Dr. Veronica Anderson, Host, Functional Medicine Specialist and Medical Intuitive interviews Romila “Dr. Romie” Mushtaq, M.D., ABIHM, is a traditionally trained neurologist with additional board certification in integrative medicine. Dr. Romie brings together Western medicine and Eastern wisdom to help individuals and audiences learn to heal from stress-based illnesses such as insomnia, anxiety, and career burnout. Her program, Mindset Matters, is based in neuroscience, positive psychology, and mindfulness.
Dr. Veronica Anderson's Links
04:00 - Transitioning from Neurology to Integrative Medicine
05:00 - Weight gain, stress and working 100 hour work weeks
06:00 - Being diagnosed with Achalasia
06:30 - Healing through meditation
07:40 - #Chocolateismedicine
10:00 - Dr. Romies sentinel event, finding her life's purpose
14:00 - How stress is the number one concern to your health
16:30 - Aligning your mind, body and spirit
19:15 - Meditation vs. religious prayer
24:50 - The science behind meditation
29:00 - On the road to calvary: A past life
Dr. Veronica Anderson is an MD, Functional Medicine practitioner, Homeopath. and Medical Intuitive. As a national speaker and designer of the Functional Fix and Rejuvenation Journey programs, she helps people who feel like their doctors have failed them. She advocates science-based natural, holistic, and complementary treatments to address the root cause of disease. Dr. Veronica is a highly-sought guest on national television and syndicated radio and hosts her own radio show, Wellness for the REAL World, on FOX Sports 920 AM “the Jersey” on Mondays at 7:00 pm ET.
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Female VO: Welcome to the Wellness Revolution Podcast, the radio show all about wellness in your mind, body, spirit, personal growth, sex, and relationships. Stay tuned for weekly interviews featuring guests that have achieved physical, mental, and spiritual health in their lives.
If you'd like to have access to our entire back catalog visit drveronica.com for instant access. Here's your host, Dr. Veronica.
Dr. Veronica: Dr. Veronica here. This is the Dr. Veronica's Wellness Revolution. And I have here with me the beautiful Dr. Romie. She's with her nice beautiful smile. You see that? I always strive to bring you wonderful people who can tell you something about your health. You may have a serious illness and you've been to everybody. And we all got wonderful decrees on our walls. But guess what, we are all not the same.
And one of the concerns in life today is that those of us who have education and training and higher levels of knowledge are getting usurped by people who are out there being personable. And so Dr. Romie and I have talked about this. We're going to show you about what us highly-educated doctors can do on air and what we do behind the scenes to get wonderful results in our clients.
And so you can go on the Biggest Loser and follow people like Jillian. And Jillian is wonderful at what she does but she cannot tell you about the hormones in the neurotransmitters and what to do about the Barrett's esophagus and the ulcerative colitis, and why you're still fat. Maybe you didn't balance all those pieces that you need to balance. It's not about just diet and exercise, it's a little bit more.
And so let me tell you about Dr. Romie. I want you to be able to find her, on Twitter too. Dr. Romie is a neurologist that blends both Western and Eastern philosophies. And she's been through a serious medical illness. We're going to talk about that. You think us doctors don't know what you've gone through and yes we do. Because we've been shipped all around to the best people too and then we try to manager our care and mess it up even more a little bit. But let's talk about, what else?
Neurologist with additional board certification in integrative medicine. So she has all the key points here. And we've seen her in places like giving TED Talks, on the Huffington Post, on Fox Business, all over the place. You know us media types we are all over the place. But we are all over the place is to give you goo d information. And good information sells, but when it comes time to select your practitioner, that you select somebody who really knows what they're doing. If you want to stay part of that sick care system under your insurance, it's a sick care system only, you know nothing that is not medically necessary will be covered under your secure system.
And did you know that prevention of disease and lifestyle factors that keep you alive are considered medically necessary? You need to invest in your health. And so I'm here to give you information with doctors like Dr. Romie so that you can make more informed decisions so that you can live a better, stronger, life. And this is what we're doing. Dr. Romie, welcome to the Wellness Revolution.
Dr. Romie: Veronica, thank you. It is so wonderful to connect with you virtually. I have been following your work on Twitter. I'm always elated when I find another sister doctor that speaks my language. Thank you for having me on and it's an honor to meet all of your viewers.
Dr. Veronica: Thank you so much. I want to get a little bit of background of your story. You are a neurologist but you've gone into integrative medicine. I'm an ophthalmologist and I've gone into the functional wellness area also which includes all the integrative type approach.
Dr. Romie: They're one and the same, yeah.
Dr. Veronica: How did you get from neurology to integrative medicine?
Dr. Romie: Veronica, I'll tell you my background. My dad's originally from India, my mother originally from Pakistan. So I can say the concepts of Eastern medicine and spirituality were always passed on especially by elders in the family. But what unfortunately happens when you start training in the Western medical system a lot of that gets poo pooed especially the issues of taking spirituality from science, some of the more natural ways of eating, etc.
And so it kind of just put that in the back burner and really enjoyed my career for almost 15 years as a neurologist specializing in epilepsy. I was doing cutting edge research, looking at how women's hormones affect women with epilepsy and migraines, etc. But the problem was with all those accolades I got to be real. I did not know how to manage my own stress.
Doctors are not alone but I was working a hundred hour work weeks trying to juggle patient care, research, teaching medical students, and no sleep because neurology is a high emergency kind of prone specialty so I was chronically sleep deprived. And my go-to medicine was chocolate. I am not lying. And I'm not talking just a little bit here and there. The hormone imbalance, the sleep deprivation, in four years I went up four dress sizes.
Dr. Veronica: Wow, okay.
Dr. Romie: And I knew something was really wrong but the worst part was aside from the weight gain and losing my personality and not getting more anxious all the time, I was progressively having difficulty swallowing, and it kept getting written off as, "Oh, you're type A personality. You're a neurologist. It's only heartburn. Give up the chocolate. So now you're pissing me off because you're telling me to give up the chocolate and you're naming me a type A personality, and nothing is helping me.
Well, it turned out I have a rare disorder called achalasia. And because I didn't know how to manage my stress, and all the bad eating and the lack it became so severe that it became life-threatening. And I needed to have surgery. That changed everything because in those silent moments post-op I realized, when I went back to the meditation and the yoga that I thought was just a hobby I was emotionally feeling better. And the chest pain I was having would go away.
Originally I thought the whole thing was in my head. I thought, "Oh my goodness, they didn't teach us this in medical school. Someone's going to think I'm crazy when I say I can meditate to make my chest pain feel better." And so I started to travel around the world and go back to the roots of who my people were and learn about yoga techniques all over the world, meditation, Ayurveda.
And I realized there is a solid amount of medical, scientific evidence here in the west talking about how they helped. And you know this Veronica as a doctor practicing functional medicine. But majority of our colleagues don't know this and I don't fault them because we're not taught this in medical school in our residency training.
Dr. Veronica: No, we are not. You went back to your roots let's say and found that what was in your roots, Ayurvedic medicine, which includes the mind and the spirit was more helpful to you than Western medicine. But before we talk about that I want to talk about this chocolate. Would you say that you were addicted to chocolate?
Dr. Romie: I say it now, and everybody who's heard me speak knows this, #chocolateismedicine. Tweet Dr. Veronica and Dr. Romie when you're listening to this podcast if you believe chocolate is medicine. But at that time I was addicted. And you and I both know that the addiction center and the Dopamine reward center gets lit up with the sugar and the chocolate. Now I have it in much more controlled measures, dark chocolate. But I'm human. You put me on a red eye flight from a speaking engagement, I'm tired, I'll eat a little bit more than one once of dark chocolate. I'm still admitting I'm human.
Dr. Veronica: I just wanted to ask that question because a lot of people don't understand that the food that they're reaching for a lot of times when they feel they can't control and they say, "Yes, I can. I can just stop." It's really an addiction centered where all the rest of the addictions are centered in the brain with neurochemistry going on.
And in order to get rid of the addiction, the eating disorder, the chocolate, the cigarettes, the sex, the gambling, all that type of stuff, you have to balance your neurotransmitters in your brain. And a lot of times that can be balanced through three things. One is making eating changes. The second is targeted supplements. The third is learning to manage your own stress.
Dr. Romie: Mindfulness, meditation, yoga are scientifically been proven. We can re-train the brain to be rewired away from our addiction. But it takes practice. And I think it takes from deep within your spirit a wanting and a knowing. So if somebody outside of you is saying you have a food addiction, a sugar addiction, a chocolate addiction, and you're trying to change it from a place of guilt and shame, or because you're forced to then I really think the spirit is not going to align somewhere deep within you.
You individually, when you come to terms with this is not serving me. I want to change this habit, and you set that intention, then absolutely there are the tools and functional and integrative medicine, balancing hormones, and neurotransmitters, and learning mindfulness based techniques to do all this. And neuroscience research shows you can actually re-train your brain to crave healthy foods in less than six months.
Dr. Veronica: I think it happens in less than six months. I can say with my clients it happens with two or three weeks.
Dr. Romie: Excellent.
Dr. Veronica: You make a few changes, and then within two to three weeks they say, "This wasn't as hard as I thought and I actually like things." I thought I would never like [Unintelligible 00:10:29] within a few weeks." When do you decide I do want to change?
First, you have to get to that point. And you have to admit also that somebody might know a little bit more than you know. Tell me about that part of your journey. Because you had to get to the point, you're a high travelling doctor. You trained in great places. You do the research. You're the one telling everybody else what's going on. How did you get to the place where you said, "You know what, maybe that little monk sitting out there knows a little bit probably." How did you get to that place?
Dr. Romie: Veronica, I think when you get to where I am at my age or a point in life everyone I meet has had what I call that sentinel event. It could be a health crisis that I had, a divorce, a loss of a job. You just kind of realize I'm not living my life purpose. It's just something deep within you that changes. And it comes then with an external thing in life and return to where's the answer.
I started with chocolate or buying shoes and realize I'm not happy. And the yoga and the meditation was almost an accident, a hobby on the side. And I really feel this is, is that when the student is ready the teacher will appear, one of Rami's famous sayings. And it is so true.
First understand that I'm not on this podcast dismissing neuroscience, I am grateful for the solid foundation in neurology, neuroscience, neuropsychology that I have. I really feel true health is bringing a balance of both. And that's what's missing in the Western medical system. Because we still at the Center of Natural and Integrative Medicine here in Orlando prescribe medication and run tests when we need to. We're also helping people change a foundation of their hormones and their nutrition and all of those other things and promoting wellness.
Remember, one, there's always a balance. To go to your question of how did I realize that monk had some wisdom I think it was just... I don't want to even call it accident, it was my time in life. I was at such a low point. When I went into surgery, and they already have the discussion with me, like god forbid this is cancer. You may end up disabled. What are all these plans?
I got past this depression over my life could be over. I went into even a deeper place going, "I'm not living my truth. Who am I? This is not me. I am not happy. I really hit that low spot. And it was sitting in meditation first in my own home and prayer that I realized I need to find my truth, my purpose, myself. Really, the initial yoga retreats and meditation retreats were to heal myself.
And then I realized if my chest pain and my anxiety symptoms were getting better, and I'm rewired to feel happy now I want to teach this to other people. It's my responsibility as a doctor, as a healer. Just like you feel passionately about your functional medicine knowledge. I think that's when I realized that there has to be a way to bring both together. And right now I'm a woman on a mission. I want people to have a happy brain, so you can have a happy life.
Dr. Veronica: Talk about happy brain. I go around and I have several colleagues. We go around telling people how stress affects the body. Now, here I am sitting with you, the brain scientist. And you talk about stress and its effects on health. Give us a very good, down to earth discussion on how stress is probably the number one piece that you need to be concerned about over what diet you're eating and what supplement you're taking.
Dr. Romie: Amen. Thank you so much. First of all when I speak around the country to this issue people think stress is about what's going on on the outside. "I'm in a toxic marriage. I don't like my job." It's how we react to these things.
And so if you introduce an external stressor there's this area called the amygdala in your brain. I think of it as the airport traffic control center of your brain. It's modulating what you think, what you feel, your memories, and it's this relay path.
Imagine if you're stressed out, think of one the busiest airport, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, what happens if their airport traffic control center shuts down? Mass chaos, right? That's exactly what's happening in the brain when you're under chronic stress. It's like all systems shut down and the bare minimum is running to keep your heart rate going, your blood pressure, but even then it's pumping even harder.
Your heart rate goes up. You're high blood pressure. And what that really means is the control for the rest of your body. Every organ system is now whack. And so when you come to the doctor and you say, "I'm having hot flashes. I'm too young to be going into menopause. I can't get rid of this belly fat and I've been on every diet. In fact I've been juicing for six weeks and nothing has happened. Heartburn, tingling in the hands and feet, chronic headaches, depression." From the head to the toe, we can list 50 different symptoms that arise between hormones, your immune system, your mood, your gut, irritable bowel, all when you're stress response is off. Because there's this cascade of stress hormones that get released.
Just think it's havoc. There's a hurricane going on through your body and we need to get that inflammation under control. And that's what I am so passionate, and we'll get to this next to say that meditation is truly medicine for the mind.
Dr. Veronica: It absolutely is. And it's been well studied now and we see people who can control their body functions. But here we are in America where we are the drive-thru nation, and we would like everything quickly. Explain this to me from a neurological standpoint. Help us understand ourselves a little bit more. Why is it so hard from a brain perspective for us to grasp something different?
And so people come and they keep doing that Einstein insanity, the same thing over and over again. People will watch this podcast, they'll say, "Okay, I got it." And then they'll go read a book and continue to fail. And they won't grasp that they really have to do something different, and how we learn to do something different. Somebody's got to show it to us. We can't read it on university of Google. We can't watch it on Dr. YouTube. Why is it so hard for our brain to grasp that?
Dr. Romie: Here it is Veronica. I have used it as the theory of the "I should be meditating. I wish I could meditate. I would meditate if I have the time." Anytime our mind is saying should, would, could, it's ego-driven. From a mindfulness point of view you feel like you have to do something because somebody told you, or meditation is trending now, or I really dig Dr. Veronica and Dr. Romie so I'm going to give it a try.
I really want you to quiet down and talk to your spirit. And if there's something deep within you that knows there's something deeper going on that's causing my hormones to be out of balance, I know there's something deeper going on and why I can't lose weight, or why I'm depressed even if I'm on medications, I can't sleep at night. If there's something in you knowing you want to change then I'm here to introduce a path.
And here's the thing about mindfulness. I have no attachment to outcome. I give you this knowledge and so does Dr. Veronica with love. But if it's not your time to come to a path of meditation right now I have no judgment. We're just here planting the seed. And at some point my intention is that you will give meditation a try.
And this is why. When we don't have our mind, which is think of our mental, emotional processing, our body, our spirit, and alignment, and we go off balance that's how disease happens, or that larger thing. What is the number one most Googled phrase? "How do I find my life purpose?"
Dr. Veronica: I didn't know that.
Dr. Romie: Yeah, that is. And that's like your spirit is off because we you think you're doing what society expects you to, right? Society expected me to become a doctor. I have parents, "[Unintelligible 00:18:57], we have one doctor and you will become our doctor." And then I thought to be happy I need to buy some more designer shoes, because in those days the girls in Sex and the City were all the rage. And I was doing what was expected of me, not what my spirit really wanted.
And I promise you, sitting down in meditation this is where all these came for me. And you can find that health and mentation, and your body, my food sugar cravings have subsided. I know I'm not taking good care of myself on my chocolate cravings, you know, start going out of whack. I know my body now. And I give myself compassion. I'm human still. It'll happen, right?
Dr. Veronica: Let's talk about meditation versus prayer. Practice is like meditation and yoga versus religion, and I'm going to tell you what my understanding is. And then I want you to add into that.
Dr. Romie: Absolutely.
Dr. Veronica: I'm from a black American background and we are church-y and religious so we have a blessed day. When we go to church do you want to tell me how they're trying to kill you and send you to heaven with the food that they feed you after church, and get all the toxic things that are going on there. And so people say, "Why don't you go to the church anymore?" Because I like to live a little bit longer. That's going off and so people will be like, click, we're getting rid of Dr. Veronica for saying that.
Dr. Romie: No. I think every culture has this Veronica. The Indian culture is no different. If we're having five people over for dinner we cook enough food and a lot of it's fattening for 20. And so I think there's cultures all over the world where food is used to celebrate any emotion, good day, bad day.
But to go back to your original question about how religion is different I always this. First of all I'm a big advocate if it feels right for you to attend your spiritual service and community research study show Americans are happier if they are part of any type of religious spiritual community and attend services regularly.
And if you look at that study that came out of University of Texas in Austin that it didn't matter what religion you were it was whatever spoke to you. So one is...
Dr. Veronica: It doesn't matter what religion it is as long as it speaks to you. I just wanted to know everything...
Dr. Romie: And it is. And from the path...
Dr. Veronica: I'm going to answer it. I want to say that there's a lot of paths out there... there's so many paths out there because there's so many people on the earth.
Dr. Romie: Well said. And for me as a spiritual teacher and healer is that there are many paths to one destination. And that destination is one, the creator, God, Jesus, Buddha, spirit, however people see that it is all one. So the prayer is offering thanks to God, talking to God, praising God, asking God for help for yourself, for others. Meditation is sitting in quiet time and hearing what God or the universe has to say back to you. That is the difference.
Dr. Veronica: I feel that in the American culture we're good at begging God for what we want. That's what we do usually because we got to get...
Dr. Romie: Been there.
Dr. Veronica: But as far as just sitting and listening and observing what's going around when you're not sitting in prayer, that God uses the universe, the creator of all that is uses to give you signals. I think we're totally awful at picking up those signals, either sitting quietly and listening or just noticing that, "Hey, you know what, I just happen to click on this podcast and Dr. Romie said something that resonates with me."
Dr. Romie: Yeah, thank you. I think we think we're awful at it and I'm a bad meditator because we're so judgmental in this society. Either you're a good person, a bad person, you get an A, you get an F. There is no such thing as passing or failing meditation. Meditation is just sitting and being what happens, number one. So there's no right or wrong way to meditate. Just sit and be present.
Here's the other thing. People think, "I'm not a medical intuitive like Dr. Romie. I can't figure this out. Or that's all spiritual woo woo stuff." No, it's not that. You know what I often tell my corporate clients and everyone can relate? When you meditate and spirit is speaking to you that's your gut instinct or your intuition.
Think of all the parents that are listening, something in your gut instinct has told your child is in danger. Or I think of my corporate clients, they say, "I was interviewing a candidate. Their resume was perfect. But just something inside of me said they're not going to be a right fit for the company." And that's when we're silent and listening to intuition.
Then when all the "yeah, buts" and we start rationalizing coming in that's the monkey mind coming back in and fear. Go with the gut instinct. And as you sit and quiet in meditation everybody has this ability to connect to spirit intuition. It's what I teach my clients to do and it's how they get to a path of health. Because to go back to what you were saying earlier in this podcast the addictions, the eating, the shopping, the gambling, the losing time on social media, that's mind-numbing activity that we're doing.
Mindful activity is like "I'm going to stop, and be present, and listen to what Dr. Veronica and Dr. Romie are saying. And I'm going to feel into my body and just allow what needs to come to me in this moment to come." It's that simple. And how do you do it? Just by consciously taking a breath. You want to do it together Dr. Veronica?
Dr. Veronica: Wait. I have to ask you a question. Because if people say, "Yeah, this meditation... I don't want to hear about it. There's no science behind it and so I don't want to talk about it." Now, that's why I had to put that out there because there is science behind this. You make very good faces.
Tell us about some of the science behind meditation that says we as doctors should now be writing prescription to meditation, to yoga class, to tai-chi, to something else that's out there that's outside of a pill.
Dr. Romie: I agree. It was so well said. I'm on a mission to get mindfulness into meditation just like you are medicine. I'm sorry Dr. Veronica. Here is the truth. This literature date back to the 1940's, to Harvard Medical School where Dr. Walter Cannon discovered the stress response that I told you about earlier in the 1970's. Dr. Herbert Benson also at Harvard Medical School started to say, "How do we shut off that airport traffic control tower, that stress response that's causing havoc in our body and our brain?" It's through relaxation.
Since the 1970's we've had a wealth of literature showing that meditation, scientific data in medical journals around the world that are considered the most elite medical journals showing meditation will lower blood pressure, calm down the heart rate, heal depression, heal anxiety, reduce frequency of migraine headaches, cure insomnia, the list goes on and on and on.
It's wealth is there and anybody can come to my website, drromie.com. I'm constantly updating it and showing it. The literature is there I just think unfortunately the health care system is like the Titanic, very slow to turn even though they know the iceberg is right there. And it's going to take time to get all of this into the curriculum. But now integrative medicine is a board certification. And 62 medical schools at this time have integrative medicine departments in their medical schools. It's slowly coming about. Number one killer for men and women in this country, you know what it is Dr. Veronica, heart disease.
Dr. Veronica: And which means you're killing yourself.
Dr. Romie: We're killing ourselves. And the American Heart Association actually recommends meditation as one of the recommended therapies for controlling high blood pressure.
Dr. Veronica: Why is it so hard to get this word out there? Why?
Dr. Romie: I'm not going to give up. I hold hope. And I think people like you and I having this discussion, saying, "Hey, here are a couple of women who dedicated their entire lives to studying to being doctors and practicing medicine talking about it." I give accolades to who I consider the visionary in this field, Dr. Deepak Chopra. He's been talking about this for over 30 years in all of his books. And now we see it's getting out there slowly.
The fact that I get called upon regularly to teach Fortune 500 companies gives me hope that the word is getting out there. That using mindfulness-based techniques such as meditation helped to calm us down, promote health, promote productivity, a healthy brain, a happy brain. I really feel that we're getting there.
The fact that we can have this discussion today, and this discussion was not a part of the system when I was in residency training back in 1999 really speaks to it. Here we are, two women on a mission and I know there's a lot more people that are listening today and I will always continue to have hope that we can spread a positive message about health and wellness.
Dr. Veronica: Wonderful. I have to just share something that you will appreciate and my audience will appreciate. Because you talk about, "We're not going to talk about medication because I'm a Western-trained doctor. I'm going to leave that behind."
And so in my life and career now my audience knows and some other people may know the doctor community doesn't like it all that much but I tell people almost before I tell them I'm a doctor, I'm a medical intuitive. I'm very clairvoyant. I can see past lives and I can hook very well together what's going on, the stressors, the emotional and spiritual. And it's not always in this life.
I have to share this with you just because I think you'll find this interesting. My name is Veronica. As you know one of my past lives, Veronica, true image, on the road to Calvary, the true image, a woman who placed a veil on the face of Jesus. At the time we don't know if the woman was named Veronica and she didn't know necessarily what was going on. And so Veronica wasn't necessarily the name of the woman, it meant she got this image and that's where the name came from. Named after a Catholic, that's me.
However, in one of my past lives I was there. And part of that past life was after I saw this man on the road, I had no idea who he was, who says to me after I wiped his face off, keep healing the people.
Dr. Romie: Amen.
Dr. Veronica: I went out and founded a big clinic at that point in time and it was all women who came and worked in this clinic. And people came from far places to be able to get healings. And I know you were there at that clinic with. When I meet people I can see something.
Dr. Romie: Namaste sister. The spirit in me just honors the spirit in you and that's so beautiful. Thank you for sharing that. It's giving me...
Dr. Veronica: I just wanted to share. I was looking and I was like...
Dr. Romie: Thank you for that gift.
Dr. Veronica: I know her soul from. Let me just say something else. We call ourselves healers but what we actually are is we're the witnesses to other people's healing. We bring forth our knowledge. And so we formed traditional medical training but our souls have traveled in other healing professions. Which is why at this point we're bringing it all together.
I needed to be an eye surgeon to have credibility here today in America, graduate with honors, this, that, and the other thing. You needed to be the neurologist, the practitioner, this, that, and the other thing. But that side of you that is resonating most now is the side that says to meditate. The side that resonates with my audience is the side that says, "You got to connect the spiritual and physical together, and when I do readings for people." Keep doing what you're doing.
Dr. Romie: Amen to you too.
Dr. Veronica: drromie.com. I honor you. I am so happy you came and that you said yes.
Dr. Romie: Honored to be here. This is fun. We could do this all day. So anytime, let's reconnect. Thank you for having me.
Dr. Veronica: We hope that we'll be able to work together in the same space physically at some point to help people. Thank you so much for being on Dr. Veronica's Wellness Revolution.
Dr. Romie: It's been an honor Dr. Veronica. Keep spreading the love out there sister. Keep spreading the love.
Dr. Veronica: Thank you.
Female VO: Thank you for listening to the Wellness Revolution Podcast. If you want to hear more on how to bring wellness into your life visit drveronica.com. See you all next week. Take care.