Laboratory Testing – How Important?

If you listen to some experts, they would tell you that we do too much laboratory testing in Western medicine. To those of you who know me, you might be surprised by my answer as I fully agree. Of course that agreement comes with a caveat. The real reason is that quite often we do the wrong laboratory test and most health care practitioners don’t know how to interpret the results when they get them.

In my classes, one of which I will be doing in Sydney, Australia (February 8-10, 2013), I go over numerous case studies with laboratory test results of people ranging from elite professional athletes, weekend warriors, to people with extreme health disorders to people just wanting to feel better. What I try to bring out is what particular laboratory tests are best suited to different situations as well as how to use one of the most advanced interpretive reports available, Lab Assist.

Here is an example of a case study. A trainer came to me with a high-performance professional athlete in his early 30’s who is losing his edge. The man is having real concentration issues and sustained energy problems. His doctor had run GI tests (don’t know why) and a number of other random laboratory tests with no solution. My suggestion was to run a urinary organic acid test and a plasma amino acid test as well. The results we got back along with the biochemical fix was not surprising to me but was to the trainer.

Urine organic acid testing when done with the right lab, is one of the best functional lab tests out there. It looks at numerous metabolic pathways to determine if there are specific nutrient deficiencies that are making the system inefficient. Recent research has noted that measuring B12 levels in the blood can be misleading and miss functional B12 deficiencies. A metabolite in urine known as methylmalonate is vastly superior and can catch the deficiency before it manifests in a clinical presentation.

Another important area that urine organic acids can see is if the citric acid cycle, the primary way our bodies produce energy, is operating efficiently. With the athlete mentioned previously, his system was a mess. We were able to pinpoint what was wrong and what to do about it nutritionally. When we looked at the results of the amino acid test, we found some important deficiencies but surprisingly, he was high in the branch chain amino acids, leucine, isoleucine and valine that he had been supplementing with regularly. The problem was his lack of some essential nutrients to metabolize them properly to help build muscle.

This is just one example of many that I will be presenting. In my next blog about my class in Australia (and the next one in the U.S.) I will go over some other topics I’ll be covering like cognitive function, environmental toxicity, and mineral balancing.

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