Whether you’re fully invested into health or not, both wellness and disease can easily become a complicated endeavour. Health, on the one hand, is a plethora of continuous practices designed to support optimal wellbeing, while disease happens because of short or long standing damage. Even for the best intentioned, neither state can always be predicted or recognized in advance. When it comes to illness however, there are always 5 simple steps necessary to heal. So if you’re not at your best, or currently dealing with disease or an issue of health, here are the 5 simple steps to heal any illness. 


Step 1: Identify The Symptoms

Obviously, this one’s a no brainer. As, if there were no symptoms, your cause for concern likely wouldn’t have happened in the first place. That being said, disease without symptoms can be just as aggressive (or worse) than a disease that does physically manifest in mild or destructive ways. With a ‘non symptomatic’ health concern or disease, this is why regular screening, physicals and checkups (including blood work) are a must. When symptoms are obvious, identify what they are, and head to step 2.


Step 2: Ask “Why” 

This step is considered the ‘clincher’. This is the ‘make or break’ so to speak, as at this point you need to determine why the symptoms are happening in the first place. Sometimes you can figure this out on your own, such as in a situation where you’ve developed chronic headaches and fatigue, but simultaneously acknowledge that you’ve only been sleeping for 4 hours per night despite your ideal to sleep 7. Most times, however, it’s imperative to seek out professional medical help (an allopathic or naturopathic doctor) to properly identify the cause. Either case, the why or the reason the symptom has occurred is not always clearly defined. This is the point you endeavour into step 3. 


Step 3: Take A Step Back

Best case scenario, at this point, you know why your symptoms have come to be. You still, however, have yet to precisely determine or understand the big picture. By this, I mean, why are you having chronic headaches because you aren’t sleeping enough? It’s obvious that, in this example, sleep deprivation can cause headaches and fatigue, but it doesn’t necessarily tell us why. What physiological systems are at play here, and from a biological standpoint, why is your body responding this way? This, within itself, truly differentiates symptom management from real healing. Unfortunately, the conventional medical system isn’t always fully equipped to target the depth of this level. Naturopathic and integrative medicine, however, is. It’s not always a simple answer, but by trial and error, combined with professional medical experience and a devotion to finding out why, it’s inevitable not to be able to find the true root cause.


Step 4: Target The Cause And Manage The Symptoms 

Once step 3 has been well enough established (it doesn’t have to be definitively clear, and often times there’s more than one reason why – health and disease is rarely black or white), it’s time to pull out the big guns and begin to treat. When I say treat, I don’t mean ‘reduce the symptoms’ and conclude that the disease is taken care of. What I mean to treat is to be able to therapeutically target, support or alter the physiological or biological root cause of the illness or disease. As for our headache example, this could mean something as simple as “modulate the stress hormones and inflammatory pathways” involved in the creation of the headache due to lack to sleep, or, it could be as complex as to establish a plan based on “lack of sleep caused by stress hormones, due to an unidentified thyroid malfunction, manifested from an auto immune derangement, caused by an acute environmental toxicity built up over the past 30 years”. In the more complicated case, the treatment focus would be to target and eliminate the accumulation of toxicity (ie. identified heavy metal for example), and also to support and modulate the immune system to lessen the auto immune response, and thus improve both thyroid function and stress hormone imbalance. As complex as this sounds, in medical reality, this is extremely common and a very effective, simple means to treat. Of course, in addition to this, as the root cause is being removed, symptom management and reduction should also be a priority. 


Step 5: Re-adjust, Re-target, Repeat. 

In theory, moving through step 1-4 sounds reasonable, straightforward and wonderful. In reality however, both doctor and patient need to be focused and tolerant that it may take time. As well, against what most people are taught to believe; medicine is not simply based on logical, straightforward, definitive science. There is an art to this line work, and by combining both evidenced based medicine with the art of treating the patient (and not simply ‘the disease’), the culmination and synergy of both necessities create the most optimal outcomes. And it can never be forgotten that we are all individuals, so what works succinctly for one, may not work as perfectly for the next. Thus, in order to formalize this final step, the name of the game is to treat, re-adjust, and re-target as the evolution of the disease and healing process changes. Then continue adapting based on current circumstances, and finally, repeat until healed. 


And as a final thought to the above, as complicated, stressful, or convoluted as health or disease may sound, your approach to either should and can be simple.