Integrative Approach in Dealing with Women’s Health Issues [Interview][Transcript]

Dr_Felice_Gersh_integrative_gynecologyGuest: Dr. Felice Gersh
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Dr. Gersh is one of small handful of Board Certified OB/GYNs who have graduated from the prestigious Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona School of Medicine.
Her undergraduate degree was obtained at Princeton University, where she majored in History. Her medical degree came from the University of Southern California. Dr. Gersh did her residency at Kaiser Hospital in Los Angeles.
PureWoman™ products were developed in collaboration with Dr. Gersh.

Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, Dr. Felice Gersh, MD, board certified OB/GYN and medical director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, CA discusses the field of integrative gynecology.

Transcription
Health Professional Radio – Women’s Health Issues

Neal Howard: Thank you for joining us here on the program today. I’m your host Neal Howard with Dr. Felice Gersh here on Health Professional Radio on this Health Supplier Segment. Dr. Gersh is a board-certified ob-gyn and Medical Director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, California. Here to talk with us about a new type of gynecology. Welcome to Health Professional Radio Dr. Gersh.

Dr. Felice Gersh: Thank you so much. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to educate all of your listeners about what I do and the new opportunities that are out there to help them to get really optimize in their health.

N: Now, exactly what type of medicine do you practice?

G: Well, I labeled it ‘Integrative Gynecology’. And basically, it’s quite different from the conventional approach to women’s healthcare. I look at the total women and all of the reproductive organs within the context of the whole woman. In addition, I have a great ray of what I call, ‘My Toolbox’. I can access different, other things besides just surgery and pharmaceuticals to help my patient to really be their healthiest and be their happiest.

N: You’re talking about focusing on the whole woman in a holistic approach. How much does that differ from traditional gynecology, where you talk with your patients, you consult them and you advise them?

G: It’s actually like night and day, the difference in the approach to the patient. In a conventional gynecology practice, the woman is really looked at as really just a bunch of reproductive organs suit in isolation from the rest of her body and all of the different functions of the body. Reproduction is not really looked at as in the context of the entire health of the woman, but really as an isolated piece. In the world of the integrative gynecology, we look at the woman and the reproductive functions, really as a whole. In fact, the whole body is designed as we know, the imperative of life is really reproduction. And so for reproduction to function properly, you need to have a healthy woman. Everything is integrated in the woman to optimize health and reproduction. We have to look at all the different functions, her metabolism, her cognition, her immune function, all of those things are contributors to helping her be healthy and then having reproductive health. We really look at the woman from a very different perspective. As well, we look at hormones quite differently. In the conventional gynecologist’s world, they look at estrogen, progesterone as really hormones of reproduction only, looking at how they really impact on the menstrual cycle. Whereas in reality, for example estrogen, is really the master hormone of all metabolic functions of the female body. They were receptors for estrogen in virtually, every organ of the body and it actually regulates appetite and energy production and usage. It’s involved with cognition, and mood and the entire immune system. We see really the integrated approach to the woman and health. When you put all of these factors together, you end up with reproductive health. But without this entire woman’s body functioning well in being healthy, you do not have optimum reproduction, you don’t have optimum anything.
N: What was it if there was a specific incident or revelation that got you interested in this new form of gynecology?

G: It really was a revelation for me. I stopped doing obstetrics about 10 years ago. Probably, because I had more rest and more sleep. I really started thinking more deeply about what I was actually doing and how I could be really helpful to my women patients. When I look at the toolbox that I had, it seems really limited. Basically, I had a few pharmaceuticals and then I had surgery and I was really with that surgery. I could do every technical approach to kicking out organs and dealing with laparoscopic procedures and hysteroscopic. But I said, “Is this really the best we can do for women? We wait for them to get to in stage disease and then we start cutting them up?”. I start looking at the pharmaceuticals and I said, “They don’t really work as well as I wish.”. So I had this go on as a surgeon. I started taking courses with naturopathic doctors, and chiropractors and functional medicine doctors. And I ended up at the University Of Arizona School Of Medicine and I did their 2 year fellowship in integrative medicine. It really opened my eyes to really expanding how I could approach women’s health and extending my toolbox so that I could incorporate such things as nutraceuticals, and herbals, and acupuncture and all kinds of ways to reduce stress and enhance sleeping. Basically, I just have a much greater toolbox now to access to help my patients. And once again, I look at women from a totally different holistic point of view.

N: When you’re treating one of your patients, how much does age play a factor when dealing with the whole patient? You’ve got younger patients in their teens who were just starting out and then you have as you say, women that are in the older stages of life with certain hormonal conditions that younger women don’t have. How night and day is the approach? Or is it basically the same just for the little bit of differing nuances?

G: Actually, it sort of the latter that you mentioned. There are definitely differences in the nuances. I definitely use hormonal therapy of course, in my older patients whereas that’s not typical of my younger patients. But the underlying theme of what really impacts on health is really the same no matter what the age. In fact, there’s an underlying theme of inflammation and hormonal imbalances that really drive the problems that women face. These are the things that women face across their entire lifespan. The reasons for the inflammation and hormonal imbalances vary depending on the age. But there are actually or some great similarities. In every age group, there are problems with nutritional imbalances and toxin exposures both from within and without. We now have this amazing new world that we’re learning about called the, ‘Gut Microbiome’ which when not properly developed, which is now unfortunately, really an epidemic, you end up creating toxins within decon endotoxins and these can spread to the body at any age and create inflammation everywhere. As well, we have so much rest and sleep problems and we have exposures to electromagnetic radiation and very few women are living according to our circadian clock rule. We have 6 times for meals and sometimes, we actually have fasting. At every age, whether a teen or someone in their 70s, 80s, or even 90s, we really state this problem of hormonal imbalances and chronic, really almost unrelenting inflammation. The approach is very similar with of course, like I mentioned, then you mentioned, differences in nuances of how we really do with some of the very specifics. But, they really is this overwriting theme of inflammation that is driving the problems of females.

N: What is it that women can do to have a better experience moving through different phases of menopause and whatnot? The second part of that question is, how often do you help us men understand what you’re going through as a woman who’s seeing a gynecologist? How you can you help us to look at things a bit differently when it comes to your treatment strategies?

G: Those are great questions. In terms of helping women as they transition through the menopause, they need a tremendous amount of emotional support. The perimenopausal years are really challenging and really not well acknowledged by both women and men as well because of what is really happening, because of the fluctuations in estrogen. Once it’s really recognized, which is not really the case right now, that estrogen really maintains metabolic stability in a woman and metabolism involves everything. Once that’s recognized, then it will be really acknowledged that this is a huge like really momentous event in a woman’s life and these fluctuations affect her sleep and her mood, she often will develop pain like in her joints and pelvic pain, and her energy level goes down. Almost every single woman going through the perimenopause has problems with memory. It’s in study and it’s really universal that women can’t remember their nouns. They couldn’t remember their verbs. They can’t remember names and they deal it. They’re really going into some through the state of dementia. If their husbands or even your fellow co-workers who are men, don’t understand this, and that can be very sympathetic and they may actually ridicule the woman. One of the things that happens and this really pains me greatly, is that something like 25% of women are now on anti-depressants. And much of this is because of the lack of understanding of anxiety of what women are going through in the world of hormones and how they can be really help in so many other ways through proper sleep, and nutrition, and exercise, not just with hormones as a replacement, but really it’s a total package and the solution is not an antidepressant but that’s often what these women get. Male doctors and male partners really need to wise up and understand that this is really a momentous event in a woman’s life. It’s universal no matter how wonderfully a woman, exercises or eat, she’s going to face the loss of her production of estrogen from her ovaries and it’s going to deal with this. It really needs to be acknowledged that this needs to be a time when women need lots of nurturing, lots of support and encouragement, and certainly not just a pill.

N: Now, you’ve consulted on the development of some very unique products for women. Could you talk about these products briefly?

G: Absolutely. I have been so blessed to be involved with a wonderful company called, ‘Pure Encapsulations’. I’ve developed what’s called the ‘Pure Women Protocol Line.’ I have done, as I’ve taken some of the key issues that women face, things like metabolic dysfunction, and cognitive issues, and breast health and reproductive health. We’re actually developing more for cardiovascular health right now. What I put together is an entire lifestyle plan. So I incorporate exercise, and nutrition, and stress reduction, and an array of really amazing nutraceuticals, herbals and supplements involving vitamins and amino acids and such, to really help women with specific problems as they go through life and deal with all these issues. This is what I’ve put together and it can be accessed if people go to the ‘Pure Encapsulations’ website. They can actually see all of my protocols and I have many webinars that I’ve done for them and if people are interested, they can actually access me by going to the website and listening to my webinars.

N: And that website again is?

G: Well, it’s the website for Pure Encapsulations.

N: pureencapsulations.com.

G: Yes.

N: Alright, great. I’m glad that you came in and talk with is today Dr. Gersh. Thank you for joining us.

G: It’s been my pleasure. Thank you so much and have a wonderful day.

N: You do the same. You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard here on this Health Supplier Segment of the show. In studio with Dr. Felice Gersh. She’s a board-certified ob-gyn and Medical Director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, California and Developer of the Pure Woman Line of Products. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm. You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes. Listen in and download at SoundCloud.