How a Doctor Cured Her Autoimmune Disease with Functional Medicine



Think about how different our medical system would be if all doctors were required to have an extreme health crisis before practicing medicine.

It’s through those toughest times with our own health that many of us turn to Functional Medicine, as we realize conventional care isn’t getting us what we need. But sometimes, being so involved in treating others’ diseases makes it difficult for doctors to even see our own symptoms for what they really are. 

This week’s guest on The Doctor’s Farmacy, Dr. Cynthia Li, is here to share her personal journey through autoimmunity and realizing her symptoms had deeper meaning. Dr. Li received her medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. She’s practiced as an internist in many settings, including Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Francisco General Hospital, and St. Anthony Medical Clinic serving the homeless. She currently has a private practice in Berkeley, CA and recently published her first book which I highly recommend, Brave New Medicine: A Doctor’s Unconventional Path to Healing Her Autoimmune Illness.

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Here are more of the details from this episode (video / audio): 

  • How Dr. Li came to discover her autoimmune disease (4:09 / 8:05)
  • The sigma of being a “difficult patient” (17:44 / 21:39)
  • My parallel health experience to Dr. Li’s (20:15 / 24:12)
  • The steps Dr. Li took to heal herself (25:44 / 31:01)
  • Dr. Li’s experience removing gluten from her diet (36:15 / 42:08)
  • The overwhelm that resulted from Dr. Li’s exposure to treatment options (44:18 / 50:05)
  • How Dr. Li learned to tune into her own intuition and use it to guide her (50:03 / 55:17)
  • What would medicine look like if serious illness were a prerequisite to entering medical school (1:01:08 / 1:06:26)
  • Using release instead of optimism to manage hope fatigue (1:05:09 / 1:10:35)
  • The 15 steps for healing Dr. Li shares in her book Brave New Medicine: A Doctor’s Unconventional Path to Healing Her Autoimmune Illness (1:07:40 / 1:13:30)
  • Find Dr. Cynthia Li online at and follow her on Facebook

I know you’ll appreciate Dr. Li’s insightful and inspiring story as much as I did, I hope you’ll tune in. 

Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD