Dr. Christiane Northrup – Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom
Dr. Christiane Northrup
Jonathan: Hey everyone, Jonathan Bailor back with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim podcast. We really have a treat for your today. We have one of the world’s leading authorities in the field of women’s health and wellness. Literally, she has been all over the world, you have seen her on PBS. She is regarded as one of the 100-most trusted people in America in 2013 by Reader’s Digest. She has written two New York Times bestselling books. She has been on the Oprah Show, Today Show literally, we are talking upper echelons. We are not messing around on today’s show. She is also a board certified OBGYN physician who graduated from Dartmouth Medical School and did a residency at Tufts New England Medical Center, it is like the best of both worlds. She is also a delight and she is also sharing her time with us today. So let us put our virtual hands together for Dr. Christiane Northrup. Welcome Dr. Northrup.
Christiane: Nice intro. That was really exciting, got me all excited. You are good.
Jonathan: Speaking of people who are good, Dr. Northrup, obviously there are many people who are trying to help women and people in general live better, but you seem to have a unique knack for it as evidenced by the number of lives you have touched. Tell us a bit about your journey and what has interested you and led, you believe, to your success in the fields of women’s health?
Christiane: I think that what has led to the success of it is when I was a new medical student and first saw a baby born, I just was moved to tears. I thought I was going to fall on the floor weeping, and I was with a group of women were we were one of the first en masse to go to medical school and so women in the delivery room and women in the operating room it was not a common theme. So, therefore I did not want to appear like an emotional woman weeping, but I have found that those things which move us to tears are the most important things of our lives, that’s the body’s internal guidance system, women just before their period will cry at Hallmark ads and all of that things and that is not because we are hormonal wreck. It is because those things which are most meaningful to us are what move us, emotion. Our hearts are engaged and so I think that that then the secret of my success is having intellectual rigor and getting the degrees and passing the tests and being board certified and all that is true, but I will tell you what when there is a conflict between the heart and the head, the heart wins every time and sometimes you have to have a heart attack to listen to it.
Jonathan: I love that elephant and writer analogy which I am sure you are probably familiar with which is that the emotional side of our being is a bit like an elephant and the rational side is a bit like the rider on the elephant who can like tug on the rains as much as you want and might be able to exert some force over the elephant, but at the end of the day, the elephant is going to go the direction it wants to go.
Christiane: It is always that way, therefore we each need to pay attention to and when it comes to our health, is there an unhealed seven-year-old running errand according to me within central nervous system. The beauty of now in medicines, we have got the science to show that our beliefs about ourselves generally put in place before the age of 10 are what drives our health. They are more important to health than cholesterol, exercise, what you eat, blood pressure, our beliefs about ourselves, and I think that that is something that I have to spend a lifetime learning, documenting the famous ACE Study, the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study that have been taken over by the CDC shows that those people who had 1 to 10 adverse childhood experiences have used the emergency room more, die sooner, are the ones who go to the doctor all the time, and it is because of the psychoneuroimmunology of feeling ashamed, ashamed of yourselves that you are not enough.
Guilt says I made a mistake, shame says I am a mistake and if you are a woman; woman did not get the right to vote till 1920 and one in three women around the globe will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. With men, the feminine side of man is beaten up and you guys are taught that the highest form of service you can possibly give is to go and get yourself killed. You see that these things are an anti-living message and we women need to be more like flowers, really own our flower nature which through beautiful smells, beautiful colors, beauty itself is what keeps life going. One-third of the food on the planet, may be more is there because of pollinators being attracted to flowers and flowers have all kinds of wonderful, wonderful things that they do to keep life going and that is the feminine life worth, things we do to make life worth living you see.
Jonathan: It strikes me that may be one way we could refer it what we are talking about here Dr. Northrup is the soft side of hard science because it even set off a bit of a bell in my head that so much of today’s dialogue around just hard science it has to do with chronic inflammation.
Christiane: Yes, absolutely, that is it, that is the key to all of it. Chronic inflammation, what causes chronic inflammation? Actually shame, do you believe it? Shame causes chronic inflammation. Just before you called, I was writing about the adrenals and adrenal exhaustion, adrenal burnout and the third chakra which is our self-esteem, personal power, gut feelings all of that kind of things and when you feel ashamed because you feel like you are too fat, too old, too ‘fill in the blank’, you are actually producing low level inflammatory chemicals in your body all the time, 24×7, that is what drives you to eat sugar because sugar is an opioid.
It dulls the pain. We numb ourselves in this culture to our feelings. We are the most over-medicalized, overmedicated generation to ever exist on planet earth and it all comes from this tendency to want to numb ourselves to what we know and what we feel, but the cool part is the minute we know that and see that, we can change it and moving through shame, shame cannot exist with humor, with light, with lightness, and being spoken. They say in the 12-Step Program, “You’re only as sick as your secrets.” I am always amazed, women say to me in hush tones, I was sexually abused. It is like take a number, that is like so common, back in the day when I first started in Women’s Medicine, I would notice there was a big correlation between chronic pelvic pain and sexual abuse in childhood, the kid thinks it is their fault.
When we were little, we think everything is our fault, we were egocentric that is our epistemology and so, I would notice this and my colleagues would say to me, “You see all the nutcases, we see normal women.” Like are you kidding, then I found the same thing in Germany and then Australia and we have had a culture in which the soft, like what you were saying, the soft side men, what are men called sissies, pussies, you are a little girl, the vulnerability where all the creativity and all the joy comes from is when we are vulnerable and we are not ashamed of it.
One of my favorite movies is “Almost Famous” and there is a great line in there, Philip Seymour Hoffman says to the kid who is writing the piece for a Rolling Stone, “Let me tell you something kid, you are not cool, I am not cool, I am home on a Saturday night.” The only currency in human discourse worthy of anything is what two people say to each other when they are not being cool.
Jonathan: Dr. Northrup, it really is something that needs to be explored because of we look at what you just said, which rings of such deep truth and you look at, let us say an individual who is may be a postmenopausal woman who is feeling shame about the way she looks. The way our culture will tell her to handle, so she is feeling shame, that is contributing to chronic low level inflammation and part of the reason she is probably looking or feeling the way she is in the first place is also because of chronic low level inflammation and then she is told to fight; like to starve her body and to stress it even more through just continuous exercises like they are taking a stressed broken system and the “solution” were given is to apply more violent stress to it.
Christiane: Yes, okay I want to tell you something funny, so this is really funny because I saw this in my own life. I have done, full discloser here kids, I have personally because of that postmenopausal weight gain thing, I did the hCG diet, human chorionic gonadotropin, the little injections, the FDA does not approve of this, they do not approve of much that has to do with, I would not get into that. I did this because it made sense to me and I am a big fan of hCG, it is the hormone that is part of the pregnancy test, so I am quite familiar with it and I know that we have tons of it coursing through us when we were pregnant, so I thought “Oh, this is a tiny amount, little homeopathic dose, who cares” and then it is 500 calories a day and there is no question that worked like a charm. I was up to what I weighed when I gave birth to my second, it was like kind of horrifying, I was almost 150, I am 5’ 4”. So, I got down to 137, which I really liked.
That is a weight I am comfortable at. Even though Seventeen Magazine, when I was much younger, said I should weigh 115, I realized that is a crock because I have a large bone structure but I did spent, let us be clear, let us talk about shame, I spent about 35 years thinking I was supposed to weigh 115, Dr. Phil would say how is that working for you? It never works. I have been on a chronic diet really for most of my life because I have this large bone structure, but I did not know it and so I am always trying to get down to like twiggy stuffs plus everyone told that you are slob if you are not a size 2. All women we go through this. I am part of this, but now here is the part I want you all to know because this is really important.
Then I would slowly gain the weight back, slowly gain the weight back, and then I was working with a woman who said “Well you have to weigh yourself every single day,” so for a year, I am not kidding, I traveled with a scale. I got a really cheap thin one at Wal-Mart and I traveled with the scale. So the minute you are up two pounds, what I call water weight, then you cut down on the calories again 500 calories, but what it is, is this. I was talking to a friend of mine who I go to for dream analysis, Doris E. Cohen. Any of you want a good reader with past lives and all that Doris is your person Doris E. Cohen, but anyway I am doing that and I am talking about mammograms and all the things that women do because they are afraid that their bodies are going to turn on them, right? So, we have to get constant surveillance of our breasts and our cervix and everything else and I have always known for most women that over-testing is kind of a crock, I know that, 70,000 women a year are over-diagnosed with so-called breast cancer, one is ductal carcinoma in situ.
I have written extensively about that and then Doris points out to me that I am talking the same way about my weight as I would be talking if I were a women who is terrified of my body and thought I needed a physical every six months. I was talking about my own weight the same way. I cannot trust my body, I got to step on that scale every single day or my body will betray me no matter what I do, I will gain weight. I thought, “Wow! What a revelation.” It is true, I was acting like you cannot trust your body, you will gain weight no matter what you do, you will gain weight walking by a cookie. I want you readers to know this, your listeners, you talked about the calorie myth, I went on an hCG diet and so did another friend of mine a PhD in nutrition two more times in 20 days of 500 calorie, listen to this everyone, 20 days of 500 calories, each of us lost 3 pounds. This is not possible by the laws.
People still believe calories in, calories expended. If you eat this cookie, then you go run half a mile to burn it, it does not work this way when you have this constant terrorist inside your head that is telling you, you got to be under constant surveillance or this body is going to turn on you and when you change that and you start to be kind, we are back to the soft stuff, the feminine stuff, kind to yourself, kind and you start to treat your body. If you had a 2-year-old in your house, would you be yelling at your 2-year-old? What are you doing eating that? What do you mean you want that? We treat ourselves so, poorly. We treat ourselves worse than we would ever treat any other human being by the messages in our mind. I have been refining this for 50 years and this is my way to iteration and consequently, I have not stepped on the scale all summer and then I just did a treatment with Sandra Chiu, an acupuncturist from New York City who was just out visiting and we did releasing of the fascia in the low back and my pants fit better because she said when your pelvis is tilted a certain way, then you are going to feel bloated, but it is not fat, it is bloat.
So, we have to do things to keep our fascia that is the connected tissue that connects the muscles to the skin to the bone underneath to the organs. When that is free and moving and not scarred and held down then everything else is free and moving as well and eventually yes, you get to the point where you are not eating crappy food. I mean, I have not had a McDonald meal or junk meal in years. I do not like the way it feels in my body and yes I pretty much avoid gluten and all the rest of it, but when you have the belief that no matter what you do, you got to be under constant surveillance. My parents would say things when I was little, “She is built like a Mack Truck.”
That kind of leaves a mark. This is right down to bone marrow with the weight thing. Yes, we need to exercise, yes we need to be fit, but if we are out there exercising in a way to beat our body’s into submission, like these boot-camp things and all that, it is not sustainable. So, what is necessary is a wonderful sustainable way to move your body, for me that’s Pilates, Argentine tango, and taking some walks. That is pretty much it, yet I am not doing, although I have to say this sprint 8 workout for cardiovascular is pretty amazing on an elliptical trainer I learned about that through Joe Mercola and that increases growth hormone rather dramatically and it only takes 20 minutes.
Jonathan: Dr. Northrup, some keywords you mentioned which resonates so deeply are being free, moving, and really not getting clogged up. I use this analogy of a clogged sink and it is talking about getting clogged up not only physically, not only from an inflammatory perspective, but also psychologically because we see as we age, tell me if there is anything to this. We see as we age, we continue to eat and exercise the same way we always have, but then “weight” just mysteriously creeps on, but if we understand that both psychologically and metabolically when we don’t put quality in and I am talking about thoughts as well as food and physical movement, when we don’t put quality in, we develop clogs and that brilliance, that beauty of the body that should keep us happy and healthy without any effort because that is the natural state is no longer able to function and then we treat that, that clog with like violent further clog causing approaches.
Christiane: That is exactly right, that is right, we ream out the stuff. I remember years ago, I was speaking on stage with William Castelli, the founder of the famous Framingham Heart Project and he was showing angiograms of monkeys with clearing up their arteries with diet and they clearly had gotten over there cardiovascular disease with diet. He said now the only problem is in this country you have to be a monkey to get the right treatment. We know that coronary artery bypass does not save lives, it does not prolong life. It does prolong the financial well being of a hospital for a while. So, our bodies will heal themselves when we do the unclogging, but there is no question and like what you said, I have been listening to a lot of work with them, Mario Martinez who recorded the ‘Mind-Body Code’.
He is the founder of the Institute of Biocognitive Science which is how our culture and our beliefs affect our biology and what he points out is getting older is inevitable, aging is optional and I know that to be true. First of all because I am taller than I was when I was 25 and I also am healthier than I was at 25, my eyesight has not really changed since I was 13, I got warped eyeballs then because I was going to be a girl and I said “Oh God, this is going to be a problem.” But still when I see and Martinez has studied centenarians around the world, healthy centenarians, what he points out is geriatrics is the study of the pathology of aging, but all of that is optional and that is what you are doing on this podcast is empowering people to know that we do not need to be facing prescription drugs for seniors, being disabled and needing walkers.
That is all optional. My mother went to Mount Everest base camp at the age of 84, that is just a 100 miles pretty much straight up. So this stuff that we think about getting older and by the way, it starts to affect people when they are about 30. My hairdresser just turned 29 and her friends are saying to her “What are you going to do next year?” What, like some grim reaper is going to come in and take over my body at 30? Seriously, so we need to change first our beliefs and then we need to create because we are so influenced by the people we hang with. I am sure you know this data like if your whole family is fat and eats a lot of junk food and lot of soda and stuff, it is going to be very hard to be the one person who is left out of that because breaking bread together by the way is one of the best stress relievers on planet earth, breaking bread together. Not watching TV alone and the news while you are eating which gives your digestion terrible stress hormones. You do not digest anything that way, but we need to create subcultures of vibrant health.
Jonathan: It seems like may be sharing spinach rather than breaking bread might be a better way to classify that.
Christiane: Isn’t that true, we have got this term “breaking bread,” but I do not buy bread anymore except for when my Greek friends come over and then that is a cultural thing that is so big, we are not going to get over that one, I am going to buy the artisan loaves and dip it into the sauce because I am just going to do it.
Jonathan: Dr. Northrup, obviously we could fill the entire day, I have got a pad full of notes here. We’ve got to have you back on the show, but I know you are an incredibly, incredibly busy woman, so what is next for you?
Christiane: I am doing a live online course with Hay House starting October 21, three-part live online course and this is going to be embodied wisdom and that is how you can use the wisdom of your chakras for vibrant health, just the sorts of things we were talking about self-esteem and how that relates to what you eat and that kind of things, so for information about everything, you just go to my website drnorthrup.com.
Jonathan: That live course again is starting on October 21.
Christiane: It starts and then it is the two subsequent weeks as well and then if you cannot be on it live, then those who sign up can also get it on an mp3 that will be sent to them as well as some PDF handouts, so that they really have it. It is like me teaching a course on how you use the incredible wisdom of your body so that you can, really I want everyone to sort of stay out of the doctor’s office. There is no health to be bought there, there is getting out of an emergency, but no health really.
Jonathan: Listeners, so much truth and so much hope which gets me excited. Dr. Christiane Northrup, thank you so much for joining us today. Hope to have you back on the show. It has been an absolute pleasure.
Christiane: Thank you so much.
Jonathan: Listeners, I hope you enjoyed this fabulous conversation as much as I did and please remember, this week and every week after; eat smarter, exercise smarter, based on this conversation be nicer to yourself and live better. Talk with you soon.