‘I’m a Celebrity Physician. These are the Two Most Common Issues I See’

I have been a physician for over 20 years. I practice functional medicine, which looks at the root cause of the issue. Traditional medicine focuses on what’s going on and what you can do about it, whereas functional medicine gives you the “why”.

For example, if someone has a problem with acne or a skin condition like eczema, their primary care physician might prescribe a solution or a cream, and the issue might go away for a bit—but then it tends to come back because you haven’t gotten to the “why.” Often, when we’re dealing with challenges linked to the skin, it’s a reflection of what’s going on in the gut.

When a patient comes to see me, we talk about what their day looks like, what’s going on in their relationship, the food they’re eating, and their family and medical history. I suggest lifestyle changes they can make before looking at medication.

Dr. Tamika Henry has a roster of celebrity clients at her practice in LA.
Anthony Bryce

I have a mixture of clients at my practice in Los Angeles—more women than men but a diverse range of ages. You would think that my patients would be a bit older—40 or 50-something and trying to make some healthier lifestyle choices—but there are a lot of young adults in college who are being proactive in trying to avoid chronic conditions that may exist in their family.

I have several high-profile clients, too—mostly actors and producers, but also animators and writers.

Common issues from celebrity clients

My high-profile clients have a lot of the same challenges, in as far as sleep deprivation, gut issues, hormonal imbalances, and mental health issues.

They are no different from the rest of us: they get rejected for different roles, and have the attitude of “keep moving forward” when they’re under a lot of stress. This stress can lead to elevated blood sugar, which can also impact their weight and sleep.

Sleep is a big issue across the board. Their sleep rhythm gets impacted because maybe they’ve been in London for two or three months, and then they’ve got to come back to the U.S. and do another project.

There are also celebrities who have a family history of diabetes and don’t want to become diabetic or pre-diabetic, so they come to me and ask what they need to be aware of, or what they need to do.

Dr. Tamika Henry has been a practicing physician for 20 years. She shares the most common issues she sees.
Dr. Tamika Henry

But the most common issues my celebrity clients come to me with are related to hormonal imbalance and gut health.

In terms of hormonal imbalance, maybe their period is really irregular, or they get hot a lot, they’re not sleeping, they’re having night sweats, they feel like they’re gaining weight.

Gut health can be interchangeable between constipation and diarrhea, along with bloating and feeling like, no matter what they eat, it upsets their stomach. If you travel a lot, which many of my high-profile clients do, your bowels can be impacted because the microbiome gets impacted by the areas you live in, which can lead to bloating and other stomach issues.

How I work with my clients

A recent client of mine, who was a writer, came and saw me about having constipation and being bloated. They had been struggling for at least three years. That’s not uncommon; people, even celebrities, struggle with stuff for a while before seeking help. It becomes their new norm.

With this client, I started off by looking into the different foods they were eating, and one of the big influxes was dairy and soy, which can be quite enflaming. I had them meet with the functional medicine nutritionist on our team, and we came up with a diet plan. We also tested their stools, assessed their hormones and introduced some good probiotics to help repair the gut lining.

Stock image of a person holding their stomach. Dr. Tamika Henry says that many of her clients go to her with gut issues.
iStock / Getty Images Plus

I had them get back into physical activity, too, starting with walking 20 minutes a day, three days a week. Nothing too crazy. When you get a quick win, it works. When people don’t get a quick win, they get frustrated and give up.

After their plan was implemented, the patient noticed they had more regular bowel movements, that they could eat certain foods and not be worried about going out and being part of different social activities. It gave them back their quality of life.

With other celebrity patients, I have had people come to me with stress. We’ve done a saliva test, looking at the cortisol hormone, and then I might prescribe a particular supplement or medication, or I might recommend they start journalling or listening to soothing music.

One of the biggest challenges is helping patients with their sleep routine because sometimes they don’t know their schedule. Their hours are crazy. They may have an 18-hour day if they’re shooting. And then they go out a lot—they’ve got to go to this premiere, and that premiere—and granted it looks great from the outside, but it’s taxing.

So I tell them to set an alarm to tell them when they go to bed. This is particularly useful for my producer types who get their creative juices at 11 p.m. and then can’t sleep. Sometimes they’ve got to stay awake so they drink a Coca Cola, or a Diet Coke or something, so I recommend swapping that for green tea as a healthier route.

If their schedule is crazy, I remind them that when they can rest, they should. I also help them to realize that, in life, there are going to be times where it’s OK to say no. They can say, “I’m tired” or “I need a break.” Sometimes it’s important to do that.

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Dr. Tamika Henry is a board-certified family physician and the founder of Unlimited Health Institute. She specializes in functional medicine, a systems biology–based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease.

All views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

As told to Newsweek’s My Turn Deputy Editor, Katie Russell.

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