Flipping the Script on Menopause: Dr. Christiane Northrup
We have been told a story about menopause in this country – that it’s the beginning of the end, when we start shriveling up, losing our mojo, and generally become accessories to the action of life. Dr. Christiane Northrup has been working for decades to flip the script on menopause.
Listen to our conversation to learn about:
- The surprising shifts that occur in a woman’s mindset during menopause
- Menopause as a time of self-initiation
- Why this transition can lead you to the greatest experience of empowerment in your life
- Important information on mammograms, bone density, and hormone replacement that your doctor may not tell you
…and MORE! If you’re like me, you could listen to this goddess all day long. As I say in the video…you’re welcome for this interview ; )
Full Video Transcript
Dr. Kelly: Hi everyone. I have the distinct pleasure of speaking today with Dr. Christiane Northrup. I’m fairly certain she requires no introduction. But for those of you who have been under a feminist rock for the past couple of decades, she is an absolute pioneer in the field of holistic—and I mean truly holistic—women’s health.
She is, as far as I can tell, the only elder that I’ve ever been able to identify in my own path. And you may look at her and not think of her as an elder because she has this ebullience that never quits, but she is! And she’s paved the way for me in so many moments of doubt that I’d imagine you don’t even know.
Christiane has been there for me to show me what’s possible in terms of holding space for a kind of medicine that promises something real, enduring and radiant for women and all of the people in their lives.
I just can’t think of a single other physician, female physician, who’s done anything approximating what you have for this movement.
So, despite your having endless credentials, including being a bestselling author, appearing on pretty much every relevant platform in media over the years, and having persistent success over the evolution of the digital age, I think—and I’ve told you this—your greatest credential is really the joy that you emanate. You’ve just nailed life in a way that is so rare. And I think people who interact with you and learn from you, it’s not an intellectual process necessarily (although it could be), it’s a felt experience of what you have discovered.
And so, it’s just one of the great joys of my life to call you a friend, a confidante, an inspiration. And I’m super excited for this conversation because, as I’ve mentioned to you, I haven’t written much about menopause to the disappointment of many of my readers. It’s not something I’ve personally experienced, and that’s the nature of it. It’s a blind spot for me. And there is no one else who I would rather call on for expertise in this I think quite misunderstood arena (and I think I get the ways that it’s misunderstood).
So, I want to focus our conversation on this topic although we have many, many points of overlapping—we could probably talk for many hours. I wanted to talk about menopause. And I want to talk about it as a portal to transformation.
I wanted to give a big, juicy plug for this book which I know probably is old news to you at this point in your life because you’ve had so many including Making Life Easy as recently as last season—incredible text! But this, I sat down with this tome—I mean, it’s like a 600-something-page of literal wisdom—and I just finished, and I thought, “Well, that’s all you need to know about this subject.”
Dr. Christiane: Pretty much. That’s true, that’s true. So, I just signed a contract to revise it and update it down the road because there are always things that you can catch up on and tell people.
What’s interesting to me is all the stuff that I thought was absolutely essential back then (like hormone level testing and all that), I just don’t think it’s anywhere near as necessary as I used to think it was.
Dr. Kelly: I can relate.
Dr. Christiane: So, the menopausal transition, there’s a couple of things that I want people to know. First of all, age 42 is the Uranus opposition in everyone’s astrologic chart. And we are affected by the universe in which we live. The moon rules the flow of fluids in the body. It rules the flow of emotions in the body. Any cop in New York City will tell you, “It’s the full moon, prepare yourself” or any nurse in labor and delivery. Everyone knows this.
And so, the planet Uranus is what’s new/what’s next. It’s Aquarius. It’s breaking free of structures that restrict. In age 42, Uranus opposes your sun sign, and it breaks up your family trance.
So, what do we do? We call it the midlife crisis in men as well as in women. It’s the beginning of saying, “Wait a minute! What about me? What about my life? What about those things that I’ve always wanted to do?”
A perfect example of the Uranus opposition in film would be Shirley Valentine, that hilarious British film where she goes off to Greece. She just decides she has to have a holiday in Greece because she’s got a husband who’s constantly got his thumb on her. And she talks to the wall because there’s no one else to talk to.
It’s a wake-up call of your soul. That’s what menopause is.
And what happens is you begin 42 to 43 or 45, somewhere in there, and you begin skipping ovulations. And therefore, when you don’t have the progesterone from the corpus luteum of the ovary, you can get what’s called estrogen dominance, slight estrogen dominance, which is more estrogen relevant to progesterone.
Progesterone is warming and calming. When you’re pregnant, you’ve got a boatload of it. And that’s why pregnant women have that glow and tend to be calm and all that.
When you don’t have that, that excess estrogen in the face of stress hormones, cortisone and epinephrine, literally gets metabolized into another stress hormone. And what does it do? It knocks on the door of your amygdala and your basal forebrain. And it wakes up memories, things that you’ve never remembered.
I’ve had so many patients, they’d come in and they would be, “God! I was sexually abused. I never knew this.” So what’s happening is the old is coming up, so that you can re-create yourself.
What would we do in this culture—and you know this because we discussed it—with any emotional crisis? “Oh, God! Oh, my God! Get out the Xanax, the Valium, what-have-you. Get out the panels, electroshock therapy” because we have this belief that you are not able to handle what really is adolescence in reverse.
So, think about what the hormone levels were. LH and FSH are going like this in the brain of an 11-, 12- or 13-year old girl. So if you’ve got one of those around, any of you listening, you know that they’re a little girl one minute, they’re rolling their eyes at you the next minute because they’re individuating from their family. They want to be like their friends and so on.
Well, the menopausal transition, as you go back there, and your hormones are doing the same thing, now not only are you getting out of the family trance, you’re getting out of the reproductive hormones trance where, biologically, if you’re going to have children, you need to do what’s best for the family unit.
And women, most women, are really good at this, the self-sacrifice that is necessary to being a parent. You can’t believe how hard it is to be a parent and be a mother in this society.
I think we should all be living in tribes where everybody helps everyone else. But that’s not going to happen in my lifetime, chances are.
So, it’s a hard situation. You’re going back then to who we were. And most nine- and ten-year old girls, they’ll come out and tell you what time of day it is. They know who they are. “Hey! Hey! This is what’s happening.”
That’s what’s happening at menopause—you go back. And then, so what people say is, “Oh, my God! She’s becoming a bitch.”
So, here’s what I want women to know. It is your job to take this birthing energy—because you’re giving birth to your soul, you’re giving birth to your essence—and it’s your job to use that for you.
So, please try to not be a stereotype. Don’t throw the roast out the window when somebody criticizes your cooking. It’s your job to say, “Wait! This is about me.”
And the hormones that go like this are in service to the wake-up.
Now, they’ll be way more in service to the wake-up depending on how asleep you’ve been. So the way I like to think of it is the pre-menstrual time (the time from let’s say the week before your period to the onset of bleeding), that’s the time that we call the PMS time. So if there’s anything in your life that isn’t working—dietarily, relationship-wise, whatever—it will come up and hit you between the eyes pre-menstrually. And what do we call that? PMS, pre-menstrual syndrome. It isn’t! It’s premenstrual truth.
I had a guy come into my office who was so archetypal. I loved it! He was a tradesman. He has on a blue jumpsuit. It says Ralph here. He brings in his wife. He says, “She’s great in the first half of her cycle. She folds the towels. She does the shopping. She’s a good woman. But just before her period, she starts to talk about wanting to go back to college. So, can you fix her?”
And the beauty of this is they were loving—a loving couple. I said, “Okay, here’s what you need to know. That’s who she is. She needs to pursue her own dreams. And then, once you’re doing that, you don’t need to internalize that and have your hormones and your life and all of that going out of control.”
So, in a way, under patriarchy, under 5000 years of patriarchy where we have removed women’s ovaries not that long ago to stop hysteria, under that system, it’s no wonder that 60% to 70% of women experience these symptoms.
Now, what modern medicine does unfortunately because of the mindset is “something’s wrong with you, so we need to fix it.” And so what do we do?
I was over with a friend of mine who does electrology. And she said she’s watching the hair growth on this young woman who’s just had the synthetic progestin inserted into her arm for birth control. She’s noticing all these abnormal hair growth. Well, yeah, because synthetic medroxyprogesterone acetate has androgenic properties.
And one of my friends, Joel Hargrove, who I love, at the Menopause Center at Vanderbilt (who’s now retired), he said the reason that Depo-Provera and synthetic progestin works so well for birth control, he said it makes women so ornery that no one wants to come near them.
Dr. Kelly: Not untrue!
Dr. Kelly: It’s suicide, right?
So, anyhow, in patriarchy—this sort of natural light and dark like the moon, like the phases of the moon, the dark of the moon, and then the full, and all of that—all the aspects of us are not honored. The only one that’s honored is when the moon is waxing. The only thing that’s honored is when your estrogen is on the rise to that wonderful FSH/LH surge and that testosterone surge at mid-cycle at ovulation when you become maximally receptive to cross-pollination.
It’s so fun to talk to women who have been on birth control pills, come off of them, and then it’s like the light goes on. “Whoa! No wonder my friends got divorced.” And she said, “If I’ve been off the pill, I don’t think I would’ve gotten divorced. It just made my hormone levels so calm…”
I call it like instead of cycling with the moon, you’re cycling with Ortho Pharmaceutical or whoever is making this up.
But once you’re cycling with the moon and your essential self, then sometimes rage will come up and you go, “Okay, rage has come up.” What is anger, right? It means that you’re not getting something that you need or want. That’s what that is. It’s not a Xanax deficiency.
So, anyhow, in modern society, what women do is they go on the pill. And then, they go from the pill to hormone replacement. And they’re like this their whole life instead of experiencing the agony and the ecstasy, as it were, that is available when you are using your own hormonal fluctuations as a barometer. Instead what we do is we put duct tape over the indicator light on the dashboard. And that’s modern medicine.
Dr. Kelly: One hundred percent! And you frame this—which obviously so resonates with my thinking—as an invitation to explore. I want to read a quote from your book because I just think it’s fabulous. So just in touching on this, you say:
Thus, the average woman blessed with approximately 480 menstrual periods…
What a fascinating number! It’s like, “Who knew that?”
…480 menstrual periods in 40 seasonal cycles to bring her to the threshold of her menopause gets about 500 progress reports.
So, how is her physical health and nutrition? How are her emotions? What’s happening in her relationships and her career? Is she scheduling pleasure into her daily life on purpose or putting herself last?
And you say:
There have been approximately 500 opportunities to resolve these issues or sweep them under the rug. And at perimenopause, this process escalates.
So, rather than framing pre-menstrual shifts as some sort of a pathological problem that needs to be suppressed, and then perimenopause and menopause as some sort of careening into senescence where you’re no longer a vital, productive, sensual member of society, what you’re saying is this—correct me if I’m wrong—this is how your body, mind and spirit are communicating to you about what may be out of balance, what may require further attention, or maybe what just needs room to be, to exist.
Dr. Christiane: Yeah, yeah. That’s exactly right. And once you see that, then it’s like the ballgame is completely changed.
And also, I would like to talk about—because obviously, there’s some very popular books out there that, after menopause, you should be taking bio-identical hormones at the level of a 20-year old or a 21-year old—I think that’s called the Wiley Protocol—so that you have a period for the rest of your life. And I just don’t think that that is something most women are interested in. Believe it or not, there’s a lot out there about that.
Your hormones never go away. And I want women to know that. If you have healthy adrenals and healthy ovaries, you then have estrogen, progesterone, testosterone your whole life. But as an Ob-Gyn, I was taught that if you’re in there for any other purpose, just remove the ovaries because of the fear of ovarian cancer.
Now, that’s changing because we now know that when women have had their ovaries removed, they have a vastly higher incidence of dementia because we need a small amount of hormones. They go back, their hormone levels go back, to that 10- or 11-year old level. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Now, there are all kinds of things that women can do for the very real suffering—the hot flushes, the loss of sex drive, all the rest of it. And that’s why I started that company, A-ma-ta Life with Pueraria Mirifica because it’s so helpful. It’s not a mammalian estrogen and it’s not a prescription. Like you, I tend to use natural substances whenever possible because people are suffering
Dr. Kelly: So, you’re saying you acknowledge that the hormonal shift is certainly relevant, but it’s not the whole picture. And it’s not even perhaps the first point of entry. So an awareness around the role of this hormonal shift—
A lot of women, I noticed (even in the functional medicine realm), can get very fixated on testing and quantifying and “Where am I at?” But what you’re saying is that’s relevant. But if we zoom out, there’s a bigger process happening here.
And to suggest that it’s kind of a personal rebirth is a pretty radical notion. I don’t know that there are many examples out there, templates for us to turn to, as instances where that’s evident.
I think most of the time, we sort of feel like, “Well, I guess that’s it for me. And now I just have to look at all these sexy, younger women who are the gem of the American eye. I just have to sit on the sideline.”
So, what you’re saying is…
Dr. Christiane: That’s right, that’s right. And I think that’s the cultural thing. So, you need to go through—
I just went to a friend’s 60th birthday party. And I said, “I wish I did not know that this was your 60th birthday party. So please don’t ever bring up your age again” because, as Dr. Mario Martinez teaches us, our culture tells us what is expected. So we get older depending upon what the culture tells us to expect.
So, I don’t know want to know anyone’s age after 33. I just don’t want to know. I want to treat them as an ageless soul without putting my overlay on it.
And you and I both know because we get the chart, you haven’t seen the person, you’re reading through, “Okay, 58-year old…” whatever, and you’ve already got a picture in your mind.
I don’t want that picture anymore. I want to meet the soul of the person and see who they really are without the cultural overlay.
And you are so right about this functional medicine thing. I’ve had every hormone test done to humanity. I’ve had the 24-hour salivary thing where you do that like four times and you get the curve. I had the this and the that. And my experience is none of that has ever changed my behavior or done anything that improved my life, which is interesting to me.
I even tried the bio-identical hormones. I tried transdermal. I’ve noticed nothing works.
Let me tell you what works. What works is finding the song of your soul, finding who you are, as Dolly Parton said, and doing it on purpose. And when the cultural voice comes in, “Oh, my God! Now, I’m 50—“
Actually, what happens at 50 is very interesting to me. A lot of women really celebrate 50. It is the coming-of-age ceremony you were supposed to have when you were 13 or 14, and you didn’t. They finally come into their own.
And if you really look at the data, the women having the best sex of their lives are in their 60’s and 70’s. That’s the data. But you would never know that because what does patriarchy tell us? “Ewww… ewww… a grandmother having sex? Ewww…” But someone who’s 75 married to a 35-year old starlet, you don’t say “Ewww…”
So, you have to just see those things. Don’t rail against the culture. Just say, “Okay, my job is to be an example of something else.”
Some woman who is complaining about her age and her missed chances and her saggy skin or her crazy thighs, that is not attractive. So even if you feel that way, it’s your job to tap in to the ageless soul that you are.
We are ancient. We are ancient. This isn’t our first rodeo. So when you know that, and change is happening in your body, you don’t take it personally.
But also, I want to say, through Pilates and resistance flexibility and all of that, I have changed and upgraded my body dramatically because it’s not aging that gets us so much, it’s the dense scarred fascia of holding ourselves in certain positions while you’re sitting for six hours a day and that kind of thing.
So, all of the stuff that we think is related to menopause like, “Oh, God! Now I’m at menopause—” The average age, by the way, of menopause is age 52. It means the final menstrual period. So that’s all that means.
After that, the rate of chronic degenerative disease does increase. Why? Because you haven’t done that wake-up you were supposed to be doing. You just bought the medicine that now you’re supposed to be depressed with no sex drive and low back pain and shot knees. That is all optional. You don’t need to do that.
Dr. Kelly: And without this framework—I mean, I treated many women who are in mostly perimenopause. They are hospitalized as new onset bipolar patients. And so, either you sort of assume the posture of a depressed, decrepit, wasting body or you have this energetic come-uppance that you don’t have any idea what to do with. No one has culturally contextualized it for you, and you don’t know how to work with it.
I was so struck reading your book because so much of what I’ve come upon taking women off of medication is that it has served, for whatever interesting reason, as a form of initiation for many, many women of reproductive age today, that the dark night of the soul that is induced by the transition off of psychiatric medication is just that. I mean, it’s a passage. It’s a rebirth.
And what every woman says to me (whether this is online or in-person) is exactly what you wrote, which is that they finally feel like themselves. They finally feel like they’re home.
And so what you’re describing is that if we haven’t initiated through any sort of ritualized experience, perhaps through childbirth, perhaps through some guided process with an elder, then it’s possible to get to the fifth or sixth decade of your life largely unfamiliar with who the hell you are.
This is an opportunity—if you can work with it, it’s an opportunity—to get real. You talk about the grief that needs to be attended to, the responsibility that needs to be taken for all of the places you’ve outsourced the problems in your life. And all of the stuffing of emotions that we have done in order to keep things in order seemingly around us perhaps needs to be unstuffed.
And so it’s an incredible reframing of this opportunity for self-possession. It’s not only not too late, but perhaps it’s the perfect opportunity is essentially what you’re saying.
Dr. Christiane: Well, I think it’s the perfect opportunity for a number of reasons. One, by your 40’s, you’ve got some skills, you’ve got some ego strength. You’ve been on the planet, and you know sort of what’s worthwhile, what isn’t.
I have a friend who was listening at Brown University to a classmate getting hysterical because her brand of mascara was out at the local department store. And my friend was dealing with a rather severe medical condition. She said what was so great was to see the contrast of “Okay, what’s really important here?”
Now, if you haven’t—see, some women can get to their 40’s and never have experienced a major loss or a major setback. They can have their whole life just with no one every dying, no one ever getting sick, no one ever having any of those things. But if you’re one of those people—
I had a patient once, who had Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age, I don’t know, 21—she was in New York—becoming a CBS announcer for television. She was really on the career fast track in a big way. And then, she developed lymphoma with a big goober out here. And when she finally went through menopause (because the Hodgkin’s came back another time), menopause was nothing. She’s already done that dark night of the soul early.
So, very often, when someone’s been through a lot early on, they’re incredibly strengthened for when the rubber hits the road later. It’s like, “Oh, this? I’ve been through this. I know this territory. I’ve been across the river of Styx. I’ve been to the underworld. I know where the bathrooms are.”
Dr. Kelly: That’s so powerful because we think that a happy life is what you described, getting through your 40’s or 50’s with no major challenges. We imagine that that equals fulfillment.
But first of all, we know it never does. And second of all, it’s coming to you at some point. Either you’re going to accept the invitation and move with it and dance with it, or it could really drive itself deeper if you end up medicating your menopause, availing yourself of what pharma has to say about your unruly hormones. That doesn’t work out well for most women.
Again, I’m trying to rein myself in because I could talk to you all day. But I want to leave people with a couple of guideposts because you’re one of the very, very few people who is bold and courageous enough to speak out about these conventional interventions.
Menopause not only can be a pharmaceutical bonanza, but also, you become a new kind of patient. Your status as a menopausal woman, as you’ve said, was a degenerative disease cloud hovering over you puts you in a position for all sorts of screening.
Dr. Christiane: Yes, you’re right, not one of which I’ve ever done.
Dr. Kelly: Thank you, yes! And it’s heartening…for me to know that you’ve walked a path that intuitively makes so much sense to me at this point.
So, I wonder if you can sort of like sound byte around some of these interventions, things like bone density scans and mammograms. I love what you say in the book about breast self-assessment.
It sounds like you feel like the lifestyle approach encompasses the kind of physiological support that is needed, but that there are some tools that you think people should know in the herbal category when it comes to helping ease some of the physiologic discomfort, things like hot flushes.
So, what’s the download?
Dr. Christiane: Okay! So I founded this company, A-ma-ta Life, AmataLife.com, because I was introduced to this herb Pueraria Mirifica, which contains a very powerful psycho-estrogen known as miroestrol. And this stuff has been used in Thailand for 700 years.
It lands on the beta estrogen receptor, not the alpha. Steroid mammalian hormones land on the alpha receptor. The beta receptor is like a natural selective estrogen receptor modulator (Tamoxifen being the one that most people know).
And so, there are estrogenic effects, but it doesn’t act as a growth hormone. So you don’t need to worry about overgrowth in the breast and in the endometrium and so on.
And I also created a vaginal gel because a lot of women get vaginal dryness because the estrogen-sensitive outer mucosa gets thinned, and the cornified layer is not as good as it was. So, that can be very helpful.
But now, for bone density, I just want to show you something that everyone should know.
If you take your third finger and your thumb, and you put it around your wrist, if your fingers do not meet, you have a large bone structure, and you’re going to be way apt to get any osteoporosis.
If the fingers just touch, you have a medium bone structure. And if they overlap, you’re probably a supermodel because you have tiny, tiny little bones.
Now, the people with the tiny bones have those bird bones. And they’ve always had those bird bones. So, on the DXA test, maybe you’re two standard deviations below the norm. Well, guess what? That’s how you were born. And it’s those people that get run through the ringer.
Lani Simpson is this amazing chiropractor who was ran through the ringer at the age of 40. She’s red-headed, so she has different collagen. The really fair people have much less bone density. And they’re the ones, more than anyone—I mean, if you’ve got a lot of melanin in your skin, or if you’re black, or you’re Asian, you have stronger bones. That’s just the way it is.
So, LaniSimpson.com has great information on DXA testing because there are enormous variations between machines. So if you don’t have it done through the same machine, they’re not standardized the way you think they should be.
And so, what’s created is a lot of scare tactics, and worse, a lot of prescriptions for bone density drugs, bisphosphonate.
Here’s the problem with bones. They stay in the system forever. We don’t know what their half-life is. So we’re seeing atypical femur fractions with people on those drugs, meaning they break in the middle, not up at the femoral head. They break in the middle. And it doesn’t heal because the bone is so dense that blood vessels can’t get in.
Talk to some endodontist about women on these bone drugs. They tell you that, suddenly, there’s all these women needing root canals because the bone became so dense that the blood vessels could not get in and turn over bone.
See, bone is living. And it’s constantly remodeling. Osteoclasts break it down; osteoblasts build it up. And you need a balance of those two things.
For a while there, during the menopausal transition, when the hormones are doing this, you can get a bit of a loss of bone mass. But if the collagen is healthy—and I noticed you’ve got this great collagen product in the Vital Mind Reset. Those are the things, and bone broth, if you have these things in your diet, and enough magnesium, you don’t need to worry about this stuff.
So, I’m very concerned about these bone drugs.
Mammograms, urgh! Years ago, I read Gilbert Walch’s book. He sent it to me. Should I Be Tested for Cancer? Maybe Not. Now, Gil was at Dartmouth Medical School, my alma mater. And he specializes in the biology of tumors and also in medical testing (early detection). And what he points out is that we don’t understand the biology of these things.
The problem with breast cancer is this. If you do autopsy studies on women who died in car accidents in their 40’s, and they’ve done these, 40% will have evidence of ductal carcinoma in situ.
It’s just like those prolactinomas. When I was in med school, they just discovered the prolactin assay. And so, suddenly, we were finding that all these women had these pituitary microadenomas. What were they doing? Transsphenoidal hypophysectomies, going in through here—this is the sphenoid bone—into the pituitary and suctioning out half the pituitary.
Then we found out later from the autopsy studies that the vast majority of these pituitary microadenomas calcify and go away.
With the breasts where you have ductal carcinoma in situ, which is being picked up more and more and more with these high resolution mammography, or now the other stuff they have like MRI’s and better and better ways to find something that you’ll die with, but never die from.
The [unintelligible 35:36] is the same thing. The guy who invented that assay said it’s an unfortunate public health problem (he used much stronger words than that).
So, what I’m seeing now are all these women who are having bilateral mastectomies because they went in for screening mammograms, and they were told, “Oh, there’s a little shadow here. You better come back,” and then, “Well, we don’t know for sure,” and then they have a biopsy, and it shows a little place of ductal carcinoma in situ, which, by the way, is a terrible name.
The Natural Cancer Institute suggests that we use a different name, IDLE, which stands for something lesions of insignificance, whatever, indolent lesions that are not significant because the name, ductal carcinoma in situ, scares everyone to death.
And then, everyone knows someone who’s had breast cancer, who died of breast cancer. So what do we do? We go, “Jesus! Let’s get rid of these suckers. They’re going to kill me.”
That’s how we approach breasts in our culture. You either get big ole’ breast implants so you can, I don’t know, get attention at a bar, or get the boobs removed, but then put in the big ole’ breast implants.
I had a patient with breast cancer. She came in, she gave me the best mantra for breasts I’ve ever heard. And it’s this. Every morning, she says, “I get up, and I go, ‘Girls, you’re safe with me.’”
I just think that we need more iodine in the diet if you have small amounts of iodine, which is in very short supply because with chlorine and fluoride and bromide (these are all halogens in the air, the water and bread-baking), they push iodine off the cells).
In the Periodic Table of Elements, you’ll see there’s chloride, there’s fluoride, there’s bromide, there’s iodine. We don’t get enough iodine because most people are not using iodized salt. And iodized salt was only enough to prevent a goiter.
Fibrocystic breast disease, that’s not a disease. That’s not a disease. Women are told, “Oh, my God! My breasts are lumpy and sore. I have fibrocystic breast disease.” If you just take a little iodine, which you can in the form of kelp and kelp tablets, or you can Lugol’s solution online for almost nothing, paint your breast with it, it’s amazing how this stuff works!
Now, to know if you have enough iodine in your system, there’s an old-fashioned holistic doctor thing (you probably know about it). You put about a 2 x 2 inch patch of iodine on your inner thigh. That should be there 24 hours later. If it’s not, you need more iodine. You can just keep painting until you’ve got enough in there.
So, iodine is extraordinarily important. I put it in my Pueraria Mirifica supplement as Atlantic Kelp because so many women need that.
So, that’s the breast thing. I personally have never had a mammogram. The first time I ever said that publicly was in San Diego, there was pandemonium in the ladies’ room. But more and more women are happy to hear that. It’s like I gave them permission.
Larry Burke who’s an interventional radiologist who has done studies on dreams. And he said women who have dreams of breast cancer, that’s a good way to go and get screened—if you have a dream. And he said dreams are highly diagnostic.
So, check out his website, Let Magic Happen. And again, his life is imagery. I mean, he uses radiologic imagery and so on.
Then cholesterol testing, the lipid profile, that’s the dumbest thing on the planet—unless your cholesterol is 350 or something. But otherwise, putting everyone on statins, what a great idea! You go on statins, and then you’re going to get diabetes and breast cancer because the statins interfere with coenzyme-Q10 which is absolutely necessary for the conversion of energy into ATP in every cell of your body through the mitochondria. And when you’re on a statin, it impedes coenzyme-Q10.
So, not only are you increasing your risk of breast cancer, you’re increasing your risk of diabetes.
And we know that heart attack (heart disease) is not from cholesterol. It’s from cellular inflammation. And cellular inflammation, you quell with enough magnesium, enough supplements, enough greens, all that kind of thing, and meditation where you calm down your stress hormones.
So, let’s talk about some sugar. I think there are some tests that are worth getting. A fasting blood sugar, a fasting insulin, very much worth getting because all chronic degenerative diseases, almost all of them, are the direct result of blood sugar that’s too high.
And we’ve had fasting levels that have been too high. The norm is too high. It shouldn’t be a hundred. It should be more like 75 or 80 as your fasting blood sugar. So get that down.
We also know that women who have been in stressful situations have high cortisol levels. Those who have high cortisol—ever see anyone on Prednisone? Yes, they blow up like a balloon, they crave sweets. Well, that’s the life of a lot of women. They’re not on prednisone, they’re making it in their system.
That’s why depression, which is a state of increased cortisol, is an independent risk factor for heart disease and osteoporosis.
So, all these things that you’re told you need, all these screening now that you’re 50, your risk of heart disease increases, your risk of breast cancer increases, your risk of breaking a hip increases, it’s like, “So therefore, you need these tests,” it’s not so much that the tests are so bad, it’s that the solutions are so bad—
Except for mammograms because the problem with a mammogram is we over-diagnose. I think we’re starting, as a profession, to wake up to the dangers of over-diagnosis.
I remember when Gil wrote the book, Should I Be Tested for Cancer? Maybe Not There really is a belief that “If we catch it early, we got it all, doc.” You and I both know that the minute a cancer is diagnosed, it’s probably systemic in some way. So we have this myth
Now, here’s the problem though with the myth. If you believe it with all your heart, it’s amazing placebo effect—and that’s real. That’s real.
So, if someone comes to me, and they said, “Oh, yeah, I had that 20 years ago. They got it all because they got it early,” I go, “Good!” Fist bump, high five. I would know more. Break down that belief system because that would be malpractice.
Dr. Kelly: It’s the medical hexing that comes with these diagnoses. It’s the opposite of that. It’s the no-cebo effect perhaps of the fear that’s induced once you become a pre-cancer or cancer patient.
Dr. Christiane: Oh, yes. Then we’ve got “Oh, I’ve made it to the 5-year survival rate.” That’s a huge milestone that exists on almost no data whatsoever, but it’s got an amazing placebo effect.
So, if you know that someone is there, as Caroline Myss, the medical intuitive taught me years ago, she said, “How much power is behind your eyes? And how much power is in front of your eyes?”
I have a lot of power behind my eyes—and so you are—meaning that I trust myself, I trust the Universe to send me the right people and the right message at the right time. And there are some great stuff about medicine. If I was hit by a bus, take me to the trauma center. I love the way orthopedic surgeons replace joints. It’s all very cool.
But I don’t have a lot of power in front of my eyes. You don’t see me running in there to the doctor. I have to find a doctor just to check out the box, but it’s not like I go. Why would I go? I get massage. I get acupuncture. I’m working with Chinese herbs. I do Pilates. I dance. I take walks.
Dr. Kelly: Yeah! I mean, I think that, essentially, what you’re suggesting is first things first. So first, honor your foundation. First, as you say in the book, learn what it means for you to mother yourself.
You just described all of the ways that you avail yourself of self-care. And it takes this kind of concerted effort, which has become my mantra. It’s the “put your own oxygen mask on first” kind of philosophy to life.
And then, if you feel the need to investigate further, there are a couple of basic blood tests, which can help inform your process. Put on your scrutinizing cap when it comes to all of these recommended screening interventions and the way that we pathologize a woman’s body over time because if you sort of enter into that male, you might not find a way out.
Learn how to think about the way that we are being presented information, knowing full well how many years that it took the National Cancer Institute to come out in 2013 and say, “Oops, 1.3 million women treated for DCIS never had cancer.”
That’s how we operate. It’s this trying to clean up after…
Dr. Christiane: Oh, my God! That is so true. And I’ve been in this long enough.
Dr. Kelly: Exactly!
Dr. Christiane: I remember when I was a med student and the Dalkon Shield was the IUD of choice. And this thing had a braided string. So all the vaginal bacteria that’s supposed to stay in the vagina, not travel north into the fallopian tubes, went up into the fallopian tubes.
So I watched all of these young women getting bad pelvic inflammatory disease and becoming infertile as a result of the Dalkon Shield.
And I remember as a med student that sometimes I would get a little cheeky—not bad—and I would say, “You know, I think that this IUD is doing this to women.”
If you’re kind of an oracle like me, and you know something 10 years ahead or 20 years ahead, you don’t get a whole lot of support for that. I called it with that folic acid. They were giving anyone folic acid to prevent neural tube defects. I thought that was a good idea, DHEA and Omega-3, to promote brain and eye health in the infants of pregnant women. I was having people put that in the baby formula if they weren’t going to nurse. It’s just like one thing after another.
And then, you wait. It’s like you have a metronome. “Wait for it… wait for it… wait for it.”
Sooner or later, medicine is going to figure it out. But it’s generally 17 years from the time that something important is found out to when it gets into practice.
And so, therefore, everyone, every person has intuition, especially when they’ve decided to take back their power, their agency.
And when you just did not know, that’s okay. You just didn’t know. But the thing that’ll drive you crazy is when you knew better. Intuitively, you knew, “I should’ve gotten up off the operating table before they did this. I should’ve, but I just didn’t.” Those are the ones that will drive you crazy.
Dr. Kelly: Ultimately, you’ll have to listen to the call. That’s why I sort of feel like saying, “You’re welcome, ladies, for this entire conversation” because now we’re using the Internet and the digital age perhaps for what it was meant for, which is this democratization of information. There is no excuse not to know any longer, not to empower yourself because this information, you have to be in the trenches for how many decades in order to collate all of these information, deliver it to women directly, so that they don’t have to wait for their doctor or their trusted authority to guide them down a path that only they know how to walk.
So, anyway, I could go on and on. I want to thank you immensely for this incredible download, for everything that you continue to do because you’re so damn vital (and unstoppable), and for being there for me and my journey and helping to create a space for women to better understand what it is to be a woman. It’s an extraordinary thing.
Dr. Christiane: Great! Alright, my pleasure. Great!
If you would like more information on Dr. Christiane Northrup, you can find information here.
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