversely, trans fats will trigger inflammation.
Just keep learning and asking:
If you’re struggling with any chronic or degenerative condition, you need to make sure your digestive and elimination systems are functioning properly. Are you keeping your blood sugar stable? Are your stress hormones out of balance? Is your metabolism functioning properly? These are the most basic questions that need to be answered when dealing with any health challenge. Too often we skip over these fundamental concerns and wonder why we aren’t getting better.
The healing process is exactly that, a process. There is not one magic formula that is going to do everything for you. It’s like peeling an onion, it’s one layer at a time.
Educate yourself on the details of your condition. Understanding the “whys” of what ails us is half the battle towards resolution. Do research using credible sources like:
Here is another great place to start:
Share this document with your doctor. This is a submission in the British Medical Journal by Professor Timothy Noakes in which he and his colleagues map out strategies by which therapeutic diet plans can be implemented in order to treat many metabolic diseases. This document comes complete with linked references to the scientific studies that substantiate these claims. You and your doctor will both be shocked as to how effective a good therapeutic diet can be toward alleviating the symptoms of metabolic disease. Why, you ask? Because this strategy actually addresses the Root Cause of so many of today’s modern illnesses of metabolism.
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