Is Root Cause Medicine the Future of Healthcare? Gritwell Founder Says Yes.

Chelsea Rowe is on a mission to revolutionize how chronic health is treated. As founder of Gritwell, she is pioneering a Root Cause Medicine approach that delivers lasting improvement, not just surface-level symptom relief.

"Care under the current healthcare system is like playing whack-a-mole with medications that temporarily mask what's wrong, rather than uncovering and resolving the underlying imbalances driving illness," Rowe explained. 

“Imagine suffering from insomnia, anxiety, migraines, and chronic fatigue, desperately bouncing from specialist to specialist for some diagnosis or relief. You walk away with a pharmacy's worth of prescribed pills just to get through the day while the initial issue goes unresolved, and potentially gets worse,” she said.  

This conventional pharmaceutical playbook takes a reactive band-aid approach and fails the 50% of Americans now battling one or more chronic conditions, a "new normal" Rowe finds unacceptable. She asked, “Why do these symptoms continue to persist and progress despite all the money we keep spending on chronic care? What is fueling this ballooning epidemic of lifestyle diseases?”

The answer, she says, is a perfect storm of stress, trauma, poor diet, toxins and infections building within each individual. These small imbalances compound over time, and like a bucket overflowing, the cumulative "hits" to our nervous system, digestion, hormones and immunity, eventually spill over into full-blown symptoms and disease.

"We need to stop asking 'what's wrong with you' and instead uncover 'what happened to you' - tracing back the lifestyle and genetic factors underlying illness," she said.

This approach is what defines Root Cause Medicine, and Gritwell’s mission - care that actually addresses the underlying cause. The root cause.

Gritwell’s patient-centered team includes a medical doctor, health coach, and a care advisor, all with specialized training and certification in Root Cause and Functional Medicine. Their job is to investigate each patient’s imbalances via cutting-edge advanced testing and symptom analysis. 

Gritwell looks at everything you’ve experienced in your life as a bucket, and asks targeted questions to truly understand your unique set of symptoms and situation. Some of these questions look like, “Do you have a hormone imbalance? What does your gut microbiome look like? What is your toxin load? Do you have a gluten sensitivity, or another food sensitivity?”

From these data points, they aim to identify and treat the root cause. Each patient gets to work 1:1 with a care team, receiving personalized recommendations on medical-grade supplements, nutrition, and lifestyle changes to address underlying triggers.

Rowe added, "We aim to provide quality care that’s accessible to all, demonstrating that innovation and affordability don’t need to be mutually exclusive in healthcare. A lot of people don't believe that's possible, but that’s what we’re solving for, and it can be done with outside-the-box thinking and stakeholders who are willing to shift their mindset around how care is provided.”

Rowe joined 1501 Health’s third cohort in April 2023 and has been energized by the team’s desire for innovation. "Seeing major players approach care models with such an open mindset makes me hopeful about healthcare's future. Their sincere eagerness to understand functional medicine's outcomes reveals our shared goal - elevating care. Every discussion confirms they are true allies as we design integration to benefit patients. Their flexibility and encouragement isn't token support - they genuinely want optimized solutions." 

According to Rowe, Root Cause Medicine will be the future of healthcare, and she sees the shift towards value-based and preventative models as progress. But real change also requires zooming out - asking why chronic disease continues to grow unchecked.  

“Just as we at Gritwell focus on the underlying imbalances causing one individual to be sick, we as a country need to look at why the population is sicker than ever before,” Rowe said. “Why are all these chronic conditions out of control? We need to start focusing on that root cause, and then we can start getting better outcomes. There’s always a why, and that’s where the solution lies.”


About 1501 Health 

1501 Health is a unique partnership between Healthworx and LifeBridge Health, representing expertise in both health insurance and financing (payers) and healthcare delivery and services (providers). The investment and incubation program empowers entrepreneurs to get their innovative solutions to market and expand their impact in healthcare quality, access and affordability. To learn more about 1501Health, visit 
About Healthworx 
Healthworx operates at the intersection of healthcare and innovation by creating, co-creating and investing in companies that are improving healthcare quality, accessibility, affordability and equity. As the innovation and investment arm of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, Healthworx envisions a healthier future for all people by changing the way health works. To learn more about Healthworx, visit 
About LifeBridge Health 
LifeBridge Health is one of the largest, most comprehensive providers of health services in Maryland. LifeBridge Health includes Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, Northwest Hospital, Carroll Hospital, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, Grace Medical Center and related affiliates. For more information, visit