Updated: Jul 6
"Your labs look normal".
How many women have heard these words from their doctor's mouth? And how many women are still presenting with severe hormone imbalance, low thyroid function, gut issues, and complete exhaustion.
Your regular labs may look normal, but regular labs simply scratch the surface of chronic illness. They work well to diagnose acute illness and to look for life-threatening issues, but for chronic idiopathic (no known origin) conditions like the ones listed above, regular labs kind of suck.
But functional lab testing? That starts to get us places. I love to run tests, and I love to get the results back. Testing, not guessing, gives me way more to go on with clients.
Women ask me about #functional labs all of the time, so here is a primer with a few examples to get us started.
I've chosen my favorite 3, and the #tests I most often run on #clients. Please keep in mind that I am a #health #coach and not a medical professional. I cannot diagnose, treat, or prescribe. I simply look at information and teach my clients about their bodies. They are free to use my suggestions or not use them. We call #FDN an opt-in model of self-care.
1. DUTCH test
Cost: $350 with me; $399 on the website
"Millions of women suffer from hormonal #imbalances. Whether it is menopause, #weight gain, #fatigue, low libido, premenstrual symptoms (PMS), #mood swings, or #depression, these symptoms can lead to more serious problems if misdiagnosed. Identifying the root cause of #chronic #health issues is certainly correctable, but only if properly identified.
The DUTCH Test® was created to provide insight into many of these concerns, working to deliver the most complete assessment of sex and #adrenal hormones, along with their metabolites, in one easy to administer test. No blood to draw, spitting in tubes, or filling up jugs of urine.
DUTCH vs. Saliva Testing
While the free cortisol pattern in saliva has clinical value, there is a significant missing piece to surveying a patient’s HPA-Axis function with saliva testing – measuring cortisol metabolites. To properly characterize a patient’s cortisol status, free and metabolized cortisol should be measured to avoid misleading results when cortisol clearance is abnormally high or low. Likewise with sex hormones, measuring estrogen and androgen metabolites gives a fuller picture for more precise clinical diagnosis of hormonal imbalances and HRT monitoring.
DUTCH vs. Serum Testing
While the most universally accepted testing method (due to the availability of FDA-cleared analyzers that are reliable and inexpensive), serum testing is lacking in some areas. Adrenal hormones cannot be effectively tested in serum because free cortisol cannot be tested throughout the day. There is also a lack of extensive metabolite testing (especially for cortisol and estrogens).
DUTCH vs. 24-Hour Urine Testing
There are two primary drawbacks to 24-hour urine testing of hormones. First, the collection is cumbersome, and as many as 40% of those who collect, do so in error (Tanaka, 2002). Secondly, dysfunction in the diurnal pattern of cortisol cannot be ascertained from a 24-hour collection. Some providers add saliva for daily free cortisol. DUTCH eliminates the need for two tests." (source)
Learn more about the DUTCH test here-
This is my own DUTCH test. I run all labs on myself for fun and also to continue to work on my own health.
This test was taken after my first year as an FDN. I was still feeling pretty crummy. I had no energy, my periods were heavy and painful, my stomach was a mess, my libido had tanked, and I was freaking exhausted all of the time. This was right after I stopped homeschooling my 4 kids. It was wonderful to be with them, but the constant stress of momming and teaching and housewifing plus the strain of intense exercise every day to deal with all of my stress had thrown my HPA axis for a loop. See below.
Without data, I would have been throwing different diets and supplements at the wall and hoping something would stick.
But with the data, I learned the following:
I had no discernible #testosterone. No wonder my libido was trashed.
My #estrogen levels were through the roof. Blood #tests had not picked this up. Consequently, my #periods were heavy and painful and my PMS #symptoms were ever-increasing. #PMS + no #libido does not a happy #marriage make.
My #cortisol levels were through the roof most of the day. I started my mornings with slightly elevated stress hormones, and then they just shot up. They stayed high for most of the day, and then they simply tanked right around 4 pm. At night, they flatlined. No wonder I was panicky and #anxious all morning. No wonder I was reaching for #coffee every day around 3 pm.
After addressing some of these concerns, my #hormones started to level out. But I will be honest. It took years. Years. The first months of #balancing and #healing put me light years from where I started. But it is now, about 3 years later, that I actually feel good. Strong, energized, balanced, and super grateful to the Lord.
Are you willing to work, little by little, for years? I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, so I was in. Most of my clients get to this point as well. They want to feel good again. And I can tell them that I totally understand.
If you're in it for the long haul, schedule a Discovery Call with me to see if we would be a good fit to work together. We can start right away to get you feeling better.
2. Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis
This is a super affordable functional lab. It's pretty nuanced though. If sodium is low, you don't just supplement with sodium. There are ratios that look for thyroid issues, stress issues, period issues, and the like. We can look for heavy metals. I actually see a lot of uranium in clients when I run this test, but only those that live in Bakersfield, CA. Uranium can be found in dirt and also groundwater and drinking water. Excess uranium can accumulate in the kidneys and in bone. Elevated uranium levels can be present in a woman who is extremely fatigued (source).
There is a lot of correlation between some of the markers on the test and emotional patterns seen in women.
"The parts of a hair nutrient mineral pattern that are most significant in regard to behavior and emotional control are (1) a very high stress ratio – sodium to potassium (Na/K) and (2) a high copper level with a very low zinc level resulting in a very low zinc/copper ratio.
Individuals with this type of mineral pattern often are susceptible to what I call “stress overwhelm”. Since the stress response is a survival mechanism operating at a sub-cortical level as a strong reflex response, no matter how intelligent or well educated such an individual is, the person can still experience sudden explosive outbursts in reaction to frustration or #irritation. The person usually has a very low frustration tolerance until such time as the #nutrient #mineral system is brought into a healthier balance.
In the case of a woman with a very high copper level and very low zinc level, she would have the very intense #emotional and behavioral reactions that are more commonly observed in #teen #girls who have severe PMS reactions" (source).
"Stress also depletes #zinc which is needed to control and regulate copper metabolism. As copper levels build up to excess or toxic levels, especially in the brain, the person is more likely to experience “#stress overwhelm.” This is because copper tends to lower the potassium level in #cells and tissues, raising the sodium /potassium stress ratio. The more that potassium is depleted and becomes deficient in the presence of excess or toxic #copper levels, the more intense the person’s reaction to stress is likely to become, resulting in 'stress #overwhelm'" (source).
So your hair can perhaps tell you why you are experiencing symptoms of extreme PMS. With data at our fingertips, we can gently start to balance and nourish the body.
How cool is that?
3. GI Map
Cost: $489 (possibly cheaper with insurance)
I have saved my favorite for last. I am notorious for talking about #poop. My kids think I am so weird.
But you are what you poop. So there.
The GI Map is the first-line lab test for all of my clients. All disease starts in the gut. When traditional medicine gives no answers to chronic health complaints, a functional lab like the GI Map can shed light on some of the reasons you feel like...crap?
There are a lot of super curious, very intelligent people who read this blog. I am including tons of information on the GI Map because lots of you ask about it. Here is a chance to learn about it for yourself.
"Almost every patient can benefit from a GI-MAP gut health assessment. Some patients are looking to achieve optimal health, while other patients have been chronically ill and frustrated without a diagnosis for years.
Some conditions that warrant testing are:
Digestive complaints, diarrhea or constipation
Skin problems, like acne and psoriasis
Mood disorders, depression, and anxiety
Diabetes and weight loss issues (source).
Can Infants and Children Benefit from the GI-MAP?
Yes. The GI-MAP is commonly used in infants and children, and can provide insight into conditions related to Attentional Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism, and digestive complaints.
What is Reported on GI-MAP Test Results?
The Gastrointestinal Microbial Assay Plus (GI-MAP) is an innovative clinical tool that measures gastrointestinal microbiota DNA from a single stool sample with state of the art, quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) technology.
The GI-MAP was designed to detect microbes that may be disturbing normal microbial balance or contributing to illness as well as indicators of digestion, absorption, inflammation, and immune function.
What is the test looking for?
C. difficile Toxin A
C. difficile Toxin B
Enterohemorrhagic E. coli
E. coli O157
Enteroinvasive E. coli/Shigella
Enterotoxigenic E. coli LT/ST
Shiga-like Toxin E. coli stx1
Shiga-like Toxin E. coli stx2
Recent studies have shown that nearly 50% of the world's population may harbor H. pylori. And, although many carriers are asymptomatic, H. pylori is known to have a causative role in ulcers, chronic gastritis, and stomach cancer.
Additionally, in early phases of colonization, patients may experience hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid) followed by a change to hyper aciduria (lots of stomach acid). Over time, additional H. pylori strains may colonize, including those with Virulence Factors and increased disease potential.
Virulence Factor, babA
Virulence Factor, cabA
Virulence Factor, cabPAI
Virulence Factor, dupA
Virulence Factor, iceA
Virulence Factor, opiA
Virulence Factor, vacA
Trillions of microorganisms inhabit the human intestine to make up a complex ecosystem that plays an important role in human health. Commensal bacteria extract nutrients and energy from our diets, maintain gut barrier function, produce vitamins (biotin and vitamin K), and protect against colonization by potential pathogens.
Many bacteria measured on the GI-MAP are considered opportunistic pathogens, as they only cause disease and illness in some individuals, particularly the immune-compromised. Many individuals come into contact with opportunistic bacteria and experience no symptoms. Most sources consider these microbes to be normal in the stool. However, they can cause gastroenteritis and inflammation at high levels in vulnerable patients. Symptoms may include diarrhea, loose stools, abdominal pain, or even constipation.
Overgrowth and excessive colonization by opportunistic bacteria may occur when the commensal bacteria are impaired by poor diet, antibiotic use, parasitic infection, or a weakened immune system. When intestinal permeability is present (see zonulin), these microbes could escape the lumen of the gut and infect extraintestinal sites.
ADDITIONAL DYSBIOTIC/OVERGROWTH BACTERIA
POTENTIAL AUTOIMMUNE TRIGGERS
Fungal organisms are commonly found in the human digestive tract, but fungal overgrowth can cause illness in susceptible individuals. Fungal growth may be localized in the body. For instance, Candida spp. may be high in the large intestine but normal in the small intestine, and vice versa. In a patient with suspected fungal overgrowth, additional tests may be necessary to understand the complete picture of fungal overgrowth. Urinary D-arabinitol or antibodies to Candida are sometimes used.
EBV- Epstein Bar Virus
A parasite is an organism that lives and feeds on a host organism at the expense of the host. The GI-MAP tests for pathogenic parasites and protozoa (some of which are non-pathogenic) most commonly occurring in the GI tract. Sources of exposure should be identified and eliminated to prevent reinfection.
Blastocystis hominis (my note- this parasite is correlated with Hashimoto's disease. I find it regularly in my Hashi's clients.)
(Yup. I've found worms in people.)
INTESTINAL HEALTH MARKERS
IMMUNE RESPONSE (my note: immunocompromised? gluten sensitive? with these markers, we have data to show that indeed this could be the case).
Calprotectin (my note- Crohns? Celiac? Diarrhea from hell with no reason why? We can see how inflamed the gut is with this marker).
Occult Blood - FIT
Zonulin (my note: zonulin rips holes in the small intestine, leading to food sensitivities and other allergies. I recommend adding zonulin if you think you have a leaky gut).
ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE GENES
The GI-MAP includes results for detection of antibiotic resistance genes in the microbiome. If an antibiotic resistance gene is present, then that class of antibiotics is designated POSITIVE for antibiotic resistance. A positive result for the presence of resistance genes for a given antibiotic indicates that the antibiotic is not an ideal choice for an antibiotic protocol.
Antibiotic resistance genes apply to all of the microorganisms found in the fecal sample. Since microbes can rapidly share DNA under stress, the presence of antibiotic resistance in any organism is reason enough to avoid that drug class.
Phenotypes | HELOBACTER
Genotypes | UNIVERSAL MICROBIOTA RESISTANCE GENES
This test shows low levels of many strains of normal bacteria in the gut. This minor presented with chronic diarrhea and chronic ear infections.
He lacked the good bugs in his gut to fight off infection.
As a result of the diarrhea, his inflammation markers were elevated. We had to work to calm and soothe the gut through changing his diet and doing a few targets supplements.
To reiterate, I'm not a doctor or even close to a doctor. I am trained in interpreting these labs and sharing that information with clients.
It's up to them to take my advice or leave it. There is no diagnosis or medical advice dispensed. No medicine.
We work on the following:
The #holistic health principles involved in balancing a body out are slow, gentle, and manageable. There are no #antibiotics to once again nuke the #gut. There are no dangerous synthetic hormones. There is no heavy metal chelating. Just #rebalancing. And it works pretty darn well most of the time, though results are never guaranteed. The #body is weird.
I run these labs on women who become private clients if they want them.
It is an investment to work with me. You retain my services for 3 months. We talk every single day. We meet officially for 90 minutes to begin our time together, and then once a week after that for 15 minutes for a total of 3 months.
I don't like meeting for a single session because there is not a lot we can get done in an hour. An hour won't change your life.
But 3 months of working on your health, gathering data, and adjusting your lifestyle and habits to balance out your body? This is where the magic lies.
Right now it is $850 to work with me for 3 months, $295/month if you pay in installments. The tests are extra. You absolutely get your value for this price. No other practitioner I know allows daily (sometimes hourly) support in real time.
In about 3 weeks, my prices will be going up significantly. Get in now if you have been on the fence.
If you aren't ready for that step, my next 28 Day Reset is dropping on May 26. And the price is ridiculous. It is my quarantine gift to you!
Normally, my Reset is $197.
I'm offering it for $47. And I can't believe I am doing that. But I want to help as many of you as I possibly can.
You will learn so much about your body, your health, and your habits on my #Reset. You'll have a Private FB group as the vehicle to do this. I teach daily Mini Master classes, and I am in the group all day long to answer any questions you have.
I hope this guide was helpful to you! Let me know if you have any questions over on FB.
To your health-