How to Run Functional Lab Tests when Your Doctor Won’t Test You Properly
A few weeks ago, I shared information with you on how to ask your doctor for in-depth lab testing. These labs should be covered by your insurance, up to a point.
I have gotten feedback from many of you that your primary care physicians refuse to run some of these labs, like a full thyroid panel (but your TSH looks fine!) , or ANA antibodies (but there is no such thing as fibromyalgia!) And then you look at each other, eyebrows silently and simultaneously going to battle as you size each other up.
That’s ok. Their job is to treat you when you are sick, not prevent you from getting there. And there are ways around a doctor who treats you like a nuisance.
My first suggestion is to go to your OB/GYN. My own OB/GYN is a wonderfully fantastic practitioner and she is very open to allowing me to run any labs I want to. She got me in the same day I wanted to test my EBV levels and because of her, I was able to find out that I was in the middle of a severe reactivation and that is why I was feeling like crap. I love you, Dr. K!
My second suggestion is to save up for Functional Lab testing. As of yet, most of them are not fully covered by insurance. But guess what? Even with amazing insurance, you are going to have to pay a fairly substantial co-pay to get a full hormone panel and CBC differential from your primary care physician. The last round of hormone labs I ran through a functional MD cost me over $300 out of pocket. Dear Barbara.
If you are ready to invest in functional lab testing, here is a list of the labs you should run, in order of importance.
1) GI Map
This test is my darling. I run it first line on nearly every new client. As the oft-overquoted Hippocrates famously said,
“All disease starts in the gut”.
And argh. It be true. (This is my pirate voice.)
Before anything else will shift in the body, health-wise, the gut needs to be in decent order. Nearly everyone I see in my practice has gut issues: bloating, cramping, distention, diarrhea, constipation, pain. When your tummy is not happy, it is hard to be a happy mama.
I run this panel on children (you would be shocked at what can live in the gut of a 5 year old or 11 year old girl!) and adults. It is a safe and effective DNA-based at home collection….of poop. Like, you have to poop into a bag and then spork out a little bit and put it into a collection tube and send it through the mail. I find this test gloriously subversive. Sending poop through the mail? Yes, please. I do live with four boys, so please forgive me.
Using the DNA technology available to practitioners through the GI-Map, I have found parasites like giardia, bacteria like c. difficile and h. pylori, fungus like candida, and dysbiotic overgrowth of both commensal and opportunistic bacteria.
That be a lot of big words (pirate!), but it essentially means that there is a reason you have diarrhea or bloating all of the time. And we can clear it up. I see it happen routinely, in children and adults. Do not suffer needlessly.
And no, your primary care physician will not run this test. Dollars to doughnuts, he will not have even heard of this test.
Bonus: with insurance, it only costs $179. Since I work under the supervision of a seasoned medical professional, my clients can get this price. Without insurance, it is over $400.
2) DUTCH Test
I have written about the DUTCH test before. This test is amazing. It covers 24-hour free and metabolized cortisol markers. This can tell you why you are not sleeping, or why you are exhausted at 3 pm, or why you get a weird surge of energy at 10 pm, or why you wake up at 3 am every night.
It also looks at estrogen levels, and gives us a glimpse into the future possibility of estrogen dominant cancers. It looks at progesterone levels so you can see why you are not getting a period, or why you are spotting all month, or why you cannot get pregnant, or why your moods are all over the place.
It looks at testosterone- why do you never want to have sex? Why can you not build muscle or lose weight? Or why are you growing upper lip hair and raging at your kids?
It looks at melatonin. Are you not sleeping? Are you too sleepy? Is your gut malfunctioning? Melatonin contributes to this story.
The new DUTCH test looks at Organic Acids like markers for serotonin (happiness neurotransmitter) and dopamine (pleasure neurotransmitter) and b12 (energy) and glutathione (antioxidant).
In short, it is a powerhouse test and is super easy to do at home. Just pee on some papers and send it through the mail.
I have trained for at least 15 hours and running on this test and understand all of the nuances of the markers. I love running it on clients. Every time I do, I get the option of having a consultation with doctors that are way smart. My knowledge gets deeper and more refined every time I get these consults, and I have a lot of confidence in the DUTCH. Their support team is amazing.
Do the DUTCH.
I have also written about the Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis. This is a cost-effective way to figure out your micronutrient status. It is also a brilliant way to look for heavy metal toxicity.
It is easy to run, and so I routinely test children. If your child is on the spectrum, we can look for accumulations of mercury or aluminum. We can see if the body is deficient in magnesium or pushing out calcium or lacking phosphorus or selenium.
If you are worried about heavy metals or a lack of nutrients in your diet, this is the test for you.
The Mediated Release Test is amazing. It analyzes190 different substances to see if your body is reacting to them.
Perhaps you eat cauliflower all of the time, certain that it is doing wonderfully superfood-y things for your body. Yet you have a persistent rash on your face that just will not go away.
Then the MRT shows that your body is producing antibodies against the cauliflower protein and that you should not eat it for awhile.
Or maybe you are super sensitive to soy, or Red Dye #40, or paprika, or sulfites. This test will give us information on all of those things. I have seen tummy issues, skin issues, and emotional issues clear themselves right up simply by removing reactive foods and substances from the diet.
One note: this is a blood panel. I do run it on children routinely, but be forewarned. It takes an extra step to get these results. I work with a wonderful company that will come to your house and draw your blood (or your child’s blood) for $50, no matter how many blood draws they are doing at an address. Invite your friends! Have an MRT draw party!
How to Get Access to These Tests
Most functional practitioners upcharge for their testing. I do not do this presently, though at some point I may.
GI-Map: $179 (provided insurance covers this test)
I do charge a clinical consult fee of $150. This appointment runs 1 hour. To keep cost down for you, I will not charge you for an initial appointment. I will simply get these test kits to you before our clinic appointment and you will run them at home. When I receive the results, we will set up our 1 hour appointment and I will give you your results and recommendations. Eventually, I will raise my prices, but for now, this is working for myself and my clients.
Go here to set up a free 15-minute consultation so we can see if these are the tests for you.
My standard package covers services only (4 clinic hours), and you are responsible for covering the cost of the tests on your own. Flexible savings accounts may be used for these labs. Yay! This is how I run them on myself and my family.
My elite package gets you two more clinic hours (6 hours or two more months’ time) and includes all four of these tests immediately. This package is for those of you who do not want to mess around. Give me all of the data and let’s get going.
Unless you are going to a functional medicine MD or ND, your physician will not run these tests. If you are struggling with a chronic, autoimmune, or degenerative disease, it is worth looking into these labs.
Let me know if you have any questions!
To your health,