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  • Heather H. Christensen, PA-C

What is Functional Medicine?

Video Script: What is Functional Medicine?

I’m Heather Christensen, with the Centre of Health and Functional Medicine.

The question I am asked most often when I introduce myself or the Centre of Health is, Just What is Functional Medicine? I’ve written my favorite definition, that I’ve found below for you to read.

A major premise of Functional Medicine is that, with science, clinical wisdom, and innovative tools, we can identify many of the underlying causes of chronic disease and intervene to remediate the clinical imbalances, even before overt disease is present. Functional Medicine exemplifies just the kind of systems-oriented, personalized medicine that is needed to transform clinical practice. The Functional Medicine model of comprehensive care and primary prevention for complex, chronic illnesses is grounded in both science (evidence about common underlying mechanisms and pathways of disease; evidence about the contributions of environmental and lifestyle factors to disease) and art (the healing partnership and the search for insight in the therapeutic encounter).

- Institute of Functional Medicine at

But, I wanted to tell you, what Functional Medicine means to me, both as a practitioner and as a person with health problems, just like everyone else.

To me, Functional Medicine is the practice of asking, why. It’s like the young child who asks their favorite quesiton over and over and over...Why? As a medical provider and really, a scientist, I’m never satisfied with the first answer. I want to know more.

Currently, you go to your doctor, they list a few symptoms and stick you into a box they call a diagnosis.Then, give you something to manage that symptom. For example, Heartburn. Your doctor says you have dyspepsia or GERD, here take this acid reducer. But I want to know,

WHY do I have heartburn?

Why am I getting headaches?

Why can’t we get pregnant?

Why I’m depressed?

or Why I feel so tired all of the time?

In Functional Medicine we ask these questions over and over because it leads us to dig deeper and uncover the underlying causes, even problems at the cellular level, that are causing a dysfunction that’s manifested throughout the body.

Now you may have a great doctor who is good at asking questions, so what can functional medicine offer you? Regular doctors are taught to break diseases up into separate systems, this is why you may have a cardiologist, a neurologist, an endocrinologist. This is the way I was trained too. I’ve found that when I step back and look for how all these systems are interconnected, and instead of focusing just on the symptoms, apply my understanding of physiology and the latest research to uncover the sources of dysfunction and correct those.

What really sets Functional Medicine apart is that we’ve learned how to approach a person differently in the medical encounter. We understand that each person is unique and we have to spend the time to learn about all the factors that have affected their current health, and create a picture of how all the factors influence one another.

We do this by creating a Functional Medicine timeline and organizing this information in the Functional Medicine Matrix. The result is we have a better ability to understand what is happening with you, individually, help you resolve your health problems, and identify early risk factors to help you prevent future illness.

Our business is to make you healthy - so you don’t have to waste time or money being sick. As a medical provider, I have post graduate training in Functional Medicine. I’ve been a patient and applied this approach to my own problems, So I’ve seen through my own experience, and through witnessing the transformative experiences of others that the Functional Medicine approach is the most effective tool we currently have to help people live healthier lives.

Join us at the Centre of Health, and experience Functional Medicine for yourself.

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