Alternative Medicine
Three Step Health Map: Part One

Why do people get sick? Is illness caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, or genetics? Doctors treat illness based on whatever they believe causes illness – and people generally go to doctors for what they believe works, which is usually medication.

Over the last 5 years, my own ideas have been crystallizing about the roots of illness and pathways to recovery. I spent virtually all of 2006 formalizing my ideas about why people get sick and how they recover . . . and created my first “Health Map.” I continue to refine and clarify “the map.” While my concept of illness is a 7-step process, which many of you have read about in The Light Connectio n, in this 3-part series we are going back to basics, and focusing on the first 3 critical steps in the development of illness. It has been challenging to explain a 7-step “Health Map” and my hope is that by explaining the first 3 steps, we can help create a shift in consciousness in healthcare.

Louis Pasteur placed his fame and credibility on the belief that an outside agent, in particular bacteria, caused illness. As Pasteur lay dying in 1888, he changed his mind, stating that, “The field is more important than the vector.” Translation: The internal environment, our inner resources, the overall internal balance, is more important than an invading agent, like a bacterium. Medicine continues to think the way Pasteur did during most of his career – which is to say, “Doctors are diagnosing and treating people . . . and they don't have a map to understand the territory.”

Healthcare is a crisis at nearly every level. The solution is not just about cost. If we had enough money to pay for affordable insurance for everyone in America, that would be great, but beyond money, we need to start looking at health and illness entirely differently. Medicine is an art and a science. The Health Map that follows provides the science that doctors love, and a comprehensive approach that will lead to more profound healing. Right now medicine has very few cures for chronic illness. Whether the issue is hospice, terminal care, or treatment of asthma or colitis, in a sense almost all of “modern medicine” is “palliative” and not curative.

THE THREE STEPS to Illness and Back to Health

1. Primary Causes

There are never fewer than 7 primary causes of illness.

2. The Body's Response to Primary Causes. How does the body respond to Primary Causes to defend itself?

A. The inflammatory response, which walls off infection and injury, attempts to kill pathogens (bacteria, viruses, yeast, parasites, an mycoplasma), and then heal the wound.

B. The fight-flight-freeze response.

C. Mind-Body Adaptation

3. Metabolic Chaos.

How do Primary Causes AND the body's response to Primary Causes lead to changes in total body chemistry? How do they cause “metabolic chaos?” This article, Part I, is a discussion of step 1.

Almost all symptoms can be understood by taking a close look at these three steps. The first three steps begin a cascade of biochemical reactions that ultimately cause a collapse of the Kreb's Cycle, the biochemical process responsible for energy chemistry.


I have listed 38 Primary Causes. I am sure there are more.


1. Heavy Metal Toxicity (mercury, lead, aluminum, arsenic, nickel).

2. Pollution, Toxicity, Food Additives. The average person carries 250 toxic compounds in his/her body.

3. Free radicals.

4. Prescription Medication. A paper recently published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) stated that 108,000 people died during the year of the study due to “non-error” prescription medication, placing this problem in the top 5 causes of death. This figure does not include nonfatal drug reactions.

Electro-Magnetic and Other Frequencies

5. Electromagnetic fields (EMF), UV, MW (microwave), and RF (radio frequencies). Because electric wires run through our walls, we are immersed in unnatural EMF's. In our homes, our bedrooms usually have the worst wiring, resulting in us sleeping in 60 Hz (hertz) electromagnetic fields. Our computers and TV's are another source of EMF. Flat screen computers do not have this problem, but older screens emit about 250 different EMF frequencies that coalesce into 2 or 3 very harmful, powerful beams.

6. Nuclear Radiation. Few of us are directly affected by damage from nuclear power plants. However, leaks from nuclear power plants have happened. The accident at 3-Mile Island Nuclear Power plant in Middletown, Pennsylvania in March 1979 was the worst in American history. Increased incidence of certain cancers is associated with exposure to nuclear energy's radioactive damage.


7. Parasites.

8. Viruses: Herpes I and II, EBV, CMV, and HHV-6.

9. Yeast/Candida.

10. Mycoplasma.

11. Bacteria.


12. Malabsorption.

13. Poor Digestion.

14. Dysbiosis.

15. Leaky Gut.

16. Food Intolerance.


17. Protein Deficiency.

18. Low or High Caloric Intake.

19. Obesity.

20. Dehydration.


21. Shallow Breathing/Poor Oxygen Saturation.


22. Little or No Sunlight.

23. Disconnection from barefoot contact with the earth and its natural bioelectrical fields.


24. Physical Trauma.

25. Poor Circulation.

26. Musculoskeletal (structural) Imbalance.

27. Lack of Exercise.

28. Hyper or Hypothermia.

29. Insomnia


30. Stress.

31. Childhood Abuse/Neglect.

32. Trauma at any age.

33. Unresolved Conflict.

34. Social Isolation.

35. Lack of Meaning/Purpose in Life.

36. No Creative Outlets.

37. Spiritual Disconnection.


38. Our genes can predispose to specific illnesses, inability to process certain foods, inability to detoxify, immune system weakness, and much more. Genetics is a huge Primary Cause. Genetics can predispose to any illness. There are two important words to understand regarding genetics:

“Genotype””— what you are born with in the DNA in your chromosomes.

“Phenotype””— the expression of your genes. You may have a strong genetic predisposition for breast cancer, but never develop it. Your genotype is “pro-cancer.” Your phenotype is someone without cancer (Not just today. Never). Countless factors determine how your genes will be expressed, or “if” they will ever be expressed.

Remember: if you have any chronic illness, there is a minimum of 7 Primary Causes (and possibly far more) precipitating your symptoms or illness. In any person, Primary Causes come from numerous categories. Let's use chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or osteoarthritis as examples. Common Primary Causes are: malabsorption, protein deficiency, chronic viral infection, candida/yeast infection, mercury toxicity, electromagnetic (EMF) pollution, chemical food additives, shallow breathing, little exercise, minimal sunlight, dehydration, disconnection from barefoot contact with the earth, chronic stress, unresolved conflict, lack of creative outlets, residue from car accidents, and genetic predisposition. That's 17 Primary Causes triggering one person's symptoms or illness, and while I try to minimize things by saying that, “Every chronic illness is caused by at least 7 Primary Causes,” the above list of 17 is probably closer to the actual number.

Whether you have 7 or 17 Primary Causes, they add up to cause 100% of your problem. A protein deficiency can cause perhaps 20 – 30% of the total, mercury toxicity 10%, viral infections 10%, candida 20%, and 15% for not getting enough exercise. Stress factors contribute somewhere between 10–– 90% of the whole. These estimates are largely subjective. Most people whom I evaluate estimate their “stress percentage” at 30 – 40%. It is important to understand, in this model, this Health Map, that it does not matter if a Primary Cause is physical, like an infection, or mental/emotional, like the stress of a new job. Each contributes its percentage. Any way you cut this pie, the total causality is 100%.

There is one more way of categorizing Primary Causes. There are 2 major categories: 1. Immediate, and 2) Delayed. An example of a Primary Cause with Immediate Consequences is a cobra bite. That Primary Cause releases powerful toxins that immediately overwhelm all of our body's coping mechanisms. A cobra bite usually leads to a quick death. A rattlesnake bite might kill you, but it is more likely to cause immediate damage, as well as a Delayed Response. Another example of an Immediate Primary Cause is food poisoning, caused several kinds of bacterium. The bacterium is the Primary Cause. It can give you severe diarrhea, cramping, and pain, which will usually resolve within a few days. Again, this is a Primary Cause that leads directly to symptoms. An example of a Delayed Primary Cause is mercury toxicity from “silver” dental amalgams. The body is going to respond to mercury in a variety of ways, and it will be the body's reactions over the course of several decades, that leads to symptoms. In chronic illness most of the Primary Causes are Delayed.

The Solution: Lab tests exist to uncover most Primary Causes. You are not likely to fully recover until you have looked at and understood all three steps in the evolution of illness. But for starters, here is the basic idea:

a. Identify as many Primary Causes as possible.

b.Treat as many Primary Causes as you can.

Simple, right? In some ways health, wellness, and illness are very complex, but when you start to analyze and map out the process of becoming ill, treatment and recovery become systematic and not a shotgun approach. But, you need a map in order to arrive at the desired destination.

In you are seeing a holistic physician who is not afraid of complexity and who has done comprehensive testing, he or she will be able to help you treat all Primary Causes. How do you and your doctor uncover all or most of the Primary Causes? Through lab work that analyzes every bodily fluid; and through x-rays, MRI's, live cell analysis, and countless high-tech studies. Your doctor discovers the Primary Causes the old fashioned way — by taking an extremely detailed history, by asking a huge number of questions, and by doing a complete physical exam. People often require several practitioners with different areas of expertise to help identify all the pieces.

Before you visited your doctor, your body had begun responding to Primary Causes, probably a long time ago. Level II of the Health Map, is about your body's response to Primary Causes. When you realize that a majority of Primary Causes are infections and toxins, this 3-step process becomes easy to understand.

Illness is not caused simply by the presence of numerous Primary Causes. Chronic illness, with rare exception, is caused by our body's response to Primary Causes. The body responds in 3 main ways: 1) The Inflammatory Response, 2) Fight-or-Flight, and 3) Mind-Body Adaptation. In the next issue we'll focus on how the body responds to Primary Causes.

Autism – Illustrating the Health Map

Let me give you a brief example of what the next two articles will explore in detail. We'll use autism, a very controversial illness, as an example:

Level I - Primary Causes.

There are not that many primary causes, but they include: years of vaccinations, mercury in vaccines, intestinal candida and leaky gut syndrome. Candida, at Level I, causes problems through hundreds of neurotoxic peptides (short chains of amino acids) that yeast releases.

Level II – The Body's Response to Primary Causes

The main Level II problem in autism is the Inflammatory Response. Vaccines serve the purpose of revving up the immune system to create antibodies against mumps, measles, and rubella. It is extremely likely that, in autism, after vaccinations, the immune system does not “rev back down.“ A massive inflammatory response stays turned on, leaving a child with a huge positive charge of free radicals (the definition of inflammation). What is the evidence for this theory? It turns out that prolonged barefoot contact with the earth, through Earthing/Barefoot Connection is having a profoundly positive effect on autism. The kids fall asleep easily, sleep well, and awake rested and ready to learn. They are no longer revved up. Earthing works by turning off inflammation, so autism must have a strong inflammatory cause. Vaccinations are the main cause of inflammation, but systemic candida provokes even more inflammation.

Candida in the digestive tract makes it difficult for autistic children to break down protein, which leads to problems of total body chemistry (Level III). In addition, intestinal irritation leads to leaky gut syndrome, which leads to food allergies—and more inflammation.

Level III – Metabolic Chaos

Primary Causes and Inflammation set in motion problems with total body chemistry. In the case of autism, studies show that almost all children with autism have a deficiency in at least one amino acid, the most common deficiencies being with Leucine, Iso-Leucine, Tyrosine, GABA, and Tryptophan. Imbalances in essential fatty acids are also common in autism. Each disorder in amino acids, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and carbohydrates will contribute its own specific set of symptoms.

This is a quick sketch to illustrate how we can begin looking at any illness. Because autism comes on so early in life, there is not time for multiple Primary Causes to arise. In this illness, it may turn out that one Primary Cause (vaccinations) triggers one Level II response, Inflammation–— and this may turn out to be the most important thing to understand.

David Gersten, M.D. practices nutritional medicine and integrative psychiatry out of his Encinitas office and can be reached at 760-633-3063. Please feel free to access 1,000 on-lines pages about amino acid therapy at, and information on Earthing at


Dear Louise

Dear Louise,

I'm a 58-year-old woman and thought I had a mild case of snoring up till now. Two years ago I found out that I have sleep apnea, and I use a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine every night. I'm totally embarrassed by this. A doctor friend of mine said that I shouldn't be. What might be the core issues that have contributed to this condition? Is there an affirmation I can use to help?

K.C., Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Dear K.C.,

Sleep apnea usually means that a person is feeling guilty about expressing themselves so they hold back and almost suffocate themselves in the process. What is it that you need to express? Who are you afraid of? You need to know that you are safe and have a right to be yourself. Tell that person what you need to tell him or her, and you'll feel so much better afterward. On the physical side, most people with this condition are overweight and need to ingest a more cleansing diet. If this applies to you, I suggest that you eat lots of vegetables and protein, and very little sugar and starch.

Affirm: I love my body. I take loving care of my diet and my thoughts. I choose foods that support my health, and I think thoughts that make me feel good. My healing has begun. I sleep peacefully.


Dear Louise,

I have had a second back surgery for a herniated disk at the same location (L5, S1), which is at the base of the spinal column. The surgeon performed a laminatomy on this twice now. The herniation was on the left side with extreme lower back pain and pain shooting down the left leg.

Can you help me with what might be the issue here, and an affirmation for strength regarding this area?

T.C., Chicago, Illinois

Dear T.C.,

Or bodies are always talking to us—trying to get our attention, wanting us to heal our thinking. The lower back is like a balance beam for the whole body. It anchors the body for action. It also represents the support of our upper body. So when we have back problems there's a part of us that doesn't feel supported by Life. I would suspect that you're worried about finances. There's a part of you that doesn't trust Life to support you financially. All of us need to trust Life more. An affirmation I like to use is: The Power that brought me this far will take care of me the rest of the way. Since you write that this condition is on the left side of your body, you might go through your old resentment file and see if there's anything left that you need to forgive your mother for (or a woman who was/is of influence in your life). Unforgiveness often holds the pain of guilt somewhere in our bodies.

Affirmations to use: From this moment on, every hand that touches my body is a healing hand. I release all guilt. My loving, forgiving thoughts bring healing to my body.


Dear Louise,

I am a 31-year-old male and am single.. I have a photograph of you, and I look at it every day. I like you, your books, and your ideas. I have a problem in my job, and I'm hoping you can solve it. I want to transfer to another branch of the company where I work, but my boss doesn't agree with me. Would you please help me? As I'm writing this letter, I feel very sad and hopeless. Thanks a lot.

S.S., Tehran, Iran

Dear S.S.,

Thank you for reading my books! Your letter to me is so vague that I suspect that you're also very vague in knowing what you want in life. Many people look at Life in this way. I suggest you sit down and write exactly what you do want to have happen in your life. Be specific. We can only change things in our life in the present moment. If you don't clear your thinking now, you'll just find the same circumstances in the other branch of the company.

Also, try these affirmations every morning when you get up and are preparing for your day: I forgive everyone in my life who has ever harmed me. I am free of the past. I deserve to have a good life and allow that to happen now. I am filled with gratitude and thanksgiving. All is well in my world.


Dear Louise,

I was just told by my doctor that I have something called Candida. This was news to me! I've never even heard of it. Do you have any suggestions for how to heal this condition? Thank you so much.

A.G., Vancouver, B.C.

Dear A.G.,

Candida is a very common condition but rarely diagnosed properly by medical doctors. Women who take antibiotics and eat lots of sugar often have this condition. If you want a lot of good information about healing this problem, get the book The Body Ecology by Donna Gates. You can also go to a good nutritionist and have an eating plan created just for you. Candidia is easily healed if you will follow the dietary suggestions.

Affirm: I lovingly help heal my body by choosing foods that are best for my special body. Perfect health and wholeness are mine. All is well in my world.

Louise L. Hay is a metaphysical teacher and the bestselling author of numerous books, including You Can Heal Your Life , Empowering Women, and I Can Do It! . Subscribe to the Louise Hay Newsletter! Call for a Free Issue: (800) 654-5126. Questions for Louise? Write to: Dear Louise Column, c/o Hay House, Inc., P.O. Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100 (letters may be edited for length and clarity). Visit Louise and Hay House at: or