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  • Writer's pictureScott Woodworth

Approach you Condition like a Puzzle...

Get ALL the puzzle pieces on the Table before you try and put it all together...

Every health issue or concern is like a puzzle. Any one symptom or condition we may have, can obviously be affected by many different factors. Until we identify all these factors and come up with a plan to address ALL of them, we likely won't have much success in improving our condition. This is a fairly easy concept to understand. Unfortunately, conventional (and often complementary) medicine often doesn't attempt to treat our conditions in this "multifactoral" manner.

Lets consider one of the most ubiquitous symptoms or conditions in society today, Chronic Fatigue. Medically one of the first things a professional will likely consider checking is Thyroid function. Often this comes back "normal" in spite of many or most of the hypothyroid symptoms being present. If someone has an abnormal test result, thyroid medication will be administered and monitored. Sometimes this will improve the condition, but often it doesn't resolve it completely. Why not?

Many times medical thyroid testing will come back normal and the patient will walk away with no treatment at all. A quick internet search on chronic fatigue and thyroid will suggest to you that thyroid issues cause fatigue, so why didn't it show up on testing? Then you read about a condition called sub-clinical hypothyroidism which can cause fatigue but DOESN'T show up on medical testing. You research a little more and then begin taking natural thyroid support supplements such as Kelp, Selenium, Tyrosine and others supplements. You still feel no improvements, why not?

Then the internet suggests that vitamin B12 can give you energy, so you venture to the health food store and begin taking it. After a few weeks, you still notice no improvements. Why not?

The internet suggests that the botanical medicine Ginseng can help with energy. You begin taking that and you notice no improvements. Why not?

This type of scenario is extremely common with patients we see. In an effort to help themselves, people will try many different things and often to no avail. The symptom or condition could be anything and not just fatigue. Anxiety and depression, PMS, chronic pain and inflammation, blood pressure issues, high cholesterol, etc. There is a very simple explanation for why this phenomenon occurs. Our conditions and symptoms are often caused or affected by more than 1 thing. It's as simple as that.

In the chronic fatigue example above, if a persons energy issue was caused solely by a B12 deficiency then supplementing with that vitamin will likely help. But that is a relatively rare condition so if you take B12 and your AREN'T deficient in it, it won't do much for you. If your fatigue isn't caused by a thyroid issue, and you take natural or prescriptive thyroid support treatments, you will likely have little effect. If your fatigue is caused by a medication side effect, then it's likely none of the other interventions will have a significant affect on your fatigue.

Every condition or symptom is like a puzzle. You need to identify all the puzzle pieces of your condition and need to address all of them in order to affect you condition in a significant manner.

You can have 10 people with identical chronic fatigue symptoms. What will be causing and contributing to each of their conditions will be 10 COMPLETELY UNIQUE sets of puzzle pieces. The proper and effective treatment for each of these 10 people will likely be completely different.

We can put most conditions in the center circle of the diagram, and create the same kind of multifactoral causative image with many of the same types of influences on them.


Imagine a 48 year female with chronic fatigue. Her medical history presents with the following:

  • Fibromyalgia (pain killers, anti-inflammatories)

  • Anxiety / Depression (antidepressants)

  • Insomnia (sleeping medications)

  • Peri-menopause

  • High cholesterol

  • Gluten intolerance

Unfortunately this is an extremely common "patient" in our offices. Let's look at her "puzzle" Her fibromyalgia causes chronic pain which can cause fatigue directly. The chronic pain is likely caused by chronic inflammation of the fascial covering of her muscles. Chronic inflammation causes fatigue. The chronic inflammation can weaken immune and adrenal gland function. Weak adrenal function causes fatigue and anxiety (research "adrenal fatigue"). Anxiety and depression have fatigue as a common symptom. The adrenal issues often cause insomnia and lack of rest and sleep cause fatigue. The most common side effects of sleeping medications and anti-depressants is fatigue. Her high cholesterol is being treated with Statin medications, which have muscle pain as a side effect. This can cause fatigue.

It's very easy to see how these different symptoms all interact and intertwine to compound the fatigue state in the patient.

You need to identify all the pieces of your puzzle, before you can put the puzzle together and move beyond your condition or symptoms.

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