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DOCTOR REVEALS How She Healed Her Autoimmune DISEASE! Graphic © healthpowerboost.com. Background image: Shutterstock #409638349 (under license)
Between juggling work responsibilities and a social life, it’s common to feel fatigued and achy. But are these the effects of a hectic life, or could they be symptoms of a more serious underlying health issue like an autoimmune condition? In the case of Dr. Cynthia Li, it was the latter.
Cynthia Li, MD, is a physician, author, and faculty member in the Healer’s Art program at the University of California San Francisco Medical School. After struggling with health challenges due to debilitating autoimmune diseases, she sought (and supposedly found) answers beyond conventional medicine.
In an episode of the Doctor’s Farmacy podcast with Dr. Mark Hyman, she shares her experience and how her healing journey from an autoimmune illness made her question her medical training and changed her perception of healthcare.
Read on as we discuss the issue of autoimmune disease – and Dr. Li’s unconventional path to healing.
Autoimmune Disease 101
First things first, what is an autoimmune disease? According to the National Institute of Environmental Sciences (NIEHS), autoimmune disease is a condition where “the immune system malfunctions and mistakenly attacks healthy cells, tissues, and organs… these attacks can affect any part of the body, weakening bodily function and even turning life-threatening.” 
There are over 80 autoimmune diseases affecting more than 23.5 million people in the U.S—making them the leading cause of disability and death.  Some common autoimmune diseases include multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Celiac disease, and colitis.
While individual autoimmune diseases usually have their own unique symptoms, most of them present the following early signs:
• Achy muscles
• Recurring fever
• Skin issues
• Difficulty concentrating
• Digestive issues
• Swelling & redness
If the above symptoms seem vague, that’s because most autoimmune diseases share symptoms with other types of health problems. As a result, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services notes that getting a diagnosis can be a difficult and long process—as was the case with Dr. Li. 
Dr. Cynthia Li’s Personal Journey With An Autoimmune Condition
Dr. Cynthia Li was first diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in 2005. She claims to have developed Hashimoto’s disease (also known as autoimmune thyroiditis) after the birth of her first child.
In the years that followed, Dr. Li struggled with debilitating exhaustion and a number of symptoms that were not fully explained by her diagnosis of Hashimoto’s. These include vertigo, muscle aches, insomnia, brain fog, anxiety, hypersensitivity to noise and light, heart palpitations, and nausea.
She later diagnosed herself with chronic fatigue syndrome (extreme tiredness that doesn’t go away with rest) and dysautonomia (a disorder of the automatic nervous system that regulates non-voluntary body functions).
But even as Dr. Li’s health crumbled, lab results and consultations with specialists suggested everything was “normal”—baffling her doctors. She attributes this to the teachings of conventional Western Medicine, whereby it’s either black or white; test results can either be negative or positive; you’re either sick or well.
In her search for relief, Dr. Li ventured into functional and integrative medicine. Here are some practices she claimed played an important role in her path to healing:
Sleep Quality: Dr. Li started paying more attention to her circadian rhythm and the benefits of quality sleep to reduce stress and inflammation. Lack of sleep is linked to increased inflammation and an impaired immune system. 
Nutrition: Food plays a crucial role in your health outcome. Whatever you put in your mouth can either be “medicine” to your body or “poison.” Dr. Lin cleared out chemical and food items linked to hormone dysregulation—and instead opted for organic, nutrient-dense food sources that offered anti-inflammatory properties.
The Healing Power of Nature: From taking a walk in the park to growing houseplants—Dr. Li added nature to her regimen. And according to research, spending time outside may help boost your immune system, lower your stress levels, improve sleep, reduce depressive symptoms, and significantly boost your overall well-being. 
Oriental Medicine (including acupuncture, herbs, and qi gong): Though skeptical at first, Dr. Lin eventually experimented with alternative practices and claimed to have experienced significant health benefits.
Intuition: After a profound experience with Martine Bloquiaux, a medical intuitive, Dr. Li came to appreciate the potential role of intuition in healing. She terms it as a “gut feeling” or a strong hunch—quoting some studies on the subject. 
Contrary to what she learned in her medical training, Dr. Lin’s autoimmunity gradually reversed. From her experience, she advocates for a health paradigm that respects the one-directional approach of conventional medicine—but focuses more on tapping into the body’s innate intelligence.
 National Institute of Environmental Sciences (NIEHS): https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/conditions/autoimmune/index.cfm
 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services—Office on Women’s Health: https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/autoimmune-diseases
 Irwin, M. R. (2019). Sleep and inflammation: partners in sickness and in health. Nature Reviews Immunology, 19(11), 702-715: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31289370/
 Besedovsky, L., Lange, T., & Haack, M. (2019). The sleep-immune crosstalk in health and disease. Physiological reviews: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30920354/
 Rook, G. A. (2013). Regulation of the immune system by biodiversity from the natural environment: an ecosystem service essential to health. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(46), 18360-18367: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3831972/
 White, M. P., Alcock, I., Grellier, J., Wheeler, B. W., Hartig, T., Warber, S. L., … & Fleming, L. E. (2019). Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and well-being. Scientific reports, 9(1), 1-11: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44097-3
 Blume, C., Garbazza, C., & Spitschan, M. (2019). Effects of light on human circadian rhythms, sleep and mood. Somnologie, 23(3), 147-156: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6751071/
 Ferraro, D. M., Miller, Z. D., Ferguson, L. A., Taff, B. D., Barber, J. R., Newman, P., & Francis, C. D. (2020). The phantom chorus: Birdsong boosts human well-being in protected areas. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 287(1941), 20201811: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2020.1811
 McCraty, R., Atkinson, M., & Bradley, R. T. (2004). Electrophysiological evidence of intuition: Part 1. The surprising role of the heart. The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 10(1), 133-143: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15025887/
 McCraty, R., Atkinson, M., & Bradley, R. T. (2004). Electrophysiological evidence of intuition: Part 2. A system-wide process?. The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 10(2), 325-336: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Electrophysiological-evidence-of-intuition%3A-Part-2.-Mccraty-Atkinson/6395f3cdd73ed5f53c966923e6471ce9fee03a7a?p2df
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