Dr. Taz On the Issues Facing Women in Medicine & Her Own Health Journey

Dr. Taz, MD, or real name
is Tasneem Bhatia, MD. This is Adrienne Nolan-Smith from WellBe and
I am very excited to be in Atlanta, Georgia interviewing now I think
a friend of mine which is terrific. Dr. Taz, who many of you may already know,
she is a fantastic functional medicine doctor. She is the author of multiple
books including her newest which I have right here
which is Super Woman Rx, so we’ll be talking a little bit about what
that’s about then how it can help you. She is also an acupuncturist,
certified nutritionist, mom and wife. Very excited to have her with me today. First thing I want to ask you, because so much
of my mission and what I’ve been doing with WellBe is related to helping to bring
awareness around what’s possible, so I’ve been telling stories of health
recovery through integrative medicine, because I think one way to
inspire people is to show proof… Yes, definitely. And of course, another piece of it is getting
to hear from great experts who have been treating people in this way and therefore
also bringing proof that this stuff is possible and that you can really
heal your body naturally with putting the right inputs in
and removing the wrong inputs. You have your own story that
matches that which is so amazing. We’ve talked about that before too,
so you’re a living testament to all of this. Yes, I hope so and I try to keep up with
everything that I’m doing to make sure that I stay on
the success side of things. But yes, I was actually on Dr. Taz’s
podcast a little while ago telling my story and so I was very excited to not only get all
of the knowledge from her that she has being an integrative physician but also
hear a little bit of her story because I think like so many of us, it comes from
personal experience and realizing what’s wrong and hitting a little bit of a rock bottom before
you decide to really do something about it and help others, which I’ve learned
is also kind of like a female quality, you know, once you see
a better way, it’s… We’re all nurturers at the end of the day.
– Exactly! We want to help. We want to help. Tell me about your health journey. I know you had
one and sort of how you healed and what happened? I would love to tell it. I think it pales
in comparison to yours quite honestly. I felt like you went
through so much more but, you know, mine was just…
a lot of what I’m seeing nowadays, you know, in young women as well, is just
the combination of being super stressed. I was in medical school, you know, I was going into residency.
My eating was off. My sleep was off. I didn’t know how to take care of myself. I didn’t really know anything
about my health quite honestly, and all of a sudden, just started getting what
today I know are more inflammatory symptoms, but at that time I had no clue.
I would have joint pain, I was gaining weight and
didn’t understand why. I had horrible acne and then I started
to lose hair and the hair loss became, you know, more and more
progressive until it really crescendoed and became something
that everybody noticed. Like, it wasn’t where you
could hide anymore. Even though it was happening
and even though it was so visible, I’m still, you know, when I look back,
I still wonder, I still didn’t really… I still wasn’t motivated
to figure it out. I think I was so in my head and just
so determined to, like, power through, you know, I’ve got to get to my shift, I’ve got to do this, and I’ve got to do that, that I just thought this would go away
and it would just magically disappear. It just clues you in into
how tiny things, tiny shifts… because ultimately, it came
down to food quite honestly. It came down to,
I need to be gluten-free. My thyroid was shot.
I needed iron, I needed B vitamins. As long as I kind of stayed there, that even to this day,
so many years later, I’m good. I feel pretty good and I’m healthy.
The minute I fall off again, those signs come back. So yeah, I mean, like the… you know, just the idea that tiny things can shift
your health so dramatically was fascinating to me because in Western medicine… remember,
I was working in the Emergency Room and I had ICU doctor in the brain. I was going
to be an ICU doctor and all those other stuff. Those are heroic efforts.
We do a lot, right. I mean, there’s like 50 things
to do at any one given time and when you’re sitting back and
looking at this field of medicine, it’s like, oh my gosh, tiny things shift
the body so dramatically and affects so many different pathways and it takes you away
from hero medicine kind of. It takes you more into like,
okay, let’s work with the body, not like jump in this like this savior that
like we’re going to do 50,000 things and get everybody
where they need to be. It’s almost like the idea… I just watched
the Ken Burns Vietnam documentary… It’s like war is on my mind
but the difference of, like, diplomacy seems so kind of insignificant
when you think about dropping a bomb or actually having to go and do something
heroic like as a lot of soldiers grew up thinking. They wanted to be that tough guy and
go and fight and actually have a weapon, but in reality, diplomacy ends up doing
a lot more and that would seem much softer. Absolutely. And I think a lot of doctors see the shows,
they watch Grey’s Anatomy and… that’s almost like the adrenaline rush, like
wanting to save people that way and really, most of our issues today
are chronic related and so you’re able to save people from
years of health problems more than when they’re already in the ICU.
It’s kind of like… It’s too late, and also found that that
experience as a doctor was not rewarding. It’s simply adrenaline rush, right.
You get that adrenaline surge because you’ve done all
these different procedures or whatever else, but it wears off because at
the end of the day, there’s no connection. There was no connection,
there’s no relationship. I didn’t get to see somebody go
from zero to 10, to 20, to 50 to 100. I didn’t get to watch that process and it became very transactional, like
I’m going to do this, you’re going to do that and that’s the end of our
relationship. I just found that I was tiring of it just from a career standpoint.
That wasn’t going to be the long term fit for me. Gas lighting is a woman
going to a doctor and complaining of certain pain and symptoms
and being told, “Oh, nothing’s wrong with you, or like not taking a certain thing
seriously that was sort of an emergency, or even like a lot of the stories I’ve filmed,
it’s Lyme disease or it’s Lupus or it’s some other kind of thyroid
condition or toxic drug reaction. They went to several male
doctors who kind of said, “You just have mental issues” and so that’s like this other scary part
of gas lighting because then they you feel the need to then medicate
you instead of getting to the root cause. There’s still not the dollar
amount being put to womenss health that there is being put
to other areas of health. The concern there is,
how do we get out of… you know, even just looking at my colleagues,
quite honestly, and who’s making decisions in the NIH or in all of these places. It’s still male dominated, right?
I mean, medicine is just now shifting to where we have an equal number
of women and men going into medicine. We probably will have more women
than men going into medicine, but again, the usual variable with all of this is
that a lot of these women start having children, we drop and we drop to part-time, so a lot of times we’re
still not active participants in the policy changes that need to happen to support women’s health or in
the advocacy that needs to happen or in just looking at medicine in a maternal way rather than
a paternalistic way, right? A very male way of
looking at medicine is like you go from Point A to Point B
to Point C and this is linear road and there’s no other gray zones, nothing
else… there can’t be any other possibilities because this is what this says
and this is what science says and that’s the only way to go,
whereas the maternal model or the female
model is more holistic. It’s more like, okay, what about these
intricacies? What about this factor over here? What about your relationships?
How is that impacting your chemistry? We’re more likely to think naturally
that way, so until we have more women in the decision-making chairs, medicine is going to continue to
be this very paternalistic model where women’s health
issues will be gas lit. They’ll be pushed to the side.
That’s where the concept comes from, and unfortunately, it’s still not
completely solved or removed. We’re still very much in a gas
lit medical culture for sure. And the sad part is that
even our female physicians because again, we’re all
kind of indoctrinated. I was too and it’s funny to even
watch the younger guys come out and some of them will rotate
with us or even my sisters who are young doctors now. When they first
come out, when we all first come out, we’re like, “Well, this is the way.
This is the only way. This is the only information. This is the only
way to make things happen or to do things.” But then as you have your own
experiences in clinical practice, either with yourself or with patients, you realize that there’s not just one way to
do things and you’ve got to be open-minded into bringing other things into
the fold to solve problems and we as women are the biggest victims of that
because we’re so fluid and flexible all the time. We are hormonal. We do 50 different
things in any given lifetime. For us to be put in these boxes where this
is the only way absolutely doesn’t work. Yes, for sure. I want to ask you since you’re
on this sort of other side of medicine now, but obviously, looking back at how
conventional doctors are still practicing, do you think it should be a moral
responsibility taught in medical school that a doctor should keep trying
to kind of search for a root cause or pass you to somebody
they think might be able to or is it okay to just say like,
“Nothing’s wrong with you”? No. Well, here’s the problem. I mean,
I think medical education has to be overhauled. I mean, we got maybe an hour of nutrition
information when I went through medical school. Maybe an hour. I’m not
even sure we got a full hour. The actual education
has to be overhauled. There’s a lot of politics
in medical education so it’s going to be a machine
that’s hard to change. You only will change the mindset of the emerging
doctor when you change the education system. So yes, there’s a lot to do there. But there’s also a lot to do
when you come out of practice where doctors I think themselves should have that natural innate
curiosity or inquisitiveness of well, let’s not be so closed-minded.
Let’s just not shut the door to things that we may not know or may
not understand or may not have studied and just assume that
everything else is bad. The answer is yes but
I know how big the machine is and I know how deep the machine is and so changing it is tough
and as a new, young… there’s a lot of excitement when
you get into medical school. There’s like, “Oh my gosh, you did it”.
It’s such a draining process to get in and it’s such a draining process to get out,
so there’s a lot of internal celebration. You’re not emotionally or physically ready
to question the system at that time. That takes a long time. Yes, I think we collectively need to
work on changing medical education. We need to work on changing continuing education
of what happens with doctors when we come out, but all of that is wrapped up in the
health care machine as it stands today. Yes. I saw that up close and personal too.
– I’m sure. All right. I want to ask you, based
on your work with women’s health, I know you focus primarily on
seeing women in your practice and this whole topic of gas lighting, there are certain conditions I saw that were
more often not being diagnosed properly. PCOS, endometriosis, uterine fibroids,
like pain during sex, all these things. I’m curious, why do you think those
are not being properly diagnosed and why are they so common today and what
have you kind of seen with your patients on that? Absolutely.
Yeah, I do work with so many women. I work with children too, but just
because the Chinese medicine philosophy is you never separate
a woman and a child. You always treat the two together because the health of one
impacts the other and vice versa. Things like PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis,
all of these things are hormone conditions. Basically they’re conditions of
either estrogen dominance, high androgens,
changing insulin levels, so essentially, I can lump them all into probably
one big box although every patient story is unique and everyone’s chemistry is individual, but the big box is that
there’s just hormone disruption and there’s blatant hormone disruption
across the board, across ages. This actually really bothered me.
I haven’t shared this with anyone yet, I did labs on my daughter just recently,
who is 10, about to turn 11. She’s changing,
let me just get some lab work. Let me understand her estronelevel for a girl who hasn’t even started
her period yet is higher than mine. Estrone is a metabolite of estrogen. It shows us how our body is
either accumulating estrogen, storing estrogen or
metabolizing estrogen, and so I’m only giving you that story to give you the example
of how inundated we are today in terms of exogenous
hormones that we’re getting in, hormones from the environment,
from our food, from our water, from everything
that we’re surrounded by while at the same time, our conditions of
hormone imbalance are not properly diagnosed. You’ve got this, again, two-fold thing.
You’ve got this environmental burden but then at the same time you have the medical
system that doesn’t know how to diagnose it yet. All the conditions that you just listed, PCOS, endometriosis, fibroids,
again, they’re hormonally based, but they’re the influence of our environment.
They’re the influence of our lifestyles. We are seeing more and
more young women with infertility, PCOS, endometriosis,
fibroids, all of these things that historically, A. We didn’t see as much
or we would not see it until maybe your 40’s or 50’s
or something along those lines. Again, I’m super passionate
about getting young girls, young women
the information they need because I really think it totally
dictates their health journey. Something on this woman’s health topic
was about the Netflix documentary that just came out called “The Bleeding Edge”
about the medical device industry and how it was…
a lot of these situations with the mesh, the gynecological mesh and then the
Assure IUD and these women being like, “I’m in serious pain. Something is
not right,” and being kind of told, “Don’t worry,
it happens in the beginning.” Right. I see that now with IUDs. I get a lot of complaints on the IUDs.
“Something’s not right,” “I’m not feeling good after it went in,”
“I gained 20 pounds after it went in,” and I think it’s being gas lit also. And there’s a lot of women suing with
these class action suits but I wanted to ask you since this is I think helpful for
anybody listening who might be a woman or thinking about an IUD, what is your feeling
on them and sort of what to advise patients because I would think they would
cause a lot of inflammation in the body and I’m always trying to get rid
of inflammations, so I’m curious. I think anytime you insert anything, any sort of artificial device, there’s
always going to be a risk of inflammation, and that’s everything from an IUD to
a knee replacement to any of these things because we’re introducing
foreign substances into the body. Now, what each
person does with that is individual. People,
for example, with MTHFR which is a gene that dictates kind of how you
detox and how you metabolize things, they do horribly with these things because there’s metal
in something like an IUD. There are different chemicals in it.
The body reacts to it. It sees it as foreign, it wants
to invade it, wants to attack it. You change your metabolic mode. I had a patient yesterday who said ever since her
IUD went in, she gained literally like 30 pounds within the space of three to four months
and she’s being told by her doctors, “Well, maybe you need to go
back and look at your diet.” She’s like, “No, it happened
after the IUD went in.” Again, everyone’s reaction to some
of these modern techniques is different and we I don’t think 100 percent understand
from a conventional medicine standpoint how to sift through that so I’m not
trying to assign blame to anyone, but the only issue there is that
when patients are having reactions. When you as a patient or consumer,
however you want to look at yourself, is having an issue, don’t also be
convinced that it’s not what you think it is. Your intuition is often
correct and it’s right. Yeah, I’m not a fan of any of it. Ideally we live purely and
cleanly and not have IUDs and artificial knees and artificial hips
and all these other things, but sometimes things are
necessary to move through life. But IUDs, I’m not a huge fan and we’re
putting it in younger and younger girls as well. We’re putting it now… I think now it’s the number one recommended
form of birth control for teenage girls and I have issues with that as well. You’ve got these young women getting
IUDs in. Some of them will be okay with it but some of them will have
toxicity issues with it as well. And also, as a birth control method, that’s not
protecting against sexually transmitted diseases. And so as a teenager, I think
that’s your number one worry. Exactly, that’s the main thing. Yeah, wow. I did not know that.
That’s a little terrifying. Okay, I want to shift gears
and talk about your book because it’s really interesting title.
I took the quiz. What are you? I unfortunately got to…
I was on the airplane coming down and I was looking at your site,
and I got to 15 and we started descending… And I was like, “No, I can’t;
I never found out my type. I got to finish it or else
do it all over, whatever. Super Woman Rx and it kind of ties in to
a lot of things we’re talking about today which is kind of taking back your health, taking
back the power to determine your destiny I think. But I want to hear more about why you
wrote it and what it’s helping people do. Definitely. Again, remember, I’m coming at
women’s health with all these different angles. I’m conventionally trained but at the same
time I have the background in Chinese medicine and nutrition and then Ayurveda
and all these other great stuff. As I started my practice and started seeing
patients, majority of whom were women, you get to a point where
you’re like, “Wait a minute, all these things are lining up. What Ayurveda says,
what Chinese medicine says, what my lab work says, what the hormone imbalances are, this
woman’s personality, her emotional makeup, it’s all kind of starting to fit together. Once I noticed it, then of course you start
tracking it and you start to pay attention. If this person is Pitta, then what
are they in Chinese medicine? What is their lab?
What are their common complaints? And so as I did that over
and over and over again, there really were patterns and what occurred to me is that the
beauty of Eastern systems of medicine is that they give us a toolbox before you even enter
to visit the doctor or go schedule your labs or
imaging studies or whatever else. They give us, it’s almost like a gift of
all this information that we could use to understand what’s happening with us
and why we might be the way we are and it’s with total acceptance.
People ask me all the time, “Which type is better than the others?”
I’m like, “They’re all on an equal plane.” It’s not that one person’s
better than the other. It’s just that this is who we are
and we have to accept who we are and then modify our food and diet and exercise,
lifestyle around who we essentially are. As I did this over and over again, I realized
that there are five key types of women and then we gave each type a fun name but
each type has a Chinese meridian diagnosis an Ayurvedic diagnosis,
a distinct hormone pattern, a distinct way they should be eating,
a way to exercise, a way to sleep and then strengths and weaknesses. Some of those are personality driven, some of
those are emotional but that’s who they are. The Boss Lady is always going to be,
for example, that’s one of the types, that’s always going to be that very gung ho,
I’m going to go from Point A to Point B to Point C and lead a team and lead people that
they’ve burned themselves out to a crisp. They hold all of that in their abdomen. They have inflammation.
They’re very Pitta dominant, so they have some of these
tendencies whereas somebody like the Nurturer,
which is the Earth Mama, they are different.
They identify themselves by their surroundings and they live…
I have an Earth Mama upstairs but they live to really
take care of everybody else. That’s their identity and that’s their self-esteem
and their pride but they don’t set boundaries so they’re prone to depression, they’re prone
to diabetes or prone to cardiometabolic issues. It was fun, part fun but part serious and what I really wanted to do though was begin that conversation for
every woman with themselves, like, “Who am I? What do I need to
be doing to take care of myself?” Because the information out
there seems overwhelming. I think a change… I’ve been in practice
now for 10 years in the integrative world and it’s gone from, “Okay, I don’t
know what you’re talking about,” to “I kind of know what
you’re talking about but I still have no idea
how to navigate it,” and so the information is overwhelming
and people just need a road map. It’s important to check in with yourself, to give
yourself the motivation to make changes. That’s in the book as well.
There are a ton of recipes. There are I think over 50
or 60 recipes in the book. It’s a great cookbook if
you want it just for that, and then there’s beauty
regimens, exercise regimens, all kinds of things that you… I just
wanted it to be a resource for women and then the other point
I always make with the types is that people think
that okay, same thing, Western medicine thought we’re one type,
we’re always going to be that type. That’s not true because the biggest issue with
women is again that we’re fluid and we’re flexible and we change, like our roles change,
what we do changes our hormones change, so you may flex types
and I’ve seen that a lot too. You may go from a Nightingale
to an Earth Mama or from a Boss Lady to a Savvy Chick
or things like that. You can definitely change your
type depending on where you are, so it’s important to keep revisiting it and
reevaluating yourself over and over again. Yeah, and also seeing when you’re
doing things in life that aren’t connecting with or
serving your natural type. Exactly. I had a lady
yesterday tell me, she’s a stay-at-home mom,
she’s an empty nester and she typed out as a Boss Lady and she’s like, “It finally made so much sense.”
She goes, “I’m really unhappy and I think I did my best when I was working and
I was in charge and leading people,” and she goes this flip to being this
kind of maternal person has been hard. It hasn’t been easy.
I found that interesting as well. Yeah. No, that’s so interesting. I’m just
trying to make sure that people are, this sounds so cheesy, but living their best
life within what that means to everyone because it seems like everybody has
a completely different idea of what that is and what they need and all that. Some people say to me, “I don’t
know how you live in Manhattan. That pace would kill me,”
and then other people who say, “It just gives me energy.
I love it.” They’re not both wrong. It’s just that’s important to recognize
what you need and not do the opposite. Exactly. Nailed it,
like really understand you and then set the boundaries
for you, then at the same time carve out a life for you, too. What
does that mean… and your relationships. It would be fun to do this from
relationship standpoint, right? Can two Boss, like the guy version
of the Boss Lady, can they co-exist? I don’t know. It would be fun
to get into all of that as well. Yeah, I can’t imagine that but I’m sure
that there’s some power couples… actually, Angelina and Brad didn’t
work out so maybe that’s not… Maybe. I’m not sure what their power
signs are but anyhow. Oh my gosh. What’s your power type?
My power type, I’m a Savvy Chick, so I’m a blend between the first
power type which is the Gypsy Girl or the creative and then the Boss Lady which is
sort of the more commander, go-getter type person. I think I live that quite honestly. I mean, there are moments where…
I mean, I know I have a lot of creativity in me and then I keep flip flopping
between this creative side and this side that needs to get things done
or needs to lead or needs to be strategic. I try to spend an equal
amount of time in both spaces. Sometimes it doesn’t always happen but that is
where I’m my happiest is when I’m doing both. Medically, I have the issues of both.
They have adrenal and thyroid issues. My hormones play out that way. Nutritionally, they have B vitamins
and fatty acid and iron issues. My nutritional deficiencies
play out that way for sure, and then I need that balance of,
from an exercise standpoint, high intensity but also balanced with
something slower or slower paced. From a diet standpoint, I really need to
be gluten-free which is a part of that and very low on dairy. I don’t
tolerate a lot of dairy either. I fit my own type which is great but
that is who I am. That is my power type. Well, thank you so much for having me in
your home. I’m so excited to be in Atlanta. …and for sitting down with me and the WellBe
audience to share all this knowledge about how to take back your
health every day and treat the hundred choices that
you make a day as your health care. It’s something that I say a lot. But then
when you are in a health care experience, to look out for gas lighting
to make sure that you feel a connection to the person
that’s taking care of you and to make sure that
you really are being heard. I think it’s great the way that you’re
practicing and that you’re hoping and trying to bring this at a systemic level
to change the medical education system and to really inspire younger doctors to go back to the basics and have
relationships with their patients. It’s so important. I hope we’re able to
do it because that’s really important. Yeah, awesome. Well, thank you so much.
– Thank you.

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