In this interview with Dick Benson, editor of Integrative Medicine, a Clinician’s Journal, he speaks with Sara Gottfried, best selling author and board-certified gynecologist who specializes in helping women with natural hormone balance. The following is an excerpt of the interview, followed by the full–text interview.
“Our current healthcare system is broken. As chronic disease reaches epidemic proportions, the standard model does not meet the needs of the average patient. Certainly you can witness this model in our rising epidemic of obesity, breast cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease, among others.” ~ Dr. Gottfreid
Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal (IMCJ): You graduated from Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and completed a residency at the University of California at San Francisco. All very traditional. How did your education impact the development of how you practiced medicine?
Dr Gottfried: At Harvard, the highest priority was placed on the most rapidly advancing fields, like genomics, molecular biology, and immunology. Specialties – including cardiology, oncology, and hepatology – were more valued than pediatrics or psychiatry. Nutrition and lifestyle medicine were relegated to a 30-minute mention after the “hard science” was fully covered. This was 30 years ago, but little has changed. Yet the logic never made sense to me. Why were drugs, which are forms of molecular therapy, considered more valuable and worthy of study than food, another form of molecular therapy? After hitting a wall in my thirties and experiencing burnout, I changed my mindset. I now believe lifestyle factors to be essential and non-negotiable aspects of health: regular sleep; access to organic, whole, nutrient-dense, and colorful foods, mindfully eaten; contemplative practice; social connection, enriched by purpose and meaning; and regular movement. After my residency, I began my career within the traditional healthcare setting, seeing up to 30 patients a day. A patient visit was limited to seven minutes, which did not allow for getting a holistic view of the patient; hence, the visit boiled down to a brief overview of test results and the writing of prescriptions.
It was an environment of high stress and burnout. I tried to change this broken system from within but ultimately chose to leave and found my own integrative and Functional Medicine clinic, both for my patients’ wellbeing and my own.
IMCJ: You have taught healthcare professionals–including medical, naturopathic, osteopathic and chiropractic physicians, as well as acupuncturists, nutritionists and health coaches–methods focused on rebalancing hormones and advancing healthspan of their patients. How does a Harvard-educated MD interact with this wide variety of practitioners?
Dr Gottfried: I’ve always been committed to a collaborative and inclusive model. Transformation of healthcare won’t occur if I only teach physicians. Presently, only about 2 percent of medical doctors are pursuing an integrative and functional approach. We need at least 13 to 15 percent to begin market transformation. What unites us is our common goal of putting the patient at the center and our desire to provide the best possible outcomes for our patients. … continued
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Sara Gottfried, MD, is the three-time New York Times bestselling author of The Hormone Cure, The Hormone Reset Diet, Younger and her latest book, Brain Body Diet. After graduating from Harvard Medical School and MIT, Dr. Gottfried completed her residency at the University of California at San Francisco. She is a board-certified gynecologist who teaches natural hormone balancing in her novel online programs so that women can lose weight, detoxify, and slow down aging. Dr. Gottfried lives in Berkeley, CA with her husband and two daughters.