The First RCM Principle: Focusing on Root Causes

Last updated: November 21, 2023

Daniel Mališ
Daniel Mališ

To regain health, remove root causes of illness and introduce root causes of health.

It should come as no surprise that the first principle of Root Cause Medicine is to focus on root causes. What is less obvious is that there are two types of root causes to focus on – not just the root causes of illness, but also the root causes of health.

I will elaborate on the most common root causes of illness and health in separate articles, but if you want a quick recap of them now, here they are:

Main root causes of illness

  • Unhealthy food
  • Chronic stress
  • Psychological trauma (typically in childhood)
  • Negative thoughts and beliefs
  • Heavy metals
  • Micronutrient deficiencies
  • Non-native electromagnetic fields (EMFs)
  • Synthetic chemicals
  • Pharmaceutical products

Main root causes of health

  • Proper food (including herbs and supplements)
  • Immunity training
  • Stress-coping techniques (such as meditation)
  • Good night’s sleep
  • Change of environment
  • Empowering thoughts and beliefs
  • Forgiveness
  • Physical exercise
  • Proper breathing
  • Social connections
  • Sense of purpose
  • Spirituality (for those who believe in God or even just something higher than them)

Perhaps you already see some room for improvement, but for a long-term success, be sure to proceed slowly, one small step at a time!

The reason for focusing both on the root causes of illness and health is that our ultimate goal is to regain (and maintain) health, not just to get rid of any particular disease. Also, it’s often the lack of root causes of health, such as a good night’s sleep or physical exercise, that contributes significantly to any particular disease.

As summarized above, the gist of the First RCM Principle is very simple – if you want to regain health, you have to remove root causes of illness and introduce root causes of health.

Everywhere Else Except …

Focusing on root causes sounds logical, even trivial. Don’t you aim at the same thing in all other areas of your life, too? If there’s a wet patch on the wall, do you search for a leak in the building, or do you just move the cupboard so that you don’t see the wet area?

If the dashboard in your car indicates there’s not enough oil in the engine, do you refill the oil, or do you place a band-aid over the indicator so that it stops bothering you?

Will covering the indicator solve the problem here? Perhaps by an expert specialized in covering oil indicators?

The answers are obvious. If you don’t like the result, deal with the cause. However, this simple logic is unfortunately largely ignored in Western Medicine, partly with the exception of Emergency Medicine. In urgent cases, there’s no time to deal with the root causes, but at least the immediate causes are addressed – and that’s why western Emergency Medicine is so effective and successful.

However, when dealing with chronic diseases, root causes are usually not addressed at all.

Why’s that?

Regrettable Reason

The short answer is the Root Conflict of Interest in medicine. I’ll write an entire article on this topic, but expressed simply, the main interest of pharmaceutical companies is to keep treating patients with their products, not to make them healthy once and for all – that’s only the patients’ interest.

If everyone was healthy, the pharmaceutical companies would be out of business. And no company wants to be out of business, or lose a significant part of its business. Would you?

And who has the upper hand in Western Medicine? You, or the pharmaceutical companies?

This is what pharmaceutical firms are making money on. A “patient for a lifetime” is an ideal customer, a healthy person the worst.

The best way to keep treating patients with pharmaceutical products is to ignore the root causes of illness and health, and instead focus on constantly “managing” various signs and symptoms with pharmaceuticals.

Success in this approach, so dominant in current Western Medicine, is measured by the doctor’s ability to select the “right” medicaments that will make the signs and symptoms disappear as soon as possible, regardless of long-term consequences.

A Quick Terminology Detour

You might wonder what the difference is between “signs” and “symptoms” of a disease. Simply put, the signs are objective (directly or indirectly observable by anyone), such as a cough, a skin rash, or high blood pressure. In contrast, the symptoms are subjective (felt only by the patient) – examples include back pain, fatigue, or itching.

So if you feel hot, it’s a symptom, but if a thermometer shows you have an elevated temperature, it’s a sign of a disease.

The thermometer indicates a sign of a disease (increased temperature), but it’s the boy who suffers from the symptom of feeling hot.

I like mnemonics, so here’s one: Road signs and signs of disease are observable by everyone, but symptoms of a disease, that’s something that solely yourself can feel.

Easy to remember now, but still, I don’t find distinguishing the two terms particularly helpful, and even doctors often use them interchangeably.

Road signs. Anyone can observe them, and that’s the case with signs of a disease, too.

Personally, I think the word “symptom” of a disease would do, and the symptoms could then be divided into subjective and objective ones. And that’s how many people use the term “symptom” anyway.

Don’t Kill the Messenger

Whether it’s a “sign” or a “symptom” that’s bothering you, the main point is that they’re both important indicators that there’s an underlying problem that your body is reacting to.

If you make any indicator disappear by using a “miracle” pill, will the underlying problem disappear as well? It won’t.

It does take your body some time to let you know that enough is enough, but killing the messenger won’t change the message.

Your immediate problem (pain, skin rash, anxiety, insomnia, constipation, heartburn, heart palpitations, or any other indicator) may disappear for some time, but the underlying problem will still persist.

And what happens when you don’t deal with the underlying problem? No surprise here: It will gradually get worse, producing more intense signs and symptoms later on.

Now even the “miracle” pill you’ve been given doesn’t seem so miraculous, so your doctor prescribes a higher dose of it, or another pill. But that means the vicious cycle just repeats.

Now you have to kill even more body messengers.

At some point, you may start noticing a different sign or symptom than the original one. Is it a completely new condition?

It could be, but it’s more likely that your body just uses another indicator to warn you of the same underlying problem. Remember, you made the first indicator invisible.

Will you deal with the underlying problem now, or will you kill the messenger again?

The Epidemic of Side Effects

Another reason for the emergence of new signs and symptoms is the side effects of the pills you’re taking to get rid of the “original” indicator of an underlying problem.

Side effects of pharmaceuticals – another price paid for not addressing the root causes.

Every pharmaceutical drug comes with a whole list of side effects – from very common to very rare. If the doctor you visit doesn’t realize the new sign or symptom is a side effect of your medication (which could have been prescribed by another doctor), you can be given yet another pill to “treat” that side effect.

Needless to say, that new pill comes with another list of side effects, which could lead to their “treatment” with an additional set of pills, and the vicious cycle repeats yet again … it’s not unusual that patients end up taking 10 or more different pills every day, and their condition is not getting any better.

All that because the root causes of illness and health were never addressed. Who benefits from this situation more – the patients, or the pharmaceutical firms?

Side effects are often “treated” with pharmaceuticals that come with their own set of side effects.

If we want to end this cycle of more and more body indicators being poorly silenced with an ever-increasing number of pills, we need to start dealing with root causes instead. It’s the patients who should primarily benefit from a medical system, not anyone else.

Is dealing with the root causes easy? Not as easy as taking pills, but certainly way more effective.

The Name of the Game Is “Multifactorial”

There’s one more thing I want you to understand. For each condition, there are usually more root causes of illness and health to be addressed.

You’ll hear stories of someone undergoing a detox, taking probiotics or cold baths and seeing almost miraculous results quite soon. I’m not questioning those stories – they’re often real, but also selectively handpicked to show the importance of the procedure or to promote a particular product or service.

Cold training is excellent for immunity training. It has many other health benefits, but it doesn’t take away root causes of illness like unhealthy food or childhood trauma.

In most cases, you will not see such dramatic and sudden changes. Instead, you’ll have to address several (or even more) root causes of illness and health to regain your health.

But you will see incremental and lasting improvements along the way – they will also serve as an indicator that you’re on the right path.

And that path will become your new lifestyle, as even after regaining your health, you need to maintain it. With those new habits already created, it won’t take so much effort, you’ll see.

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

To summarize the above, when it comes to chronic diseases, the key word is “multifactorial.” That means there are at least several factors that contribute to the emergence and continuation of chronic disease.

Most chronic diseases have multiple root causes, although typically not as many as there are roots of a tree. Also, some root causes (such as unhealthy food) are usually more dominant than others.

The encouraging side of the multifactorial origin of chronic disease is that you can see improvement in your condition when dealing with any of the underlying factors.

The more demanding side of multiple root causes at play is that you have to address all of them to achieve full health.

Enough Time for Completion, But No Reason for Delays

Although addressing multiple root causes takes time and effort, it’s totally worth it! Remember – there’s sufficient time to complete the whole journey, since by definition, no chronic disease is an emergency.

But there’s also no reason to delay the first step. So start soon – preferably today, choosing a small (or even the smallest possible) step. And keep going!

For example, you can add a very subtle cold training session at the end of your daily shower routine to train your immune system. Or choose any other little step towards dealing with the root causes that is small enough for an easy beginning and daily repetition.

Cold (or even just lukewarm) showers are a perfect start. I take cold showers every single day, right before and after a regular shower.

Additional Benefit

There’s an additional benefit to “having to” address various root causes on your way to health. It stems from the fact that each root cause of illness has multiple negative consequences and each root cause of health has multiple positive effects.

So if you remove even just one root cause of illness, you may see improvement also with your other ailments, not only with the most bothering sign or symptom that prompted you to take action.

For example, if you remove dairy products from your diet to get rid of your acne, you may gradually see not only your face getting better, but you might also realize that you don’t feel so tired during the day and that your digestive issues are almost gone.

Not feeling tired is a great thing. Certainly worth dropping stuff like milk or gluten from your diet.

Similarly, if you introduce a new root cause of health to your life, you’ll usually see multiple benefits, not just the one you originally wanted to achieve.

For instance, if you start exercising regularly, you’ll achieve your goal of losing weight, but you’ll probably also sleep better and find yourself in a better mood in general. And that itself has additional benefits in boosting your immunity, among others.

Even a little bit of regular exercise goes a long way!

Side Effects vs. Side Benefits

Remember, you’ll still have to address multiple root causes to fully deal with the set of signs and symptoms that gave you the initial incentive to do something about your health. That’s what “multifactorial” origin translates into.

But as you can see, you’ll experience multiple “side benefits” along the way, benefits you didn’t even expect. It’s an upward spiral.

Addressing the root causes will get you on an upward spiral of health and vitality.

Compare that with the side effects of pharmaceuticals that put you on a downward spiral of having to take more and more tablets to suppress an increasing number of warning signs. What spirals up in this case is mainly the total cost of healthcare.

How Balance Is Lost and Regained

In a healthy body, everything is in balance. The root causes of illness, or a lack of the root causes of health, disturb this optimal state. Fortunately, the human body is very efficient in restoring the balance, which is part of the self-protecting and self-healing capacity of the body.

However, when the disturbances are either too repetitive (which leads to accumulation of their negative effects) or too intense (resulting in quick overwhelm), they exceed the body’s rebalancing capacity.

That’s when we start seeing various signs and symptoms – they act as indicators that the body can’t cope with the current load of disturbances.

By now, you already know that switching off the indicators will not work in the long run. We need to deal with the disturbances. In other words, we need to remove the root causes of illness, and introduce the root causes of health.

It’s worth repeating: Dealing with root causes means removing the root causes of illness …
… and introducing the root causes of health.

Should we strive for the complete removal of the root causes of illness? And the full reintroduction of the root causes of health? Ideally, yes, but it’s usually not possible and in general, not even necessary.

The main goal is to decrease the level of disturbances below the current rebalancing capacity of the body (which itself is gradually getting better as a result of our efforts).

Once this milestone is reached, your body will start steadily rebalancing and healing itself again. Trust your body in this respect, too.

Since you’re going in the right direction, at some point, you’ll regain your health, despite never reaching the ideal scenario of “zero” root causes of illness and “full implementation” of root causes of health.

The key to regaining health is decreasing the inflow of disturbances while simultaneously increasing the body’s rebalancing capacity. You achieve both by addressing the root causes of illness and health.

Remember, health is not a destination. It’s a journey – a never-ending, but greatly rewarding journey. You can be on it, too, if you keep focusing on the root causes. One small step at a time. You won’t be alone – your body will root for you. And I will, too.


And now, it’s your turn! What do you think about the above article? Did anything surprise you? Is there something you want to point out?

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