What is Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine is personalized care that deals with preventing and treating underlying causes, instead of just symptoms, for serious chronic disease. It bridges the gap between conventional and alternative medicine. It is a science-based field of health care using cutting- edge diagnostic testing along with a comprehensive medical evaluation to determine the root of health issues. It focuses on supporting the body naturally with diet and lifestyle modifications, natural supplementation and detoxification programs.
Why do functional lab testing?
We want to understand what is happening with our patients, and we like to have objective ways to identify the root of the problem and to track the success of our treatment.
Licensed acupuncturists in Florida are legally able to order blood tests, urine tests, stool tests, x-rays, MRIs and other laboratory or imaging studies. Using independent laboratories, we are able to order tests which can guide our treatment. Laboratories that conduct functional medicine testing that we use include Quest Diagnostics, Lab Corp, Genova, Doctors Data, Cyrex Labs, BioHealth, Quicksilver Scientific, KMBO and Precision Analytical.
How are our tests different from what your doctor would order?
Chances are that you have an insurance plan which dictates which tests are “medically necessary”. Because allopathic medicine and the insurance system are set up to look only for pathology, tests which assess general physiological function in absence of clear evidence of pathology are usually considered to be unnecessary. Allopathic medicine also does not test for things that they do not have a medical treatment for. Sometimes, the tests your insurance company will authorize are simply not comprehensive enough to determine what is really going on. We order the tests we need to look for sub-clinical functional disorders, rather than ordering tests simply to confirm the presence of disease. While this may cost you more money in the short run, it provides significantly more information which we can use to find the root of your complaints rather than providing a band-aid solution.
Pathological vs. Functional Ranges
While standard medical laboratories utilize pathological ranges to analyze the results of your blood work, we analyze the results comparing them against functional ranges which are typically narrower. This allows us to find “sub-clinical” functional imbalances which may be causing symptoms even though there is no “pathology”.
The primary difference between the functional and pathological ranges is the degree of deviation allowed within the normal ranges. Pathological ranges are broader, and it is likely that results outside this range ARE indicative of pathology. Pathological ranges are determined by taking the average results from all the people (who are mostly diseased and medicated) who are tested at a particular lab over a year. Thus, the normal range will be slightly different for every laboratory, and each year the “normal range” changes slightly, based on who was tested at the particular facility.
Functional ranges are generally narrower than pathological ranges, and it is common for there to be deviations from the functional range which are still within the “normal” pathological range. These deviations indicate functional imbalance, but are not indicative of existing pathology. The functional ranges were developed by the American Association of Clinical Chemists (AACC) and are based on a sample of healthy individuals. Utilizing functional ranges to analyze your blood test results allows us to find functional abnormalities before pathology results. Often, these “sub-clinical” abnormalities can be reversed through dietary changes, stress reduction, nutritional support and acupuncture to bring your body back into balance before you reach a pathological state.
How is this relevant?
Based on the findings of your laboratory tests along with your current symptoms and medical history we can develop an individualized treatment program to restore balance and help you feel better. Treatments would include diet and lifestyle changes and natural supplementation. We can re-test at appropriate intervals to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment.