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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Medicine that Empowers You

Jan 31, 2011 11:32AM ● By Christiane Northrup, M.D.

As a physician, I’ve seen time and time again how our inner guidance also comes in the form of bodily symptoms and illnesses—especially when we are living lives devoid of pleasure, joy and hope. Our illnesses are designed to stop us in our tracks, make us rest, and bring our attention back to the things that are really important and that give our lives meaning and joy—aspects of life that we often put on the back burner until “someday.” The insights catalyzed by decades of medical practice, as well as my own health problems, challenged everything I learned in medical school and residency training about women’s health.

Over the years, it became abundantly clear to me that premenstrual syndrome (PMS), pelvic pain, fibroid tumors, chronic vaginitis, breast problems and menstrual cramps were related to the contexts of an individual woman’s life and her beliefs about herself and what she thought was possible in her life. All of these factors are associated with very real biochemical changes in our cells. Learning about their diets, work situations and relationships often provided me with clues to the source of women’s distress—and, more important, what steps needed to be taken to relieve that distress. I have learned to appreciate the thoughts, beliefs and behavioral patterns behind medical conditions in ways that simply aren’t addressed in medical training. These insights are the missing link to optimal health on all levels.

As I have developed more sensitivity to these patterns of health and illness, I have come to the conclusion that without a commitment to looking at all aspects of our lives and accessing our power to change them, improving habits and diet alone is not enough to effect a permanent cure for conditions that have been present for a long time. I’ve worked with many women whose illnesses could not be ascribed simply to what they eat and could not be cured solely through medication or surgery. Following a special diet or running three miles a day won’t make a woman feel well if her health is being adversely influenced by a subconscious belief that she isn’t good enough, or that she is the wrong gender, or that it’s a woman’s lot in life to suffer. If she has experienced incest and hasn’t allowed herself to feel the emotions that are often associated with that history, or if she was unwanted or abused as a child, then no prescription drugs exist that will heal that wound and the physical aftereffects that often result.

The reason I became an author was so that I could reach more women with this important message: Your body is designed not only to stay healthy, but also to thrive physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I want you to know that it is pleasure, not pain, that is your birthright. When we finally make the connection between our thoughts, our beliefs and our 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.

Adapted with permission from Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, © Christiane Northrup, Inc.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., a board-certified ob/gyn, is a pioneer and authority on women’s health and wellness. The author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and most recently, The Secret Pleasures of Menopause, will speak from 7 to 9 p.m., March 1, at Unity of Naples. General Admission, $50; VIP, $125 and includes preferred seating and reception with Dr. Northrup. Location: 2000 Unity Way, Naples 34112. Call 239-775-2082. For more information about Dr. Northrup, visit

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