Imagine that you come home and your house is on fire. Smoke is pouring out several windows in different sections of the house. You call 911 and the firemen arrive with hoses and axes in hand.
Now, imagine that the firemen descend on your house, breaking each of the windows from which smoke is pouring and spraying water inside each one. As they enter the house still spraying water, they find that the source of all the smoke is coming from a small trash can fire in the den. By fighting the smoke instead of the fire, they would do more damage to your home than the fire itself!
Addressing symptoms instead of the root causes of the symptoms is a bit like fighting the smoke instead of the fire. Just like the smoke is not the source of the problem but can spread everywhere as a result of the fire, symptoms can be a clue that something is wrong, but are not the root problem. And because every aspect of our health is connected, a symptom has many possible causes, and a particular root cause can cause different symptoms in different people. Everything is connected to everything, and therefore anything can cause anything.
Say, for instance, that you go to your doctor and he/she does a lipid screening and finds that you have high cholesterol. You will likely be prescribed a statin to bring down your cholesterol. The problem is, that is treating the symptom and not the cause. It leaves many questions unanswered. Why is the cholesterol high? Are you eating a poor diet? Is your body trying to heal from an illness or injury? Are you experiencing long term stress? Are you not moving your body enough and getting regular exercise? Is there a genetic component? Studies have been done showing that taking statin medication does little to lower your risk of heart disease, but addressing the root cause of consistently high cholesterol, such as poor diet, lack of exercise, or chronic stress, does. And statins have their own set of side effects, sometimes wrecking a person’s health more than the simple high level of cholesterol ever would.
So, would you rather attack the the smoke from coming out of the windows, or put out the little fire in the trash can?
A whole person, functional approach to nagging symptoms can support your body to function normally, not just suppress the symptoms, or warning signals, that you experience. There is often much you can do to get your body back to functioning correctly by changing a few habits or starting some new ones, and you may be surprised just how many symptoms disappear and how good you feel!