A misunderstanding of lab testing is that it is only used to diagnose. While of course it is necessary for determining a particular diagnosis, that is not its only use. Another use of functional medicine testing is not to just isolate a disorder, but to determine a pattern or a process behind a condition. It is not only important to identify the condition that you have, but to also understand what stressors make it worse. Common stressors that make many things worse include high amounts of stress which are detected by low adrenal function. Toxicity as seen in heavy metal testing can make most conditions worse. Of course a person with low nutritional status would be expected to fair less well. By measuring nutrition, most people and therefor the conditions and symptoms they are experiencing will get better when we are optimized. We all have heard of the importance of antioxidants. In fact markers that show higher amounts of oxidative stress are linked to cancer. We know that certain markers directly give us a window into this risk. It is not diagnostic of cancer but a process which increases the risk of occurrence. By looking at the process that surrounds a condition, we can identify the fire that keeps it going. Testing can be used not only to understand a condition, but the state of the body that causes the condition to flare or to remit. This is the essence of functional medicine testing. It is the idea that we need to look at many pieces of the process in order to identify what is causing the condition. While it is important to define a condition through testing, if we use testing to also understand what drives it we now have a way to treat root cause and help someone return to homeostasis. Functional medicine testing embraces the idea that we are not merely a host of symptoms, but that there is a process behind symptoms and when we understand this we have a way to move someone more permanently into remission by moving beyond merely symptomatic treatment.

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