Do you have trouble focusing? Feeling forgetful? Do you feel like your brain is in a fog? You're not alone. According to Dr. Romie Mushtaq, many midlife women experience what's called "brain drain," which can be caused by hormonal imbalance.
In our latest episode, we're joined by Dr. Romie Mushtaq to talk about how brain drain can impact our hormonal health. She is here with a cure for your busy brain called ''brainSHIFT."
Dr. Romie is a triple board-certified physician, award-winning speaker, & national media expert. She mixes her unique authority in neurology, integrative medicine, and mindfulness to transform cultures and teams.
Dr. Romie Mushtaq currently serves as Chief Wellness Officer at Evolution Hospitality, where she has scaled a mindfulness and wellness program for over 7000 employees. These days, her most underutilized pre-pandemic talent is running through airports in high heels.
In this episode, you will learn:
How brain drain can impact our hormones
What are some of the signs that we might be experiencing a brain drain
How to support our hormonal health during menopause
Action tips to shut off our busy brain
Dr. Romie's BrainSHIFT Protocol to help support our brain health
So if you're struggling with brain drain, or you just want to learn more about how to support your hormonal health during menopause, tune in now!
[00:00:00] Is brain drain robbing your hormonal sanity. Your brain is not a bulletin board. Your brain deserves boundaries. Join me today for Dr. Romie Mushtaq. So the big question is how do women over 40, lus,e us keep weight off, have great energy balance. Our hormones and our moods feel sexy and confident and master midlife.
[00:00:21] If you're like most of us, you are not getting the answers you need and remain confused and pretty hopeless to ever feel like yourself. Again. As an OB GYN, I had to discover for myself the truth about what creates a rock solid metabolism. Lasting weight loss and supercharged energy after 40 in order to lose a hundred pounds and fix my fatigue.
[00:00:40] Now I'm on a mission. This podcast is designed to share the natural tools you need for impactful results. And to give you clarity on the answers to your midlife metabolism challenges, join me for tangible natural strategies to crush the hormone imbalances you are facing and help you get unstuck from the sidelines of.
[00:00:59] [00:01:00] My name is Dr. Kyrin Dunston welcome to the hormone prescription podcast. Hi everybody. And welcome back to another episode of the hormone prescription with Dr. Kyrin. I'm so grateful that you're choosing to spend your valuable time today here with me today and my homey, Dr. Romie, you're gonna love Dr.
[00:01:21] Romie. She is all about brain health and functional brain health. Did you know that your hormones. Originate in your brain and are a part of your nervous system. Yep. We're gonna talk about that too, but mostly we're going to dive into brain drain. Is it robbing your hormonal sanity? And if you're feeling like your brain has become a bulletin board, I know I have lately, then maybe you need some boundaries in your brain.
[00:01:48] She talks about the brain shift protocol and how to help people shift out of the states that drain their brain. They happen to be the same things that drain their hormones and how to [00:02:00] sleep well and have a great sex drive and emotional equanimity and great memory and mood and clarity and all the things that a healthy brain gives you.
[00:02:09] So I'll tell you a little bit about her, and then we will get started. So. Do you have a busy brain? Do you have trouble focusing on your to-do list? Are your thoughts racing through your mind when you try to fall asleep? Have the usual stress management techniques stopped working for you? Dr. Romie is here with a cure for your busy brain called brain shift.
[00:02:32] Dr. Romie is a triple board certified physician award-winning speaker and national media expert. She mixes her unique authority in neurology, integrated medicine and mindfulness to transform cultures and teams. Dr. Romie currently serves as chief. Wellness officer at evolution hospitality, where she has scaled a mindfulness and wellness program for over 7,000 employees.
[00:02:57] These days, her most underutilized [00:03:00] pre-pandemic talent is running through airports in high heels, please. Welcome Dr. Romie Mushtaq. Oh Dr. Kyrin, thank you so much for having me here with your community. We speak such a like-minded language and our work is on one continuous spectrum. So anytime I get to sit here and share your work with my audience and vice versa, it's truly a gift.
[00:03:23] Yes. I love speaking with you. My audience loves hearing what I call woke doctors and talk hormones and health. And so maybe before we get, get started, you could talk a little bit about your evolution as a physician who really gets it, that a root cause approach is best. Kyrin it is. And you know, if folks have watched my Ted talk from 2014, went viral, they know part of the story of physician burnout and a route to mindfulness long before burnout was a term.
[00:03:55] I entered neurology Kyrin at a time when less than 5% of the brain doctors [00:04:00] in the United States were women. But here's the other story that I don't get to share often enough that I think you and your listeners will appreciate is that I was just an intern and in my residency and female patients were coming to me all the time.
[00:04:14] Doctor, please help. My doctor, my male, doctor's not listening to me. Something is going on with my epilepsy or migraines during my periods or I'm in menopause. And that for fast forward, that led to my area of expertise in research as an academic neurologist. So I was seeing patients, I was researching the effect of women's hormones on the brain and Kyrin and I had this realize.
[00:04:38] That I never in my entire life had had a regular menstrual cycle and I had fought really bad acne and needed Accutane. And I kept wondering, I have so many of these symptoms of thyroid and here I am researching it. And I went to the endocrinologist here at a prestigious academic medical institution where I used to [00:05:00] work, and they blew me off because my TSH was borderline.
[00:05:04] And I'm sure I, you know, I don't have my medical records from back then that they didn't do the entire panels that you and I are taught in integrative and functional medicine. And I suffered not only from an irregular menstrual cycle, but from infertility. Then the stress of being a female physician, doing research, working 120 hours a day, and you fast-forward to me, ending up very sick and ending up in life, saving surgery.
[00:05:28] And I'm laying in the hospital going, God help me. I have no adult skills to know what I do next in my life and everything I learned in medical. School is not going to help me. I give gratitude to the surgeons who saved my life. So traditional medicine was a part of it. How do I stay healthy and listen girl long before there were podcasts, cuz I feel like an old auntie talking to you.
[00:05:47] YouTube wasn't really online. There were no apps on our phone. I made my way on a journey around the world, working with mindfulness and Iveta teachers. And it was when I went to go get board certified and integrative [00:06:00] medicine that someone took my full thyroid panel. And we started, we diagnosed and started to treat the Hashimoto seriously.
[00:06:09] And then I got my menstrual cycle back regularly, and I still feel really emotional about it because I know mindfulness teaches us not to look back, but I think. Wow. Had a doctor listened, how different would my life be? Would I have been able to have children? Would I have been with that partner that I was with and the fertility challenges and my menstrual cycle and health issues and burnout got in the way.
[00:06:31] And so I think I personally know what it feels like to suffer, and that's why I'm here. And I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to fall apart on your podcast. I'm normally so poised and speak for a living. So give me a second to pause and gather myself. It is fine. I bring that out in people like honesty to the point of tears, everybody.
[00:06:50] when they talk to me says, I didn't mean to cry, but it's a safe place, right? It's a safe place. Yes. What, and you said so many poignant things. [00:07:00] Everything I learned in medical school is not. Going to help me. So I want to point that out. I say the same thing. There was a point at which I realized when I weighed 243 pounds and I had chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia and depression and anxiety and IBS and gastritis, and my hair was falling out in all the things I realized.
[00:07:20] Everything I learned in medical school is not going to help me. And what you said. You know, maybe I would've been able to have children, right?There are women out there right now who are dealing with what you dealt with. Similar situations who have a diary problem who have not had failed to be diagnosed by mainstream corporate medicine who have infertility because of a thyroid problem.
[00:07:45] Hormone and menstrual irregularities who are suffering, and they're thinking, well, I'm going to buy $30 copay, HMO doctor. Isn't that all I need to do. So I want to shout out to all you women who can identify with Dr. Rome's [00:08:00] sharing. And it, it is just not enough. If you're gonna go to your corporate doctor that was trained, like we originally wore you're, that's what you're gonna get.
[00:08:08] So I'm glad you're here, cuz it means you're waking up and thank you for sharing that story. It's just going to hit a lot of people. Yeah. I mean, here's the humbling part. I'm a doctor and deep in my heart. I knew something was wrong for years and I couldn't get help and we did. But here's the next part of that story.
[00:08:28] And we'll transition into my work now is I was sitting now board certified in integrative medicine. It was before I launched the brain shift Institute, I was seeing patients one to one here in Orlando where his home and our doc hormone doctors, like you, Dr. Herron had diagnosed everything correctly.
[00:08:44] They were on their hormone regimen, whether it was thyroid, whether it was menopause, transition, menopause, whatever it may. And yet they were still suffering from brain and mental health symptoms. And that's where I came in. Like, you can be doing everything, [00:09:00] right. Quote, unquote, eating clean, you have the hormones.
[00:09:03] And yet something is still off with the brain. I mean, I know when I started to treat the Hashimotos and get on the right nutrition protocols for myself, that my own busy brain calmed down, like I finally felt like the young Romie I was in childhood. You know, recognized was a joyful, happy, bubbly, talkative spirit, but you know, there's a lot more than just a thyroid.
[00:09:26] And, and so if your listeners are like, oh, okay, I'm gonna fast forward through this podcast episode. No stop. Because we're about to dig a lot deeper yeah. So let's start doing that. So you are a neurologist that makes sense that you would focus on the brain. You know, you shared so many wonderful quotes with me, which I love a good quote.
[00:09:45] And you said this, your brain is not a bulletin board, your brain deserves boundaries. And I was like, oh my gosh, that's amazing. Because I feel like my brain is a bulletin board. Can you say more about that? Yeah. You know, Kyrin, I'm gonna backtrack and say, this is. [00:10:00] Prior to the pandemic, the start of the global pandemic, I was a, uh, one of the go-to experts in corporate America for stress management.
[00:10:06] And at that time I used to say, do you have too many browser windows open on your computer and in your brain? Right? But now the reality has sunk in that most of your and my clients are working from home. Some at the front lines, there are now multiple screens, open and devices. And the world has just gotten more chaotic, whether it's the news cycle, whether it's personal grieving, I mean, we've all struggled.
[00:10:30] And what we found was the traditional stress manage advice, management advice we were giving before the pandemic. I mean, didn't nobody wanna hear their home. Dr. Romie say, oh, just eat Barry's and breathe and everything's gonna be fine. And what it really is it's it's like, it felt like it was like this barrage.
[00:10:47] Post-it notes at your brain of everything going on in the world, which are really important issues, the pandemic and racial justice. And then there is this thing of my personal life, and I have no life I'm [00:11:00] working all the time or I'm, I'm trying to work and the kids are home and everything going on to this, this over stimulation that made the busy brain that I had been researching the last few years, even.
[00:11:12] Worse and that's what it is. And so when we talk about your brain needs boundaries, you know, often can we be real Kyrin? It's like, sure. I think a lot of the women, you and I. They'll get up in the morning and brush their teeth and step on the scale to check their weight. Am I right ladies? Oh yeah. Mm-hmm yep.
[00:11:29] Yeah, they do it. Everybody does. How many of us say, what am I going to do for my brain today? Good question. We don't do that. And that's what I mean, your brain deserves boundaries. Your brain is the hero of your life. Yes. Everything starts there. And so that's where I come in and I've been focusing the research on the busy brain.
[00:11:52] And what that is is I go as a board certified neurologist and integrative medicine doctor to go this far, Kyrin and [00:12:00] say neurology and psychiatry. Got it wrong that in adults, Anxiety adult onset ADHD or D attention deficit disorder and insomnia are not three separate diseases because what have we been doing in traditional medicine?
[00:12:14] Largely is you get a stimulant for D. Or you get something to calm down the anxiety or you take caffeine all day and you have wine or, uh, some Boje supplement and an Instagram influencer all day to take. So your whole life is stimulate yourself all day. How do you calm down or sedate yourself at night?
[00:12:34] And that's actually a busy brain that it's all one root cause. Of these three disorders and that's what I get to and, you know, specifically in women. So by the time the women reach me, Dr. Kyrin, they may not likely have not worked with an expert such as yourself on their hormones, but most of them to be honest are clean eaters.
[00:12:55] They have an exercise regimen, they're quoted, doing everything right that society has told [00:13:00] us to do and still suffering from these symptoms. And that's where we come. Yes, thank you for explaining that. And I just wanna emphasize that you said your brain is the sheer of your life. It absolutely is. You know, most women don't get that their brain is their mainframe computer that runs everything.
[00:13:18] And when that runs out, Byebye it's over. And most women don't wake up to this fact until it's too late. Like they actually get a diagnosis of dementia and nobody told them at period menopause and menopause that the brain needs these sex hormones. To be optimally healthy and help prevent dementia.
[00:13:38] Nobody told them that their cord ISOL yeah. Stress hormone, which I know you're gonna cover needs to be balanced in order to protect the green. So I just wanna tell everybody listening, listen up. your homie. Dr. Romie is telling you what time it is. If you wanna protect your brain. Starts now it doesn't start in 10 or 20 years [00:14:00] cuz then it could be too late.
[00:14:01] Well, it's not even the memory loss only Dr. Kyrin, which is so important to your point because we know Alzheimer's and dementia affects women at three to five times the rate as men. But here's the thing it is Women are in a mental health crisis right now with record numbers of depression, anxiety, diagnosis of bipolar disorder and exiting the workforce.
[00:14:24] And you, and I often see, like to my point earlier, I'm taking the medicine and the supplements for my thyroid. Why am I not better? I'm on an intermittent fasting or ketogenic diet. Why am I not losing weight? Well, because we didn't handle stress and sleep first, we start with the brain and everything else.
[00:14:42] Follow. So it doesn't mean you only deal with the brain and the protocols. You know, I work with colleagues like yourself when we identified that shift protocol, S H I F T the H is hormones. So that's a crucial part for both men and women, different hormones and those gender assigned male at birth, but [00:15:00] that's where we go, that they have to work in tandem.
[00:15:03] You can't just be saying, I need to replace thyroid or manage adrenal fatigue or my sex hormones and not address the. Great point. Do you wanna talk a little bit more about the shift protocol? Yeah. Mm-hmm so we talked about the busy brain and we're gonna give your listeners a free test to take that I'm all about like, not wearing stress as a badge of honor.
[00:15:24] If you're listening to this saying girl, what woman isn't stressed right now in the global pandemic, let's get a number we assess, we don't guess just like Dr. Kyrin checks, her hormone levels. It's the same. We assign you. Are you normal? Which is brain power, mild, which is brain drain. Uh, just means a little bit of an energy leak.
[00:15:41] That's quick to fix, or are you brain strain and heading towards burnout? So number one, know your number, so we can start from there. Then we go into the shift protocol that when we get to the root cause of the specific pattern of inflammation, where there's hyper excitability in your brain, what does that mean?
[00:15:58] It means. [00:16:00] Me getting a notification on my phone of today's news headline right now, while I'm trying to focus on the interview with you is not only going to distract me. It's actually creating a higher level than normal of stress hormones in my brain that I've lost focus. And I feel like until I put my finger to the screen and get a little dopamine hit to calm it down.
[00:16:23] I can't move forward. Now imagine that with email inboxes and chat window and children and pets and everything going on. So that's what the busy brain is the root cause. Everyone's a little different, but here are the five key areas they fall under. S is for your sleep cycle are circadian rhythm. That's the first place I look, I look at what the hormones in your brain, the HPA hypothalamic, pituitary to thyroid adrenal access are doing.
[00:16:48] The second one is H your role of hormones, which is, you know, your thyroid adrenal to your sex hormones. The third is I is inflammatory markers or markers of inflammation. We look [00:17:00] at things like vitamin D three, which I know you. And I agree as like a pro hormone methylation disorders, other things like that F is how we use food to fuel ourselves and tease the role of technology.
[00:17:11] So that was a lot to digest. And if you're like, wait, I'm gonna robot this podcast and listen, just calm down. It's all there on social media and the website for free. This is actually Karen, an eight week wellness program. We give to our corporate clients with brain shifts or micro habits that stack upon each other to first address, sleep insanity, and then address energy and focus in the second half.
[00:17:33] But balancing hormones is a key part of that for both men and women. Great. Thank you for detailing that let's dive into cuz the H is hormones. You mentioned the thyroids thyroid hormones, adrenal HPA axis the interaction. Also, you mentioned sex hormones. So you mentioned a whole lot of hormones. My seven main metabolic drivers.
[00:17:55] I relate everything to hormones, all health problems particularly for women. [00:18:00] Wow. Stat on dementia and Alzheimer's being three to five times. I gotta back up and ask you as prevalent in women as men. Tell me, say more about why that happens before we dive more into hormones. Yeah, let's go back to Alzheimer's.
[00:18:13] So I disagree with the men who drove the literature and. Said it's because women live longer than men. That is not true. If you even go to the websites of Alzheimer's association, they write that when you carefully look at the medical literature, that is absolutely not true. There are other factors that drive dementia in women.
[00:18:38] The first and foremost we know is poor cardiovascular health, that women are not likely to get attention to your blood vessels, the diabetes, the. High cholesterol, the hypertension, those things that we know that risk for heart attack, or even, you know, Dr. Karen, you and I know this from our days in traditional medicine, women would arrive with atypical [00:19:00] symptoms of heart attack or stroke in the emergency room, and it often got missed until it was too severe.
[00:19:05] So that's the number one driver as poor. Cerebral vascular health. The second driver that we know was that it is the role of hormones, but people think it's just the estrogen and progesterone. It starts back to the thyroid that when we look at the data that it's estimated and Dr. Kyrn, please correct me.
[00:19:26] But as I'm researching my book, one in eight women in the United States has subclinical hypothyroid disease. It's more prevalent in women of color. Yeah. I would say it's probably higher than that, but yeah. Documented. Yeah. Documented. Right. Mm-hmm but it's not getting screened at all. Right. Or like the story I shared earlier, my doctors are like, well, yeah, you have some symptoms, and it's borderline, but we're not gonna do anything about it.
[00:19:52] I'm like what. Right. Translation. You're not suffering enough. Yes. You're not sick enough to require a hospital bed. So this doesn't [00:20:00] require the pills. And even the pills that sometimes traditional medicine gives is not the whole story. Right. And, and that's your area of expertise? I won't get into the nuances of thyroid, but the thyroid hormone, we know.
[00:20:13] That even in people that are teenagers or twenties or thirties that have low thyroid show up severely depressed and prevented your brain chemistry, all these systems that are tagged and work together in your cell structure and function. To promote, understanding comprehension and memory are tied to this entire HPA, hypothalamic, pituitary, thyroid adrenal access.
[00:20:39] Then on top of it, when, if you are really stressed out and you have high stress hormone levels going at a time in menopause transition menopause, we know that there's this NA alone steel phenomenon. And then you're struggling with, you know, the neuroprotective effects of estrogen and progesterone. Yes.
[00:20:56] You heard me say that, right? Estrogen and progesterone protect [00:21:00] your brain at all stages of the life cycle. How do I know this? Because early in my neurology residency, I would see, oh, couple days, right before your menstrual cycle and the abrupt changes in estrogen, progesterone, what would happen? Women would.
[00:21:13] Awful breakthrough seizures or migraines. So like it is protective of every function in your brain. So that is not only for memory, but for women who have headaches and even for mood disorders, Kyrin. So important in what you are saying. And I hope everybody is hearing this. She didn't Dr. Romie. Didn't just say estrogen for your brain.
[00:21:34] She said estrogen and progesterone and thyroid and cortisol. So you gotta hear it. And she said, This is probably the number two reason for the increased risk of dementia in women. And like I tell women, you know, they say, well, do I need to use hormone replacement therapy? And I say, we