The Journey thus Far

The Journey thus Far

(This letter will update my established patients and give a bit of my background for potential and new patients. It will give everyone a snapshot of my journey, as well as allow patients seeking care to explore the possibilities of their own journey to true health and wellness)


Welcome to Good Medicine Colorado, My New Home Base


I have been out of patient care for over 18 months, and I miss it. It’s a part of my life I cannot do without. There are plenty of good reasons I was missing in action for 18 months, including moving with my family halfway across the country. After settling the house and this long hiatus from practicing, I feel once again called to see and treat patients. I wear many hats, but this is my true and favorite calling: being a doctor. 


When I started practicing medicine in 2001, I was a year removed from my Chief Resident position in Family Medicine at Miami Valley Hospital and had spent that year working in the Emergency Room to get enough money to start my first practice. This practice eventually evolved into an eight-provider practice where we practiced traditional medicine, and I hated it. I saw 30-35 patients a day and felt like the monkey for the organ grinder. I was herding people through like cattle, and if testing and prescriptions did not fix them, I would send them on to the specialist to do their bazillion tests and procedures and get lost in the system. The system seemed to like me being a “monkey” as everybody in that system, (pharmaceuticals, hospitals, and insurance) won, but the patients and I lost big time. I lost because what I went to medical school to do—heal people—seemed like a pipe dream. The patients lost because they were dependent on medications, testing, and specialists and were never empowered to understand their health or educated in ways to stay healthy. They believed disease was inevitable, and only the above-described system could help them. I felt helpless in the traditional approach, the very opposite of what I expected to feel as a doctor. 

I took various routes to feel useful outside of patient care, such as consulting with hospitals and office buildings, thinking business was better than feeling ineffective at the office. Plainly, I was looking at a severe case of burnout. Then, my world got turned upside down, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.  

My son was four years old and was still not speaking. The school finally diagnosed him with an autism spectrum disorder, not I. Denial is not just for everyone else but was where I lived for those four years because, if he was on the spectrum, there was nothing to do but lots of therapy and hope for the best. With the diagnosis of “untreatable” autism as a wake-up call and help from a chiropractic friend, I understood there was a way to view the human body as a connected whole. The term “untreatable” applies to that which we don’t understand fully.

Finally, I understood why I went to medical school: to search for root causes of disease to implement true healing. My son started speaking full sentences 24 hours after changing his diet. There are tears in my eyes as I write this, for there is no greater love than a parent has for his child. I realized that many parents and patients were feeling helpless too. I could not use my previous techniques, so I struck out on my own and started my Functional Medicine practice.  

I started anew in a 900 square foot office in a small town with the “Field of Dreams” mantra playing in my head, “If you build it, they will come,” Though it was not the “ideal” location, I felt the “ideal” spot to be was where there were people who needed care. Guess what? People came, and I was busy. My practice developed over the next 11 years and I had to get a bigger place in Oxford, Ohio. During that time, I became advanced certified in Functional Medicine and created a genetic platform, Pure Genomics. This platform allows people to understand another piece of their medical puzzle, genetics, for free. That project was in partnership with Atrium Innovations Pro Brands, a supplement company, and they eventually made me their Chief Medical Advisor. With this position came more responsibilities. I was having a hard time juggling patient care and creating a vision of reaching even more people with Functional Medicine in my new role as Chief Medical Advisor, so I took some time off and regroup.  

Over the last 18 months, I have worked with others in my field on some fantastic projects that will help educate medical students and residents in functional medicine, along with creating an even more robust personalization platform with Pure Genomics. Now, I have come back to my true calling: seeing patients.  

I am super excited about my new practice in Palmer Lake, Colorado, where three other Certified Functional Medicine practitioners will join me. I look forward to applying all the things I have learned over these many years to help my patients/friends and support my patients in Ohio and my community in Colorado.

Meet Dr Nathan Morris

Headshot of Dr. Nathan Morris

Meet Dr Nathan Morris

Headshot of Dr. Nathan Morris

I am a family practice trained, Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner working to find the underlying cause of diseases and what the body is trying to tell us. I started my practice to create an environment of healing, and one that involves hearing patients who need help understanding how all of their symptoms connect. After obtaining my medical degree from LSU Shreveport, I moved to Dayton, Ohio to complete my family practice residency at Miami Valley Hospital where I served as Chief Resident. Upon completion, I opened a traditional family practice in Oxford, Ohio. After 8 years, I transitioned to functional medicine and discovered the true power of healing.  This journey has led me to Monument, Colorado, where I will be practicing with 3 other providers in a new functional medicine practice starting August 2020.

I am the Chief Medical Adviser for Pure Encapsulations which gives me an opportunity to educate other providers on genetics and business development. I also have the privilege of lecturing regularly on the implementation of genetics in practice through the program I designed, PureGenomics.   My passion for educating other physicians in training has been fulfilled with MBN Systems, which is working with medical schools and residencies in teaching the interconnectedness of the body through functional medicine principles.  I am also a co-host of the podcast, Good Medicine on the Go, where I, along with Kara Ware, instruct on practice implementation, and how genetics can empower both a practice, and its patients.

I love traveling, cycling, fly fishing, rock climbing,  kayaking, and ballroom dancing with my wife, especially tango! I really enjoy seeing the empowerment of patients when they take charge of their health and understand how to stay healthy by making good choices!

The Problem with Genomics

Interesting title from the man who co-created a clinical genetic interpretation web-app, PureGenomics, but there is a problem. It’s the same problem that our world suffers from in so many ways. Things are viewed as all good or all bad and no middle ground is being found. Whether this is politics, religion, science or the science that is medicine, everyone is trying to discredit everyone else. Where does the truth lie?

Somewhere in between.

So what is this middle ground when it comes to genetics and MTHFR? I think it comes down to viewing genetics as a tool that helps the clinician apply leverage. This leverage is understanding how these polymorphisms, (genetic variations which change the protein structure of enzymes, hormones, and their receptors) affect function, and how this possible change in function may affect clinical outcomes. It’s understanding that this change in function is hundreds of years in the making and is not a mutation, but a change, that in some cases, is beneficial, depending on the environment the organism finds itself in. Let’s use an illustration of the most famous reindeer of all, I mean the most famous genetic polymorphism of all, MTHFR, (got to love that name).

MTHFR is the most misunderstood SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism), just like Rudolf. This is an enzyme, like a lot of other enzymes, that has more than one function. It has many changes in its code, and I think there are around 25 of these polymorphisms (one base pair is exchanged with another), and like so many other genes with mutations, most of these do not affect the function of said enzyme. Two polymorphisms do affect function, but in the literature, there is lots of confusion as many researchers do not seem to understand that enzymes have more than one function, and one SNP may affect an enzyme in one function it carries out but not in another function. For example, C677T seems to affect MTHFR as it goes about creating SAMe for methylation donation for neurotransmitter generation, DNA methylation, and detox.

The other mutation, MTHFR A1289C, does not affect homocysteine but appears to be affect the enzyme more in the pathway of dopamine and serotonin generation. It seems to escape so many peoples grasp that an enzyme is like a Swiss knife, and just because the corkscrew is broken, doesn’t mean the knife cannot open a box. As an example, we cannot say the A1298C mutation is not important because it does not affect homocysteine and the diseases that arises from poor methylation, because it affects another function of MTHFR enzyme.

This is where clinicians and researchers run into problems. We fail to comprehend the context of the polymorphism. This creates frustration when we are using the wrong tool for the job, and making claims that addressing a particular mutation does something, when in actuality it does not. This creates loss of validity in a field that is highly valid and transformational to a clinical practice.

Another problem with SNP’s, and if you ever had teenagers you will understand this, their impact/behavior often is dependent on the crowd they hang out with. Not understanding this complexity, and seeing nutrigenomics as a linear equation, takes away the validity of the field and the clinicians’ claims of what intervention of a mutation will accomplish.

One case is the MTHFR gene which in the presence of adequate riboflavin has almost completely normal function even with the polymorphism at the 677 location.  Often, polymorphisms/SNP’s have fail safe(s), if you will, or supporting genes, and vitamins, that help correct the decreased function of said gene, so that the organism can live, not thrive necessarily, but ultimately reproduce, which per Brian Hawkins brilliant book, “The Selfish Gene,” is what genetics is all about. If we just talk about the MTHFR gene as being the only instrument that matters, and do not see it as one instrument in an orchestra, then we are giving it too much credit. Likewise, if I were to be the violinist in said orchestra, one would also understand that an “aberration” can definitely have an effect on the overall sound, yikes! Now if said orchestra was playing for the hearing impaired, I’d be awesome! In some ways, that is what a gene like MTHFR does when looked at from a historical context.

MTHFR C677T polymorphism was a genetic advantage. That’s right, or it would not be so prevalent (At least 60-70% of us have at least one copy, of the two copies, for this mutation). Why would evolution allow such a thing? Advantage, and a big one if you live in an endemic malaria region. It helped our ancestors survive malaria. Where was this gene most common?  In the Mediterranean region. What is the local diet there composed of? Lots of folate rich foods, which compensated for this less effective methylating enzyme of folate. Sweet huh? The standard American diet does not have a lot of natural folate (lots of synthetic folic acid–another paper for a later date.). This is an issue that leads to problems with a genetic advantage being turned into a disadvantage as an organism’s environment changes from its original environment to the adaption. So, what does this mean for us as we navigate this gene which has generated so much controversy?

We have to understand that we do not have it all figured out. We do know that the data is conflicting in some cases because nuances are not understood by even the researchers doing the research. A lot of researchers believe folic acid is equivalent to methyl-tetrahydrofolate which is in a paper like this,, one has to question the validity of the findings. The actual polymorphism which led to the homocysteine is not directly addressed, but rather the biomarker, homocysteine. It also looked at this polymorphism in relation to people already with cardiovascular disease and did not look at outcomes if we address this gene in prevention (when MTHFR C677T is addressed in blood pressure we see very positive outcomes and decreased risk of stroke). Then we find studies like this,, which seem to support the conclusion addressing methylation is quite beneficial.

What is there to make of this confusion? Should we just throw up our hands and say let’s not look at it or try to make decisions because it’s not clear? I don’t think so. Let’s agree that literature is not completely clear on the benefit of using 5-MTHF in all diseases, but it’s clearly helpful in many diseases. We also know it is much more effective in cellular uptake and this fact is very beneficial in many preventative strategies compared to its synthetic precursor, folic acid. Is it going to be the panacea that so many people have made it out to be? No, because we are giving it to much credit, and when it is not the magic hammer people claim it to be, it allows the faulty logic by the uninitiated, that since it cannot do all things, then all the polymorphisms that can be used in clinical practice are ineffective as well. This could not be further from the truth.

We have a saying where I come from, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” and this is really saying, don’t get rid of the good waiting on the perfect. We as clinicians, who so desperately want to heal, get in trouble when we create the magic hammer where everything becomes a nail. We lose credibility because we a looking for something that works on everything.

Nutrigenetics is a tool. It is incredibly effective as such, and the research supports this. Clinically, ask any psychiatrist if dosing with higher doses of Methyl-folate has not turned around a large number of refractory depressed patients. You would be hard pressed to find one not using this as a clinical tool. Is it where they start? No, nor should it be. The same goes with the functional medicine practitioner. We need to focus on what we know to be the foundations of functional medicine first. Heal the gut, address sleep, decrease stress and eliminate toxins. Then, and only then, should we be then looking at nutrigenetics to help us apply leverage in assisting the above-mentioned areas of focus. It works brilliantly when we understand its benefits, but also embrace its limitations.

Dr. Nathan Morris, MD