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About Dr. Yani


Our current system focuses on treating the symptoms but not the root cause, but I believe we all deserve a life of vitality. Healing and preventative health does not come from a fifteen-minute doctor’s visit and the writing of prescriptions. I want to practice medicine based on your needs, the patient, not the insurance companies. If you have the same thoughts, you are exactly the person I want to help.

I was born in a small village in China. During my childhood, our family was so poor that we even couldn’t afford the money to fix the broken ceiling of the house in a cold winter. Luckily, we live in a warm community and their help made the winter not cold anymore. My childhood is full of happiness with unconditional love from my parents and the support from the community. I was taught, as a child, the importance of giving and supporting those in need.  

After graduated from the School of Medicine, Shandong University, I finished the Internal Medicine Residency training and specialized in gastroenterology. During the practice, I realized the limitation of modern western medicine. For most chronic diseases, we don’t have much to offer besides medications, where the side-effects might outweigh its benefits. Trying to help patients was the only reason that I went to Medical School. But I didn’t feel what I learned had offered me the right tool to achieve that goal. If we couldn’t cure the disease, why don’t we prevent its happening? So, in 2005, I came to the US to learn Preventive Medicine and finished my Ph.D. in Epidemiology at the University of Southern California.

After received my Ph.D. in 2009, I did six years of research at the City of Hope National Medical Center, mainly focused on research in cancer etiology and survivorship. During that period of time, I published more than 30 papers, three book chapters and presented our research at multiple international conferences. The research I was involved in clearly showed the importance of nutrition, stress and lifestyle. For example, physical activity decreases both breast cancer incidence and mortality, but this benefit goes away if women stop regular exercise. If doctors have knowledge in disease prevention, and know how to prevent minor issues developing into severe or chronic diseases, then most patients could keep their health in balance and have real longevity.

When I was ready to go back to clinical practice, I decided to choose Family Medicine instead of being a gastroenterologist or oncologist, I believe Family Medicine is the best specialty for me to offer patients education and changes within. Luckily enough, I became a member of Eisenhower Health, where I received the best opportunities to further pursue my dream in health care. Our program provided us the course of Integrative Medicine designed by the University of Arizona. I also finished the training in Functional Medicine provided by the Institute for Functional Medicine. Furthermore, I was able to rotate with Dr. Mimi Guarneri, the best person to learn from in Integrative Medicine and Dr. Mark Hyman, highly experienced in Functional Medicine.

Besides my knowledge in Family Medicine, the best training in addressing root causes of diseases and promoting optimal wellness, empowered me to provide an individualized, patient-centered, and science-based approach for patient care. I once saw a gentleman in his 60’s at Urgent Care who had right foot stress fracture just by walking on the treadmill. Instead of only treating his presenting problem, I was able to help him figure out the root cause of his stress fracture. The long term use of proton pump inhibitor for his reflux caused the malabsorption of multiple vitamins (i.e., Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, etc.) and minerals (i.e., calcium, iron, etc), which highly increased his risk of bone fracture. More importantly, I was able to instruct him to safely taper off proton pump inhibitor and get back to his optimal health. 

Giving is part of who I am and intertwined into my career as a physician and scientist. Based on what I learned in Functional Medicine and Integrative Medicine, I developed a community project approved by Eisenhower IRB (Institutional Review Board), entitled “Caring for the caregivers: A lifestyle intervention for those caring for patients with dementia”. Compared to caregivers of those not suffering from dementia, caregivers of those with dementia are twice as likely to experience financial, emotional and physical difficulties, as well as a higher risk of death.  We developed a twelve weeks intervention program educating caregivers of dementia patients on nutrition, exercise, sleep, breathing, meditation, and stress management. By the end of the study, on average, each participant lost 6.1 lbs, lowered systolic blood pressure 10 mmHg, diastolic blood pressure 5 mmHg, and significantly decreased their depression scale and stress scale, which is close to the national data of regular people of corresponding ages. Upon graduation, in recognition of my  commitment to serving the community, I was awarded the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors Scholarship Award and Community Service Award, presented by Dr. Maureen Strohm.

I remember when I was sick as a child, my grandma who knew some Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), just massaged some points on my body, and I recovered very quickly. As a Chinese, I saw a lot of medical miracles in TCM. However, my training in Evidence-based Medicine hindered my belief in TCM even though it represents the fruit of more than 2,500 years of development and refinement.  As an epidemiologist using statistics to explain science, I need to see the statistically significant difference between the groups of true acupuncture and sham acupuncture. I remained skeptical as many Western medical practitioners did until one day I witnessed a patient long suffering from a chronic issue, actually cured just by several acupuncture treatments. It’s time for me to be truly open-minded and understand how it works. I went back to our TCM books in medical school; I took online TCM courses taught in Chinese; I went to shadow TCM doctors on Saturdays; I took the acupuncture course for American physicians and met physicians in almost all specialties there. I saw amazing effects from acupuncture for all kinds of problems since the first day I started to practice it, and it astonished both patients and me. I truly felt regretted that I did not learn enough when I was in China.

To better learn TCM, I took three months off and went back to China to learn from national masters. True TCM doctors rarely treat patients using the same herbs or acupuncture points even though patients might present with similar symptoms. TCM is such an individualized medicine and the practitioners might even change their treatment plan based on the time of the day as it is highly interconnected with nature. Now, when my patients ask me what the science behind acupuncture, and how could his/her pain decrease from 10/10 to 1/10, or no pain at all in seconds just with few needles? My answer is that I don’t think our current understanding in science can answer this question yet. We even used the wrong method to study acupuncture as it is impossible to measure the effects of sham acupuncture. What the results told us is whether “conventional right points” acupuncture is better than sham acupuncture; this method would never be able to tell us if acupuncture is better than no acupuncture. Currently in China, people still develop new acupuncture methods based on traditional TCM theories. How do you know those sham points are not better ones? If one day, science can explain the phenomenon of quantum entanglement, or science can predict an earthquake, we might be able to understand the science behind acupuncture.


Our current system focuses on treating the symptoms but not the root cause, but I believe we all deserve a life of vitality. Healing and preventative health does not come from a fifteen-minute doctor’s visit and the writing of prescriptions. I want to practice medicine based on your needs, the patient, not the insurance companies. If you have the same thoughts, you are exactly the person I want to help.

Yani Lu, M.D., Ph.D.


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