What does “root cause” really mean?

Maybe you’ve heard what root cause is, in different places from different natural and holistic lifestyle blogs. But practitioners aren’t totally specific around what they mean when they are referring to that phrase. I want to explain that to you a little bit more in depth here.


Functional practitioners work from the inside out, looking at all the internal factors. What are the factors at play in terms of each individual, that even they’re coming in with the same diagnosis or signs and symptoms, we dig deep to know what has caused that mechanism to dysfunction, and it can vary from person to person.


There are things that we would want to look at when we’re looking at the root cause, literally the inside is the first thing we want to assess or what type of genetic factors are at play.


Hypothyroid for example, would fall into disease. Signs and symptoms would be insomnia, hair falling out, thinning eyebrows, exhaustion, can’t fall asleep, low energy, and the disease would be considered the hypothyroidism diagnosis.


A lot of natural doctors might go into the whole next layer, pathologies. Pathology refers to the mechanism of dysfunction that is affecting the physiology itself.


Looking into that, they can see what kind of things could be contributing to the person’s manifestation of thyroid disorders, things like gut health, prime inflammatory struggles and if there’s autoimmune manifestation.


It does make sense to start here, the root cause. The Functional medicine practitioner will address the genetic predisposition and not just the non genetic exposures but also looking and investigating what pathologies are outside. What mechanisms of dysfunctions are showing up that we can go in and positively affect.


What I love about Functional Medicine compared to Conventional is we have so much more to assess, there’s so much more to look into. We can have a much more complete picture of what’s going on with people in terms of their health and when we can see all these factors at play, we have much more to work with.


How I work in my office, our natural solutions are things like herbs, supplements, essential oils, food which are the foundation for change and diet and lifestyle has so many different positive ways that can affect your diet.


There’s no single dietary philosophy, it depends on the person in their own unique image, in terms of what’s happening and what’s at play in their health.


I believe that people have different health conditions, different health factors that play, that will determine what type of dietary philosophy will work for them in their unique need in their time frame, and to know what are your unique needs that’s where having a solid idea around what’s happening in your unique case in terms of all factors.


What is the core, the root cause, when we are looking at functional medicine?


We are looking at what’s happening with the genetic predisposition, what’s happening with the epigenetic factors, what non genetic exposures are at play that need to be looked at like diet, water and lifestyle, belief system and emotional health.


Only once we looked at that does it make sense then to start looking at the pathologies.


For me personally, I start looking at those two because they can tell a lot, and look at a bigger picture in terms of what’s happening in each person.


Pathology is looking into their digestive imbalance, their parasites, fungal overgrowth, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, hormonal imbalance. We look at blood work and pathologies.


Disease and symptoms, that’s what Conventional Medicine is really focused on for the most part, except you’re working with an integrative practitioner.


My goal here is to educate and more empower around understanding how this stuff looks like for each particular health condition. How do you investigate and how do you get your hands on natural solutions that really nourish your body to do what it is meant to, which is come back to a state of homeostasis and balance.


From there, that’s when you feel good, energized, can sleep well at night, can handle emotional and physical stressors with more resilience in your day.


So hang around here, there’s more to come and it’s gonna be fantastic.


Have a great day!


-Dr. Melissa Esguerra

Melissa Esguerra