Ep #206: Reconnecting to Our Wisdom with Christiane Northrup, MD

Today’s guest has been featured on Oprah and was truly a pioneer for many of us as women physicians in terms of getting really curious about female patients. Christiane Northrup, MD has dedicated her life’s work to making connections between the mind, the spirit, and the body and removing the disconnect that modern medicine has ingrained into us. In this episode, she shares insights from her book, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, and explains how her upbringing led her to where she is today.

Listen in as Christiane describes the importance of digging deeper into health issues and not just accepting them at face value. You will learn that all emotions exist to signify a need and every need you feel is legitimate. If you are curious about the ways that women physicians have been oppressed, this is the episode for you.


Listen To The Episode Here:


In Today’s Episode, You’ll Learn:

  • How the mind, spirit, and body are all connected – even in medicine.
  • Why doctors are trained to never say “I don’t know.”
  • Your needs are legitimate.
  • All emotions exist to signify a need.
  • Why women physicians have been oppressed for so many years.
  • The importance of embracing your sexuality.

Featured In This Episode

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Read the Transcript Below:

Katrina Ubell:      You are listening to the Weight Loss for Busy Physicians podcast with Katrina Ubell, MD, episode number 206.

Welcome to Weight Loss for Busy Physicians, the podcast where busy doctors like you get the practical solutions and support you need to permanently lose the weight so you can feel better and have the life you want. If you’re looking to overcome your stress eating and exhaustion and move into freedom around food, you’re in the right place.

Well, hey, there, my friend. Welcome back to the podcast. Do I ever have a treat for you? This is literally a dream come true. If you are young, you probably haven’t heard of Christiane Northrup. But if you are like me in your mid 40s and older, you probably remember Christiane Northrup. She was on Oprah several times. She’s Oprah famous, people. She’s the real deal.

I remember watching her on Oprah. She was telling that the first time she went on she said was in 1998 which was my first year in medical school. I remember her coming on and talking about women’s health issues and especially talking about menopause and a new way of thinking about menopause. I remember thinking to myself, “Oh, someday when my body reaches that point, I should look up the stuff that she’s teaching.” Of course, it didn’t feel relevant to me in my close to mid 20s at the time, but I have always kept tabs on… Yeah, she’s one of those resources. She’s one of those people who is leading us as women.

I’ve said this many, many times. We get so much education on going through puberty and then who’s teaching us about menopause? There really aren’t a lot of people. Well, Christiane Northrup is one of those people.

Literally, on a whim, I thought, “I wonder if I could get her to come on the podcast.” It turns out, you can create a lot of things when you just ask. She came on. We had the most delightful conversation. We had so much fun, she really is just a really fun, fun person.

She is an OB-GYN by trade. But as you’ll hear in her whole story, she really has had an unusual background even leading her into her medical training. She really was a pioneer for all of us as women physicians in terms of getting really curious about her patients, asking her patients, these women, what was really going on not just taking their stories for face value, and being able to start making connections between the mind and the spirit and then the body not having this big disconnect which is how traditional medicine teaches it.

I am super, super excited to bring you our conversation. Before we do that, really quickly, I want to let you know that the January weight loss for doctors only program was a huge success. We closed that down last week. I do want to let you know that if you are thinking, “Shoot, I missed it” or “I would love to get in on that January group,” we do have a waitlist that’s going on right now.

Things happen sometimes where people have to change their mind or say, “Hey, I need to take a break actually. I need to start later,” or something like that. I wanted to let you know that if you would like to join the waitlist we take $1,000 deposit to hold your spot and you just go to katrinaubellmd.com/enroll, E-N-R-O-L-L. Be sure to check that out.

If you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I have definitely missed the boat here and I really, really, really want to hit 2021 just hit the ground running, be on the right foot, and not struggle with my weight anymore,” then you’re going to want to join us. It’s for MD or DO or international equivalent, women identifying physicians who are in clinical practice want to lose weight forever. If that’s you, come and join us. Get on that waitlist. Go to katrinaubellmd.com/enroll.

Before we get started with Christiane Northrup, I just want to tell you, there’s a couple of things in her book that we’re going to be talking about. This is literally the revised and updated fifth edition of this book. It’s called Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing. She is amazing. It’s a New York Times bestseller. I just wanted to read to you the dedication and just set the tone for you.

Dedication reads, “This book is for all who believe that it is possible to flourish regardless of our present or past circumstances. It is for all who acknowledge the daily presence in our lives of mystery, uncertainty, and hope. It is for those who yearn to be well and know that there is something more to healing than simply external substances or techniques.

This book is for every physician, nurse, healthcare practitioner, healer, or patient who keeps an open heart and an open mind and acknowledges the fact that scientific truth is constantly changing. It is for those who know that we heal and flourish to the degree that we consciously invite the sacred into our lives. This book is dedicated with appreciation to the scientists and healers of the past, present, and future who have had and will have the courage to speak their truth and go forward in faith, hope, and joy despite the deadening effects of conventional thinking.”

So powerful. So powerful. There’re actually two paragraphs that I wanted to read you. I actually thought we might talk about them during our conversation and then we just talked about some of the other great things. We didn’t do it and I want to make sure that you hear these.

On page 12, she writes, “Our culture considers the body to be inferior to the mind and its dictates of reason. It often teaches us to ignore fatigue, hunger, discomfort, and our need for caring and nurturing.

Hello? Does that sound familiar? That’s called the medical profession.

It conditions us to see the body as an adversary particularly when the body is giving us messages we don’t want to hear. We’re encouraged to try to kill the body as messenger along with a message. Though, it’s important to stretch and challenge the body to keep fit and healthy, it’s also important to know the difference between stretching yourself and overextending. A dead giveaway that you are overextending, rather than stretching yourself, is the inability to nurture yourself or rest without a drink, a smoke or overeating.”

I’m speechless. It’s so good, right? What we’re talking about is growing. That’s stretching yourself not overextending yourself. So, so good. Oh, my gosh. Okay.

And then the second part that I wanted to read to you, mid paragraph, it says, “Every overweight woman I know is clear about what she should eat. She doesn’t need more nutrition information. She needs first to feel the pain of her unmet needs for intimacy, rest, recognition, grieving, and acceptance which the excess food is a substitute for. This can happen only when she is encouraged to name those needs and learn how to meet them skillfully and compassionately. Her body and its state of health will always be a reliable barometer, letting her know how she’s doing in this regard.”

Yes. I’m like, “Yes, this is everything.” This is what I always tell you guys. This is so good. So, so good. This book is filled with pearls. It’s absolutely amazing. It is quite the tome. It’s over 1000 pages. This is not something that you just settle in. It’s not a beach read. But there’re some really good stuff in here, great stories, and so much information that you can use as a reference for sure.

I just want to really encourage you to get this book, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, and use it. Use it for all the ways. Even when you feel like this is a little out there, you don’t really know or this isn’t scientific enough, just know that that is just part of the patriarchal society telling you that others know better than you do about your body. So good. And what you need.

I do want to mention one more thing. At one point, she said, “We don’t need psychiatrists. We need coaching.” I just want to mention for all my psychiatrists, she doesn’t mean that your services aren’t needed, what she means is for people who are functioning well, coaching can be really, really useful rather than needing medication. Of course, there are people who are having immense difficulty with functioning normally and of course, psychiatry can be super powerful for those people. Just wanted to be clear about that because I was like, “You know what? I have a feeling. There’re going to be a couple people who’ll take this the wrong way and get mad.” Just letting you know about that.

I cannot wait to share this conversation. Christiane, she’s just a treasure. She’s a riot. She’s so fun. Literally at the end, I was like, “Will you be my friend?” which I kept to myself, but now I guess I’m putting it on podcast. So there you go.

Anyway, she is amazing. She’s so wonderful. Please enjoy my conversation with Christiane Northrup and I’ll catch up with you next week. Take care.

Christiane Northrup, thank you so much for being here.

Christiane Northrup:     What a pleasure.

Katrina Ubell:      Seriously, I was fangirling over you before we started recording. I’m seriously so excited. I’m excited because I feel like there’s a lot of women who know you and remember you from being on Oprah and all your best-selling books and then there’s a whole new generation of women who are like, “Who’s that?” Come again?”

Christiane Northrup:     I know.

Katrina Ubell:      I’m like, “Okay, this is a problem.” I knew I’m like, “It’s going to come.” I knew, years ago, when I saw you on Oprah, there will come a day where I will need her guidance on menopause. And that day, it’s getting closer. Not quite there yet, but we’re getting closer.

I would love it if you could just start off by just introducing yourself and maybe giving us your story of growing up and heading into medicine and just your whole path.

Christiane Northrup:     Yeah, yeah. Great.

By training, I’m a board certified OB-GYN. I went to medical school at Dartmouth and I then did my residency in OB-GYN at Tufts-New England Medical Center, then moved to Maine where I was a clinical assistant professor of OB-GYN at the University of Vermont through their partnership with Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine.

I was in a big group practice for six years. And then I had my second child and I wanted to come in at 10:00 on Monday. Honest to God, this is the truth, 10:00 on Monday and that’s it. And then the head of the group said, “Well, we’ll have to cut your salary by 50%.” I was like, “What?”

Katrina Ubell:      For coming in a couple hours later?

Christiane Northrup:     Yeah, yeah. It was also one of those times. This is like the old days now where I went to our attorney and I said, “How can I get parity for all the fact that I’m bringing in more new patients than anyone else here?” Because at the time, there were no women OB-GYNs.

Katrina Ubell:      I was going to say it’s not like it is now.

Christiane Northrup:     This was in the ’80s.

And the attorney says to me, “You’re just going to have to do more surgeries.” My approach was always to keep people out of the operating room as much as possible. We had one guy who would stick a laparoscope in anybody. If you had a period cramp, you got a laparoscope and as you well know and if you have any OB-GYNs in your office, you know you can find a little speck of endometriosis in every person in the world, probably even men.

Anyway, I realized I had a vision that women needed a home like space to be seen and that their stories were really important. As you well know, a history tells you everything you need to know. At this point, by the way, just for everyone if they’re seeing older patients, Medicare now will pay for a history or a physical but not both. This is insane. Okay, but that’s an aside.

Anyway, so women would tell me their stories and they would sit down on the couch in my office and start to cry because I would help them put together how their history of sexual abuse, rape, whatever, was leading to and associated with their PMS, their chronic pelvic pain. In the ’80s, we were big into the dysfunctional family, learning about adult children of alcoholics, and I found that everyone with really severe PMS was either an adult child of an alcoholic or there was some addict in the family. Food addicts, some kind of abuse, whatever.

This was long before the ACE study, the adverse childhood experiences study, that came out of Kaiser Permanente in San Diego where in the weight loss clinic Vincent Felitti had heard this woman who’d gained 100 pounds, “Overweight is overlooked and that’s what I need to be.” She had been raped a year before. That one little statement of her history. What he found is the people who were successfully losing weight were the ones who stopped when they came to a certain point because the weight was a protection, unconscious.

Now, at the time in the ’80s, I was told I only see normal women. You see all the crazy women. Let me just tell you in 2017, October, when Harvey Weinstein, when that went down, I was turning back flips. It’s like, “Finally, finally.” Because I remember even the head of OB came up from Brigham and Women’s and gave a grand rounds on chronic pelvic pain and he gets to the end and he hints that these women actually maybe aren’t crazy. Maybe they had something in their past that leads to this so called psychosomatic.

Well, there’s no such thing as psychosomatic. I was friends with Candace Pert who discovered endorphins and enkephalins, in other words, the chemicals that the brain makes when it thinks. Now of course, we’re way beyond that. But at the time, we didn’t have the biochemistry of the mind-body connection. Now, we do. The neurotransmitters, the neuropeptides and all of that.

And then it even goes beyond that because if you follow traditional Chinese medicine, we know that the acupuncture meridians actually run in the fascia of the body which is a whole other organ that we never learned about in med school because we’re on cadavers and the fascia is all shriveled up and it’s not even there. That’s a secondary nervous system that instantaneously sends messages throughout the body in a crystalline matrix. Fascinating, the whole fascist system.

I have this practice that was the first women only practice in the country. There’s probably one in California at the time, and my male colleagues said things like, “Women seeing women? Don’t you think that’s a little unbalanced?” And it’s like, “What? Whoa. Whoa.” I’ve been a trailblazer-

Katrina Ubell:      You really have been a pioneer and—

Christiane Northrup:     Oh my God. Yeah. And I was all-

Katrina Ubell:      I really do want to talk about the courage that that required because I think it takes courage even right now with there being so many more women in medicine, but for you to even take the time to start putting the connections together, to start going, “I want to get curious about this patient and find out maybe there’s more behind this than she’s telling me.”

Christiane Northrup:     What I’ve had to do, actually, in retrospect… I was also on the board of the American Holistic Medical Association which was founded in 1979 by Norm Shealy, a neurosurgeon.

I had all of these colleagues. I was co-president with Bernie Siegel, the Yale physician who wrote Love, Medicine and Miracles. And even then, when I would talk about women’s experiences, even those guys looked at me like I was crazy. It must be all in a woman’s head. I would think, “Well, women didn’t even get the right to vote till 1920. Maybe we’re okay on this trajectory.”

Also, let me be perfectly honest, when I was in my teenage years, I read everything by Edgar Cayce who was the original medical intuitive. When I was in my practice in the ’80s, Norm’s partner was Caroline Myss, a world renowned medical intuitive and I had her on speed dial.

I would sometimes call her when I was stumped with what is going on with this person and she would tell me, but listen to this, it was more than 95% of people could handle because when you realize from a soul level, from the biggest possible perspective, that we have way more power than we think we do and that the healing capacity within us is enormous when we know that and when we know that our thoughts and beliefs, 98% of which are unconscious, are creating our reality. Once you know that and even if you don’t believe it, if you know it and you go, “I’m going to test this out for myself.”

In ’84, I did this thing called the Empowerment Workshop at Omega, the Omega Institute, and the Empowerment Workshop was taking the laws of the universe and putting them into practice. The number one law being the law of attraction, as we vibrate so we attract, and how do you change your point of attraction, you change your thoughts. That’s the whole basis by the way for Hay House.

Louise Hay wrote a little booklet called You Can Heal Your Life or I think the first one was The Mental Causes of Physical Illness, little blue book that Louise had. You have it?

Katrina Ubell:      I have it.

Christiane Northrup:     You have it up there?

Katrina Ubell:      The little blue book. I have the one that is Heal Your Body.

Christiane Northrup:     Yes. Heal Your Body by Louise. I used to keep it-

Katrina Ubell:      Love this book.

Christiane Northrup:     I used to keep it in the drawer and I’d look it up. If someone had seven bouts of vaginitis in a year, that was not a Monistat deficiency, folks. That was something else.

I bring out the book and we’d look at the… And over time, I put together all these stories, but then what I had to do, I had to invent a language of women’s health. We didn’t have a language of women’s health. All we had was a language of women’s pathology because what is women’s health? When we say women’s health, you go to a women’s health fair. Oh, good. It’s mammogram screening.

Katrina Ubell:      It’s a mammogram screening.

Christiane Northrup:     It’s adult vaccinations. It’s maybe Pap smears or something like that. Or it’s blood pressure. It’s a lipid profile. There’s no health there. There’s disease screening.

So here I am. And I remember well because I’m still in the same house and I have this little room and my kids would hang around me and say, “When is dinner?” And then I beat myself up for not teaching them how to boil water.

When it came to writing the acknowledgments, that big book that you just held up. This thing, it’s humongous. Look at that.

Katrina Ubell:      I said to you I was like, “So, did you write the Bible or what happened here?” This is massive.

Christiane Northrup:     I get to the acknowledgments and I stomped around the house for a while and I said, “The only person to thank for this entire book is me because I had nothing but logs thrown in my path by everybody.” But here’s the thing, let me be honest about my childhood.

My dad was a dentist. His brother and sister were medical doctors. We had two MDS and then my dad is a middle child. He was interested in organic food, yoga. My mother made yogurt, took it down the street to his patients on antibiotics. We were brought up on Adelle Davis, Let’s Eat Right to Be Fit or whatever it was called. We spiked the orange juice with vitamin C. We had a compost heap. I was brought up with that, whereas my aunt and uncle, where we had Thanksgiving and stuff, were straightforward down the line medical doctors. There’s a pill for every ill kind of thing.

Well, my mother, with her, I guess, fourth pregnancy was given streptomycin through the entire pregnancy for viral pneumonia, gave birth to a baby who wouldn’t eat and was in the hospital for a month or two, finally died in a pool of her own vomit. They never knew what was going on and it was a time when parents couldn’t hold the babies, you just look behind a little screen. Horrible.

I see that we’re back to that now with a stupid PCR test to determine if the mother is positive for COVID so she can’t hold her baby, but that’s another story.

She dies and my brother is born. He wouldn’t eat. He’s in the hospital, wasting away. The doctors are telling my mother he’s mentally defective. She said, “I knew he wasn’t.” And a nurse in the middle of the night which would never happen today told my parents, “I’ll take him out of here if I were you. The doctors don’t know what’s going on. They have no diagnosis. They don’t know.” My parents brought him home and fed him every hour on the hour with an NG tube with baby formula and I never saw him without adhesive tape on his face until he was a year old and he weighed 10 pounds.

Katrina Ubell:      Oh my God.

Christiane Northrup:     And they finally found a pioneer in pediatric endoscopy called Dr. Crump at Women’s Medical Center. She put down a light and looked and saw that the esophagus was eroded. She said, “You got to take that tube out or he is going to rupture at and let’s just see what happens.”

Two days later, he started to eat. My mother comes home on the plane with him. There’s no adhesive tape. He’s eating a roll. I remember it. We just burst into tears. Now, he’s in his 50s running an international HVAC company. No thanks to them.

So I go back to… I’m interviewing for med school. And of course, that guy, the attending physician is the guy who interviews me. You know how we remember those people, those patients we had.  He said, “You’re not from those delicate, little Northrups, are you?” I go, “Yeah, I am.” You could tell. He’s like, “Uhh, what happened to your brother?” “Well, he’s fine and I wanted to say, ‘No, thanks to you.”

And then my dad while I’m in the middle of interviewing for this same group of med school ends up with chest pain and they take him to the CCU at Buffalo General. Two days later, he calls my mother, “Edna, come and get me. They don’t know what’s going on.” His IV had infiltrated. He had a fever. She just signed him out. He walks out. The nurses are furious. He’s got the chest leads hanging off him. They won’t bring a wheelchair because you know how we are in medicine. You’ve got to follow our rules.

Katrina Ubell:      Fine. If you’re going AMA, then you’re going to walk yourself out of this joint.

Christiane Northrup:     Yeah, exactly. But I loved getting the calls. AMA. I love the calls. When I was an intern, “So and so is going to sign out AMA.” “Oh, God. Let me in, coach.” Because I would go and I would talk to him and I would find out why they felt that way? And I would, too.

You and I both know, there’s a lot of stuff that goes down where someone doesn’t quite get the message and they don’t know. And worse, we, doctors, are trained to never say, “I don’t know.”

Katrina Ubell:      I know. We’re like the president. Have you ever noticed the president never says I don’t know or never says like, “I’m sorry,” Or “I made a mistake.”

Christiane Northrup:     No one in power is allowed to do it. Doctors are no different except women are way better at it. Way better at it.

Anyhow, it was Yale med school that I was interviewing, I come home. He’s got fluid two thirds of the way up in both lung fields and he’s sitting there reading The Godfather and he got better. He got better. He had had, by the way, infectious pericarditis and not a heart attack.

Then, I’m at the end of my residency. I’m in Boston and my cousin calls me and she goes, “I’m curing my fibroid tumor with a macrobiotic diet.” I thought, “Wow. The only way I’ve learned how to do that is a hysterectomy or maybe a myomectomy.” I thought, “That’s interesting. I’ll go and meet Michio Kushi.”

I started to read all the books on macrobiotics and then I sat with him while he did his diagnosis. Oriental diagnosis, it was called. I watched patient after patient come in. They’d have chartomegaly. They’d have these giant chart. Many of them got better when they change their diet.

But then there was the hubris of the medical profession. You get better, there’s no more cancer, you go back to your oncologist, who says, “That’s quackery,” or my favorite, “You couldn’t have had that diagnosis because otherwise this could never have happened,” when they’ve told the person to go home and get their affairs in order because they’re going to die in six months. Again, that arrogance did not sit well with me.

On the other hand, I love my profession. I love most doctors. I know how we’re trained. My heart goes out to people who aren’t. What do we do?

I can remember weekends where I never saw the sun for 72 hours and you are trained to put your own needs. By the way until I got into nonviolent communication in my 50s, I didn’t know that needs were legitimate. I didn’t know that the need for rest or the need for touch or the need for a hug was a legitimate need. Nor did I know that all emotions exist to signify a need.

In the nonviolent communication website, they got a list of needs and they got a list of emotions and you put those together and you go, “Oh, my God. Oh, my God. I guess it’s okay to have a need.” But the kind of person who goes into medicine or nursing, for that matter, is somebody with an almost infinite capacity to give to others at the expense of themselves.

It was the training that I realized that made doctors the way they were and my training was just very different. I went in, I already saw how medicine failed, and then I began to realize there’s a missing piece and if we could just bring in that feminine intuitive missing piece with a spiritual piece as well, then we would really have whole medicine. I think that that’s happening more and more.

Certainly, the mind-body stuff, people who are now using coaches… People don’t need a psychiatrist. They need a coach. They need someone who just says, “Okay, I’m listening to you. And here’s what I’m hearing. What do you think?” It’s a very different world than when I was there. I’ll tell you it was very, very rough for me. But Andy Weil a while ago-

Katrina Ubell:      I’m sure you were treated terribly. I can only imagine what you were treated like.

Christiane Northrup:     Here’s what would happen. Every time I would go in to the doctors’ lounge, I was sure that my rejection notice would be in the mailbox because at the time, we didn’t have email, but you had those little cubbies and I would think, “I’m going to be losing my license next for things like recommending dietary change.”

Seriously, dietary change back then was considered quackery.

Katrina Ubell:      Wow.

Christiane Northrup:     Let alone we get into chakras or you recommend acupuncture or prayer.

I remember Larry Dossey. He’s an internist in Texas who wrote wonderful work on prayer, double blind studies on prayer.

I remember once I go into the doctors’ lounge and the study of the… I think it was CCU patients who were prayed for got out of the hospital much faster and it was a double blind study. I go in there to the doctors’ lounge. Someone has written in marker, “Bullshit,” across the study.

Katrina Ubell:      That is really what the culture was like and still is in a lot of areas. I think it’s always changing. It really is. You talk in the book about just the patriarchy in terms of how it just is damaging for women in general. But I think that there’s this extra element of damage for women physicians because we put ourselves into the patriarchy of the culture of medicine which can I just tell you, I have just realized this existed about three or four months ago. I’m not joking.

When I started… I know, at the practice that I joined out of residency, I was the first female doctor that they’d had in 40 years of the practice in existence.

Christiane Northrup:     Oh my God.

Katrina Ubell:      I literally didn’t even… I was like, “What could go wrong?” That was literally in my mind. I do a good job. I’m a smart person. I’ll get in there. I’ll totally contribute. It’ll be great. And then I totally wondered why I struggled. It literally didn’t even connect until a few months ago where I started finally starting to see, “Oh, wait, this wasn’t even about me.” Of course, this is what we do as women when we’re struggling, when it’s not going well, when we don’t feel like we’re an equal, we think that there’s something wrong with us and of course-

Christiane Northrup:     Always. Always.

Katrina Ubell:      I think that this is happening so much. It’s just like when people say, “Fish doesn’t know it’s in water.” It’s just in it.

I would just love to have you speak to that somewhat of just… Reading in your book about patriarchy, it was very eye opening for me actually to even understand all these different ways that we are really socialized to fight with one another, compete with one another, all of these things really as a way, as a construct to keep us essentially oppressed.

Christiane Northrup:     That’s right. That’s right. It’s all internalized. You’ve heard with men, they don’t get depressed, they get angry. They get it out with their fists. Women get depressed. It’s just a returned inward. But you don’t even know it.

Katrina Ubell:      I actually wrote down this quote you had in the book that we must recognize where we cooperate with our own oppression. That was a powerful… I was like, “Whoa. Oh, my gosh. What?”

Christiane Northrup:     Yeah, yeah. But how could it be otherwise? It’s all a hierarchical structure.

Katrina Ubell:      Yes.

Christiane Northrup:     God’s on top, then men, then women, then children, then animals, then nature. You’re supposed to trump on the thing underneath you. Why else would we have a culture in which one in three women will be raped over her lifetime?

I remember before I wrote Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, I wrote a little article for Women of Power magazine out of Cambridge, Massachusetts and it was called Honoring Our Bodies and I just went through, “In a culture where one in three women are raped and this and that and the other thing, these diseases of our bodies where 60% of women will have a hysterectomy. These many get breast cancer and da, da, da, da, da, da, da.” This is the language in which our bodies are telling us about the distress of growing up in patriarchy, the rule of the fathers.

Oh, by the way, it is just as deadly for men, but they just drop dead. Women, we keep living with chronic fatigue-

Katrina Ubell:      With pain.

Christiane Northrup:     Fibromyalgias, hypothyroidism, adrenals, fatigue, PMS, perimenopausal… Yeah.

Once you begin to understand your superpowers, like your lunar menstrual cycle and the bleeding time and your female erotic anatomy, which by the way, they still don’t teach in an OB-GYN residency. We put a man on the moon 25 years before anybody, any anatomist depicted the true extent of the female erotic anatomy with the clitoris and then the roots of the clitoris and the perineal sponge and urethral sponge and the G spot going up to the pineal gland. We have as much erectile erotic tissue as men. It’s just all inside.

I remember the second edition of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom I say to Scott Leighton, who’s the medical illustrator for the New England Journal of Medicine. “Now, Scott, go down to the Countway Medical Library at Harvard, please, and get the plates will you for the female erotic anatomy because I want to get it in there right.” He comes back, he goes, “There aren’t any. They aren’t there.”

There’s plate after plate of the penis, all of that coming out your eyes. There’s nothing, nothing about the extent of the clitoral anatomy. Hello? And then if you talk to young girls, they don’t even have a name for this that’s anatomically…

If you ask a little boy, you probably never did. The late George Carlin is a comedian who did a riff on all the names that men have for their penis. It is a big deal. It’s out there. It’s hanging out. You can imagine. Women? Not so much.

My granddaughters literally used correct anatomical names which makes everyone go, “Ahh.” They go, “Ahh.”

Katrina Ubell:      We, as women, are trained to be grossed out and to detest our bodies as well as evidenced by all the plastic surgery.

Christiane Northrup:     Oh my God. We didn’t have that when I was still in practice and I’ve been horrified. Like the bleaching of the anus. Like what? I’ve learned that this all comes from the porn industry.

Katrina Ubell:      Yeah.

Christiane Northrup:     It’s crazy. You need designer labia? What the… How could—

Katrina Ubell:      It’s just more of the men are like, “Listen, your body is gross and bad and disgusting and if I can get you to believe it, then you’ll just cower in shame around it.” That’s really-

Christiane Northrup:     In fact, when it’s the opposite.

I remember for about five years I taught at the Mama Gena School of Womanly Arts in New York City. I sent my daughters. I thought, “I think Regena is crazy, but I think you ought to go.” She’d have it in that thing called The Pussy Palace and you know us all like, “Ahh.” You’re horrified.

Katrina Ubell:      This is intense. Yup.

Christiane Northrup:     And then you watch women come out so empowered and then women loving each other and supporting each other. I learned so much. A lot of that works in the book Goddesses Never Age.

But when we own this and become the goddesses we are and stand up for ourselves, we elevate the men in our lives. They require us to take a stand for our beauty, our power, and when we do that, they respect us. How are men with their cars? With their boats? They’re out there polishing their cars and their boats and all that. We need to be that person in their life that they also cherish in that way. When you cherish yourself…

Pat Allen teaches sexuality out in Orange County and she’s 85 or so. Pat Allen, she’s phenomenal and she says to people. She’s got all these, or used to, all these Hollywood people who wanted to be in a relationship. She said, “There are more women with penises and more men with vaginas than we’ve ever seen on the planet. It doesn’t matter what your gender is. You’ve got to have the polarity. Someone needs to be respected, someone needs to be cherished. The feminine role is cherished, masculine role is respect. You can’t be both in a relationship. If you’re both, that’s narcissism.” Fascinating woman.

I’m not going to get into the transgendered stuff because… You know what I say to people, if someone’s doing that work, it’s not mine. Go there.

But the anatomy that we are born with is very much yin and yang, yin and yang. Breasts are yang. We love in a yang outward manner. The breasts stick out and women hug you. Men use sex but their heart is hidden in here. Our genital organs are hidden. To get to us sexually, you got to go through the heart. To get to men’s heart, you’ve got to understand that their heart is yin. Their sexuality is yang, but their heart is yin. With us, our hearts are yang, but our sexuality is yin. This is the fun stuff that gives you the language of women’s wisdom. That’s not the pathology.

I just had a woman on Facebook say the coolest thing. She said, “I’ve been feeling…” And by the way, I think we’re at a time on the planet. This has been foretold in the Mayan calendar and astrologically called the Great Awakening where the energy is shifting on the planet. All hell is breaking loose so that heaven can come in and we’re waking up.”

This one woman said, “I’m happier than ever and I’m well past menopause. But I feel turned on all the time. Is that normal?” I said, “Yeah, that’s the big secret. Sexuality and spirituality are the same thing. It’s just what you do with it. It’s what you do with it.”

Ever since getting out of practice, which I never intended to do, by the way, just one thing led to another and then the book came and then I had a newsletter and I realized, “Oh my god, I can see 20 people a day or I can reach thousands upon thousands.”

That’s been a real revelation really because what I realized is that if women understand this, if they can own and operate this body, they go into their doctor or nurse practitioner or PA and they’re much better informed because in patriarchy, what are we talked out of? We’re talked of our women’s intuition. We’re talked out of our mother bear maternal instinct that says, “Don’t you dare go near my baby with that.”

Andy Wakefield says, “Maternal instinct is the primary driving force on planet Earth. Without it, no life would exist.” But it’s very right hemisphere.

You know how in medicine, you go around on the ward and the good guys, the people who get the A pluses are always the ones spouting the New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA and all of that, da, da, da, da, da.

But I remember I would go in and talk to patients. I would know who was going to die that night on the cancer ward. I would just talk to them. They would tell you. There’s no place in my medical training for any of that information. That didn’t count. That’s all right hemisphere. That’s all intuition and without that, you got nothing.

Katrina Ubell:      I told you as we were just starting about how I’ve been learning to actually listen to my intuition.

I actually had the story for a long time that I couldn’t trust my intuition or my gut because I mentioned to you that I had a full term stillborn baby. I labored at home with her and it was the middle of the night and I knew my contractions. If I went to the hospital, they would just send me home and at one point, about 3:00 in the morning, I thought, “I don’t know that I felt her move in a little while. I wonder if I should just mash on my belly a little and see what happens.” And I didn’t feel anything. My gut was 100% like, “She’s totally fine. There’s not a problem here.” I was totally just like, I don’t know, when I had my first child, my son. I didn’t remember him moving when I was in labor. I just was legit not worried at all.

So then we go into the hospital a few hours later and find out she’s dead.

Christiane Northrup:     God.

Katrina Ubell:      In my mind, I… And based on what she looked like at delivery and everything, they’re like, “She’s been dead a couple hours.” This has been significantly beforehand.

I have the story for many years probably about seven or eight of I can’t trust my gut. Arguably, one of the most important things, I couldn’t trust my gut. So I had never seen a psychic ever a day in my life. But I was curious.

Christiane Northrup:     Oh, yeah.

Katrina Ubell:      I want to go to someone just off the road, wherever, some random person. I was like, “No, I want to see someone good.” I had to be speaking at a conference at Miraval in Arizona and I thought, “Oh, look, they have a psychic. You know what? I bet if they have a psychic this is going to be a good psychic. This isn’t going to be some rinky-dink person. This is going to be a good psychic.”

I kept thinking, “Should I? Shouldn’t I?” Finally, I was like, “I’m just going to see if I can go see her.” She hasn’t had an opening. I went and saw her and just to sum this up quickly, she connected to my daughter and she told me that my daughter was saying, “Thank you.” And I thought, “That’s really weird.” I was just not sure what to make of that. She was basically saying, “Thank you for not taking heroic measures.” Essentially saying, “My gut instinct was that she was okay because her life was meant to end when it did.” I can’t even tell you the amount of peace that has brought me since that time. But it really was such a shift for me of like, “Oh, my gosh, my intuition was right.”

Christiane Northrup:     Yes, it was.

Katrina Ubell:      I just had this belief that babies should live longer than just nine months in their mother’s belly. Of course, we all know that that’s not the case because they don’t always, but in my mind like, “No, if you make it this far, you should have a take home baby.”

Christiane Northrup:     Of course.

Katrina Ubell:      And I didn’t.

Anyway, that was a massive shift for me. I was not raised with any discussion around intuition or any of that. Learning this language, learning what that sounds like, feels like, for me, has been just a cool experience. But I think… You totally go into it in the book, which of course we can direct people to, but if you could speak to intuition in terms of… You know what? I have to say in pediatrics, the first rule of pediatrics is the mother is always right. The mother is telling you something, you need to listen. Do not blow off what she’s telling you. You need to listen.

I remember even seeing actually a dermatologist in high school and him saying like, “Oh, yeah, that mole looks okay. But you tell me. You got a bad feeling about it? You got a bad feeling, we’ll take it off.” It was basically saying, “What’s your intuition on this mole?” He was older so I’m sure he was like, “Listen, if you don’t like it, it’s coming off.” I’m sure he had talked people out of something that he shouldn’t have in the past maybe.

But, anyway, speaking to how you can even begin to start connecting to that inner knowing, that small voice.

Christiane Northrup:     One of the things that I have in Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom is an entire depiction of the energy centers in the body and each of these energy centers is actually associated with a group of endocrine organs and also ganglia from the nervous system and they’re also known as chakras.

The first chakra rules our immunity and our bones because our immune cells are made within the bone marrow. Immunity is wired in as it were by our sense of safety and security in the world. First chakra, your blood, your blood ties, your family, the buildings that you grew up in. First chakra is the grounding of your entire body and what you often find, and I’m sure you know this so well, is these little kids with leukemia. They’re like little Buddhists. They’re not even close to-

Katrina Ubell:      They are not childlike.

Christiane Northrup:     No. No. They come in as spiritual teachers.

I remember Caroline Myss Mae saying, “Blood is family always.” That’s the first chakra.

Second chakra is gynecology, money, sex and power. That’s all the pelvic organs, ovaries, female balls, going after what you want, and the creative space in your body, the womb, what you create, babies, gardens, books, anything like that.

Third chakra, the digestive organs. Third chakra is sense of self-esteem and personal power and your sense of responsibility. Think about all the alcoholics that you saw probably in your internship where they get this liver thing that goes on and esophageal varices. Their whole digestive system is off because they are not taking personal responsibility for their lives. They’re consumed by spirits then put this spirit in the wrong container. That’s third chakra. But it’s also solar plexus, the sun. The sun. That’s where people wear their shields.

Fourth chakra, breast, heart, lungs, shoulders, giving, receiving passion. Fifth chakra creativity and timing and speaking your truth. All these women with thyroid problems where you can’t say what you know to be true. And then also your teeth and your tongue and all of that. And then the sixth chakra perception, thought, and morality, eyes, ears. When you’re around people who can’t hear… I think it’s fascinating. Any audiologist will tell you that men lose their hearing in the decibel range of their wives’ voice. It’s a joke, but it’s true.

This guy that I was in relationship with is starting to get Meniere’s and he’d say, “I can’t hear this, I won’t hear this.” I’d look at him and say, “What?” I gave him 18 papers on type A personality and Meniere’s. One of my EMT friends said to me, “There’s a lot of doctors that get Meniere’s. They can’t hear it, they won’t hear it.” They need to expand their way of thinking. But medical thinking is very, very rigid.

And then there’s finally seventh chakra which is your spirit, top of your head coming down and that’s your higher self as it were or the spark of the divine that comes through you as you. I think those are the illnesses where it’s just out of the blue like a car accident.

I had a patient come in once and she said, “I’m driving up to your office and one of those God’s sky where a big ray of light comes down and I suddenly knew why I had cancer.” She said, “I grew up in a family of 10 children. The only way to get my mother’s attention ever was to be sick. I needed attention and so I had to get sick.” When you say this stuff to people, they go, “I didn’t cause my illness.” It’s like, “No, you didn’t.”

Katrina Ubell:      It’s like were you victim blaming?

Christiane Northrup:     Yeah, yeah. It’s like, “Ahh.”

Katrina Ubell:      People get really, really offended and—

Christiane Northrup:     Very offended. But here’s the thing. They get offended, but it’s the key to the whole thing. It’s where your power is.

I spent chapter five healing versus curing explaining that the part of you that is creating the illness is not the three dimensional part of you that is experiencing it. It’s your soul. It’s so much bigger and it has your best interests at heart. Here’s the thing, it’s very often just a little wounded child.

I spoke with a friend last night who is all upset because she’s eating three chocolate bars a day. The intuitive that she went to said, “Look, chocolate bars are Honey Mamas. That’s your favorite chocolate bar. By the way. Those are amazing Honey Mamas.”

Katrina Ubell:      I haven’t heard of them.

Christiane Northrup:     Yeah, well look them up.

You said, “What is the name?” “Honey Mamas. What you’re needing is you’re needing more and more sweetness. What you want to do is just ask the divine mother energy.” And many, many people really relate to Mother Mary, the Divine Mother.

There’s a book out that’s wonderful. It’s called The Way of the Rose. It’s about this guy who’s a Zen Buddhist East Coast guy and Mother Mary comes to him and he starts to do the Rosary. It’s a wonderful, wonderful book. I think there’s so many people who relate to Mother Mary.

You asked the Divine Mother to come in and even if you want to, her color is often ruby red, and you just imbibe from the Divine Mother until you’re full and then you won’t need the sweetness from outside. You have to get the sweetness into your life another way.

When you begin to see things symbolically because we are biosymbolic. Usually, it’s just a wounded little kid inside you that you now have to parent and you didn’t know how to do it when you were three and therefore, you literally…

In shamanic tradition, they say a part of you just gets frozen in time. It just leaves and that’s what creates the pain body what Eckhart Tolle calls the pain body where a little kid, and you’ve had kids, it just splits off because it’s so shocking to the nervous system of a little child to be yelled at by an adult or whatever it is and what heals all of us is for someone to just be absolutely present with our loss, with our pain, and that being present with it will melt it.

When you feel like someone’s blaming you, literally pick a number between one and 10, and that’ll be the age, every time that’s the age.

I just had that happen. I performed a marriage ceremony for a doctor friend of mine because we needed a place where she didn’t have to wear a mask during her wedding, God knows. Her son was having this big pain in his neck and his mother kept saying, “You need to let it go. You need to just let things go.” And he goes, “How do you do that?” Instinctively, I got down on my knees, I said, “Get down on your knees.” And then I just did a Divine Love thing about letting…

With my spirit and the help of the loving angels of the light, I focused Divine Love throughout my body. I acknowledge this pain in the neck and I ask that it now be released with divine love. According to the Creator’s will, this is the work of Bob Fritchie. And then you just take a breath in and then you puff it out like that.

And then I said to him, “Now pick a number.” He picked five and the next thing you knew, I had a little five-year-old boy weeping, weeping in my home because that’s really when he was abandoned by his father who’s still in his life but not present. And this little boy, who his mother said, “He wanted to learn Sanskrit when he was five. He’s a really advanced soul.” He needed to be the parent now for this little boy. Then he had the pathway in that nothing was wrong with him. He just needed-

Katrina Ubell:      It had nothing to do with the neck. He didn’t need muscle relaxants.

Christiane Northrup:     No.

Katrina Ubell:      Right. I just find so many people are… I want to believe that the people listening to this are at least open minded enough to just allow the idea to even just settle in. I usually just say just even when everything within you is just to say resist, resist, just let your brain marinate in these ideas.

Christiane Northrup:     Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Katrina Ubell:      Let it settle in, right? Because, of course, we’re not coming from a convincing energy or anything like that. We’re right and you’re wrong or any of that. But just there is another way and I think even the way we’re trained that what we know is right and all the other stuff is hogwash. That, in and of itself, is patriarchal. We have the answers. You don’t know anything. There can’t possibly be another way and just being open-

Christiane Northrup:     That’s right.

Katrina Ubell:      To other idea and some other idea rather than just blowing it off.

I remember with my first child going in and in these magazines for pregnant people, it says you should have a birth plan. Do I need that? What is that? Are you going to give me something to fill out? I honest to goodness didn’t know. You know what my doctor said? He said, “We find that people who have a birth plan have a three times higher risk of having a C-section.” That’s what he said to me and I was like, “Oh.” I think he was probably kidding. I guess I don’t totally know.

Christiane Northrup:     I’ll tell you what that’s about. I know exactly what he’s talking about. He’s talking about those people who are so afraid of what’s going to happen in labor and delivery because they’ve read, well, in my day, it was the Immaculate Deception by Suzanne Arms, and they have read all the stuff and they don’t want that stuff to happen. But when you are pushing up against something, you’re actually potentiating it.

The birth plan—and you’re making the doctors and the nurses adversaries. When you come in like that… I was so thrilled. My daughter was having a home birth and at the very end, they discovered that the baby was breech and not just frank breech, but a foot hanging down there. I was going to just hands off, man. Let her and her husband do this. The most beautiful thing in my life was going into the hospital and seeing many of the people who I trained with who I hadn’t seen for years and years welcome the midwives with open arms. Everyone was wonderful.

In my day, man, if you had a failed home birth, you were the enemy and they treated you terribly. No more.

Katrina Ubell:      It really was just like, “Oh, geez,” and rolling the eyes. So much judgment.

Christiane Northrup:     Horrible.

Katrina Ubell:      I think when we’re going through our training, we’re learning how to think. We’re learning what do we, a collective we, think about these things.

Christiane Northrup:     That’s right.

Katrina Ubell:      You know Ina May Gaskin? I watched her-

Christiane Northrup:     I love her.

Katrina Ubell:      Yeah. After I’d had all my kids, I was done. I watched a documentary about her and I was like, “That sounds amazing.” I don’t know that I would have the courage to do it having had the stillbirth that I’d had and all of that. I think I probably would still have had too much fear around it. But I love that there’s people out there who are least—

Christiane Northrup:     Ina May is the one who started the Safe Motherhood Quilt and she’s the one who documented the fact that the maternal mortality rate has doubled in the last 25 years because of all the interventions that are not necessary.

I happen to be an intern when fetal monitoring came in and no one knew how to read the monitor. To this day, just as a little factoid, we have never proven that fetal monitoring does anything to improve neonatal outcome. Not one thing. What it has done is increased the C section rate.

I watched the C section rate go from 10% to 25% in a month.

Katrina Ubell:      Wow.

Christiane Northrup:     At St. Margaret’s Hospital for Women and now, it’s also done an amazing job of creating a mind-body split.

You walk into the room of a laboring woman and you say, “How are you doing?” And everyone looks at the fricking monitor.

Katrina Ubell:      Everyone’s just looking at the monitor. No one looks at you.

Christiane Northrup:     No one looks at her and even she doesn’t look at her. She looks at the monitor.

Katrina Ubell:      You tell me how am I doing?

Christiane Northrup:     Listen, in my own labor with my firstborn, I was monitoring my own labor. It was insane. I had hypotonic uterine inertia. It hurts like hell but you’re not doing anything. I’d look at the beat to beat variability and I had a nice mind-body split going on like all women physicians, in my opinion. And then I said, “I guess you got to start the pit.” And then the next thing you know, my daughter just flew across the room. I remember when it was time to push. It was so overwhelming in that moment in my head I thought, “If I ever tell another woman not to push when she feels like this, may God strike me dead.” That’s what I felt.

Katrina Ubell:      Oh my gosh. It’s like I was saying, “We’re all experts at parenting until we have our own child.” Oh, I get it now. I get it now.

Christiane Northrup:     Oh my God.

Katrina Ubell:      Oh my gosh. As we are finishing up here and just coming to a close here, I would love it if you could just give everybody just a brief rundown of what’s in Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. This is not meant to be something that you start page one and necessarily read all the way through to the end-

Christiane Northrup:     Oh, God, no.

Katrina Ubell:      More as reference. Who should be reading this book?

Christiane Northrup:     You know what I love about this book is this book is often given to girls for, say, high school graduation so they just know what their bodies are doing. There’s a whole section on the energetic anatomy, what thoughts go where, or what issues are likely to land where because of the body is biosymbolic.

Then there’s a section on the uterus and one on the whole external genitalia, the cervix. There’s a big section on Gardasil, brand new information that everybody needs to read. There’s a whole section on fertility, a whole section on pregnancy, a whole section on birthing and labor, one on the postpartum period, one on menopause. There’s a whole section on breasts. It’s an encyclopedia of holistic women’s wisdom.

Frankly, the best compliment I’ve ever gotten in this book is so many women around the world have said, “What you say, I’ve always known. I never heard a doctor say it.” It builds a bridge between what you know but you’ve never articulated. We know in the brain going from Wernicke’s area to Broca’s area. You know you’ve written things. It’s very hard to put things into words. You know them, but you really know them once you’ve articulated. I think that’s the whole thing is it gives you a language of your own wisdom.

Katrina Ubell:      I’m just assuming that you would say, “For anybody, if you’re going to the doctor, whoever they are, for whatever reason, and that you don’t feel like you’re being heard or listened to or you have this inner knowing or intuition and you’re being told that that’s not right, then you need to find another opinion.”

Christiane Northrup:     Oh. Always, always, always, always.

I think that the book is for all women because even if you’re past menopause, you go back and you put things together because you’re in a new space. You’re in a new space and you look back and go, “Oh, that’s what that was.” Because then every time a woman heals, as you know, she’s healing seven generations before her in some way and seven generations in front because when we heal, our DNA, it affects everyone else with that DNA in the quantum field.

Katrina Ubell:      Yeah. It’s amazing. It’s so fun this book. I was like, “Oh, okay,” and like I said, I was like, “Oh, this is a book.” I told you, I can’t believe you wrote the words in here because this is so much writing. I can’t believe it. It’s amazing.

Christiane Northrup:     I can’t believe it either. But I’m down now. I call this the post MeToo movement version and we’re done.

Katrina Ubell:      That’s it. That’s it.

I just can’t thank you enough for coming on. It’s so special for me and I just love your message and it’s just such a broad reaching effect. So thank you so much.

Christiane Northrup:     Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.

Katrina Ubell:      Did you know that you can find a lot more help for me on my website? Go to katrinaubellmd.com and click on free resources.

 

 

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