Functional Blood Chemistry

According to Dr. Datis Kharrazian “ there is no general screening test that is more efficient, effective and affordable than a comprehensive blood chemistry panel.  A comprehensive blood chemistry panel will allow the healthcare provider to quickly assess the degree of health or disease in a patient.  It is the ultimate tool in biomedical laboratory sciences to evaluate new patients.  It allows the healthcare provider to establish a baseline of biomarkers that can be used to track the patient’s health immediately and over a period of time.”

It is true, blood chemistry is an incredibly effective tool for screening and identifying imbalances in body metabolism.  It allows the healthcare provider to make sound recommendations, screen for health issues and monitor changes for treatment.

Today’s current model of health care focuses on disease management, not early detection or prevention.  Because of this, experts say the quality of healthcare in the United States has dramatically declined in the past decade.  There is no better example of this diminishment in quality and comprehensiveness than the blood chemistry panel.  A decade ago the average annual lab work ordered in a physical exam included a Chem-24, CBC with differential, TSH and a lipid panel.  Today’s healthcare model customarily performs a Chem-7 and a lipid panel.  This is woefully insufficient data to provide a complete picture of what is going on for a patient.  Time and again patients are slipping through the traditional healthcare system undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or mismanaged.  Providers that routinely screen patients with comprehensive blood chemistry panels consistently find loss of physiological function or even disease. 

A comprehensive blood chemistry analysis provides the patient and the healthcare provider with peace of mind that the patient’s metabolism has been thoroughly screened.  Routine blood work screens for blood sugar, lipid, kidney, liver, gallbladder, cardiovascular, immune, endocrine and hematological disorders and risk.

There are two main types of ranges in the field of blood chemistry analysis: a pathological range and a functional range.  The pathological range is used to diagnose disease.  The functional range is used to assess risk for disease BEFORE disease develops.  The reference ranges provided with laboratory tests are referred to as the “pathological range.”  The main difference between the functional and pathological scales is the degree of deviation allowed within their ‘normal’ ranges.

According to Dr. Kharrazian, many traditional healthcare providers do not embrace the concept of a functional range.  “They believe that care should only be provided when disease is present.  This view is generally formed from conventional medical training which ignores the philosophies of preventative medicine and nutrition.  Traditional medical training teaches physicians to evaluate blood chemistry in comparison to ranges that determine disease.  If disease is not present, the patient is considered “healthy.”   The main difference between healthcare providers who embrace or reject functional ranges basically boils down to their definition of health.  Some healthcare providers define health as an absence of disease and therefore if you are not diseased then you must be healthy.  Other healthcare providers define health as being free of disease but also having adequate energy levels, healthy digestion, and ideal physiological function.”

The functional ranges have been determined by healthcare providers and researchers who embrace the principles of preventative medicine such as those who practice diet, nutrition and lifestyle changes; researchers such as those associated with the American Association of Clinical Chemists and the Endocrine Society.

So, how does it work?  Well, functional blood chemistry analysis is based on looking for patterns and assessing probabilities.  Most blood chemistry markers must be evaluated with other markers to make an appropriate diagnosis or probability of diagnosis.  That is why a Chem-7 is not helpful, it is like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle when 3/4 of the pieces are missing.  

A good example is looking for anemia patterns when assessing a CBC panel.  When low the hemoglobin, hematocrit and red blood cell count indicate anemia.  However, the type of anemia will be determined by looking at other makers such as the Ferritin, TIBC, MCV, MCH and MCHC.  Knowing the type of anemia is very important because they require different treatments.  You cannot treat an anemia which is due to chronic inflammation with iron, as it will only cause free radical oxidation and make the patient worse. 

I trust the importance of  comprehensive assessment is clear.  It is important for the health care provider to understand the identification of these patterns and use follow-up testing to determine the most appropriate treatments.

Contact me to learn more or to schedule an appointment to have your Functional Blood Chemistry report analyzed.  I look forward to working with you soon.

May 2, 2012 at 6:05 PM

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