Chris Lakin

Root Cause

“If you have a medical problem, it’s because you’re not on a particular drug.”

“Acne is caused by inflammation.”

Neither is a real explanation!

Is this really the best modern medicine can do?:

“You have a health problem? OK, regularly ingest quantities of this exogenous chemical from now until forever. It won’t fix the actual problem, but it will help the symptoms. If this chemical doesn’t work, we’ll try a different chemical of course. (And you may have one of these side effects…)”

Was your medical problem caused by a lack of exogenous chemical #1,432?

What is the root cause?

Evolution produces organisms that are adapted to their environment. Evolution produces organisms that are, by default, healthy in the environment in which they evolved.

If this many people are sick, something in the environment—how we live, how we eat, how we exercise, what we’re exposed to—is the cause. Thus the true solution lies in a change to the environment.

I’m not saying that drugs and other non-root-cause interventions can’t be helpful—they can be, no doubt—but I think our culture is obsessed with treatments that, one, don’t make much sense and, two, have limited potential. Isn’t fixing the root cause usually the best solution?

And, at the very least, simple lifestyle interventions should be explored before prescribing drugs indefinitely!


In three years of acne, I was prescribed five different prescription medications by my dermatologist.

One was a topical antibiotic. I asked why it should help and was told ‘acne may, though not always, have to do with bacteria. This kills the bacteria.’

Another prescription was an oral antibiotic. This also had a similarly poor mechanistic explanation.

Two other prescriptions consisted of a blend of several dozen nonhuman, non-typically-environmental chemicals. Stuff that no human before the 20th century has been exposed to in regular or large quantities.

The last prescription (which I essentially self-prescribed) was a multivitamin with anti-inflammatory effects. ‘Fix nutrient deficiency’ seemed to me like a marginally better mechanistic explanation than ‘continually ingest exogenous chemical #1,432, we’re not sure why’ and ‘use antibiotics, we’re not sure why’. This fifth prescription was the last I used until I eventually rejected all prescriptions here.

But here’s a wild idea!, what if my acne were caused by something? Because it’s definitely not caused by ‘the lack of this particular exogenous chemical on my skin or in my stomach’!

Acne isn’t caused by inflammation and bacteria— because what caused the inflammation and the bacteria? And, even then, why isn’t that a problem for everyone else?

In this way, none of what I had been prescribed made sense. Evolution does not produce organisms whose skin naturally bursts with inflammation. However, evolution can only provoke adaptation to long-lasting environments, so acne could easily be caused, or inclined, by something novel or omitted in our modern environment. In the 200,000+ years of human history, essentially none of it has been spent living in civilization as we do today— but evolution takes tens of thousands of years. Old genes, new world; the world is broken, not my body.

Because the treatments prescribed to me did not affect the factor in my environment likely causing my acne, they could not cure my acne. At best, they intercepted part of the mechanism.

After all, if these treatments were actually treating the root cause, their effects wouldn’t be so fickle! And, there wouldn’t be a market for hundreds, if not thousands, of different acne drugs.

Soon I explored changing my diet to fix my acne. What if my diet was what was too new for my old genes? I could be failing to eat enough of something I should—and presumably something my genetic ancestors ate rarely, or mistakenly eating something I shouldn’t—and presumably something of my genetic ancestors ate often.

It has now been five months since I changed my diet deliberately and radically, and also stopped taking my acne prescriptions. For the last two months at the time of writing (with one hiccup), my acne has been nearly completely resolved.

I pursued the root cause, and so far the problem seems to have been remedied. After all, fixing the root cause is usually the most effective solution.

Conspiracy time:

How can you profit from the explanation to reduce acne, eat more red meat and/or liver”?

How can you profit from to drastically reduce the chances of all modern diseases, eat less sugar and junk”?

How can you profit from a problem that can often be fixed with simple interventions?

I know, I know, this doesn’t apply to all cases, but at the very least, simple lifestyle interventions, simple environment-changing interventions, should be explored before prescribing drugs indefinitely!

Well, here’s one way to profit from problems that can be solved simply: trick everyone into believing the problem can’t be fixed, obfuscate the research into its causes, and indefinitely sell its sufferers proprietary medication to treat the symptoms.

But that would be crazy…


Posted 2021 February 5, last updated 2021 February 7.

2021 May 2 update: Of all of the days I’m aware in the past few months where my face has developed a new nontrivial amount of acne, all of these days seem to have been after a day where I did not eat liver. On the days after I eat liver, this does not seem to occur. This is just observation, though, and has not been controlled.

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