I am a fan of functional medicine and have recently become a functional nutrition practitioner. Therefore, I believe it is important to discover the root causes of our health issues in order to help us determine an appropriate course of action.
Functional lab testing is one of the ways that can help us do this.
While (my) nutritional therapy training involved being able to get a good idea of someone’s root issues by working with questionnaires alone, I generally prefer to test rather than guess as it just gives us added detail. Plus, many chronic health issues are non-specific, which means that symptoms can be very similar for different issues.
With that being said, unless you have a good health insurance or a doctor open to running a range of tests, this can get rather expensive. Therefore I try to look for the cheapest tests that can give us the best range of information.
Here are some options that I personally like.
The gut microbiota plays such an important role in our health and many practitioners believe that working on gut health is one of the most important steps in dealing with chronic health issues. In my humble opinion, the composition of the gut microbiome could have a huge influence on the microbiome of the vagina and bladder. Therefore, I like to test the gut first, especially when testing budget is limited.
There are different options for gut testing.
Generally, tests can include levels of good and bad bacteria and yeasts, inflammation markers, digestive markers, pH of the stool and parasites. Some labs use a culture, others use new genetic sequencing techniques (which may be more accurate but can be expensive).
Reputable labs include:
- Great Plains Labs
- Doctor’s Data
- Microgen DX
Prices range from around £75 to £400.
In America, some of these tests may be available on insurance (for example uBiome Smart Gut testing).
In the UK I like to use BTS, which is a low cost lab located in Germany and I found I’m able to get a good picture of someone’s gut situation for a lot less than some of the other labs.
The organic acids urine test includes several markers that can give us an idea about bacterial and yeast overgrowth in the small intestine, plus it includes some nutrient levels as well as detoxification, mitochondrial and neurotransmitter markers.
It’s an affordable test (from £185) that can give us a lot of markers and therefore quite a lot of information.
It is available from Great Plains and Genova.
Hair Mineral Analysis
The Hair Mineral Analysis isn’t great for everything but I like to use it to give me an idea of calcium and magnesium levels, stress levels and also heavy metals.
I like it because it’s a very affordable test (£59) that gives us quite a bit of information, which is why I tend to use it for clients.
Basic Blood Work
Some blood work can be useful to get a general idea of what areas might need attention. Your doctor may well have done some health screens already or he/she may be willing to do so.
Basic bloodwork could include markers such as:
- Full blood count
- Iron status
- Liver and kidney function
- Vitamin D and B12
- Thyroid function
- Inflammation (CRP)
- Diabetes risk
Although these tests can’t give us all the information, they can point us into the right direction.
And then, if addressing the results of those tests hasn’t yielded results for bladder issues, I would use more comprehensive urine testing to find out what’s going on exactly.
Share your experience or let me know if you have any questions in the comments!
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