…some of the most useful specialty lab tests
Every medical doctor is taught to use and interpret lab values on the CBC blood panel for baseline health markers.
This test is the one most of us get when we have our annual physical. It measures some very important health markers we all need to be aware of.
The CBC panel was designed to measure individual lab values against statistically “normal” ranges of a particular item. That sounds good in theory, but how useful is this for catching and treating potential serious health issues early?
The problem with conventional lab tests
The problem with relying on these broad ranges is that they are not as clinically relevant or useful as looking at optimal ranges. Optimal ranges are much narrower and are really goal markers for improved health and lower risk.
Most conventionally trained doctors don’t base their interpretation of your lab results on optimal ranges, but on diagnostic ranges because this is how they were taught to interpret these reports in medical school. This means that they are still relying on diagnostic ranges that are so broad they tend to flag problems in more moderate to advanced stages as opposed to at the earlier stages when making small changes to nutrition and lifestyle can be highly effective. .
Because these ranges are so broad very often patterns of declining health are not caught until a person has progressed into the condition enough to warrant medications being prescribed by their doctor. Wouldn’t it be better if doctors were trained to use optimal levels and look for patterns indicating a person is trending toward a condition before it becomes full blown?
~ And wouldn’t it be wonderful if when they found these problems early they advised their patients to get on an individual nutritional and lifestyle change program – instead of just prescribing a drug? I know I must be dreaming!
Moving beyond the CBC Blood Panel
Today there are many, specialized tests available to help clinicians assess health risks and measure health status that functional doctors and many other science based practitioners seeking to find the root cause of illness find very helpful. Unfortunately, not that many doctors use these tests, but hopefully that is beginning to change.
Specialized testing offers a more precise window into the body
The following are a few of the tests that I find provide valuable information and deeper insights into where the body may be imbalanced or have impaired pathways. Finding and addressing these pathways help the body return to a healthier state.
Vitamin, mineral and antioxidant deficiencies have been shown to suppress immune function and contribute to chronic degenerative processes such as arthritis, cancer, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Micro-nutrients are commonly deficient in people with chronic fatigue, leaky gut and other digestive or bowel problems.
This test measures your vitamin, mineral, amino acid and carbohydrate metabolism, fatty acids and metabolites to show if and where you have Micro-nutrient deficiencies. Micro-nutreint deficiencies can result in undermine a person’s immune function, and thus lower the immunity. Because this test measures intracellular status of micro-nutrients using lymphocytes instead of serum blood it provides a more accurate measurement of your micro-nutrient status. This test shows your micro-nutrient over a four to six month period and uses optimal ranges to generate repletion recommendations.
MTHFR is an enzyme responsible for converting 10-methylenetetrahydrofolate to the product 5-methyltetrahydrofolate – it is involved in the metabolism of folate and homocysteine. The product of the reaction catalyzed by MTHFR converts homocysteine (a potentially toxic amino acid) to methionine (a useful and necessary amino acid). While this genetic SNP has numerous ramifications (many we are still seeking to understand) one health impact is that people with this genetic variation have trouble making needed conversions of B6 and B12. This can result in a wide range of health issues, such as high homocysteine and an increased risk for stroke and other cardiac problems.
People with cardiovascular disease (especially elevated homocysteine), a history of depression, migraine headaches, thyroid disorders, an autoimmune condition, ASD or are poor detoxifiers show a higher incidence of this genetic mutation.
Genetic SNP’s testing
While MTHFR testing is starting to become more routine among some medical doctors there are many other genetic mutations called SNP’s that the functional medicine community is learning about almost daily. This is why more people are getting genetic testing done through labs such as 23&me.
One big problem with using 23&me is that the data is so complex most people have no idea what they are looking at. Fortunately, some very bright practitioners (much more knowledgeable than little old me!) have now devised ways to interpret many more genetic SNP’s and what they mean in terms potential of health risks. But the really fascinating thing is the “prescription” for these SNP’s isn’t a drug it’s nutritionally based supplements and food and lifestyle changes!
Yeast Overgrowth Testing
This test detects IgG antibodies to Candida/yeast overgrowth. Candida overgrowth in the gut may contribute to food allergies and sensitivities by allowing absorption of partially digested proteins (peptides), triggering antibody production to foods.
People who feel “sick all over”, have low energy, chronic fatigue, skin problems, digestive or bowel issues and ASD should be tested for candida.
Gluten Sensitivity & Food Intolerance Testing
For years I used what most practitioners used to test for food sensitives. This is called IgG testing and looks for antibodies and identifies sensitivities to foods, (such as gluten, casein, egg, corn and soy) and includes many other foods commonly eaten.
I recently learned about a newer more reliable test that measures Cell Mediator Responses called LEAP. This test uses serum blood to look for non mediated IgE food and food-chemical hypersensitivity across a much broader range of inflammatory markers. These mediators are released from cells and cause inflammatory reactions like headaches, skin eruptions, sinus and eye irritation, digestive problems such and IBS and pain such as fibromyalgia.
This testing is much more accurate. You can read more about that here: Food Sensitivity testing
People who feel “sick all over”, have low energy, pain in any location, chronic fatigue, autoimmune conditions, ASD, skin problems, digestive or bowel issues should be tested for hidden food intolerance’s first. See this chart for the conditions that are helped using LEAP testing indicationsformrttesting-chart-12-06
Remember – not all foods are good for all people!
Uncovering hidden food intolerance’s and imbalances in the body is essential to reclaiming your health and essential to any long term wellness program. My Healing from Within Program does just that.
If you are wondering if you may benefit from a more comprehensive analysis of what you are eating and interested in any of these testing options Contact me!.
~ Here’s a link to a chart showing what is measured in the CBC blood panel (Complete Metabolic Count) and what the results may be indicate: What the CBC Panel measures