The Catalyst Podcast invited Dr. Marwa Hazzah, functional medicine practitioner, to share how her career in internal medicine and her passion for helping women with autoimmune conditions ultimately led her to pursue functional medicine. In her conversation with Dr. Lara Salyer, host of The Catalyst Podcast, Dr. Hazzah explained the benefits of functional medicine, how perseverance can change lives, and the importance of always learning something new.
This article covers the following topics…
Dr. Marwa Hazzah’s backstory and what led her to pursuing functional medicine
How there’s a better way for patients to live other than a lifelong medication routine
At the end of 2021, Dr. Hazzah was chosen by IFM to be a speaker at the Annual International Conference of Functional Medicine
How Dr. Hazzah believes in learning right alongside her patients (and how she’s even done the elimination diet to help show how beneficial it is)
Dr. Salyer: “You’re action oriented. You think about things and then you make a decision. You’re very momentum driven, which I love. Healthcare is changing, and we are either going to be pulled and dragged along or we can actually be at the front of that change. You’re daring to be at the front of that change in not just one country but two. Tell me a little bit about your personal journey.”
Dr. Hazzah: “My personal journey started as a child who just wanted to be a doctor. Since the age of three, everyone asked me, ‘what do you want to be? What do you want to do?’ I never changed my mind. I never hesitated. The only hesitation I had was when I was in high school and I wondered whether or not I was going to have the grades to make it to medical school. Eventually, I graduated from Cairo University in Egypt. I successfully completed my residency at Cairo University and completed a Master Degree in Science in Hematology and Oncology. With that passion, I decided I wanted to immigrate to the US. I moved to the biggest city in the world, New York City (the love of my life). If I make it here, I can make it anywhere.”
Dr. Salyer: “Yes! Oh my goodness. Absolutely!”
Dr. Hazzah: “I joined one of the programs of Mount Sinai School of Medicine. I successfully completed three years of residency and became board certified in internal medicine. I was able to start practicing. I did three years as a hospitalist and then went into primary care, which was a great experience. Whether I was at one or the other, patients would come to me and ask, ‘am I going to be like this for the rest of my life?’ and I would answer, ‘yes, but there are medications to control your situation…’ Later, as time passed, my wisdom drove me to try and find a different answer. Maybe there is something we can do. Maybe we can change this trajectory. Maybe patients don’t have to keep taking these medications for the rest of their life. I kept digging and searching for nutrition courses until I found the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM). It really took me the first two minutes listening to Dr. Mark Hyman.”
Dr. Salyer: “Right, we’ve talked about this! A lot of us find ourselves looking at a functional medicine platform and it only takes 90 seconds. Once you hear what they do and how they approach a patient case, you’re hooked. You’re like, ‘where has this been?’ If you had a magic wand, what would you like there to be different in the teaching and the training of our medical practitioners?”
Dr. Hazzah: “We learn physiology and how it changes to pathology and then we learn pharmacology and we get stuck there. In the final years of medical school we are just learning pharmacology, pharmacology, pharmacology. Pharmacology is important. If I’m having an acute heart attack or a stroke, I want pharmacology because I don’t have time. However, I believe we have to work upstream. We have to teach our medical residents and our trainees how we can go back and work on pathology. We need to ask why it happened and see what’s going on exactly in the model of functional medicine.”
Dr. Salyer: “I agree! I think that’s brilliant. The general culture that we live in believes that poor eating doesn’t make a difference because, ‘I am young and I don’t feel any different’. Imagine if we could help people early on. What you are doing is you are teaching young women, who are eventually young mothers, how to be healthy and therefore, have healthier generations of people.”
Dr. Hazzah: “It’s not just about what you eat, it’s about how you feel. It’s your stress. It’s how happy you are. We know it’s going to cause inflammation in the body, but maybe certain food brings you good memories and makes you feel happy. I think that will impact your gut microbiome at the same time.”
Dr. Salyer: “What’s one of your favorite things you like to do with your kids?”
Dr. Hazzah: “I feel so grateful about playing tennis with my children. I started putting my kids in tennis lessons and then I thought I could also do that. I asked the coach if she had availability on my day off and she said, ‘yes’. Now we play games against each other. My older daughter is much better than me, because she is now on a competitive tennis team. I also play against my middle daughter and my young son has just begun learning. I was also able to make friends through tennis. Every time you learn, you get a new life. That’s how I see it.”
Dr. Salyer: “That’s another gem quote. Every time you learn, you get a new life. That’s beautiful.”
Dr. Hazzah: “Once I started learning functional medicine, I found myself surrounded by a lot of amazing, gifted, same-minded people who pushed my mindset way ahead. They pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me find myself as a person. Learning English and then Spanish opened me up to a whole new world. I have better communication with my patients. I don’t need translation. When you learn a new language you can read the literature of that language with a new mind.”
Dr. Salyer: “That is inspirational, Marwa. What I am finding is that you are exemplifying that you are a door opener. The more you say yes and learn you are opening your world. I think that is something we should all try and emulate. Can you tell me a little more about your services?”
Dr. Hazzah: “I founded the Holistic Medical Pyramid. The reason I decided to take my services online is because I want to be reachable to people no matter where they are or where I am. I want people to be able to click a button and schedule a consultation. My next project is to discover a way to do group projects in Egypt. I love the world so I want to open up to the world.”
Dr. Salyer: “I’m grateful for knowing you and we’re all better for it. Dr. Marwa is a firecracker. It’s been a pleasure!”
Dr. Hazzah: “I want to thank you Lara, because you are one of the people who inspire me to make change and get out of my comfort zone.
According to Dr. Lara Salyer, “Dr. Marwa Hazzah is a woman of inspiration. She views life as an opportunity to learn and create new worlds.” Dr. Hazzah’s tenacity and love of learning opens doors for her patients that otherwise would have remained closed. If you like what you read, please also listen to the podcast episode by clicking here Listen to Episode 16: How One Physician’s Perseverance Opened Doors to New Worlds.