Applying multiple analytical models to complex problems helps in finding the cause of a particular illness.
All of us perceive within the framework of what we expect. The more truth we are ready to find and have the mental framework to name, define, and keep track of, the more we will discover. Most healthcare patient visits in the average doctor's office follow the "medication" model. Our integrative practice style has trained us as clinicians to think both inside the box and outside of the box simultaneously including those listed below:
First, the standard disease/medication model as taught in medical schools primarily looks for a single, fully developed, and clearly defined "disease" for which there is a medication or surgery which commonly corrects the condition. There is much to be gained from this approach and sometimes it is the only approach remaining. However, clinicians using this approach predominantly, more often do not consider nonmedication approaches, or the fact that the patient may have a disease "in process" not fully developed but very likely "on the way." The medication mindset looks for treatments which will override body symptoms rather than help the body heal itself. It does not primarily consider the option that using fewer medications is often better than many medications. The medical model more often overlooks what integrative health models aggressively engage in the search for cause. By blocking symptoms, medications can obscure the underlying disease process and block more creative thinking on our part.
Looking for the several causes of illness and dealing with them simultaneously makes it more likely to figure out what is going on and help the complex, chronically ill patient find long-term health benefits. We recognize that chronically ill patients rarely have a single issue going on: without digging deep and anticipating multiple intertwined problems it is frequently hard to help at a more fundamental level.
The environmental model helps us ask what combination of toxic or sensitizing exposures in the context of relative nutrient deficiencies have disrupted the delicate homodynamic balance of human physiology which need to be corrected to help restore the body to a vibrant, functional state which has the resilience to adapt to a changing and threatening world. The environmental medicine approach appreciates the fact that the patient whose condition is difficult to diagnose or treat may be in a maladapted state which must be freed up in an environmentally controlled unit first before proceeding.
The holistic model invites considerations of how the mind, the will, the emotions, and the spirit of a person interact with the physical body. Sometimes being seriously out of step with The Creator fuels an unexplained disease process within the patient. The person's willingness to accept responsibility for their condition and allow themselves to be unconditionally loved can help restore balance.
The natural medicine paradigm assumes that the body usually has within it the capacity to heal itself if only given a chance. Rather than overriding the system, this perspective asks “How can the body be supported to better heal itself?” Additionally, within the realm of nature much can be found to heal what has been harmed including herbs, rhythms, light, nutrients, aromas, and vibrations.
The family systems model considers how the physically unwell individual patient fits into the milieu of the immediate family, the extended family and the larger community. The individual identified as "the patient" may not be the real sick person or persons – looking beyond the identified patient we may find the real focus of illness.
The functional model considers the ongoing processes of disease at an early stage where a named illness may not yet exist but where such an illness-inducing process is clearly underway. Rather than waiting for the patient to be very sick in a classically identifiable state, the doctor looks at the degenerating processes and intervenes earlier so as to restore function and less frequently end up with classically defined illness. The functional model focuses on the patient experiencing the disease, looks for root causes, and supports natural healing of the body.
It should be appreciated that even these models are not complete: whole systems of healthcare including osteopathic medicine, chiropractic, herbal medicine, Ayurvedic traditional care, acupuncture and faith healing are beyond my scope and understanding.
We understand and accept the fact that while modern, electronic, population based medical care systems often efficiently address common health problems, the downside is that such systems may become an impersonal, cookie-cutter, digital analysis exercise which fails to address underlying causation, important individual differences and the person behind the patient.
This discussion is an oversimplification but hopefully it helps the reader realize that more complex analytical tools and thought process can be helpful in analyzing multifactorial illness. One last note: patients looking for natural solutions sometimes forget that natural is not always good (for example, earthquakes and spitting cobras) and that mainstream medications and surgery are at times critical to their best chance for a significant measure of health.