Understanding Your Blood Tests

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In the world of Functional and Integrative Medicine, we delve into the root causes of our problems rather than reactively treating symptoms with synthetic medications. We specialize in preventative and prophylactic therapies that utilize natural-based modalities to help improve our body’s function and restore true homeostasis. With this comes the need for far more advanced assessments. The type of assessment used in Functional Medicine is far more comprehensive and all-encompassing than that used by conventional physicians. It is this broad analysis that allows us to identify threats before they become significant and truly understand our body’s function.


The disease first starts to take place years before symptoms manifest. That is why earlier and more frequent assessments should take place, especially in athletes. In the world of functional medicine, we explore factors and access your body’s function on multiple levels. We ask and delve into areas of your life that you would never dream of. This is critical, especially when dealing with a healthy, more active patient. Our toolbox of useful testing parameters allows us to analyze how our bodies function before the disease process begins.


Conventionally trained physicians are taught a basic framework of assessments that look for indications that the disease is already present. All too often, we hear, “Well, my doctor said all my blood tests were fine.” This is because they are looking for “red flag indicators” and using very basic tests to make generalizations about your body. Conventionally trained physicians don’t listen to you as thoroughly as they should. Sir William Osler once wrote, “Listen to your patient, as they will tell you the diagnosis.” All too often, conventional medical providers place too much emphasis on blood tests and body scans and not enough attention on what the patient is saying. Although testing is important, it is not the only means for accurate and full assessment.


When the time comes for further diagnostic assessment, functional medicine providers utilize a much more comprehensive battery of tests to gain the best understanding of the body. Rather than just looking at basic blood tests like glucose and cholesterol levels, white blood cell counts, and vitamin B12 levels, we use additional tests for hormones, antioxidants, heavy metals, inflammatory markers, and many more to fully understand how your body functions. This approach becomes even more important in healthy, active individuals. Tests that most conventionally trained physicians don’t even know exist are frequently utilized to help us connect your symptoms with the underlying root cause, thus allowing us to restore our body’s natural homeostasis.


Not only do functional medicine providers often order different tests, but our interpretations of even the same tests are very different! What your doctor tells you is “normal and fine” may not truly be so. Often, patients present with what we call subclinical findings, which may indicate early disease progression, although the lab does not deem the result to be “abnormal.” Have you ever wondered why different lab companies have different “normal reference ranges”? This is because different labs utilize different standards and patient trial data to establish their “normal reference ranges.” Often, your physician may consider anything within this range to be fine and not causing any problems; however, this could not be further from the truth!

The “normal” reference ranges that most health practitioners use to evaluate lab results are intended to assist in identifying and diagnosing disease states and do little to help one reach an “optimal” state of health. It is often necessary to not rely solely on what a blood test or body scan tells us, but to consider a combination of subjective, objective, and diagnostic findings. This is the approach of a functional medicine provider.


At R3 Health, we specialize in helping everyone understand their bodies and educating them on what they can do to not only recover and perform better but also ensure optimal health, wellness, and longevity. We create custom individualized wellness programs that help anyone achieve their goals. We also specialize in natural-based and regenerative therapies, preventing the need for invasive conventional medicine treatments. 


In functional medicine, we truly “practice medicine” because no patient is ever the same! There is no drug, vitamin, or therapy that applies to everyone. To achieve optimal results for our patients, we work hand-in-hand with them. There is no magic potion, pill, or even natural supplement that can replace a cohesive team approach between you and your provider to help you achieve the best long-term results. All too often, in conventional medicine, people look to their physicians for answers when they should be looking to them for information so that the patient can find the solution. At R3 Health, we want to work WITH you to help you look, feel, and be your very best!


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