Functional lab testing and dietary supplements can be a key part of finding and addressing the root cause of illness. They also are helpful with another important pillar of functional medicine: providing individualized plans.
It is important to note, though, that I use a “food as medicine” approach – food is the primary ‘treatment’. Adding testing and dietary supplements is never a requirement to work with me. However, they are helpful in many cases.
I use a variety of functional medicine lab testing, dietary supplements, and functional foods in my practice. I individualize each client’s protocol for their specific needs; we decide together what plan to follow. Here is some basic information about the tests and products that I tend to use the most.
The dietary supplement industry is not well-regulated. If you buy a supplement off a store shelf there is a high chance that it could:
- Not contain what it claims to contain
- Be contaminated with ingredients not included on the label
- Contain cheap and poorly absorbed versions of nutrients (this is universally true with store-bought multi-vitamins)
- Not contain the correct dosage for you (i.e. too much or too little of the nutrient is provided)
Few medical professionals have extensive training and experience with dietary supplements, so they tend to just not use them at all, or to use them poorly. This is unfortunate because there ARE many high-quality, effective, and well-manufactured dietary supplements. They can be essential for treatment of many conditions.
So, to get my clients the best results I stick to mostly professional lines of dietary supplements. Professional supplements are independently tested, pure, and of the highest quality. Following are the brands that I use most often:
- Microbiome Labs
- Bio-Botanial Research
- Ortho Molecular
- Quicksilver Scientific
- Klaire Labs
- Pure Encapsulations
- Designs for Health
- Douglas Labs
- Innate Response
- ProLon fasting mimicking diet
I can provide my clients with most dietary supplements for below retail cost. You can get more details by working with me to design a custom treatment protocol to meet your needs.
While traditional labs provide important clinical information, some questions can only be answered using functional testing. Thus, I use a combination of both to get to the root cause of my client’s conditions. Again, testing and treatment protocols are highly individualized. Here are some of the functional tests I use most often:
Food Sensitivity Testing
While no food sensitivity test is perfect, they can provide valuable insight into immune function and possible inflammation triggers. I use food sensitivity from Cyrex labs and the LEAP/MRT test. I am a Certified LEAP Therapist (CLT) and provide the MRT Test and LEAP Diet Protocol in both the US and UK.
Functional testing measures the amount of nutrients inside your cells, rather than in the serum. This gives a true picture of what deficiencies are present. I use Spectracell testing (sometimes insurance can help pay for the test) and Genova Diagnostics NutrEval or Metabolomix+.
Hormones can be tricky to measure correctly, so I stick to the gold standard functional hormone test – the DUTCH test by Precision Analytical . I also use some hormone testing from ZRT and Genova Diagnostics.
Functional stool testing is incredibly helpful for quantifying a number of things – microbial dysbiosis, gut permeability, yeast or parasite infection, and malabsoption to name a few. I use functional stool tests from Genova Diagnostics (GI Effects) , Diagnostic Solutions GI-MAP , and Microbiome Labs (BiomeFX).
SIBO Breath Testing
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is a leading cause of IBS and GERD. It is always preferable to run a breath test for SIBO before a treatment protocol. I use the SIBO breath tests from Genova Diagnostics and Aerodiagnostics.
Organic Acids and Amino Acids Testing
Think of organic and amino acids tests as a look under the hood. They measure the metabolic compounds in your urine, providing many important clues. These tests can be used to evaluate cellular and mitochondrial energy production, gastrointestinal function, nutrient utilization, and neurotransmitter processing. They also give clues to possible nutrient deficiencies. I use Great Plains Lab or Genova Diagnostics.
Gluten Sensitivity Testing, Autoimmune Testing, Intestinal Permeability
Cyrex Labs offers specialty labs for gluten sensitivity and gluten cross-reactivity. They also have an excellent selection of autoimmune panels.
There are gene variants, or single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that can contribute to a variety of conditions and nutrient deficiencies. For example, methylation is effected by SNPs of the MTHFR and COMT genes. In another example, carbohydrate tolerance and risk of developing type II diabetes is effected by genetics. In the case of both of these examples, knowing the genetics would change the nutrition care plan. Although the science around genetic testing and its clinical implications is still evolving, a good genetic panel can provide important insight. I use Nutrigenomix , DNAFit, and Genomic Solutions Now for comprehensive panels. I also use Genova Diagnostics and Spectracell or Great Plains Lab for specialty genetic tests.
Environmental exposure (heavy metals, toxins, viral or yeast/candida infections)
Environmental exposures and infections can have extremely profound physical symptoms, and are often missed in a traditional medical setting. For example, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can arise from these exposures. The testing I use depends on the presentation and plan of care, as there are many options. Some of the most common I use are heavy metals testing from Great Plains Laboratory or Quicksilver Scientific, and toxin testing from Great Plains.
Need More Info?
This page is a pretty brief summary of these topics. If you’d like to know more about functional testing and dietary supplements feel free to contact me. I offer a free 10-minute phone call to discuss you and whether we are a good fit. You also can learn more about my services here.