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Identify and treat the cause (Tolle causam)

Through comprehensive case notes, naturopaths aim to identity and treat the cause *Tolle causam* of disease in their patients.
Understanding the structure of a tree can help to understand the interplay between the body when disease is present.
© Courtesy of Southern Cross University 2023.

Identity and treat the cause Tolle causam is like a tree. The leaves are the symptoms of disease that appear when the structural integrity of the trunk is comprised. The health of the tree’s roots affect the health of the trunk, which need water, nutrients and a healthy environment to grow.

In the first instance, what do you think ‘treat the cause’ could mean and how does this differ from the approach of other health disciplines? The establishment of this naturopathic principle stemmed from several naturopathic theories, such as the Unity of Disease World Naturopathic Federation, 2017. This naturopathic principle is simply defined as identifying and treating the cause of disease and illness, which is based on the premise that diseases and illnesses do not present without a cause. This principle underscores the importance of delving beyond surface-level symptoms to discover the underlying reasons for health issues.

The causes of diseases and illnesses can be varied and multifactorial. This naturopathic principle emphasises the need to select treatment regimens that address contributing factors for each symptom, condition, or disease. In most cases, the causes of symptoms, conditions or diseases can be traced back to lifestyle, psychological, social, environmental or genetic factors, as well as the status of vitality (vital force). Instead of merely addressing the visible symptoms, this principle encourages practitioners to seek out the root causes of health imbalances. By identifying and addressing these underlying causes, the goal is to facilitate optimal health and well-being.

Identifying the cause requires careful clinical questioning, establishment of the therapeutic relationship to support health disclosure, a detailed health history, and description of symptoms and confirmatory clinical diagnostic tests, where relevant. Naturopaths need to identify and treat the cause of disease or illness rather than suppressing symptoms. This approach can be likened to treating the source of a problem rather than just alleviating its effects. For example, consider a recurring skin condition. Instead of merely focusing on topical treatments, a naturopathic practitioner using Tolle causam might investigate factors like diet, stress, or allergies that could be triggering the skin issues. Tolle causam is closely aligned with the idea of proactive and preventive healthcare. By addressing the root causes, naturopaths aim to not only reduce current symptoms but also to prevent future health concerns from arising.

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Fundamentals of Naturopathic Medicine

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