‘TOLLE CAUSAM’ or treat the cause is the next Naturopathic principle discussed in this series. It follows on from treating the body as a whole, because by doing this a Naturopath will be able to uncover and treat the cause of the complaint rather than just suppress the symptom.
Our bodies are pretty good at telling us something is wrong. Symptoms are our bodies warning system, trying to alert us to something that isn’t quite right. If we are in tune with our bodies we can sometimes realise what might have caused the symptom or a change in our behaviour. But if symptoms are continuously ignored or suppressed, the cause will continue to wreck havoc.
Headaches, heartburn, inflammation, constipation, bloating and fatigue are some of the hundreds of symptoms or alerts that our body sends out. But all of these symptoms are talked about as though they are the disease or condition.
Heartburn is not a condition. It is a symptom. Heartburn is the irritating, burning sensation felt in the lower oesophagus which occurs when stomach acid spills into the oesophagus. A headache is a symptom. It is pain in the head or neck which can be caused by injury, tension, stress or dehydration. Each of these and every other symptom has an array of medications available to ease the symptom. The problem with just having the paracetamol for the headache is that although it may suppress the pain, the injury, stress or dehydration has not been addressed, so the headache will continue to re-occur.
By failing to treat the cause, symptoms can become chronic in nature and can lead to other ares of the body experiencing symptoms. This is where serious and life-threatening diseases can begin.
Did you know that women should not experience painful periods? Yet dysmenorrhea (painful periods) is experienced by more than half of menstruating women. This can range from a number of causes including hormonal imbalances or a sluggish liver, or to more serious diagnosis such as endometriosis or uterine fibroid. If the pain is only dealt with by taking pain killers and the cause isn’t investigated it can become worse, and can affect a women’s fertility in serious cases.
A Naturopath will spend up to an hour in the first consultation gathering information about your presenting complaint. They will ask in depth about your health history as it often contributes to your existing state of health. They will also use physical examinations, further laboratory testing and possibly GP and other modality referrals to help establish the cause of your complaint.
From here they will establish a treatment plan tailored to you and your complaint. One of the beautiful things about natural medicine is the ability to prepare each patients medicine in an individual manner. Everyone experiences sickness differently. The symptoms of a cold can vary from person to person, as does the cause. So it just makes sense that each person would be considered an individual and will be treated according to their set of symptoms and their cause, rather then a one size fits all approach, which often doesn’t fit at all.
Unfortunately modern medicine has somewhat conditioned us to seek relief in the form of drugs without stopping to identify the cause of the problem first. If you have a cold you take a drug. If you have high blood pressure you take a drug. If you have raised blood glucose you take a drug. The problem with this is even though the drug may control your blood pressure it will not cure it. This is openly admitted by the Heart Foundation of Australia, who acknowledge that once you start blood pressure medication you will likely be taking it for the rest of your life, regardless of the potential side effects. This is because the cause has not been addressed and even though your blood pressure may be controlled the truth is, you still have a chronic health condition.
Stay tuned for the next part in this series ‘First do no harm’ and how this important principle is implemented by a Naturopath.