When Dr. Taz Bhatia began losing her hair, she’d already completed years of medical school and had begun her residency — but she had no idea what was happening to her body. Ultimately, she was able to get her symptoms under control, but it took going outside of what she’d been taught in med school. This experience opened her eyes to the strengths and weaknesses of conventional medicine, fundamentally shifting the way she approaches medicine to this day. The Atlanta-based functional medicine doctor, acupuncturist, certified nutritionist, and author sat down with WellBe to share her own health journey and why it made her take a holistic approach to medicine.
As is the case with almost every doctor in residency, Dr. Taz was under a lot of stress. “My eating was off, my sleep was off, I didn’t know how to take care of myself,” she remembers. Soon, she began experiencing inflammatory symptoms, including joint pain, weight gain, horrible acne — and, eventually, hair loss. What shocks Dr. Taz most about this period of her life is that she wasn’t at all motivated to figure it out, even when the hair loss became noticeable to others. “I think I was so in my head, and so determined to power through,” she remembers. She hoped it would go away on its own, magically disappear, as so many of us do when we encounter mysterious ailments.
Ultimately, she discovered that all of her symptoms were rooted in the fact that she was eating the wrong diet. She learned that she needed to be gluten-free and get more iron and B vitamins, among other shifts. Since then, she’s adhered to these guidelines and remained symptom-free, but she knows that the moment she falls off this diet, the symptoms will return.
Beyond teaching her what her body needed to thrive, this experience opened Dr. Taz’s eyes to the power of small, daily changes. “The idea that tiny shifts can shift your health so dramatically was fascinating to me,” she says. At the time, she was working in the ER, and was planning on being an ICU (intensive care unit) doctor, so the idea that small, subtle changes could make a big difference felt all the more revelatory. Looking back, she recalls the intense, dramatic atmosphere of the ER, and the way in which a more preventative, lifestyle-based approach takes you away from a “hero medicine” approach and toward one where you work with the body to treat and prevent disease. Through her personal experience, she saw that intense healing could, indeed, be achieved without jumping into a “savior” mentality.
Watch our full interview with Dr. Taz to hear her discuss:
How her hair falling out during residency changed the course of her career
Why the male vs. female approach to medicine is different, and why we need more women at the table for medical decision-making
The serious problem of “gaslighting” (ever heard of it?) in medical settings
Why treating patients with conventional medicine’s aggressive approach is less rewarding for her as a physician than taking a more preventative approach
Hormone disruption and how it relates to conditions like PCOS, endometriosis and fibroids
The MTHFR gene and how it relates to IUDs
Her book SuperWomanRX and how we each have a power type with an associated hormone pattern, diet, and lifestyle to perform at our best