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Functional Medicine Testing – The Top 5 Tests

The top five tests everyone should do (that won’t break the bank)!

  • Adrenal and Reproductive Hormone Levels

Ok, so maybe I don’t have my kids do this test, but most adults can glean useful information from it.  Cortisol is the stress hormone, so it can be impacted by any kind of stressor on the body from chronic pain and inflammation to sleep disturbance to nutritional imbalance.

Imbalances in reproductive hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone) in both men and women cause a wide array of problems such as fatigue, PMS, menopausal symptoms (including massive sleep and mood disturbances), lack of libido, and weight gain/ loss of lean muscle mass.  Any chronic illness usually involves some degree of adrenal dysfunction, so this test is my number one.

Cost:  Under $200.

  • Heavy Metal Testing

I’ve written a lot about this recently, but for good reason.  Heavy metals such as lead, mercury and aluminum are neurotoxins, and can impact neurological function profoundly.  Given that so many disorders today have their basis in the central nervous system (MS, Parkinsons, Alzheimers, autism), or impact the nervous system secondarily (Lyme disease is a great example), anything we can do to release toxins from that system will help significantly in overall health.

Even in the absence of “disease”, heavy metals may impact memory, ability to focus and concentrate, and the senses such as sound and vision.

Cost:  Around $100.

  • Food Sensitivity Testing

Many people have hidden underlying food intolerances that they are not aware of.  The more common ones are dairy products and eggs, but some are unexpected and surprising, such as garlic, bananas and cranberries.  Foods that may be seemingly “healthy” foods may not be healthy for a specific individual.  One way to identify food sensitivities is by doing an elimination and challenge test, which involves following a very restricted diet for 21 days (no eggs, dairy, nuts, shellfish, citrus, gluten, soy etc etc) then reintroducing one food at a time to see what triggers symptoms.  This is a long and tedious process and few have the patience for it.

Doing a finger-stick test shortcuts this, and assesses for 96 different foods.  These are not full-blown food allergies, which are mediated by IgE cells.  They might manifest as anaphylaxis, rashes, swelling etc occurring immediately after the food is eaten.  Those are typically known about already.  What we are looking for are IgG reactions which are delayed (up to 72 hours after eating the food), subtle and may manifest in any way from general fatigue and malaise to skin break outs to headaches.  Most people who do this test find it fascinating, and avoiding their food sensitivities has allowed them to get to a higher level of health.

Cost: Around $130.

  • Gluten Intolerance Testing

Gluten intolerance is so common in the western world, but it underrecognized.  Gluten intolerance may be a precursor to Celiac disease, but will not necessarily progress to that level of severity.  Certainly many people can be gluten intolerant without having the diagnosis of Celiac, and without having the severe intestinal symptoms (diarrhea, malabsorption, weight loss etc) we associate with Celiac.  I have seen arthritic symptoms, skin rashes, chronic fatigue, neurological issues and hormone imbalance all resolve by identifying gluten intolerance and adopting a gluten-free diet.  I have traditionally used stool testing as an assessment for this however I am learning of a lab called Cyrex that offers highly sensitive saliva testing.

Cost:  $115

  • Lyme Western Blot Test

What would a list of labs from a Lyme specialist be without a Lyme disease test?!  Lyme is prevalent everywhere, and has far-reaching effects on the body.  It can resemble chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, MS, arthritis, Parkinsons, ALS and a host of others.  It is sneaky, and is spreading throughout the world – currently it is recognized as the fastest-growing infectious disease in the United States.

There is also an association between Lyme disease and autism.  One of the problems to date is that lab testing is unreliable, and this continues to be a challenge.  However IGeneX lab is a specialist lab that provides, in my opinion, the most reliable results.  I often recommend the IgG and IgM western blots as a starting point to see if Lyme disease may be an underlying issue.

Cost: $200

These five tests give so much information about an individual’s health.  They are what we call “functional tests”.  They may not diagnose any specific disease, rather they give information about the underlying terrain of the body, the organs and systems that are under stress, and areas that we can act preemptively to prevent disease processes further down the track.

If you would like to embark on this functional investigation or broaden your current plan to include these areas, contact us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nicola McFadzean.