Inside/Out Women: NICOLE OHEBSHALOM ON HEALING AND HORMONES

Originally on Inside/Out Women.

“I was born just a few months after my Jewish parents, as exiles and refugees, arrived in New York from Iran. The Long Island town where I grew up was like a miniature Iran with stores that played Iranian music, greeting people in Farsi and serving Iranian cake and candy.

This resulted in my processing my parents’ first American experiences in parallel to my own beginnings in this world. Displacement with no permanent home, learning to be a freer Jew and dismantling expected roles placed on Eastern women were among the challenges that my feisty and sensitive self attempted to navigate during my early years.

My father was a mandatory soldier (at that time, Israel trained the Iranian army) and the Ayatollah was looking to kill my mother’s father and our family. It was a time of violence and anxiety. The loud silence of the 1979 Revolution was a consistent presence in my home, the  community and the town where I was raised. In the early 1980’s, a refugee’s acculturation was not a sensitive a topic as it is now in America. Cultural contrast and acceptance were not something at the forefront of discussions.

As is traditional in my culture, I was raised by my parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and extended community. A collective upbringing creates an outlook of the world that holds tradition, spirituality, and community. Spirituality and faith were all around, the women gathered several times a week and the door of our home – and our fridge! – was always open to friends and family of all ages. As we cooked, made tea, danced and played, I observed the way the women expressed themselves. Over the years, I reveled in the rituals: making Turkish coffee, reading my fortune and listening to the poetry, storytelling and herbal remedies said to provide protection from everything from the evil eye to stomach pains. These moments where my psychotherapy and fueled me with empowerment.

Research has shown that the cultures, environments and people closest to us play a role in the way our brains process information and react to stimuli. 

Research has shown that the cultures, environments and people closest to us play a role in the way our brains process information and react to stimuli. As a child raised in an Eastern collective mentality, in which elders and parents made certain choices for us that are a contrast to Western mentality, I learned to think and place importance in the collective experience. The Eastern perspective also provided me with knowledge that there were alternatives to allopathic medicine. I first tuned into yoga and meditation at age 6, followed by using food to heal rather than medication. As a nurse and later a clinical psychotherapist, I was constantly listening to patients and deducing the mind-body connection. Additionally, I have studied Ayurveda, women’s health, functional nutrition and meditation.

Professionally, my background has provided me with an inherent capacity to blend spiritual insights with scientific theory and to confidently navigate various healing modalities from East to West. On a personal level, I have learned to listen to my intuition, to trust the mind-body connection and to give myself permission to be my full and true self.

These days, using my knowledge and drawing from personal experience, I move between the art of science and healing to create natural protocols and therapeutic step-by-step tools to help women in their health and wellness journeys, namely through hormonal psychotherapy. My work calls for each woman to connect with her voice, become sensitive to her sensations, know her desires, ignite her pleasure and feel more relaxed.

Many of my clients are intersectional and have a beautiful, singular cultural identity. Being aware of the way culture contributes to each woman’s values, thoughts and behaviors is vital for hormonal healing. A woman’s hormones are the essence of life, and it is part of her creativity and intergenerational legacy. The only way to heal hormonal imbalances is through food, lifestyle and self-inquiry. These three practices take root in the habits built by culture, which for many have an emotional significance. I honor these parts of a woman while guiding her to recognize her needs and power.”