To identify the root cause of your health problems, Functional Medicine Testing uses advanced nutrient, blood, hormone, stool, saliva, and genetic tests.
Functional medicine practitioners commonly use specific lab tests to gain a better understanding of what is going on in your body’s ecosystem. Functional Medicine Testing consists of advanced nutrient, blood, hormone, stool, saliva and genetic tests to identify the root cause of your health issues.
Although it very much depends on the person and presenting symptoms, the most common functional tests that I recommend are:
GI Map profile – stool test
The health of your digestive system is a key determining factor of your health overall. Whether you suffer from eczema, autoimmune disease or a mood disorder, it is almost guaranteed that compromised digestive function will be playing a key role. Assessing GI health with the proper tools can help your practitioner get to the root cause of chronic illness.
The GI-MAP (Microbial Assay Plus) is unique in the field of comprehensive stool testing. It relies exclusively on quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) technology to detect parasites, bacteria, fungi, viruses and worms by targeting the specific DNA of the organisms tested. It also tests sIgA levels which are key to immune function, calprotectin which is a marker of inflammation and therefore inflammatory bowel disease, b-glucuronidase which can reflect issues with hormone detox, especially oestrogen and anti-gliadin IgA which are antibodies to gluten.
For me, this test is absolutely key.
Urine Organic Acid and Amino Acid profiles
Although some practitioners may only choose to run one of these tests, I find running both of them together gives really good insight into metabolic processes of the body.
Organic acids are derived from the breakdown of protein, fat and carbohydrates from our diets and are used to generate cellular energy and provide the building blocks which are needed for all our cells to function. They can give insight into mitochondrial dysfunction, gastrointestinal health, detoxification and neurotransmitter metabolites.
Amino acids are single unit building blocks that form protein. They play many important roles in the body including energy generation, neurotransmitter and hormone synthesis, tissue growth and repair, immune function, blood cell formation, maintenance of muscle mass, and detoxification. Testing is important in a variety of clinical scenarios. Certain dietary and lifestyle factors or conditions may predispose a person to having amino acid imbalances. There are multiple factors that influence amino acid levels including dietary intake, liver and kidney function, protein biosynthesis and degradation, hormone imbalance, stress, exercise, and intestinal health
It is always extremely helpful to be able to investigate key biological pathways that govern overall health, and how genetic weaknesses in these pathways may increase predisposition to chronic diseases of lifestyle.
As with other functional tests, nutrigenomic testing can be really helpful when it comes to planning a way forward especially in long term health management.
There are several nutrigenomic tests on the market. Your healthcare practitioner will be able to advise what is best for you.
Urine hormone testing
There are different ways to test hormones like cortisol, DHEA, progesterone, oestrogen and testosterone but it is thought that the most comprehensive and reliable way to do so is via dried urine testing. I use the DUTCH test which requires clients to collect urine samples over the course of the day. This offers a complete assessment of sex and adrenal hormones, along with their metabolites.
Metals hair test
Heavy metal toxicity caused by increasing levels of pollution and use of chemicals in industry is a growing threat to health. High levels of toxic metals deposited in body tissues and subsequently in the brain, may cause significant developmental and neurological damage.
A Metals Hair Test is ideal for checking current exposure to toxic metals. Scalp hair is easy to sample, and because it grows an average of one to two cm per month, it contains a “temporal record” of element metabolism and exposure to toxic elements. However, if scalp hair is unsuitable (due to being coloured), then pubic hair is the next best option.
There are many more functional tests available and it is important to work with a practitioner to assess which will be the most beneficial to you to get to the bottom of any chronic health issues.