The Root Cause of All Health Challenges
Using holistic and naturopathic medicine techniques, we can solve health issues by evaluating toxicities, deficiencies and sensitivities.
Nearly all health challenges are lifestyle induced, while only about 0.2% are truly “genetic.” Conventional doctors often blame genetics for most chronic health issues but this is largely false based on the published data. It’s a convenient excuse as most have no idea of why or how you have arrived with a health challenge. This means your internal and external environment are the biggest keys to your wellness (but also your illness).
Skilled naturopathic, functional, and holistic doctors recognize this and know health issues boil down to three major areas: toxicity, deficiency, and sensitivity. That’s it. Yes, all health issues come down to imbalances in these three areas.
Let’s unpack each one so you can see why these must be addressed to have any chance of overcoming a health challenge.
Toxicity. We have the mycotoxin world of molds, yeasts, protozoa, bacteria, viruses, and parasites. And it’s not just their presence that can make us sick but the compounds they make and poison our bodies with. Toxins also come in the form of pesticides, heavy metals, personal care products, air fresheners and thousands of other chemicals in our environment. There is a new medical term called Body Burden when all the aforementioned chemicals accumulate and create a damaging, toxic load on your body. Besides direct toxic action such as promoting cancer, many of these toxins are called endocrine disruptors as they bind to and push aside hormones in our endocrine system. This halts the body from crucial health promoting functions, which lead to symptoms and eventually disease.
Also, there are energetic toxicities. These include your domestic and work environments, your close friends and the media you consume. While these may not be physician toxins like a parasite, they are just as harmful, maybe even more. They cause excessive mental stress which turns into physical stress, leading to illness.
Deficiencies. The human body requires around 90 essential nutrients to function properly. These nutrients are required to support the expression of genes which make new healthy cells. The nutrients also support our metabolism, immune system, detoxification, organs, glands, brain and mental health, bones, and muscle tissue. Imagine a construction worker attempting to build a house with an excellent architectural drawing but only gum and toothpicks to work with. This is what you are dealing with when you lack essential nutrients to build new health cells and support daily function. We typically hear about major nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and maybe fish oil, but there are over 80 more. To make matters worse, our food is largely grown on depleted soil which has been stripped of these essential nutrients. This means even a whole food diet cannot supply all the nutrients we need due to modern agricultural practices.
Further, there are energetic deficiencies. A deficiency in self-care, love, joy, and contentment create just as much damage as a physical nutrient deficiency such as lacking vitamin D3. These “unseen” deficiencies cause mental and emotional stress, leading to a major decline in total body function.
Sensitivities. These are typically related to foods. When you are sensitive to certain foods you are making your immune system over-react, thereby wearing the body down over time. Think of your immune system as the software running your PC, laptop, or phone. Also, called the OS or operating system, the software is always running in the background. If you have 30 or 40 tabs or apps running simultaneously, this causes the performance of the entire device to slow down (fatigue) and may cause errors (symptoms like inflammation, pain, or weight gain). As your immune system continues to go to war against these sensitivities (called antigens) it has to constantly produce antibodies. This takes up valuable resources.
You guessed it; there are also invisible energetic sensitivities which can include geopathic stresses from EMF radiation – electromagnetic frequencies – which can alter the subtle electrical communication between your brain and your body.
When you dump mental and emotional stress, deficiencies, and toxicities onto the pile, you can see how this can be a major issue over time. This can create many issues including adrenal fatigue which is where the symptom of exhaustion comes in. These also create inflammation in your body which can push insulin resistance. This state can lead to weight gain and eventually conditions like type II diabetes. Also lumped into this group are food allergies which are fast-acting responses to a food and food intolerances which are often experienced a few hours after eating which cause bloating and gas.
Where do we go from here
Figuring out where you are within the three above categories can be a daunting task. This is where a skilled clinical naturopath or functional doctor comes in handy, as the vast majority of conventionally trained clinicians will have little clue in this realm. What we are really discussing here is hunting down the root cause. Conventional providers are taught to react to symptoms and their medical paradigm is set up to make a judgment call in merely a few minutes. How can one possibly know where to look let alone analyze all the data from testing in a few minutes, with no training in the root cause of functional medicine? This is not a rational expectation. This would be like asking an expert auto mechanic to build your next custom home. See a conventional provider for acute illnesses, severe pain, and life-threatening medical conditions. Seek out a qualified clinical naturopathic doctor for help in dealing with chronic symptoms and illnesses. It’s all about using the right professional for the job.
The answer is only as good as the question
If we want a quality answer, we must ask a quality question. If you want to know how to figure out what toxicities, deficiencies, and sensitivities your body is challenged with, you must have quality testing. But before we get into testing, a word of caution: trying to match your symptoms with a supplement or natural medicine is a big mistake if you want the true root cause of your health challenge. This is because you are still taking the allopathic approach to health. Allopathic – aka conventional – is using a linear thought process of treating a symptom with a substance. This is like treating a headache with Tylenol. Or, the natural equivalent, treating it with Feverfew. The body is dynamic, not linear. Everything affects everything. Sure, sometimes we just want the headache gone. I get it. But if this is a regular event for you, then there is something sinister at work here. The headache means your body is going through an illness process and is asking for help – that’s ultimately what pain means. If you simply replace drugs with supplements and herbs, while you may experience fewer side effects compared to a pharmaceutical route, you are still missing the forest for the trees. You are also suppressing the symptoms which will make the body increase its “help me” signal which is the headache. Let’s ask a better question so we get a better answer, shall we. WHY is the headache (or symptom of an illness) there? This is what good testing can tell us.
Blood testing, known to many as the gold standard, is one of the worst ways to assess the body. This is because our body is an incredible scientific instrument, capable of surviving extreme environments and illnesses. It does this by buffering and balancing the blood with just the right mix of compounds to keep the body alive. It does this by pulling nutrients from other tissues, such as the bones and muscle tissue, to manufacture what it needs to survive. It’s a brilliant adaptation. But it’s also pathogen – if this keeps up for too long, it will cause illness and eventually death. This is because the body is an ecosystem just like the outside world. If we deforest an area faster than we can grow new trees, we will have a net loss in trees, which decreases atmospheric oxygen. If our bodies are pulling compounds out of the bones to buffer the blood, we will become deficient in nutrients. The energy has to come from somewhere. Thus, blood values, while they have their place, are some of the weakest ways to assess health. As a clinical naturopathic doctor, I’ve looked at thousands of blood lab reports. I’ve seen “healthy” levels of blood markers in both clients I know are truly healthy and those I know who are truly unhealthy. Yet, their blood work was praised by their conventional providers. This is not scientifically possible. Clearly, the obese client who eats fast food and smokes, is not as healthy as the lean client who eats clean food and workouts out daily. You don’t need a doctorate degree to see that as it’s common sense. Yet how can most of their blood markers be similar? Their body is balancing the blood out of adaptation.
A better way
A far better way to assess deep, underlying health is the naturopathic approach. There are several clinical tests in naturopathy which help paint the entire deep health picture, rather than making decisions merely from a group of symptoms. Some of these clinical modalities include iridology, biofeedback or bio-energetic testing, RBTI, and physiognomy. In addition, we can use traditional blood assay panels such as CBC, CMP, and others, but a clinical naturopath or functional medicine practitioner will assess them with a different reference range and comparison in mind. This means we assess blood lab results using triangulation which helps us to “connect the dots” and see what multiple markers taken together as a group are telling us about your health status. When we combine all the above testing modalities, it covers all the bases in terms of assessing your toxicities, deficiencies, and sensitivities, plus it can tell us if you may be dealing with things like an acute or chronic infection.
From there the naturopathic or holistic practitioner should design a custom plan of care addressing the most pressing issues within each bucket. Re-testing and monitoring is key, as well as accountability. It’s one thing to identify these items and get excited about fixing them but it’s another thing entirely to see the process through as it can take the better part of a year or more for full remission. It’s important to note that there should also be lots of nutrition, lifestyle, and mental health advice along the way to ensure the process is as successful as possible.
When you are working to fix your chronic health challenges, keep in mind, it’s not a linear process and there are many body systems and layers which must be assessed then corrected. When we break your health picture and divide it into these three categories it can help make sense of this overwhelming process.