Why Functional Medicine?

Wheat Ridge functional medicine practitioner Dr. Mark VanOtterloo delivers a short summary on functional medicine: genes and the environment. He explains why functional medicine integrates the wisdom found in traditional medical with modern medicine. This also qualifies why it’s a part in his practice and how it helps to treat the chronic disease epidemic.


The functional medicine paradigm focuses on the cause of a disease that may be resulting in multiple symptoms and tissue damage. This paradigm integrates multiple specialties and allows for a more robust view of causative factors of disease including the mind / body connection. This view of interconnectivity is certainly apparent in the traditional medicine of East Asia, where disease will affect multiple systems that are entirely connected and responsive to environmental changes.

Functional Medicine for Chronic Disease

When it comes to working with patients with chronic conditions the functional medical approach works as an investigational model of symptomatology. We can start to tie in multiple causative factors that drive chronic disease. This gives a big picture that is quite helpful but often overwhelming. This is where we identify a patient’s motivations in order to focus their efforts. Patients are asked:  “what do you immediately want to work on(?)” in order to identify their health goals.


When it comes to chronic disease there are often genetic causative factors. It is often a fatalistic idea that all chronic disease is only originates genetically. Our genes do not operate in a vacuum but rather interact with the environment. In fact, changes in the environment can alter the expression of genes themselves.


Simply put, making changes in the external environment around genes helps to change their expression. You can make modifications in your diet and lifestyle that will also impact gene expression.

And now for a Quick Blurb About Dr. VanOtterloo…

“I have my doctorate in acupuncture with a focus on integrative medicine. My Wheat Ridge, Colorado practice utilizes both functional and traditional medicine in order to help patients with chronic disease. For disorders with a genetic component we look at the external environment to help down regulate gene expression.”