Kimberly Marrone L.Ac., CFMP

What You Need to Know

Many of our patients first come into our practice suffering. They arrive to their first appointment with a variety of symptoms ranging from pain, fatigue, brain fog, digestive issues, and anxiety just to name a few.

Most have already seen a number of Doctors and Specialists. They have had lots of testing and blood work only to be told that everything looks “normal”and there is nothing the doctors can find that is wrong.  Often, they will be told that their blood work is “fine” but are prescribed medications to alleviate the symptoms without ever figuring out what is causing the symptoms to begin with.

One of the most important pieces of knowledge that I received in my training was from one of my Professors in regard to patient care. He said to me “ Your patients know their body…they know what it is to feel good…they know what health feels like, and when they come in and express to you that they do not feel well, you need to listen.”  We were then trained to investigate deeply into the entire arena of their health. We were trained not only to look at their symptoms, but to look closely at their blood work and physical function and their health history. We were taught that these were critical pieces to truly  asses with the eyes of Health and Wellness.

Many doctors dismiss people’s health complaints because of an incomplete blood test that only looks for full-blown diseases instead of trends toward disease. In Functional Medicine, however, we use a blood test for assessing risk of disease before it develops. This way we can do something about it before it’s too late. For instance, a fasting blood glucose over 100 mg/dL can identify a risk for diabetes long before a diagnosis. Or more complete thyroid testing can explain hypothyroid symptoms when a standard test shows results are “normal.”

Fortunately , there is a way to look at blood work results through a different lenses. This helps us see a deeper and more complete picture of whats happening in the body of each patient. One tool we use to accomplish this is to interpret blood tests using functional ranges, which outline the parameters of good health.

In contrast, the ranges most doctors use are based on a bell-curve analysis of all the people who visited that lab over a certain period of time, many of whom are very sick. These lab ranges have broadened over the last few decades as health of the American population has declined. As a result, more and more people with real health problems are told the they are fine because their lab results fall within these wide ranges.

There are two main types of ranges in the field of blood chemistry analysis: a Pathological range and a Functional/Optimal range. The Pathological range is used to diagnose a specific disease. The results will tell us unequivocally that the body has passed the threshold for wellness  for that disease state. As for Functional/Optimal ranges, they are used to assess the risk or movement towards those disease states. It allows us to see the trend before the disease develops.

Another benefit to working with a Functional Medicine Practitioner is that we see our role as helping with Prevention and treating of the Root cause of disease. Because functional medicine is based on an in-depth knowledge of human physiology and how various systems in the body work together, we also look at a blood test for patterns instead of just looking at individual markers. By doing this, we see how these different systems influence one another to cause a constellation of symptoms.

For instance, looking at different white blood cells reveals whether an immune reaction is chronic or acute, and whether a virus, a bacterial infection, allergies, or parasite may be causing it. Other patterns can help us identify fatty liver, leaky gut, different types of anemia, or even a possible autoimmune disorder.

A Functional medicine doctor will use ranges that are based on optimal physiology and not the “normal” population.

This results in a tighter “Functional Physiological Range,” which allows us to evaluate the gray area in the above image that’s within the “Normal” range that to us tells us that something is not quite right in the physiological systems associated with this biomarker.

So we increase our ability to detect patients with changes in physiological “function”. More important is the fact that we can begin intervention whether its nutritional support, organ system support or recommendations for further testing.

This process allows us to identify the factors that obstructor patients from achieving optimal physiological, biochemical, and metabolic functioning in their body.

To Summarize…

•Don’t settle for “Normal” ranges of blood chemistry

•“Normal” is almost never “Optimal”

•Blood-work or Lab analysis should reveal functional highs and lows rather than just High or Low.

•Blood-work or Lab analysis should almost always result in nutritional recommendations, organ system disease risk and further testing

We want to address health issues before they become diseases or disabilities. Schedule an appointment now to see what your bloodwork is truly saying about the state of your health.

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