A common question I get from patients who are new to my clinic is “what lab tests do I need ?” Often, their doctors have already run some labs and either made a diagnosis or told them that everything was normal. My decision regarding what labs to run for my patients ultimately depends on the person. There are certain things that I do with almost every patient that walks through the door. Then there are other things that I would order that depend on the particular needs of the patient.
Every new patient I see gets a comprehensive blood chemistry panel. This is a blood panel that I’ve designed which covers most of the essential metabolic markers like:
- Blood sugar
- Hemoglobin A1C
- A comprehensive metabolic panel that looks at liver and kidney function
- Thyroid panel
- Iron panel
- Certain nutrients like magnesium and vitamin D
- Inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein and homocysteine
- Other metabolic markers like GGT, alkaline phosphatase, lactate dehydrogenase
- CBC with the basic immune markers
I like to run this panel at least twice per year to keep my patients on track and measure progress, and sometimes more frequently depending on the patient’s condition.
You’re probably thinking “But wait…does everybody need that many tests?”
My answer is, likely not. However, patients who are coming to see me are sick and have typically been sick for a long time, and they’ve typically seen anywhere from 3 or more doctors. They’ve typically traveled to see specialists, sometimes in other countries. They’ve typically seen multiple, different alternative medical practitioners, everything from naturopaths to chiropractors, acupuncturists, homeopaths, and nutritionists. They’ve already typically spent thousands of dollars on supplements, medications, herbs, and tried all kinds of special diets and have been struggling for a long time. So for a patient like that then I do need to see all those tests. That’s because we need to figure out what’s at the root of their problems, which is the goal of functional medicine. Or some of my patients have been told by their doctors that everything is fine, that their lab work is all normal but they have all kinds of symptoms. This is where a good comprehensive functional blood chemistry analysis (which I wrote about here) could be the missing key to solving their health problems.
What if I got half of those tests last year?
Well, things can change pretty quickly. For example, TSH can change daily and even throughout the day. Blood sugar can certainly change on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Lipids can change within in a few weeks. I do a review of previous lab work as part of the new patient case review. But to really see what’s going on now, more recent blood work is necessary. This type of approach is more proactive than reactive. I like to see if there are any trends or patterns that indicate potential progression to a more serious problem so I can intervene quickly and reverse it.
My perspective on routine lab testing is far more complete and in-depth than most doctors care to look. Because I’ve had extensive training in functional lab analysis, this enables me to use a unique expert approach to your lab results… a perspective that few practitioners are trained or experienced in doing. The process takes considerably more time than the routine doctor’s approach of a quick glance for extremely abnormal results.
What other lab tests might I need?
There are several types of specialized lab tests that I use with my patients that are more sensitive than most testing you will get from your doctors. Some of the common tests I look at include:
- Additional blood tests for specific conditions, such as high cholesterol, hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, food allergies, leaky gut, and gluten sensitivity.
- Advanced stool testing to screen for parasites, Candida, bacterial infections, intestinal inflammation, dysbiosis and a deficiency of beneficial gut bacteria.
- Urine organic acids testing to screen for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, Candida, problems metabolizing fat or carbohydrate, B-vitamin status, nutrient deficiencies, methylation issues, detoxification capacity, oxidative stress, and neurotransmitter metabolism.
- Saliva, serum or urinary hormone testing for adrenal and sex hormone status.
- Testing for heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium and arsenic.
- Micronutrient testing to look for vitamin, mineral and antioxidant deficiencies
- Autoimmune testing to look for antibodies to various tissues in the body which allows us to potentially stop autoimmune disease years before it starts
- Genetic testing for methylation pathways and single-nucleotide polymorphisms that may contribute to cardiovascular disease, autoimmunity, and detoxification impairments
The types of testing I choose for each patient depends on their medical history and health concerns, so it’s very individualized to the patient’s unique needs. Interested in a private consultation to discuss which tests might be right for you? I’d like to invite you to join me for a complimentary 10 min consultation to discuss how I can best help you with your lab testing decisions.