11 years ago today, I wrote my very first blog post. Today, I wrote my final one. In this post, I celebrate the last 11 years, share why I’m retiring, and also talk about what’s next. Thank you for being on this journey with me. 💜
If you’re a regular listener of my podcast, you know that I start every year with a Healing Stories episode. It features back-to-back interviews with autoimmune warriors just like you! I ask them to share their journey from rock bottom to reclaiming a vital life. In this episode, we talk about Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, Crohn’s disease, narcolepsy, rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, and also autoimmunity in general. Everyone’s story is unique, but we also have so much in common. Whatever your diagnosis, I hope these stories resonate and inspire.
Our imagination is powerful, because our brain responds to imaginary experiences very similarly to real-life experiences. If we’re spinning worst case scenarios in our mind, that triggers a very real stress response in our body. Positive visualizations do the opposite. Not only do they interrupt the stress response, but research shows they can help reduce anxiety, improve performance, increase mobility, and manage pain. In this 8 minute episode, I share a simple technique for using positive visualization to soothe autoimmune symptoms.
This is one of the most popular podcast episodes – for good reason! The topic is Resilience, that ability to bounce back from life’s hardships. With autoimmune disease, we get lots of practice. Sometimes we feel strong and capable of overcoming suffering. Other times we feel beaten down and frightened by our body’s unpredictability. The good news is that resilience isn’t something you either have or you don’t. Resilience is a trait we can nurture. My guest is Dr. Cynthia Li, a functional medicine physician who has autoimmune disease herself. The intensity of her own health challenges ended up being a masterclass in resilience, and also changed the way she practiced medicine.
No matter the diagnosis, fatigue is a common symptom of autoimmune disease. Many of us try to ignore that feeling and “push through” because we all have things we want to accomplish in our days. We might also fear that if we stop to rest, we’ll never be able to get moving again. However, rest isn’t optional. If we never take a break, our bodies will take that decision out of our hands in the form of illness or an autoimmune flare. In this article, I share 10 simple ways to rest. Even small breaks can be rejuvenating and restorative, supporting our health not just in the moment, but also long-term. Choose one of these as a gift to yourself today.
Many of us love to help others and also love to please others, which can make it hard to say no. The trouble is that there are limited hours in the day, and we can’t do everything. When we have autoimmune disease, learning to set limits is essential to our health. Sometimes we forget that when we say yes to everyone else, we’re saying no to ourselves. Eventually, our body might say no for us in the form of an autoimmune flare. None of us wants that. In today’s mindset minisode, I’m going to share some beginner tips for saying no. I’ll also share a technique that can help you identify your priorities so that you say yes to what matters most, and say no to the things that keep you from those priorities.
The connection between gut health and autoimmune disease is very strong. 70% of our immune system lives in our gut. If we have inflammation in our digestive system, that’s going to cause inflammation in our immune system. This connection also goes both ways. If there’s inflammation and autoimmune activity in your body, that impacts digestion as well. Today, we’re going to troubleshoot some of the most common digestive issues, with the goal of supporting our health bodywide. My guest is Dr. Sruti Lam-Fletcher, a naturopath who specializes in digestive health. She’s also an autoimmune warrior herself so understands today’s topic both personally and professionally.
I have an exercise series on my website to help people with autoimmune disease find forms of fitness that work well for your body. That can be challenging! Today, I’m featuring Low Pressure Fitness. It’s designed to help you gain strength and mobility while relaxing your nervous system at the same time — three things we could all use! It can also improve both gut and pelvic health. In this article, Dr. Jenna Cornell describes the foundational principles of Low Pressure Fitness, the many benefits, and shares three sample exercises that you can try today!
The onset of autoimmune disease is a before and after moment for many of us. We feel like a completely different person, not just in our bodies but in our lives. Jobs and interests that were big parts of our identity might no longer be available to us. The roles we play in our families may change. It can feel like we’ve lost who we used to be and we don’t recognize ourselves anymore. In this 6 minute podcast, I talk about the stages of this type of identity crisis, along with a technique to help you through it.
This is a very special episode featuring two of my colleagues and friends: Dr. Terry Wahls & Dr. Sarah Ballantyne! I’ve known these wonderful women for over a decade now. They’re both powerful leaders in the autoimmune community. They are also autoimmune warriors themselves. Today, we’re doing an Autoimmune Q&A: I’ll be asking us all a series of questions about our personal experiences with autoimmune disease, and our best tips for all of you!
Autoimmune disease is complex. Whether we’re seeking a diagnosis, or trying to navigate the medical system after a diagnosis, neither is easy. Obstacles are common, and self-advocacy is often necessary. After 12 years living with rheumatoid arthritis, here are my top 15 tips for getting the healthcare we all need.
My goal with the Phoenix Helix Podcast is to help people with autoimmune disease thrive. Today’s episode is dedicated to our transgender listeners and the healthcare practitioners who serve them. We’ll be talking about the medical complexities that might arise from the intersection of gender-affirming treatment and autoimmune treatment. We’ll discuss the challenges transgender patients face when seeking medical help and not knowing if you will face medical discrimination. We’ll share tips for creating safe spaces within healthcare practices. We’re also going to talk about the stress-autoimmune connection and the special challenges facing transgender people, with advice for self-care and self-advocacy. I’m honored to have a panel of guests with me today. Mitch Hankins is a transgender man living with autoimmune disease and will be sharing his experience and advice with us. Dr. Aly Cohen is an integrative rheumatologist who will be sharing the medical perspective. And Dr. Shainna Ali is a mental health counselor, educator, and advocate. She’ll be sharing the psychological perspective.
For Sandy Swanson, symptoms began subtly and progressed slowly. At first, she thought it might simply be a sign of aging, even though she was only in her 30’s at the time. Like many people with Hashimoto’s, it took years to discover the cause. By that time, her symptoms had worsened, and doctors routinely dismissed them as “all in her head.” She experienced a lot of medical gaslighting. I know many of you can relate! In this interview, she shares her journey back to health, and the interventions that made the biggest difference.
I believe in being an empowered patient, and that means understanding the care we receive. Sometimes tests are ordered and interpreted by our doctors, but it feels like a foreign language that we don’t speak. Today’s podcast is part of my testing series. Prior episodes have covered thyroid tests, rheumatology tests, GI tests, and more. Today, we’re doing a deep dive into MRI’s and neurological antibodies. My guest is Dr. Ken Sharlin, an integrative neurologist who believes in a holistic approach to patient care. He is a licensed MD who is board certified in neurology. He’s also certified in functional medicine.
There are many science-backed benefits into the positive power of dance for autoimmune disease: improved mobility, reduced pain, reduced anxiety and depression, improved body image, and better quality of life. That said, if you’re living with chronic illness and chronic pain, dance poses challenges. If your body has changed with autoimmune disease, can you still dance? On hard days, can dancing make your day better? The eight people featured in this article answer a resounding yes to both of those questions. They each share what dancing means to them, and how they adapt dance around their autoimmune symptoms. They also share videos showing their joy in dancing.
When our mind convinces us something is impossible before we’ve even tried, that’s a self-limiting belief. It’s common for autoimmune disease to trigger them. Googling your diagnosis can lead to scary visions of the future. Symptoms can dramatically change our lives, taking away activities we used to love. With the flare-based, unpredictable nature of autoimmunity, life becomes more uncertain. The brain feels safer with certainty, so when it’s possible you might fail, your brain may convince you not to try. The problem is that this keeps your life smaller than it needs to be, not only cutting you off from failure but also success. We don’t need perfect health to live a fuller life. We can expand our skills, activities, accomplishments, and relationships, and we can start with small steps. We may not be able to do everything, but we can do some things. The key to overcoming self-limiting beliefs is to focus on progress and possibilities, not perfection. Life isn’t an all-or-nothing game. In today’s mindset minisode, I share a simple technique from my book, Healing Mindset, to identify the beliefs that are holding you back, and take the first steps to overcoming them.
Ayurvedic Medicine is an ancient medical tradition with roots in India, which contains wisdom that still applies to our health in modern day. Today, we’re going to learn how it may help people with autoimmune disease. My guest is Dr. Akil Palanisamy. Ayurveda changed his life both personally and professionally. As a young man he developed a mystery illness that modern medicine couldn’t solve. His fatigue was so intense, he couldn’t sit up in a chair and had to drop out of medical school. It was Ayurvedic medicine that put him on the path to healing. Now, he is a Harvard-trained physician who practices integrative medicine, blending conventional medical expertise with the holistic approaches of functional medicine and Ayurveda. His latest book is called, The TIGER Protocol: An Integrative, 5-Step Program to Treat and Heal Your Autoimmunity.
Lymph is essential to our body’s ability to detoxify, reduce inflammation, and fight infection. Supporting the lymphatic system can benefit anyone’s health, but it’s especially important for those of us with autoimmune disease. Chronic inflammation puts an extra burden on this system and can even damage it long-term, reducing its efficiency. In a prior career, I was a lymph drainage therapist for 15 years. Most of my clients were people with chronic illness. As someone with rheumatoid arthritis myself, it’s one of my favorite self-care techniques.
One of the fastest ways to tap the relaxation response is to tune into our senses. It immerses us in the present moment, offering a break from our worries, and gives us the space to simply be. It’s available to us anywhere, anytime, and it only takes a minute. You can do it for longer, but even a brief pause is beneficial. In this 9 minute episode, I share some of my favorite ways to tune into the senses.
We are more than our genes! Epigenetics is a field of science that studies what influences our genetic expression. These are the things that turn our genes on and off. Our body is dynamic and it’s changing all the time in response to our environment and daily choices. Epinutrients are the nutritional compounds that alter genetic expression in a positive direction. My guest, Dr. Kara Fitzgerald, is a naturopathic doctor and clinical researcher, whose research focuses on the epigenetics of diet and lifestyle. Her book, Younger You, is a deep dive into the science of Epinutrients.
When Emma Chu Farnsworth was 18 years old, she was an athlete and a freshman in college. Over the course of three weeks, her life changed forever. What started as an unexplained rash on her face ended with a diagnosis of Lupus Nephritis Class IV. It was a shocking, overwhelming, and lonely time in her life. She’s incredibly grateful to conventional medicine for saving her life. Now nine years later, Emma is experimenting with diet and lifestyle changes to improve her life even more. With Emma, we celebrate the baby step approach to autoimmune health. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to do everything all at once. Each positive choice can reap rewards that you actually feel. For Emma, those rewards are less digestive bloating, increased energy, more mental clarity, and hope for what comes next.
We spend a lot of time on social media without necessarily noticing how it’s impacting our mental, emotional, and physical health. Social media has both benefits and potential risks. Many people with autoimmune disease find like-minded souls on social media who may understand their experience better than nearby family and friends. However, social media is also linked to increases in anxiety, depression, eating disorders, loneliness, insomnia, brain fog, and more. So, what do we do? In this short podcast, learn a simple technique that allows you to see how social media is impacting you, and curate your experience accordingly.
If you’re eating well but still have digestive issues, what do you do? Are there simple foods and drinks that can support digestion? When should you try a digestive enzyme supplement? And how do you choose a high-quality one? Can enzyme supplements expand food tolerance? Can they help digest gluten? I answer these questions and more in this blog post.