Holistic physician Christiane Northrup, MD, a pioneer in the field of women’s health and wellness, spoke to a rapt crowd at Bodhi Tree Bookstore in June 1994 about her debut book, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. The visionary classic, which launched her to the forefront of women’s health for its empowering approach to women’s physical and emotional wellbeing, quickly became a New York Times best-seller, and has been “the veritable bible of women’s empowerment health” for nearly two decades. In this talk, Northrup, the author of seven books that have been translated into 24 languages, advocates a program that combines enlightened curing with caring.

Christiane Northrup on Women’s Wisdom and HealingChristiane Northrup’s Story

Northrup has been an advocate for women’s health and wellness for more than 25 years, first as a practicing OB/GYN after graduating from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and completing her residency at Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston, and now as an internationally respected writer and speaker. The host of eight public-television specials and a frequent guest on the talk show circuit, Northrup is a favorite of Oprah Winfrey, who in 2016, named her a member of SuperSoul 100, a group of leaders who are using their voices and talent to awaken humanity.

As a physician, former surgeon, mother, writer, speaker and business owner—she founded A-ma-ta, a company that makes a product line featuring the Pueraria mirifica plant, a traditional medicine used by Thai women that helps alleviate the symptoms of menopause—Northrup is an advocate of women’s collective and individual capacity to tap into their own wisdom for health and balance.

Through her Internet radio show Flourish!, Facebook, Twitter and her biweekly e-Newsletter, Northrup spreads her empowering message to women across the world.

“When we find the connection between our thoughts, beliefs, physical health and life circumstances, we find that we are in the driver’s seat of our lives and can make profound changes. Nothing is more exhilarating or empowering.” —Christiane Northrup, MD

A New Paradigm of Women’s Health

Christine Northrup: Let me say that my work is based on my experience. I learned in medical school that the scientific paradigm takes us out of ourselves so that we become an object to be observed. Now, I know that that’s a lie. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle of physics says that as soon as we observe a phenomenon, we change the phenomenon. We cannot objectify our health, because then we lose ourselves—and so the truth.

I also learned that the information in textbooks about women’s bodies has all been written by men and does not reflect women’s experiences. And when I studied psychoneuroimmunology and the mind-body connection, I learned that every thought is accompanied by neurotransmitter changes in the body and therefore every thought is physical. Now, Deepak Chopra says the heart makes the same chemicals as the brain makes when it thinks. So I figured the uterus makes the same chemicals as the brain makes when it thinks and the ovaries make the same chemicals as the brain makes when it thinks. But in the entire mind-body dialogue, there’s almost nothing on female organs.

I decided the first thing we must do is restore women’s stories to the healing equation. I hear so many stories about women’s chronic complaints and they say, “I went to doctor after doctor and not once did any doctor, male or female, ask me what was going on with my life.” That’s the most important question I ask a patient because when she sits with it for a moment, she can always tell me what’s wrong.

Trusting Instincts Instead of Doctors

I see so many women trusting their Catholic doctors in the way they trust their priests and husbands and so on, and they go to the operating room for a mastectomy or something and sometimes they don’t know whether they will lose a breast or not. I want to go into their rooms and say, “Run!” But the women believe so much in their doctor as God that nothing I would say would have any impact. They’ve lost their center to the technology of it.

If a woman’s in labor and someone says, “Are you having a contraction?” And she says, “Yes” and they look at the monitor and if it’s not showing up on the monitor then she’s not having a contraction. If we don’t have the means to measure it, it doesn’t exist. Yet the feelings women have are usually leading up to a physical crisis. But doctors only deal with the facts and not with emotion, because we’re not taught to do that.

I think our bodies have so many unfinished processes in them. So many tears left unshed. One thing about this culture is illness is the only acceptable Western form of meditation. And we have to look at that because it expresses so much.

What the Body is Telling Us

For example, blood is about family—always. When women get bleeding between their periods, I ask, “What’s going on with the family?” Breasts are about nurturing. One of my favorite breast stories is about a post-menopausal woman who came in with big breast cysts. There they were. So I asked, “What’s going on in your life?” She says, “Well, my last daughter is going off to college and my cat of 20 years just died. And the night before these cysts came up, I dreamed I was nursing my daughter when she was a baby.” So I took a needle and aspirated off the cysts and they were full of milk. That’s how powerful the mind-body connection is. It isn’t even a mind-body connection; it’s a mind-body hologram. It’s a mind-body continuum.

It’s true that genetics contain the medical intuitive, or tribal history, or everybody’s family story. But how that gets manifested in your life has to do with your lifestyle and choices and thought patterns. Right now, most of the things that people die from are related to addictions. And the biggest addiction for most women is self-abuse. We have been socialized to be nice for so long that our niceness is one of the biggest risks to our heath.

Pulling Back the Lost Energetics

Dale Spender, a feminist writer in England, said that when there’s a mixed-gender conversation, the most assertive woman will take up only 30% of the airtime, but she will be perceived by both men and women alike as taking up all of it. That’s how we get silenced. We’re so trained to take of care men’s feelings, and this does not help them. The most compassionate thing we can do for men is to stop doing their feeling for them.

We have to understand that little energetic pieces of ourselves get lost in our lives and we have to pull them back to us. And then we can be powerful. Otherwise, the lessons keep showing up and we keep recycling our shit until we finally get it right. I think it’s more powerful to live your life according to the metaphysical law of attraction than to wait for conditions outside of yourself to change. When we believe it inside, we begin to see it outside.

We all have so much lack that we need to heal. As I said, so many tears unshed. Abortions that haven’t been grieved. We’ve internalized the mind-body split so much we think it’s possible for something to be caused by hormones only. But hormones are neurotransmitters. They’re changed by thought and they also change your thoughts. We’ve been taught that if you do affirmations 100 times a day, your thighs will get thin. They won’t. Because your inner-self will know that you’re lying. A better way to do it is to say, “I respect my thighs and they’re free to become as thin as they would like to.” One is kind of a lie and it comes from a lackful position, because the subconscious is saying, “I hate that cellulite.”

The Changing Wisdom Brain

Menopause is a time of moving into your wisdom years, but when their brains become fuzzy for a while, what do most American women think? “Oh, Alzheimer’s.” Actually, your serum SSHLH to neurotransmitters that are highest at ovulation are now high all the time. That’s how we move from cyclic wisdom, AC (alternating) current to direct current. The brain changes after menopause, and if we’re willing, we can become more creative, more energetic, more honest.…

So if you have a bunch of symptoms, you should take into account what’s going on in your life because that gives you the keys for how it all fits together. Yet in my training as a gynecologist, I wasn’t taught any of this stuff. When so many women came to me with PMS and I discovered that most of the time they were also adult children of alcoholics, or women with chronic pelvic pain were incest survivors and so on, I began to think, “How could I have done an entire residency in OB/GYN and become board-certified and not have anyone mention to me the experience of women in our culture?”

The body does not make a distinction between physical abuse and emotional abuse. You need to know this. When your ego is strong enough, it’ll start to let the truth bubble up. I really believe we know how to heal, but we’re taught by the medical profession that we cannot do that; that we have deficiencies. We must look at the big picture, with the understanding that when a panic attack comes, it means something.

I’ve come to believe that everyone of us is co-dependent and could use a couple of 12-step meetings. There’s no way you could get out of this culture and be completely functional. If you had functional parents, you would get dysfunctional in school or in church. You go to doctors for care by people who have been socialized out of caring for their own bodies in their 20s already.

Stopping the Chain of Pain

Bernie Siegel used to say, “If you can get the word ‘uncooperative’ on your medical chart, your prognosis is really good.” Anger is important. Have you ever touched a core of rage in yourself in which you thought the windows would blow out of your car? You know then that all the stuff that’s really sitting there is coming out. So many women with breast problems have just hung on to huge amounts of resentment that they’re not even aware of because they’ve deep-sixed the emotion.

Anything from the past that’s not finished can always be completed in the present. Even if your organs have been removed, the magnetic points for them—the sort of holographic parts of our bodies—are always there. Women have phantom uterus syndrome; they feel interesting things. After talking with women in her family about periods, a post-menopausal patient of mine had a full period. I’m trained that that’s cancer, but when I asked her what was going on, I stopped worrying so much. Because I know that what she had was a huge bath of neurotransmitters around her family. Remember: blood is family—always. Women often get periods past menopause when they fall in love. Real interesting.

There’s no doctor on earth who can put this stuff together for you in the way that you can. And as each of us heals her body and heals the pain that she’s inherited from her mother and her mother before that, we stop the chain of pain and we don’t pass it on to the next generation.

The Pattern of Thought Addiction

When I explain the 12-step program to someone as a practical daily way to live their lives, I point out:

One: We admitted we were powerless over … whatever. For example, we are powerless over our little patterns of workaholism or wanting to control another person’s behavior. These are ways of getting into thought addiction, where we always bring our set of prescribed rules to something. You can recognize it and say, “Oh, my thought addiction again!”

You’ve got to notice these patterns. Like the old pattern of going to the refrigerator. What you probably need is sleep. Or a bath. But, somehow, that’s not on the worthy list. Worthy is: paying bills, making money. Unworthy is: shopping, going out for cappuccino, movies, naps, massages—basically anything that feels good—no.

Caring for yourself is not self-indulgence; it is self-preservation. And that’s an act of political warfare. We cannot go out there and nourish others or slake their thirst from an empty cup. Women have been trying to do that for 2,000 years and it’s now time to stop. Ask the angels or your higher power for help.

Two: “We admitted we were powerless over these patterns.” We inherited them three and four and five generations deep. Blaming will not get us anywhere. “We came to see that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity or peace.” I call that higher power my inner wisdom or the part of God that is me.

Three: “We turned it over…” Sometimes I find myself turning it over six, seven, eight times an hour. Like flipping pancakes, but it works.

Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing

A groundbreaking book on women’s physical and emotional wellbeing, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom has become a classic since its initial publication. Now it has been completely revised, offering the most up-to-date information available on women’s health issues.

Christiane Northrup’s vision of mind-body wellness has received an extraordinary response from women all over the world. Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom powerfully demonstrates that when women change the basic conditions of their lives that lead to health problems, they heal faster, more completely, and with far fewer medical interventions. Northrup brings us vital information about the best techniques of Western medicine and the best alternative therapies, showing how to incorporate both into a complementary whole. She guides readers through the entire range of women’s health problems, and offers positive perspectives on normal processes, such as menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.

This edition includes: An all-new nutrition chapter emphasizing individual dietary needs and body chemistry; new information on improving fertility after age 35 and how to cut the risk of C-section by 50%; a completely updated program for menopause, including how to decide whether natural hormone replacement is right for you; holistic ways to prepare and heal faster if surgery is necessary. Plus, dozens of natural treatments and a wealth of hard-to-find health-care resources

Filled with dramatic case histories from the famed Women to Women health care center, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom is contemporary medicine at its best, combining new technologies with natural remedies and the miraculous healing powers within the body itself.

Other Books by Christiane Northrup

The Wisdom of Menopause (Bantam, 2001, 2010) has been embraced by women everywhere, including Oprah Winfrey, who sought Northrup’s wisdom when she turned 50 and faced “The Big M.” In this New York Times best-seller, Northrup once again challenges convention with inspiring insights: “The change” is not a collection of symptoms to be fixed, but a mind-body revolution that brings tremendous opportunity for happiness.

Mother-Daughter Wisdom (Bantam, 2005), was voted Amazon’s No. 1 book of the year in both parenting and mind-body health, and was also nominated for a Quill Award.

In The Secret Pleasures of Menopause (Hay House, 2008) and The Secret Pleasures of Menopause Playbook (Hay House, 2009), Northrup outlines the crucial link between health and pleasure.

Beautiful Girl (Hay House, 2013), Northrup’s children’s book, brings her positive message to the youngest of girls.

In Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality and Wellbeing (Hay House, February 2015), which quickly became a New York Times best-seller, Northrup inspires women (and men) with an entirely different mindset about what it means to grow older.

Making Life Easy: A Simple Guide to A Divinely Inspired Life (Hay House, 2016) was an immediate success. In this joyful and encouraging book, Northrup shares the essential truth that has guided her since medical school, and advises her readers how to make their lives truly easy.

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