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Natural Doctors Treat the Root Cause

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Identifying and treating the root cause of illness is a foundational construct of naturopathic medicine. While symptom relief can offer immediate comfort, it may not address underlying issues, and some conditions will persist or worsen over time. 

Many people struggle with unresolved symptoms for months or even years. By pinpointing and targeting the central cause, naturopathic doctors (NDs) seek to eliminate the source of the problem. This approach not only promotes genuine healing and prevents future complications but also sheds light on factors that contribute to illness, empowering people to actively participate in their own care.

Uncovering the root cause often involves addressing lifestyle factors, environmental influences, and health histories. With this information, NDs develop personalized treatment strategies tailored to a patient’s individual needs.

What Is Root Cause Medicine?

Root cause medicine investigates the fundamental origins of health conditions. Pinpointing the source of the problem is the first step. With this knowledge, the ND and patient create a personalized treatment plan.

Multiple factors contribute to illness, including diet and lifestyle, environmental issues, genetic predisposition, physiological imbalances, socioeconomic status, and mental and emotional states. By targeting the condition’s origins, NDs aim to promote healing and prevent future illness. 

While root cause medicine identifies and treats illness and disease, the overarching goal is restoring health and achieving optimal long-term wellness. This concept is known as the therapeutic order, a unifying principle of naturopathic medicine that includes these steps1Zeff J, Snider P, Myers S. A hierarchy of healing: the therapeutic order a unifying theory of naturopathic medicine. The Textbook of Natural Medicine-Edition 4th Chapter 3. 2013;January.

  • Identify acute and chronic concerns.
  • Establish the conditions of health.
  • Stimulate the self-healing mechanisms.
  • Support weakened or damaged systems or organs.
  • Address structural integrity.
  • Address pathology with specific natural substances, modalities, or interventions.
  • Address pathology with specific pharmacologic or synthetic substances.
  • Suppress pathology.

Symptoms Signal Health Issues and Imbalances

Naturopathic doctors (NDs) follow six principles that guide their approach to medicine, clinical decisions, and treatment. Identifying and treating the root cause of illness is a naturopathic priority.

While symptoms are the body’s way of communicating problems, resolving them may not address the underlying issue. Symptoms provide clues to internal processes that have gone awry and prompt the search for a solution.

Naturopathic doctors are trained to provide relief from symptoms using safe and minimally invasive approaches while working to determine what’s causing the illness. By supporting the body’s intrinsic healing ability, NDs seek to alleviate symptoms naturally.

Experience the benefits of personalized natural healthcare with a trusted, licensed naturopathic doctor in your area.
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Experience the benefits of personalized natural healthcare with a trusted, licensed naturopathic doctor in your area.
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Implementing Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Among the various elements that can contribute to disease, lifestyle choices are crucial. In the United States, an estimated 90% of type 2 diabetes, 80% of cardiovascular disease, 70% of stroke, and 70% of colon cancer are potentially preventable by modifying diet, physical activity, and obesity.2Willett WC, Koplan JP, Nugent R, et al. Prevention of Chronic Disease by Means of Diet and Lifestyle Changes. In: Jamison DT, Breman JG, Measham AR, et al., editors. Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries. 2nd edition. Washington (DC): The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank; 2006. Chapter 44. Co-published by Oxford University Press, New York. The American Cancer Society attributes approximately 42% of all cancers and 45% of all cancer deaths in the United States to potentially modifiable lifestyle factors.3American Cancer Society. Cancer prevention & early detection facts & figures 2019-2020.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, six in ten adult Americans have at least one chronic illness, and four in ten have two or more.4Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About chronic diseases. 2022;July 21. Ninety-five percent of people over 60 have at least one chronic condition, and nearly 80% have two or more.5National Council on Aging. The top 10 most common chronic conditions in older adults. 2023;Aug 31. Addressing the underlying causes of chronic illnesses such as the following could resolve the conditions entirely:

With rigorous training in clinical nutrition, lifestyle counseling, and botanical medicine, NDs are equipped to identify and initiate safe and effective lifestyle modifications that can resolve underlying causes and improve outcomes. Working with a licensed ND can help patients understand the reasons behind their symptoms and maintain long-lasting good health.


This article is provided by

The Institute for Natural Medicine, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. INM’s mission is to transform health care in the United States by increasing public awareness of natural medicine and access to naturopathic doctors. Naturopathic medicine, with its person-centered principles and practices, has the potential to reverse the tide of chronic illness overwhelming healthcare systems and to empower people to achieve and maintain optimal lifelong health. INM strives to fulfil this mission through the following initiatives:

  • Education – Reveal the unique benefits and outcomes of evidence-based natural medicine
  • Access – Connect patients to licensed naturopathic doctors
  • Research – Expand quality research on this complex and comprehensive system of medicine

About The Author(s)


Institute for Natural Medicine Staff

Our dedicated content team of professional staff writers represents decades of experience covering essential natural health topics in an accessible, evidence-based, and engaging way. Guided by a shared passion for holistic well-being, each and every one of our writers strives to empower our readers to take charge of their health.

Supported by a rigorous fact-checking and medical editing process from licensed naturopathic doctors that examines the latest in peer-reviewed research, our team brings their in-depth knowledge of natural health practices into every piece of content we produce. We strive to be the gold standard for evidence-based natural medicine, providing trustworthy information and inspiring narratives to help you live your best health, naturally.

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