Have you been told that your lab results are normal yet still feel that something is wrong? Maybe you been told not to worry about it or that it is just a normal part of aging or worse, that it is all in your head? It might just be that we just need to look at your issues from a different perspective….
Functional medicine utilizes a “functional” or “optimal-health” rather than a “disease-based” approach to look beyond labels and symptoms for possible issues undermining your health.
You may ask, “What is the difference?” Say you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism and have all the classic symptoms: weight gain, cold, tired, etc. You are given a replacement hormone, but you still don’t feel well. Since many providers believe that thyroid dysfunction is limited to the thyroid gland itself and/or its interaction with the pituitary, they may not address issues outside of hormone production. Hormone conversion, binding, utilization, clearance or autoimmunity, might also be factors. Functional medicine focuses on finding the root cause of your concerns rather than managing symptoms.
There are many methods used to determine where physiological/biochemical imbalances lie. History and symptoms are a great starting point, but we determine functionality with laboratory testing. So, you go to your doctor and they run a blood test reporting that everything is in the normal range. But what is considered normal?
Labs use data based on folks that have had testing performed at their facilities in the last year. Have you been to a draw station or doctor’s office lately and noticed who was there? Yes, sick people! When your doctor states that your labs are fine, you leave knowing that you are healthier than most sick folks, but does that mean you are HEALTHY? Another problem is that each lab bases their ranges on their clients so there may be different ranges within a company due to geographic location or differences between individual lab companies. This may result in you being deemed healthy by one lab but not by another.
We use Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis, or FBCA for short, to look at your data with a narrower focus. Rather using the latest population, data taken from healthy individuals defines “optimal” ranges. Since most practitioners only look at markers outside of the laboratory ranges, results outside of “healthy” ranges can uncover biochemical imbalances BEFORE they develop into something bigger.
Another very important difference is that while reviewing biochemical data, scientists discovered patterns of individual markers that closely aligned to common disorders found in the body. For example, say you have symptoms associated with your gastrointestinal tract. Most conventionally trained physicians may say that not much information can be ascertained with single blood markers. By utilizing FBCA, we may be able to see patterns associated in high probability with conditions such as low stomach acid, parasites, malabsorption, etc. If warranted, we can then utilize additional diagnostic testing. GI issues are just one of the many imbalances(dysfunction) that may be uncovered by looking at blood marker patterns rather than just focusing on individual test values.
Finally, our basic blood panel is much more comprehensive than most health care providers order. This provides us with the opportunity to perform a more comprehensive analysis since you can only see what you look for. It is better to obtain one good panel, one time to determine systemic influences rather than trying to put together data taken months/years apart that does not correlate.
To see how it works in action, check out our video at https://youtu.be/9si3PZO4dvQ