What is Functional Medicine?Functional medicine is personalized care that deals with prevention and treating underlying causes, instead of just symptoms, for serious chronic disease. It bridges the gap between conventional and alternative medicine. It is a science-based field of health care using blood, saliva and stool testing along with a comprehensive medical evaluation to determine the root of health issues. It focuses on supporting the body naturally with cutting edge neutraceuticals (not pharmaceuticals), diet and detoxification programs.
Why do Functional Laboratory Testing?
Licensed acupuncturists in Florida are legally able to order blood tests, saliva tests, stool tests, x-rays, MRIs and other laboratory or imaging studies. Using independent laboratories, we are able to order tests which can guide our treatment. Laboratories that conduct functional medicine testing that we use include LabCorp, Diagnos-Techs Inc., Metametrix and Enterolab.
How are our tests different from what your doctor would order?
Pathological vs. Functional Ranges
The primary difference between the functional and pathological ranges is the degree of deviation allowed within the normal ranges. Pathological ranges are broader, and it is likely that results outside this range ARE indicative of pathology. Pathological ranges are determined by taking the average results from all the people (who are mostly diseased and medicated) who are tested at a particular lab over a year. Thus, the normal range will be slightly different for every laboratory, and each year the “normal range” changes slightly, based on who was tested at the particular facility.
Functional ranges are generally narrower than pathological ranges, and it is common for there to be deviations from the functional range which are still within the “normal” pathological range. These deviations indicate functional imbalance, but are not indicative of existing pathology. The functional ranges were developed by the American Association of Clinical Chemists (AACC) and are based on a sample of healthy individuals. Utilizing functional ranges to analyze your blood test results allows us to find functional abnormalities before pathology results. Often, these “sub-clinical” abnormalities can be reversed through dietary changes, stress reduction, nutritional support and acupuncture to bring your body back into balance before you reach a pathological state.
Saliva vs. Blood Tests
Why test this stuff?!
Here’s an example of why saliva testing is important: Let’s say you have been having hot flashes. Your friend had great results with an over the counter “natural” progesterone cream, so you decide to try it too. You feel better at first, but gradually the symptoms come back. You use more of the cream and you feel better, but eventually, despite higher and higher doses, it stops working. You go to your doctor, and she does a blood test to check your progesterone level. The test is normal, but you still feel terrible. Your doctor has you try taking birth control pills, but it doesn’t help.
If your doctor had ordered a saliva test for progesterone rather than a blood test, the results are likely to have been quite different. Chances are the saliva test would show hugely elevated progesterone levels. Why the difference? Because the progesterone which gets into your body from a cream is “free” progesterone. It will not be detected in a blood test, (unless your doctor specifically requests a test for free progesterone, which will be extremely expensive and not covered by your insurance) but will be detected in a saliva test. The extremely high level of free progesterone available to your receptor sites overloads them and causes the sites to shut down, making them unable to recognize the progesterone available to them. You keep taking more and more of the hormone, but your body can’t use it.
How is this relevant?