What's causing my illness?

The title of this week’s article is, “What’s causing my illness”? This seems like such a basic question. One that must inherently be addressed every time a patient and a doctor get together. Unfortunately, this very basic, yet profound question is often not asked and not answered. As a Naturopathic Physician, I see a different population of patients from your typical MD in general practice. My patients are comprised of people who inherently seek natural treatments and/or people who are not satisfied with the healthcare they’ve received within the conventional system. These are two very different types of people. However, one thing they have in common is that they want to know ‘what’s causing my illness’. They are not satisfied with unanswered questions they feel someone should have answers for.


Why? Why? Why?

When I was a student in Vancouver I was fortunate to have an internet-based radio show that was broadcast as part of Total Health Magazine online. I’ve always been interested in public speaking, broadcasting, and writing and having a radio show was a great way to channel that creativity. My mentor during this time gave me a lot of very good advice about interviewing people and getting interesting and important information from them. Most of the people I interviewed had recently published books or articles in scientific journals. One of the most important tips my mentor gave me was to keep asking why until there is no more why to ask. People have a tendency to answer in layers and the ultimate answer often requires repeating why three or more times.

You may be asking yourself how this is relevant to the topic of my article. The answer is because many medical answers are only one or two layers of the question why. They only get you to the layer of treating the symptom. They don’t get you to the ultimate cause. However, as I mentioned before, most of my patients want to address the ultimate causes of their health concerns. I encourage my patients to keep asking why as many times as they need to in order for us to collectively as a doctor and patient to get to the ultimate causes of their concerns.


Why? Why? Why? Blood Pressure Example

I’ll use a common scenario in my practice to illustrate why I like asking why so much. When patients come in with high blood pressure as a chief concern it stimulates so much curiosity within me. The first why I like to ask is, “why, do you actually have high blood pressure?” I rarely treat high blood pressure before asking a patient to take a few weeks to record multiple blood pressure test results at home during various times of the day. It’s not uncommon to find that a person who thought they had high blood pressure actually has healthy readings most of the time.

If blood pressure seems to be on the high side, the second why I like to ask is, “why is blood pressure high?” Instead of treating blood pressure as a problem that is isolated from all other information I prefer to think of high blood pressure as an end result of other problems. Are the kidneys or liver overwhelmed resulting in greater backpressure in the arteries and thus increasing overall blood pressure due? Are the arteries forming plaques, resulting in increased blood pressure from narrower and less flexible arteries? Is the heart receiving increased thyroid hormone input from a thyroid condition? As you can see, the list goes on and on.

The third why I like to ask is, “why did the second why happen?” Why is the liver overwhelmed? Why did plaque form? Why is the thyroid increasing its output? In my opinion, the why questions should continue until you have a concrete answer or you’ve gone as far as we can with our current knowledge.

Why is this important for health conditions like high blood pressure? The answer is so simple that you probably overlooked it. The answer is so that we get it right. What does get it right mean? To me, get it right means, I helped you in the most profound way I could have helped you. It means I didn’t get it partially right and sort of helped. And it certainly means, I didn’t’ get it wrong and I treated something unnecessarily and maybe even caused unnecessary side effects. Why put someone on blood pressure medication or supplements if the high blood pressure has another cause that can be treated?


If you have any questions about “What’s Causing Your Illness” and would like to ask why, you can contact Dr. Barlow at his office at 250-448-5610 or send him an email at [email protected]

More Natural Health News articles

About the Author

Dr. Brent Barlow is a Naturopathic Physician practicing at The Kelowna Wellness Clinic in downtown Kelowna. Dr. Barlow has been in practice in Kelowna since graduating from the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in Vancouver in 2009.

Naturopathic Doctors are trained as primary care physicians, and primarily use natural medicine to treat disease and promote wellness. Dr. Barlow believes strongly in identifying and treating the causes of disease rather than focusing on the treatment of symptoms.

Naturopathic medicine utilizes diet therapy, botanical medicine, nutritional supplementation, acupuncture, spinal manipulation and other physical medicine treatments to treat the causes of disease. Dr. Barlow also trained in the specialized treatments of prolotherapy, neural therapy, intravenous nutrient infusions, and chelation therapy.

Dr. Barlow is in general practice and welcomes all individuals and families. As a naturopathic physician he is trained to treat all health conditions in the manner that best suits the goals of each individual patient. He also has special interests in natural treatments for pain management and digestive health.

To learn more about Dr. Barlow's treatments or to schedule a consultation, visit his website at www.drbrentbarlownd.com or call 250-448-5610.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories