Have you ever been to the doctor and been given something for your symptoms, leaving you with more questions than answers? Have you wondered why you got the symptoms in the first place? What could have been done to prevent them and what can be done now to make sure they don’t come up again? If so then you’re thinking like a naturopathic doctor.
Natural medicine is always seeking out the root cause of an illness rather than looking to find the quickest way to get rid of a symptom. It’s what sets natural medicine apart from conventional medicine.
One way of thinking about this is to imagine a beautiful oak tree growing in the middle of a field. After years of a lovely, healthy life, a disease starts to develop on a small group of leaves. To make sure that the disease doesn’t spread to the rest of the tree, a few smaller branches are pruned. But the natural medicine way of thinking urges us to ask a lot of questions. Why is the tree vulnerable to that disease? What conditions allowed for it to arise? What can be done now to strengthen the tree and keep it from getting this disease again or from getting other diseases?
Just like seeking the deeper causes of the tree’s illness, naturopathic doctors are trained to look for the root causes of disease in our patients. In fact, it’s written into the naturopathic manifesto called the Six Principles of Naturopathic Medicine—the guiding principles for naturopathic thinking—which include:
- The healing power of nature – support the patient’s inherent capacity to heal
- Identify and treat the causes – treat the root causes of disease
- Do no harm – use the least invasive, least toxic approaches first
- Doctor as teacher – teach patients how to achieve better health
- Treat the whole person – mental, physical and spiritual health all matter
- Prevention – work toward overall health and prevention of disease
We know that a root problem can cause a lot more than a single symptom. A root problem can cause several symptoms now (sometimes even symptoms that patients don’t notice, or didn’t think were solvable) and even more symptoms later, if left untreated.
When we look deeper to find the root causes of disease, we have an opportunity to not only solve the current problem, but also prevent future illness.