Identify and treat the cause

This might be my favorite principle of naturopathy. To identify and treat the root cause of any problem is the only method to solve it properly. In my career in information technology, I took this for granted for a long time. After I graduated college and solved problems full time, I approached problems this way automatically. For instance, if application users reported bad data in our system, I didn’t just fix the data in the database. I dug into all the code that touched that data to determine how it became corrupted in the first place. Although this seemed intuitive in my own approach, I learned that it was not common.

Any good doctor, no matter their treatment approach, should apply this principle when dealing with a patient’s problem. However, either due to social conditioning, lack of time, or simple lack of expertise, it doesn’t seem to be followed consistently in the medical community. In my own case, such treatment fortunately led me to discover naturopathy!

Late in the summer of 2004, I traveled to the Philippines to implement a new software system at work. Upon returning, I developed a nagging digestive problem: constipation. I tried some things on my own, but resorted to seeing the primary care physician that was assigned to me through my insurance. This doctor prescribed milk of magnesia, enemas and eventually even X-rayed my torso. All these treatments were focused on reducing the symptom of my problem, but got nowhere in stopping it for more than a day or so. Around this same time, a new teammate joined my cycling team, and his wife happened to be a naturopathic doctor. She spoke at a team meeting and I immediately sought out her help. And help I did receive! Through the use of homeopathy and mineral supplementation, we were able to root out my problem and restore normal digestive function.

Naturopathic physicians, by oath, work to address the fundamental cause of disease. They recognize that symptoms signify the body’s efforts to heal and therefore should not be suppressed through treatment. Further, they know that causes may exist within physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual planes, and will not assume any single cause simply due to symptoms.

How can this philosophy be applied to corporate wellness? Ideally, I think that wellness programs and coaches should go beyond superficial “risk assessments,” generic tips and documentation, or blood tests. They should spend the necessary time to work with each employee to determine what it is internally and externally that is keeping them from their ideal health. Although this will require more one on one time, it will further ensure the effectiveness of the program: the changes required to achieve wellness will be identified, and they’ll be applicable long term. Further, if the employee believes in the identified solutions, having taking part in the process of rooting them out, then they’ll feel more engaged in their journey to ideal health from the start.

At this point, I’ve explained that the process begins with the employee identifying their own vision of their ideal health. Next, the employee is presented with the fact that they already have the tools in their own life to achieve their desired result. Now, we dig into the employee’s life and ask, what is it in your life that is preventing you from achieving your health goals? Could it be: nutrition, lack of exercise, disorganization at home/work, clutter, relationships, old habits, self-image, stress, pressure, time, support? What small step can made today to start to change that?

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