Does Spraying Air Freshner on a Smell Treat the Cause of the Smell?

by in American Sickcare System, Kitchen Sink, Naturopathic Theory June 4, 2008

treatthecause.jpgIf you answered yes, then you might be a diabetes drug rep trying to hand me a donut while you tell me all about the latest research on the diabetes meds you are pedaling.

If you answered no, then you are ready for me to unleash a little bit of Naturopathic Theory on you titled “Find the Cause”.

As a Naturopathic Physician my primary goal is always to “Find the Cause”.

I follow seven principles, but in my mind finding the cause is the most important and trumps things like “Docere: Doctor as Teacher”, “Prevention”, “Treat the Whole Person”, and “Remove the Obstacles to Cure”.

When you really think about it, without treating the cause, the rest of those principles are basically useless.

Now of course the hippocratic oath tells us to “First do no harm”, but I have to argue with that a bit. If you don’t have a proper diagnosis established, if you don’t know what is CAUSING a certain symptom set then there is no way you can actually “do no harm”. The wrong diagnosis inevitably leads to harm. We have to find the cause to avoid the harm.

So then, what do you do when you can’t find the cause?

You keep looking…

Recently I came home and something smelled REALLY bad in my house.


Now, I looked everywhere and could not find the cause. I have three pets so the possibilities of where the smell could come from were seemingly endless.

Eventually, I realized that the smell was coming from the garbage can in the kitchen. It was a hot day, and earlier I had made some fresh cabbage and pear juice and the remnants were left in the trash to heat up and stink up my entire place.

Now no amount of incense, air freshener, oils, or candles can combat the smell of rotting cabbage garbage.

Trust me! I tried.

And even after I “treated the cause” there was still a residual stench.

Occasionally the body sends us really stinky signals that will just NOT clear up with the typical medical “air fresheners” like drugs, and natural medicines that are just suppressing the symptoms or “smells” and not treating the actual cause of the problem…. The fact that we simply need to “take out the trash”.

A good doctor will always put on their medical detective cap and find the cause of the problem.

The REAL cause of the problem with acid reflux
for instance, is NOT that your stomach is making too much aberrant acid at the wrong time of the day and so you need to be on some sort of proton pump inhibitor to decrease the levels of HCL produced.

The real problem is stress.

Stress is then what we need to treat while we also do something to soothe the acid reflux, and allow the ulcers on the stomach lining to heal.

If we don’t treat the real cause the body will just continue to over-ride the medications.

In most cases if you are on a medicine and the dose has to be increased, or a new med needs to be added on board to further manage new symptoms, then chances are you are” spraying too many air fresheners” and not actually “taking out the trash”.

I say if you can’t find the cause, you always just have to keep looking. Maybe you have to do what I did with the stench in my home and spray air fresheners WHILE searching for the cause. Maybe you still need to “spray some air fresheners” AFTER treating the cause. Obviously there are diseases that have a strong genetic component that will not respond to diet and lifestyle. But, by all means, find and treat the causes that you can.

Most causes of disease boil down to poor diet, stress, and lack of exercise. When we bring someone’s health in to balance diseases and symptoms just naturally start to fall off. A balanced diet and lifestyle creates a balanced and healthy person.

However, I always tell all people with chronic disease to never give up.

I know the limitations of the kind of care I provide patients, and if I can no longer be of help, then I am busy looking for the person that can.

I don’t care who it is, I don’t care what they do. You have to never ever give up when it comes to certain medical mysteries. I refuse to be so arrogant as to think that I can facilitate the healing process perfectly in every single person I encounter. Also, not all patients are willing to do the kind of work I prescribe.

If you want to watch a very inspiring movie about two parents determined to save their chronically ill little boy, I would highly recommend the movie “Lorenzo’s Oil”.

Oftentimes when I am not successful with adequately helping someone using naturopathic medicine, it is because the patient is not willing to treat the cause. Perhaps they are in denial about the cause, or perhaps they are suffering from a terrible case of the “I cants” but regardless, I think it is tough for people to REALLY get better unless we are always working to address the cause.

In Latin, Tolle Causum means “Find the Cause”.

Thanks for stopping by my “kitchen table”!

~ Dr. Nicole Sundene

Naturopathic Physician

  1. Hey Dr. Nicole,

    I answered “no”, do I get a gold star, or something? 🙂

  2. Hiding a problem by covering it up is never a good option. Society is real good at that. Sticking heads into the sand or drinking away our troubles, problem is when tomorrow come and you come up for air, or you become sober again – hey the problem is still there and often worse.

    The way to solve this is to look for the cause (great stuff Nicole) and then work on it. You decide that you want it to go away – and then build towards its elimination. Work on it – get excited – get juiced! Your ambition, desire and dreams can all come true when you uncover the issue and eliminate it – Not run away and hide or cover it up or bury your head in the sand!

    As usual – a thought provoking article Nicole!


  3. Wow, I think this is a great blog! I will be reading your posts quite often. Very good info. Thanks.

  4. Every time I see ads for products like Aleve and see people with arthritis suddenly doing handstands, taking up high hurdling and learning how to bungee jump I ask “Do people really believe that this crap is helping by masking the symptoms? Do they not realize that they could be exacerbating the situation by doing stuff that their body is telling them it can’t do and when the pain killers no longer work they’ll be royally screwed?” Unfortunately I’m usually talking to a TV set so I never get an answer.

  5. Haha, how very true, Dr. Nicole. I answered no right away =)

    You should check out my recent post about creating a zen garden!

    BTW, thanks for the digg the other day.

  6. My answer is no. I really want to no the cause and I am not a medical rep believe me.

  7. Doc, this hits the nail on the head, as usual.
    I was diagnosed over 20 years ago, and took every pill except responsibility.
    My sugar didn’t come under control until that time. Today, I take no diabetes meds, and have better control than ever.
    Go figure.

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