Functional medicine uses various diagnostic methods which include specific blood, urine, hair and saliva examination. Functional tests differ from conventional test because they are far more extensive and detailed.
What are functional tests and how are they performed
They are called functional mainly because they analyse body functions. This means they don’t measure levels of a certain vitamin in your blood circulation but rather the substances created by the body when using this certain vitamin. These side or waste products are called metabolites and they give a much better insight into how the body is working than measuring direct markers.
For example: your vitamin B12 levels can be optimal but if your body can’t use it correctly in metabolic processes your holotranscobalamin levels will lower. At the same time your homocysteine levels might get higher. Holotranscobalamin is also a more sensitive indicator of vitamin B12 deficiency which means that it can show a lack of the vitamin much sooner than the vitamin levels decrease in the serum witch is a classical marker conventional medicine uses.
Only a small percent of vitamins and minerals is often stored in the serum, because the body regulates the serum levels at a constant, since they are crucial for survival. Because of this we can miss smaller or even bigger functional deficiencies of various nutrients with serum testing. Deficiencies results in lower metabolic processes, which are tied with a particular nutrient, without being visible on the classical tests. Some frequent nutrients are magnesium, zinc, B12 and folic acid.
Testing during various hours of the day
Functional testing also means that you get tested several times during the day. The levels of the stress hormone cortisol, like many other metabolites, fluctuate throughout the day. Functional medicine measures cortisol four times a day which helps determine the daily curve of cortisol, while classical medicine only measures cortisol in the morning. This can be misleading because it’s very commonplace that morning levels are normal while the daily curve is distorted. It is also hard to evaluate cortisol without comparing it to some other markers like dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).
I work with the following recognized laboratories, which carry out functional tests:
- Genova diagnostic, https://www.gdx.net
- Metametrix (now united with Genova diagnostics), https://www.metametrix.com
- Cyrex laboratories, https://www.cyrexlabs.com
- Oxford biomedical technologies, https://nowleap.com
- Diagnos-Techs, https://www.diagnostechs.com
- BioHealth Diagnostics, https://biohealthlab.com
- Doctor’s Data, https://www.doctorsdata.com
- ZRT Laboratory, https://www.zrtlab.com
- 23andMe, https://www.23andme.com
Functional tests – Fields of testing
Functional tests carried out by these laboratories include the following:
- Hormones (stress, menopause, estrogen, impotence, infertility, thyroid, sleep, rejuvenation),
- Environmental poisons (bisphenol A, pesticides, PCBs, phthalates and parabens, porphyrins, heavy metals, solvents, petrochemicals),
- Immune system (allergies, celiac disease, candida),
- Digestion (intestinal flora, SIBO, digestion of food, malabsorption, intestinal permeability, lactose intolerance, parasites, digestive enzymes, yeast),
- Nutrients and metabolites (amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, Q10, metabolism analysis).