Have you gone to the doctor because you didn’t feel well and after lab results are back you hear, “Everything is normal?”
We’re here to tell you that if you don’t feel well, then your lab results are lying. Now, it’s not actually the labs that are lying, it’s the interpretation of the lab results that can look fine to the unsuspecting eye of many doctors, but actually be showing you all the reasons you don’t feel well.
Functional Vs. Pathological Labs
Your lab results should always be interpreted in ranges that will reflect optimal health, not the presence of disease. That is the difference between pathological labs (standard reference ranges) and functional medicine labs.
These are the “standard reference ranges” that most laboratories and doctors use to determine if treatment is needed. These ranges are designed to show the doctor the average (bell curve) range of when that lab value being high or low causes a disease. *NEWS FLASH* There is a HUGE gap between having a disease and feeling well. Pathological lab ranges are used to diagnose a disease, but just because you don’t have a full blown diagnosable disease, doesn’t mean you are healthy. Again… HUGE gap between disease and optimal health.
These ranges assess risk for disease before the disease develops. These ranges begin to detect that things are “off” and need to be addressed. So when you go to the doctor with brain fog, IBS, skin issues, fatigue, irregular menstrual cycles, low libido and weight gain and your doctor says all your labs are “normal” you should run the other way because that is evidence that your doctor is looking at pathological labs, NOT functional labs.
It is important to have a doctor who looks at functional ranges so you are not considered “normal” or “healthy” compared to the majority of sick people which is how reference ranges are determined.
Why Don’t All Doctor’s Use Functional Ranges?
Well, the short answer is, they were taught to treat disease. Medical school trains doctors to detect disease and treat it. It does not train doctors to promote optimal health and prevent disease from occurring. Most doctors believe care should only be provided when disease is present. Additionally, when a patient says they feel poorly despite their “normal” labs, many doctors offer them an antidepressant to help them feel better about feeling bad! Functional Medicine doctors are think differently, therefore get different results.
The reason functional labs are not the norm boils down to the definition of health. Some believe health is the absence of disease, while others (like us!) believe health is being free of disease AND having adequate energy, optimal digestion and optimal physiological function. This includes physical, mental, and emotional health that does not require drugs to cover up symptoms simply for you to get out of bed in the morning. We’re talking about really feeling well. When was the last time you really felt well? Some of our patients simply can’t answer that questions since they have felt poorly with no abnormal pathological labs since they were adolescents. Yet when we do comprehensive lab testing and interpret the results using functional ranges, there are numerous reasons and answers to why they feel the way they do. In fact, we may test areas of your body that you wouldn’t even think we would test, WHY? Because all your body’s system work together in synergy. You are not single heart, lungs, and a bunch of separate hormones you are a system. Which is why we like to teach “The Swiss Watch Principle” as a concept that is fundamental to how we view health at in2GREAT Integrative Health. Our motto is “we don’t guess… we test.” You are worth finding the answers for and usually the answers AND the path forward are in labs interpreted by functional ranges.
At Lifeworks Integrative Health our providers compare labs to the functional ranges. So if you have been told your labs look normal have our providers take a second look.
Here’s more from Dr. Matt Gianforte: