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Functional Medicine Lab Testing

Functional medicine is an individualized approach to healthcare where we aim to identify and treat the root causes of your symptoms. Personalized lab testing is one of the many tools we use to further investigate root causes and individualize an effective treatment plan. 
In this article, we will review some of the main functional medicine lab testing we use in our Root membership program

Comprehensive Blood Panel

One of the first tests we like to run for members is a blood panel to evaluate a wide range of body functions. 

This panel includes:
  • HS-CRP to assess for inflammation
  • Full cholesterol panel to evaluate heart health
  • Full thyroid panel (including antibodies to rule out autoimmune thyroid disease)
  • Blood sugar markers to evaluate for insulin resistance and/or diabetes
  • Liver enzymes to assess liver function
We also order six major nutrient tests that evaluate levels for:
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B12
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Zinc
  • Ferritin (iron storage)
  • Omega-3 index
This overarching panel gives us valuable information to piece together your health puzzle. Unlike conventional medicine, we interpret the comprehensive blood panel using functional ranges. For example, a high TSH confirms the presence of hypothyroidism. The conventional range for a normal TSH level is approximately 0.5 - 4.5 mIU/L. However, functional medicine practitioners often prefer a narrower and more optimal range for TSH of 1.0 - 2.5 mlU/L. Using this smaller range helps to identify more thyroid problems because individuals with a TSH greater than 2 mIU/L have an increased risk of both hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s. 

Gut Health Testing

Stool Testing

If you suffer from digestive issues, autoimmune disease, or other symptoms of gut imbalances (like skin problems), your Root doctor may recommend running a comprehensive stool test, called GI-Map® This test will measure the levels of “good” and “bad” gut bacteria and evaluate for any signs of parasites, yeast overgrowth, inflammation, and more. Stool tests allow our doctors to create personalized treatment protocols to address gut dysfunction. Typical outcomes may include a reduction or elimination of digestive symptoms, clearer skin, and more energy.

SIBO Testing

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO, occurs when too many bacteria end up in the small intestine instead of the colon.  You can read more about our natural approach to treating SIBO here.  We often suspect SIBO when someone has symptoms such as gas/bloating, skin issues, abdominal pain, and anxiety that don't resolve with basic gut healing measures or when symptoms frequently recur despite having undergone treatment.  The main test to diagnose SIBO is a breath test. For this test, you drink a specific solution and then provide breath samples at various time intervals (usually over 2-3 hours).  We often start with stool testing with our members, but also order SIBO testing when indicated (to either help confirm the diagnosis of SIBO and/or to assess progress to SIBO treatment). 

Here is an example of what stool testing results might look like:  
sample gut test results

Cortisol Testing

Depending on your symptoms, your Root doctor may also order cortisol testing. Cortisol is a hormone released by your adrenal glands during times of stress. While this was an evolutionary benefit, nowadays we typically do not experience the same constant threats to survival. However, our busy lifestyle may lead to chronically elevated or imbalanced cortisol levels. 

Symptoms that may warrant cortisol testing include:
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep issues
  • Feeling wired but tired
  • Weight gain
  • High blood pressure
  • Brain fog 
  • Difficulty focusing
  • ADHD
Cortisol should be at its highest point in the morning to give you energy and lowest before bed so that you can fall asleep. Because of cortisol’s rhythmic pattern, we use saliva testing to collect multiple data points throughout the day.  Implementing treatment strategies based on cortisol test results often leads to less anxiety, better quality sleep, and an improved ability to focus.

Here is an example of what cortisol testing results might look like:  
cortisol sample test result

NutrEval® Testing

Another test we offer is a functional nutrition test called NutrEval®. This is a blood and urine profile that evaluates the body’s need for 40 antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids, digestive support, and other select nutrients. Common indications for testing may include fatigue, weight issues, insulin resistance/diabetes, mood disorders, and/or athletic performance.

This test allows our Root dietitians to recommend specific foods and recipes to support the areas in which your body is depleted. When appropriate, we can also individualize any vitamin, mineral, or nutrient supplement to the correct dosage based on your results.

Here is an example of what NutrEval® testing results might look like:  
nutrient testing sample results

Hormone Testing

Your hormones affect almost every aspect of your life like sleep quality, relationships, your mood, concentration, and more. We offer functional medicine lab testing to identify hormone imbalances. The DUTCH test is an easy, at-home dried urine panel that requires a few samples throughout a 24-hour period. Unlike a blood panel to measure hormone levels, this test also provides us with valuable information on how your body is metabolizing certain hormones. With diet, lifestyle, and appropriate supplementation, we can support optimal hormone production and metabolism to treat the root cause of various hormone conditions. A Root doctor may suggest a DUTCH panel if you have conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), irregular periods, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), perimenopause, acne, or infertility. Many of our members who have completed a hormone test with our providers report less painful and more regular periods, clearer skin, improved mood, and more.

Here is an example of what DUTCH hormone testing results might look like:
dutch hormone results

MRT Food Sensitivity Test

Do you suspect that certain foods may be causing your symptoms? If so, you may be suffering from food sensitivities. 

Common symptoms of food sensitivities include:

  • Bloating
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Acid reflux
  • Migraines
  • Acne or eczema
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Mood changes
  • Brain fog
  • Joint pain
The Mediator Release Test (MRT®) is the food sensitivity test that we use at Root Functional Medicine. It is a blood test that analyzes your individual response to 170 different foods and chemicals. Read more about how MRT is different from other food sensitivity tests.

Our functional medicine dietitians at Root can use the MRT® to develop a personalized elimination diet for our members. However, a food sensitivity is not a root cause by itself, but rather a hint towards further dysfunction. A leaky gut and dysbiosis (i.e. imbalanced gut bacteria) are two common causes of food sensitivities. Our team of doctors and dietitians collaborate with members to create an individualized treatment plan that addresses all of these factors.

Here is an example of what MRT results might look like:
mrt sample report

Mold Testing

If your Root doctor is concerned about toxic exposures, like mold, they may order a functional medicine lab test called MycoTOX. Mycotoxins can come from various sources like buildings, houses, and food. Unfortunately, mold exposure has many adverse health effects, but it is difficult to diagnose due to the often vague and varied symptoms. Our Root doctors may suggest mold testing if you are suffering from health issues like headaches, chronic fatigue, asthma, infertility, and anxiety/depression. If you have any of these symptoms, live in high humidity areas, and/or have known or suspected exposure to water-damaged buildings, a mold test may be appropriate. The MycoTOX is urine test to help our Root doctors uncover mold exposure and develop a treatment plan.

Key Takeaways: Functional Medicine Lab Testing

Combined with in-depth appointments to discuss your full health story, we use functional medicine lab testing to help connect your symptoms to an underlying cause. The tests in this article are only some of the advanced tests available to our members. Using test results, our team of highly specialized doctors and dietitians can formulate an individualized treatment plan to address the root causes of your symptoms based on your results, goals, and lifestyle.

Learn more about our comprehensive functional medicine membership program.  

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