How Functional Medicine Lab Testing Differs From Traditional Blood Work

By TJ Williams, DC, PhD

We frequently get asked about the various types of testing we utilize at The Institute of Natural Health, so I would like to take this opportunity to explain why functional medicine laboratory testing is such an integral and essential part of your work up. It helps us get a clear picture of your unique physiology and guides our treatment plan.

When a traditional physician runs standard blood work, they are looking for an already established disease process. Generally, action is taken only when the lab results are out of the “normal” range. The trouble with this is that many people might not have an actual disease yet, but they are suffering from chronic symptoms already. Why wait until damage has been done. Functional medicine lab testing aims to prevent disease before it happens by assessing patterns of imbalance that without intervention will end up yielding chronic disease.

Why doesn’t my insurance always cover these tests?

Insurance companies base their coverage on diagnosis codes for established disease processes. They are happy to cover cardiac surgeries and expensive procedures and hospitalizations, but often won’t cover innovative testing that can save the patients and insurers millions of dollars. Sound nonsensical? We agree. However, upon request, we provide a “superbill” for our patients to provide to their insurance and some of our patients have had luck getting their testing covered.

These are some of the tests that we use to evaluate our patients.

  • Comprehensive Stool Analysis. Assessing gut function is a pillar of all function health programs. The test looks for markers of inflammation and malabsorption making it an essential test for those with IBS, inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune issues and weight problems.
  • Micronutrient Testing. Nutritional deficiencies are often at the root of many chronic diseases and symptoms such as mood disorders, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, fibromyalgia, and fatigue, diabetes, and heart disease. It can also be used to optimize health and fitness for athletes.
  • Adrenal Stress Profile. This test is a measure of an individual’s response to stress. It is also an important tool for pointing to adrenal imbalances that may be impacting a patient’s health in the forms of fatigue, mood disorders and autoimmune disease.
  • Organic Acid Testing. Provides a view into the body’s cellular metabolic processes and the efficiency of metabolic function. Organic acids are metabolic intermediates that are produced in pathways of central energy production, detoxification, neurotransmitter breakdown, or intestinal microbial activity.
  • Comprehensive Hormone Testing. For both women and men throughout all stages of life, these tests will help to evaluate the balance of hormone levels in the body to help direct use appropriate support of supplements, bio-identical hormone therapy, and lifestyle recommendations.
  • Advanced Cardiometabolic Testing. Traditional cholesterol testing is not adequate to assess an individual’s true risk factor for heart disease. Advanced cardiometabolic testing can reveal these risk factors and direct preventive care.
  • Heavy Metal/Essential Element Testing. We live in a very toxic world where we encounter chemical and toxins on a daily basis. Evidence suggests that chronic toxic element exposure can adversely affect: energy levels, reproductive function, cancer risk of all kinds, neurological development and function, respiratory, cardiac, liver, and immune functions, cognitive and emotional health and degenerative conditions.
  • Food Sensitivity Testing. There are different types of food sensitivity tests available. Some are more beneficial than others and the type of test ran is truly dependent upon other conditions that a person has. Certain conditions will make some food sensitivity tests less reliable or completely inaccurate.

If you would like more information regarding testing or any of the treatments, therapies, or services offered at The Institute of Natural Health, please contact us at (314) 293-8123 or visit us at theinstituteofnaturalhealth.com. Dr. TJ Williams is the Clinic Director for the Institute of Natural Health and the host of the radio program Wellness 101, which provides common-sensescience-based strategies for a healthy life. Wellness 101 airs Sundays at 3:00pm on FM NewsTalk 97.1.