Categories Expert Series, Functional Medicine

Functional Medicine Practitioner Spotlight: Christina Marino

3X4’s new Functional Medicine Practitioner Spotlight series features interviews with practitioners, consultants and functional medicine thought leaders to explore everything functional medicine practitioners need to know about successfully building, managing, and growing their private practice. 

The following is an interview we recently had with Christina Marino, Ph.D, DAOM, L.Ac, Dipl.OM, MS. CEO at Alternative Health Care Concepts,  Functional Medicine Concepts and Functional Medicine Los Angeles.

What can you tell us about your practice?

I started practicing alternative medicine 28 years ago here in Los Angeles, California. I remembered, it initially started the first time I walked into the TCM College 32 years ago and saw a room filled with all sorts of Chinese herbs displayed on several tables. I immediately fell in love with herbal alchemy and Chinese medicine. My love for natural herbs, supplements, homeopathic tinctures and holistic therapies seemed to deepen year after year. I developed a craving, a thirst for the knowledge of the different healing arts. For 6 years I studied the Morphogenetic Field or if you will, the Human Energetic Biofield along with the Human Energy Vortices (Chakras). I incorporate Classical and Clinical Homeopathy in my practice, three-year program, certified by the leading homeopaths in this country and India. I was brought by my Italian parents. I did not eat junk food growing up, everything eaten was home cooked, whole foods. Naturally, I believe it’s part of my DNA to seek out the very thing that I love. So I became a plant-based chef and then furthered my education with a Masters of Science degree in Human Nutrition. In addition, being certified by the well renowned Institute for Functional Medicine has broadened my healing skills to pass on to my patients. So, you can see that my healing tool box is quite large and that allows me to focus not just on the physical aspects of that Human Being sitting in front of me but also have a look inside the emotional, mental and spiritual part of them.

My healing tool box is quite large and that allows me to focus not just on the physical aspects of that Human Being sitting in front of me but also have a look inside the emotional, mental and spiritual part of them.

What surprised you the most when you started your practice?

It is surprising to know what I didn’t know in setting up a practice. For me, I was just really starting out with nothing. I didn’t have a business plan, back then. Although I must say that I was spiritually guided. The synchronicities were frequent and led me to the right people at the right time. I was able to find an office place, and get it up and running in no time. But I had a lot to learn. Hiring the right people, medical billing, and all administrative duties. These things I did not want to do but I knew I had to learn everything from the ground up.

Another thing that surprised me was that patients coming in to see me were only focused on their primary health condition without addressing everything else that was physically, mentally and emotionally, out of balance.

Another thing that surprised me was that patients coming in to see me were only focused on their primary health condition without addressing everything else that was physically, mentally and emotionally, out of balance. It is like, if your car gets a flat tire, you need to get it fixed for your car to operate. For many, there is this avoidance or perhaps not being aware of all the “car smoke and leaks” that need to be fixed.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome as you built your practice? How did you overcome it? 

Burn out. When I first started, I was working 6-7 days a week, seeing 100 patients a week. I believe it was after my 7th year in practice that I got sick and needed a new game plan. After I healed myself, I revised and cut down on my work hours and sorted out a more balanced lifestyle. More time in nature, more yoga, more mindfulness. Basically, more time for myself. When in healing school, the first year was spent in learning how to ground and self-care. This was a great lesson for me. I mean if you can’t take care, nurture yourself and your needs how are you able to fully serve your patients?

What advice would you give to other practitioners considering launching their own practice? 

Don’t make it all about work, you should have a balanced life too. Practice what you preach.

Do not take medical insurance. It is a nuisance. Start and end with a cash practice. Hire people who have an interest in Functional Medicine and Alternative Medicine. Hire someone who believes in your mission statement. Life is too short, don’t work 5 or 6 days a week. Enjoy your balanced life and family. Don’t make it all about work, you should have a balanced life too. Practice what you preach.

What excites you most about the field of functional medicine?

Epigenetics excites me! They say that “Genetics loads the gun; the environment pulls the trigger”. I love all of it! Epigenetics and diet, epigenetics and the impact on environment, and epigenetics and disease. In addition, Nutrigenomics pulls at my heart strings. Since I am a nutritionist, the science of the relationships and interactions between genes, nutrition and diet is of great interest to me. Personalized and tailored nutrition geared to that patient’s genetic makeup is making great headway and I’m trying to keep up.

What excites you most about the field of functional medicine?

I see myself finishing the book I’m currenting writing on healing and then lecturing on it. I am developing a nutritional supplement and a nutritional food brand that I hope to launch in the near future. Going forward in time, I will be doing more lecturing and teaching on health and wellness and hopefully circulating the message and changing people’s lives for the better. I want to be able to help and reach groups of people and share my knowledge with them.

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