Optimizing the Value of Your Blood Tests
Daniel Chong, ND - Investigation + Education = Disease Prevention
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Optimizing the Value of Your Blood Tests

Do you suffer from fatigue, brain fog, hair loss, digestive issues, joint pain, or other symptoms?

Many doctors dismiss health complaints because of an incomplete or poorly assessed blood test result.  And, often times they only order markers looking for diseases instead of trends toward disease.

In functional medicine, however, we use a blood test for assessing risk of disease before it develops. We also look at test results with a fine toothed comb, noticing patterns and trends that are suggestive of developing situations, that standard medical training does not teach a physician to look for.  For instance, risks for diabetes or heart disease can be much more thoroughly assessed with some additional tests not typically ordered in an MD's office, along with a more discerning look at the standard tests ordered.  

Probably the most poorly evaluated condition in conventional care that I am aware of is hypothyroidism, where physicians almost never order all that is necessary to fully see what is going on.

A functional blood test for a return to health
Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of symptoms instead of overriding them with drugs or surgery. One tool we use to accomplish this is to interpret blood tests using functional ranges, which outline the parameters of good health.

In contrast, the ranges most doctors use are based on a bell-curve analysis of all the people who visited that lab over a certain period of time, many of whom are very sick. These lab ranges have broadened over the last few decades as health of the American population has declined. As a result, many people with real health problems are told they’re ok because their results fall within these ranges.  In other words, they are just as sick as everyone else!

Do you really want to evaluate your health in comparison to all the sick people who visited your lab, or do you want to look at a blood test for what constitutes good health?

Looking for blood test patterns 
Because functional medicine is based on an in-depth knowledge of human physiology and how various systems in the body work together, we also look at a blood test for patterns instead of just looking at individual markers. By doing this, we see how these different systems influence one another to cause a constellation of symptoms.

For instance, looking at different white blood cells reveals whether an immune reaction is chronic or acute, and whether a virus, a bacterial infection, allergies, or parasite may be causing it. Other patterns can help us identify fatty liver, leaky gut, different types of anemia, or even a possible autoimmune disorder.

Blood test for functional medicine is more thorough
Because we look at a more complete picture, a blood test for functional medicine also includes more markers that standard blood tests. Going back to hypothyroidism as an example, many doctors only look at TSH, a basic thyroid marker, when running a blood test for hypothyroidism. A more thorough evaluation should include other markers to more fully ascertain how you metabolizing or using the thyroid hormone you are able to make, and whether or not your condition may be due to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease that attacks and destroys the thyroid gland.  It is not commonly known that this condition is responsible for approximately 90 percent of hypothyroid cases in the United States. If it is the cause of the thyroid disorder, treatment is much more complex and should assess a number of additional factors for the best result to be obtained.

A blood test for a functional medicine approach can also help us know what other tests may be necessary, such as a gastrointestinal panel or further testing for anemia.

Principles of functional medicine
Once the potential problems or risks have been assessed, the functional medicine practitioner uses a variety of evidence-based, non-pharmaceutical approaches to restore health. These include:

  • Adjustments to the diet
  • Lifestyle changes (such as eating breakfast, proper sleep hygiene, physical activity, or reduction of stress)
  • Appropriate basic supplementation to assure optimal intake of all important nutrient factors for the individual's condition
  • Supplementation with nutrients found to be specifically deficient in the individual patient (vs one supplement fits all)
  • Intravenous nutrient therapy to address cases where oral medicines will not have a strong enough effect
  • The use of herbal medicines to improve physiological function
  • Other natural medicine approaches customized for the patient based on lab testing

If your physician is not using similar principles and therapeutic approaches to guide his or her practice, yet optimal health is your goal, you need to find someone else.

If you cannot find a qualified doctor using these principles in your area, please contact my office.  I provide long distance consultations to people around the world for chronic disease risk assessment and prevention, utilizing the approaches and principles discussed above and much more.

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