Let’s start today out with a little honesty.
When I was in my thirties, I was a mess. I was a new mother, a busy doctor, and a frazzled spouse. I was overweight, overstressed, and PMS had an iron grip on my mood for three weeks out of the month. I was too young to feel so old.
I know something was wrong but when I visited my doctor, something disconcerting happened: He patted me on the hand and wrote me a prescription for an antidepressant and birth control.
I knew antidepressants weren’t the answer because I wasn’t depressed. I didn’t want to dampen my dynamic range or mute the texture of my life. I just wanted to feel more alive and charged.
When most women walk into a doctor’s office with a list of symptoms they usually walk out clutching a prescription. This is fine when it comes to serious health issues like infections and broken bones, but western medicine prefers to slap a BandAid on most problems rather than spend a little time finding the root cause.
And this is a serious flaw.
I like to think of symptoms as text messages from your body. You reply to most text messages, right? It’s easy. But sadly, most doctors are trained to treat symptoms like car alarms instead – to silence that bleeping noise as quickly as possible. Not only are they ignoring the root cause of the issue, but a dependence on foreign substances can lead to serious ramifications down the road.
Symptoms contain important data about your health – belly fat that means high cortisol, hair loss that is a sign of thyroid issues, non-existent sex drive that could be linked to an estrogen imbalance – and ignoring them can lead to far more serious consequences down the road. Here are my favorite ways to avoid the BandAid and tackle the problem at its source:
Own it. Take your health into your own hands. Don’t let your doctor get away with a cursory seven-minute appointment; ask questions, ask for alternatives to prescriptions, and do your own research on what’s available.
Self-assess. You know yourself better than anyone else in the world. The first thing all of my patients (and readers, I hope!) do when they visit me is take a self-assessment. Which symptoms started first? What kind of treatment are you looking for?
Choose your prescription last. I call my approach to balanced health The Gottfried Protocol. This system, based on years of research, experimentation and subtle tweaks, starts with lifestyle adjustments then moves to proven botanicals, and lastly bioidentical hormones. The best part about starting with the simple, natural options first is that hormonal balance often comes before the need for a prescription. I find that when they follow these steps, my patients that do still require a prescription require a smaller dose and for a shorter duration.