“I feel the healthiest I’ve ever felt in my life. I really truly feel that I am thriving and I am living — truly living — according to what I want to do.”
– Selvi

Selvi Rengasami had long dreamed of being a doctor. But as a medical student, she was disheartened when numerous surgeries and medications failed to ease the pain and digestive distress of her Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune inflammatory bowel disorder.

“I was on a medication prescribed for Crohn’s, but I was on about eight times the max dose,” she recalls. “My lab numbers were OK, but I felt horrible and that’s when I knew something was not working here.”

A Crohn’s Diagnosis

Since childhood, Selvi had struggled with nausea, diarrhea, and severe upset stomach. Early on, taking over-the-counter digestive medications helped.

But in time, and with the pressures of pre-med studies at Columbia, her condition worsened. Tests soon uncovered Crohn’s disease.

“They said, ‘It’s a chronic illness. There’s no cure. You’re going to be on medication for the rest of your life,’” she recalls.

Trying Steroids for Crohn’s

Following diagnosis, Selvi started taking steroids to reduce the inflammation. While it was intended to be short-term, she remained on them for two years.

Meanwhile, her condition progressed. She also believes steroids came with side effects, including severe osteoporosis and a compression fracture in her back at 22.

At the lowest point, a perforation in her large intestine led to an infection, requiring emergency surgery. She woke to find two ostomy bags on her abdomen, which would temporarily collect the contents of her intestines.

“They told my parents, ‘She’s got 24 to 48 hours to live if we don’t do the surgery,’” she says.

When side effects from the anesthesia shut down her liver and kidneys, she vowed to do whatever it took to get better.

“At that moment, I was literally praying with all my might and whatever power I believed in and said, ‘I’ll do anything. I don’t care what. I would do anything and that’s when things started to shift,” she says.

A Clue… in a Cat’s Story

After years of pain, surgeries, and heavy doses of medications, Selvi found a clue to relieving her Crohn’s disease in an unlikely place – in a story about a cat.

An enthusiastic cook, Selvi had come across the story in a food blog. Diet changes for the cat had eased its pain and inflammation.

“Until this point my doctor was like, ‘Well, diet doesn’t really play a role,’” she says. “The inflammation’s literally in my digestive system. How can diet not play a role? This cat started to feel better and something clicked inside of me. I was like, ‘Wait a minute, this has to apply to humans too.’”

Trying an anti-inflammatory diet, she noticed more energy and less joint pain, inspiring her to take the next step of following a grain-free, paleo diet.

“My symptoms were better, and my numbers were getting better,” she says.

In time, Selvi reached remission from Crohn’s. However, she still wasn’t feeling 100%.

The Next Step: Eastern Medicine

It was Selvi’s encounter with acupuncture and Eastern medicine that truly broadened her perspective on health and healing – and moved her forward again. She explored mind-body practices more deeply, including meditation, journaling, inner child work, and energy healing.

“I started to meditate but I also started to use the power of visualization inside my intestines to visualize and to really truly believe how they would look if they were healthy and normal and vibrant,” she says. “I started to do it over and over and over and over and the next colonoscopy was clean with no strictures, with no sign of inflammation, nothing.”

Those powerful results stunned her and confirmed she was on the right path.

“I started to understand the power that our minds have to help us heal, or conversely, to create more illness,” she says.

With acupuncture, she reached even more symptom relief. She began to understand that all her bodily systems were connected and the power in approaching them holistically. She also remained open to what her symptoms might be telling her.

“Literally, everything plays a role,” she reflects. “What I put in my mouth plays a role. What I’m thinking plays a role. My past traumas play a role. My past actions play a role. Unprocessed emotions that are still inside play a role.”

Pain-Free and On the Dance Floor

These days, Selvi has moved into what she calls beyond remission. She’s thriving and living fully, a stark contrast to her earlier years of pain and struggle. Pain-free, she can now salsa dance and travel.

“I feel the most alive I’ve ever felt in my life,” she says. “I feel the healthiest I’ve ever felt in my life. I really truly feel that I am thriving and I am living — truly living — according to what I want to do.”

Selvi’s longtime dream of helping others as a physician has evolved into something different but infinitely more meaningful and fulfilling given her story. As a health coach, she guides women with gut disease on the path to remission and beyond using her unique methodology of integrative nutrition, energetics, and intuitive medicine.

“What’s possible on the other side is incredible,” she says. “The body is capable of healing to an extent that our minds can’t even comprehend.”

You can find and follow Selvi at www.drselvi.com and on Instagram.

Listen to Selvi’s story on the Rebuilding My Health Radio podcast.