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August 31, 2020 66 min

This conversation with Dr. Cynthia Li covers her struggle and healing journey with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, an autoimmune thyroid condition, and its many offshoot effects on her health. We discuss her search for healing and normalcy over a decade-long illness, which led her from acupuncture to qi gong and exploration of all aspects of her life, including her most important relationships. We talk about what happens in the body during Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, how we can actually influence gene expression, the culture of medical school, and what it actually feels like to get acupuncture.

Cynthia Li, MD, is a doctor and author whose personal healing journey through a disabling autoimmune condition took her from public health in under-served populations to integrative and functional medicine. 

After graduating from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, she practiced internal medicine in settings as diverse as Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Francisco General Hospital, St. Anthony’s Medical Clinic for the homeless, and Doctors Without Borders in rural China.

Since 2005–when her personal health challenges began–she has studied and practiced with functional medicine experts, environmental health scientists, acupuncturists, and qigong masters, weaving together cutting-edge science and the ancient healing arts. Currently, she has a private practice in integrative and functional medicine, and serves as faculty for the Healer’s Art program at the University of California San Francisco Medical School.

She is a member of the American Board of Internal Medicine, the Institute for Functional Medicine, and Integrative Medicine for the Underserved. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, Thrive Global, and Psychology Today. She is the author of Brave New Medicine: A Doctor’s Unconventional Path to Healing Her Autoimmune Illness and a free e-booklet How to Shield Yourself Against Covid-19: Science-Based, Integrative Strategies for a Once-in-a-Century Pandemic.

Outside of work, she enjoys gardening, urban farming, traditional cooking, playing the piano and ukulele, reading, hiking, and camping. She lives in Berkeley, CA, with her husband, 2 daughters, their dog, a hamster, and 50,000 honeybees. To stay grounded, balanced, and continually growing, she practices Wisdom Healing Qigong twice a day, every day.

You can learn more about Dr. Cynthia Li on her website:

(This episode is sponsored by LetsGetChecked. Go to and use promo code: TOGETHER30 to receive 30% off an at-home health test!)

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