Friday, March 27, 2009
Identify and Treat the Cause
Spend an afternoon with a two-year old and you will discover the endless opportunity of the question “Why?” You will think you have resolved their curiosity when here it comes again, “Why?” At Bambú Clinic, this simple question is one of our doctor’s most valuable tools. Because the body has the inherent ability to heal itself, illness does not occur without a cause.
Symptoms, themselves, can be understood as a self-attempt at cure. So, then, as curious physicians, we must ask ourselves, “Why?” Why did this symptom occur? Why does it continue? Why is it not successful at returning the body to health? Why does one person have this health problem when another similar patient does not? And just when we think we have found an answer, we will ask the question again to access even deeper roots of each patient’s imbalance.
In order to restore health, we must discover the underlying causes of disease on all levels (including physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, environmental, genetic, etc.) and in the case of chronic symptoms the reason why the body’s natural attempts at cure have been unsuccessful. As chronic illness is the result of long-standing dysfunction, the answers often exist in the patient’s ancient past.
The diagnosis of breast cancer perfectly illustrates the point. The American Cancer Society warns of many known risk factors: age, positive family history, genetic predisposition (defects in one of several genes, like the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2), radiation exposure, excess weight, early onset of menstrual cycles, etc. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, most women with breast cancer have no known risk factors, other than being female! In other words, many women, with all of the aforementioned risk factors never develop breast cancer, while most women who do develop breast cancer have none of those characteristics!
While we agree that diligently managing all potential risk factors for disease is an essential part of your overall care, we also acknowledge the complexities of health that cannot be accounted for by a statistic. A risk factor, or even a host of risk factors, is not absolutely causal for any condition. So, then, why do certain women (and even some men) develop this condition and others, who are at higher risk, do not? Or, more specifically, why has the woman sitting across our desk developed breast cancer regardless of perfect health, negative family history and no genetic predisposition? For her, the question might be a life saver.
In the case of cancer, the condition is not simply a tumor. If that were the case, cancer would easily be cured by eliminating the mass through surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. Instead, the tumor is the result of a process. The cancer process is one of unregulated and disorganized growth that has evaded the body’s natural defenses. To wholistically treat a cancer patient, we must address the underlying causes and circumstances that led to this disintegration of normal function. If the tumor is removed or ‘destroyed,’ then, our approach to cancer care remains the same. We still focus on the factors that have allowed ‘renegade’ cells to survive and multiply—the process. And, the solutions are often different for each individual patient.
When patients present at our office, it is common for them to discuss their signs, symptoms, and diagnosis with the doctor.
The condition may compromise their ability to work, sleep, eat, play, and enjoy life with their friends and family. To the patient, these symptoms seem like ‘the problem.’ At Bambú, your physician will explain why your symptoms are actually not the problem. The problem, instead, is the reason why you have those symptoms and the solution lies in addressing that cause. Your symptoms simply provide insight and guidance along the way.