I offer a number of advanced diagnostic lab tests that are available to practitioners familiar with Functional Medicine. The goal of performing lab testing should be to provide information to the doctor that will allow him or her to understand the biochemical mechanisms responsible for causing a patient’s unique health challenges. Thus, these tests seek to find root causes. Finding the underlying reasons why someone has a problem is the key to successfully treating that condition. There are many tests available to choose from. A sampling of the tests is below.
GASTROINTESTINAL TESTS- Many GI symptoms are due to food sensitivities, hypochlorhydria (lack of stomach acid), infection with H. Pylori, gluten and gliadin allergy, Candida, parasite infections and dysbiosis (Overgrowth of intestinal bacteria). The GI system is often a root cause of other system issues, especially those relating to hormones, inflammation and the immune system. There are a number of advanced Functional Medicine tests that will assist in determining the exact issues causing your chronic GI problems. They include:
- Heidelberg Gastric pH Analysis- Since digestion begins in the stomach, determining it’s ability to perform the functions it was designed for, forms the critical first step in isolating your issues. This test is performed in our office.
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- Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis- This test requires only a single stool specimen and measures levels of beneficial, neutral and harmful bacteria, pathogenic bacteria (such as H. pylori- the cause of most ulcers), parasites, yeast, mold and fungi. These tests are performed by sophisticated DNA assays that are far more accurate than standard lab tests. Also evaluated are markers for: inflammation, gluten sensitivity, bacterial drug resistant genes, level of GI immune function, beneficial and harmful fatty acids, pancreatic digestive enzyme function, digestion, and absorption.
- Food Allergy Testing- Food allergies or sensitivities are abnormal immune system responses that may contribute significantly to GI complaints. There are several different types of food allergies that can all be tested for.
- Comprehensive Gluten / Gliadin Panel- Unless you have undergone the Cyrex Labs “Wheat/Gluten Proteome Reactivity & Autoimmunity” test, that checks twenty-four different components of sensitivity to wheat / gluten /gliadin, you have NOT been tested for gluten sensitivity. The standard test performed by all other labs only checks for, at most four components, thereby missing twenty possible reasons you may be gluten intolerant.
- Intestinal Antigenic Permeability Screen- This is another new, cutting edge test from Cyrex Labs. Recently introduced, this sophisticated test checks for antibodies directed against parts of proteins that protect you from bacterial damage to the lining of your gut. Additionally, it checks for antibodies circulating in your blood against the lipopolysaccharides found in the cell walls of bacteria. The presence of any of these antibodies proves that you have GI Permeability or “Leaky Gut”, which is associated with many auto-immune diseases, chronic inflammatory processes and “Brain Fog”.
AMINO ACID TESTING- Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, from which the body is built. They make muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, hormones, neurotransmitters, and play a major role in almost every metabolic process the body undergoes. When the supply of just a single one of the twenty different amino acids is insufficient, important functions suffer. Analysis of patterns of plasma amino acids may be used to identify deficiencies and determine what steps are necessary to replenish supplies.
COMPREHENSIVE BLOOD TESTING- This is a test that screens over 60 different markers in the blood, which is much more thorough than routine testing performed by your doctor. The test includes a comprehensive metabolic profile, complete blood count, liver and kidney function tests, cholesterol, triglycerides and several other cardiovascular risk markers as well as several indicators of blood sugar dysfunction (Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes).
FATTY ACIDS TESTING- The human body consists primarily of amino acids, fatty acids, minerals and sugars. Fatty Acids form the cell membranes that cover every cell of the body. Fatty acid levels are determined by dietary intake and genetics and are modified by many hormones. The balance of fatty acids in the body has a profound effect on the function of cell membranes and the receptors located on their surfaces, membrane fluidity and permeability, transmission of nerve signals, levels of oxidative damage, inflammation, and energy production. Measuring levels in the membranes of Red Blood Cells provides information that may assist in correcting imbalances.
HORMONE TESTING- Testing of the steroid (Meaning derived from Cholesterol) hormones, cortisol, DHEA, pregnenolone, male and female sex hormones to determine imbalances are essential in balancing metabolism. Blood, urine, and salivary testing may be performed. Each gives different information.
ORGANIC ACIDS TESTING- Measuring levels of certain chemicals in the urine provides a vast amount of information about inborn (Inherited) errors of metabolism, mitochondrial energy production, nutrient deficiencies (Vitamin, mineral, amino acid, essential fatty acids, and other critical nutrients), altered neurotransmitter turnover, levels of antioxidant nutrients, response to toxins and the liver’s ability to detoxify them and overgrowth of bacteria and fungi in the GI system.
TRACE MINERAL & TOXIC METAL ANALYSIS- Levels of many essential minerals and toxic metals can accurately be determined from a hair sample. Hair can represent intracellular levels because once the mineral or heavy metal is inside a cell and is extruded with hair growth it is “locked in” to the hair and can be assessed by atomic absorption spectrophotometry. This test can provide assessment of long-term exposure to aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead. Toxic elements may be 200-300 times more concentrated in hair than in blood or urine. A provocative challenge for toxic metals then can measure levels of lead, mercury, and cadmium after an oral and rectal suppository infusion with agents that chelate or bind these metals. Hair essential element analysis is an inexpensive screening test for excess or deficiency of essential minerals.