THE VERY PARADIGM of our health care system is wrong and needs to change. The conventional medical view, supported by the medical-industrial complex, is that the body comprises isolated parts and that doctors must treat symptoms. But the body is an integrated whole: every part of the body is related to every other part of the body in a constant interplay of functions and processes. We must treat symptoms, yes, but we must treat the causes of those symptoms as well.
As it is, people in the West play a lifelong game of Whack-a-Mole with their health. A symptom appears and we go to our doctor address it. If we’re lucky, the symptom disappears. But that’s like taking the batteries out of the smoke alarm instead of putting out the fire. You might not hear the noise any longer but the fire is still there.
By focusing on overall wellness throughout our entire body, we could ultimately alleviate many of the symptoms that ail us. Put simply, symptoms will never stop developing if their causes aren’t addressed and in extreme cases, patients can end up taking dozens of pills but never getting better.
There are simple ways in which we can start to take care of ourselves in a holistic manner. The importance of diet to our all-round wellbeing, for example, still isn’t fully appreciated. Essential to health is the inclusion of large quantities of varied vegetables, which can lead us to experience wonderful and dramatic changes in the body and in our mood! Exercise and sleep are also very important to your wellbeing. If we don’t move our bodies in the way that they were designed to move or rest for the right amount of time––about seven to eight hours–––it’s no surprise that we get sick!
Searching for the underlying causes of symptoms and illnesses is something like being a detective: you need to look at your exposure to toxins, your diet, your stress management, your sleep hygiene and other factors to help ascertain the causes of and contributors to illness. Symptoms are far more simple to identify than causes, but they only indicate a condition of ill health and can therefore return if the person’s health doesn’t improve. Sometimes, a symptom can be related to more than one cause. In order to understand what it is going on in the body that produced that symptom, you need a proper evaluation: history, workup, testing. The process takes longer, but it’s necessary. To put together a treatment plan that deals with causes, not symptoms, you need to understand each unique patient.
It’s important to treat symptoms. But treating a symptom and not its cause is like putting a picture over a hole created by termites. You no longer see the hole, but the termites are still there, eating away. If we don’t want to fall into this trap, we need to change the way we think about our approach to health care.