As I was reviewing and researching all of the functional medicine labs I run for my patients around the world, it became obvious that there is no shortage of quality laboratories to select from. They have industry leading scientists with quality control at the highest level. In my experience, most people elect to pursue the functional medicine or alternative tests when the conventional system has not provided the pertinent tests, accuracy or availability of them to the general public. I currently reside in Canada and we have a health care system where we fund it through our taxes and where all Canadians have access to health care. This is different than many countries around the world but it allows the less fortunate access to our medical system. There are pros and cons to this system but I am going to concentrate on what you can do when standard, conventional results are within range or when you have many symptoms but don’t know where to turn for help. I have patients who are on three month waiting lists just to run labs that I can run in two weeks via USA based functional labs. I also have many patients who are told their lab values are fine and it is all in their head but they know there is something amiss in their body. They just don’t feel like themselves.
Now it is one thing to know which labs to run based on your symptoms and your own queries but it is entirely different when it comes to finding a qualified practitioner to order them for you and then interpret them in a comprehensive yet understandable manner. The quality of practitioner would be the first prerequisite you should look for. Have they helped people with similar health concerns as you? Do they look at the body holistically or just target lab results? How long have they been a practitioner and what are their credentials? Have you read their reviews or consulted with their previous patients? You really need to do your due diligence when selecting your practitioner as it could be the best decision you ever made or a waste of more money. Just like everything in life, there are good professionals and not so good ones. Always interview them first before allowing them to run your labs and be your practitioner. I typically have a 45 minute call with each prospective patient before we both agree to work together. It is a two way street and both have to feel at ease in working with one another. I have listed the most important labs that I use in my practice and I may use only one at a time with a patient or five. It all depends on their needs and level of dysfunction and symptoms. You should look at these labs like your dictionary or reference point should you want to heal holistically. As a brilliant doctor Dr. Mark Hyman MD says, I am a holistic doctor as my patients have a “whole list” of issues. Cute but very applicable.
Gastrointestinal (GI) Labs
Bio-Health (BH) 101 (Metabolic Assessment)
This was one of the first labs I ran on myself when I was in the program and it measures liver function, protein digestion/indican levels, oxidative stress and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). A positive urinary indican means you are not breaking down the protein or there is an increased presence of bacteria in the small intestine. This can be caused by insufficient hydrochloric acid (HCL), insufficient digestive enzymes, parasitic or bacterial infection and much more. Another very important measurement is Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is this is where your small intestine contains excess bacteria that can produce abnormal amounts of methane and hydrogen gas. The third marker measures bile acids and any damage to liver cells. If you have an unhealthy liver, excess bile will be spilled into general circulation and then excreted through the urine. The fourth and final lab on the BH101 is the lipid peroxides. This measures oxidative stress or free radical damage to the cells. This can lead to degenerative disease. I typically see patients with poor oxidative stress numbers when they have been working in factories, touching chemicals (like hairdressers) or have been exposed to a great deal of toxicity.