Features Health & Wellness

“Fountain of Youth”: Shahnoz Rustamova, MD, Physician and Educator

Photography by Callie Jones

During my first meeting with Dr. Rustamova, I noticed something special about her. And by the time we concluded our meeting, that special quality is her lack of interest in being the focal point. This native of the once-Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan brings an immense amount of experience that stretches beyond her medical training in Uzbekistan and the United States. With an insatiable appetite for learning and sharing her knowledge with others, her ripple effect is far and wide.

Out of curiosity, I wanted to hear the differences between practicing in her native homeland and the United States. “Uzbekistan was not as advanced technologically, so there was a reliance on all the senses and a need to be more versatile.” A benefit Dr. Rustamova shared, “You had to see the whole picture.” Connecting the dots, looking into details, organs, cells and DNA allowed for experiencing the whole being: physical, spiritual and psychological. In contrast, she has been amazed by the vast and structured system in the United States. The ever-expanding use of technology induces advances at an accelerated rate.

Whether traversing the halls of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York with colleagues or meeting with patients one on one, a consistent theme is “monitor your thought patterns.” Taking a look at how psychology works and how as physicians, we need to be stable. Noticing the spectrum of understanding by patients and practitioners, Dr. Rustamova honed her communication, ensuring that they could understand and have the tools to learn and be better. With great clarity and seamless delivery, she matches the approach to the patient, noting she can be a guide in the process or utilize traditional med therapy. What matters is that they are well taken care of and are empowered to heal.

The path to her current expression of work has been seeded by extensive travel around the world. Studying Ayurvedic medicine in India, the only place it is still honored and practiced, spending time in Nepal, Haiti, Costa Rica and Mexico highlighted ways cultures of varying history and philosophies interacted with the mind, body and spirit. A draw to ancient midwifery, learning from shamans and those who keenly understand collective consciousness further expanded ways to help others.

It was the many years of delivering babies that catalyzed Dr. Rustamova’s yearning to reach beyond the ceiling and expand awareness and avenues to treat the whole person. In traveling the world, immersing in different cultures, reading and exploring spiritual work, she expressed, “The deeper I went, I found it to be infinite.” The more Rustamova unearthed, the more she didn’t know. Shifting her practice to draw upon ancient methods equipped her to utilize a wide array of modalities. One such instrument is plant medicine and not from a numbing or “using” approach but one that respects the traditions and is carefully facilitated by and through those carrying forth the ancient tradition.

What drives this physician, educator and healer is a deep desire to contribute and communicate the importance of being connected to ourselves, those around us and the planet we occupy. Like the earth, which is made up of 75% – 80% water, so are we. Once we are aware of our thought patterns and what our body is communicating to us, we have a map to improve the whole system. The melding of cultures, curiosity and training has synthesized her unique approach to helping many.