Functional Medicine Testing
When you come for a consultation with Dr. Wei, we will ask you to forward the reports of any recent lab work and imaging studies (pelvic ultrasound, abdominal/pelvic CT scan, pelvic MRI study). If you have not had any recent lab work, Dr. Wei will ask you to have some basic conventional medical laboratory testing drawn to evaluate for anemia, thyroid function, liver/kidney function, fasting blood sugar, Vitamin D levels, and other testing, as needed.
Dr. Wei will also recommend further functional medicine testing to assess:
Hormonal Function which is Interrelated and Connected
- This can be measured through blood, saliva, and urine.
Functional medical testing of adrenal stress hormone levels throughout the day (cortisol and DHEA) are best measured either through sequential salivary or dried urine testing.
- When adrenal stress hormones are out of balance, this is an indicator of ongoing stress to the body. The next step is to evaluate the sources of stress, and to develop a lifestyle and supplement plan to restore balance.
- Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels can likewise be measured in blood, saliva, and urine. One of the more innovative tests involves four samples of dried urine which allow the additional measurements of important metabolites of sex hormones. This can give a more clear picture of how to guide your treatment plan, and also give signposts to further testing which may be helpful. Month-long hormone panels can also help with understanding issues with ovulation and fertility, PMS, PCOS, and perimenopausal hormone changes.
- Women often instinctively understand when their hormone balance is “off”. Functional medical testing can provide the platform to see the imbalance, and choose a plan of care that restores balance and fits your lifestyle goals. This becomes most relevant when discussing issues such as menstrual irregularity, PCOS, PMS, fertility, fibroids, endometriosis, and peri- and postmenopausal symptoms. However, understand that all of these are not simply isolated hormone problems. All have components related to gut-dysfunction, inflammation, and problems with detoxification, which can be addressed to provide a complete assessment and plan for care.
Gut Function Testing to Evaluate Underlying Causes of Symptoms & Sources of Stress and Inflammation
We can learn so much from stool testing to address your symptoms and overall health. This type of testing is not used only to evaluate GI symptoms, but also to provide insight into sources of ongoing inflammation which affect everything in the body. This means that “silent” gut dysfunction can manifest as anything : depression and anxiety, joint or back pain, autoimmune conditions, eczema and psoriasis, allergies, etc., as well as the primary symptoms of bloating, cramping, constipation, or diarrhea.
All of the following aspects of gut function can be evaluated with a 3-day sequential stool analysis:
The bacteria that live in our gut (our microbiome) influence our health in so many ways, both good and not so good. Understanding the basic composition of your gut bacteria can help us to know that dysbiosis (or imbalance of gut bacteria) is present, and then allows us to supplement appropriately with prebiotics and probiotics, with food and supplementation.
There are also other more subtle markers which can allow understanding of estrogen metabolism, as well other factors to optimize gut health.
Stool testing can indicate markers of inflammation, as well as identify bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections which should be treated to quell ongoing inflammation in the gut. Addressing possible food sensitivities or allergies may be indicated after assessing for inflammation.
Looking at these markers can help guide when replacement is indicated although when gut function is compromised, temporary supplementation with digestive enzymes can be helpful to improve digestion and nutrient absorption regardless of what testing indicates.
Organic Acid Testing to Evaluate your body's Metabolic Processes
Organic acids are metabolic intermediates that are produced in our body’s pathways of central energy production, detoxification, neurotransmitter breakdown, or intestinal microbial activity. These can be measured in a single urine collection at the start of the day. Measuring organic acids allows us to understand whether your body is getting and using the nutrients needed for optimal health and function, and guide us in making a plan for diet, supplementation, and lifestyle changes to restore your body to its intended balance. This testing can be especially helpful in the evaluation of the causes of fatigue, GI issues, difficulty losing weight, hormone balance, and issues with mood.
Other Functional Medicine Testing
Other tests such as food sensitivity testing, genetic testing (for genetic variants in enzyme activity or SNPs, single nucleotide polymorphisms), toxin screening, or other tests may be indicated in more complicated situations, or if you would like a more complete picture of how your body functions, or what toxic stressors are ongoing for you.
Will your insurance company pay for these types of tests?
Coverage is variable, and some companies will process your bill through your insurance company. However, many of these tests require an out-of-pocket cost. Keep in mind that having these functional medicine tests performed can provide a much more clear picture of the underlying causes for your symptoms, and therefore, allow resolution of previously difficult to address and treat problems. I have been very pleased with how functional medicine testing has greatly increased my insight and ability to care for women in all phases of life, with widely ranging issues and symptoms.
Your financial investment toward your present and long-term health will be well worth it!