Blood tests can provide a lot of very important data if they are interpreted correctly. Unfortunately, most reference ranges on blood tests are statistical averages which don’t necessarily reflect healthy or normal values. Also, the person who is interpreting the test may or may not be taking into account your body’s own biochemical individuality. This is an extremely important point because every body is unique, and blood chemistry certainly can reflect this a lot of the time.
So an entirely new model of interpretation is needed in order to make sense of the results.
Functional Versus Pathological
A key thing to remember is that most healthcare providers are searching for pathology when interpreting blood tests. This means that unless a value is way out of range, it might not receive any attention. A pathological interpretation also tends to see things in terms of ‘separate parts’.
It is common that a doctor will look at a high total cholesterol level, or an elevated LDL and make the assumption that this person’s cardiovascular system is at risk and should then put this patient on a drug. Yet the doctor makes this assumption without taking into account the functional aspect of the endocrine system, the liver and cardiovascular system.
Someone with a keen eye, one that sees things ‘functionally’, may notice that TSH and T3 values are out of range, while the person’s C-Reactive Protein is not elevated. This particular scenario reveals that the person is likely experiencing thyroid stress, while their actual cardiovascular risk factor is quite low, and the need to adress the elevated cholesterol values is not warranted.
Since cholesterol and LDL are both vitally important for the thyroid gland, a diminshment of the functionality of the thyroid is likely the reason for why cholesterol values are going up for this person.
Dig even deeper by running salivary cortisol tests, and discover that a person is pumping out high amounts of cortisol, which is inhibiting the conversion of T4 into T3, resulting in hypothyroidism. Run a hair tissue mineral analysis and discover mercury toxicity from numerous sources. Consider the effects of this heavy metal on the thyroid, adrenals and the rest of the endocrine system. You start seeing very clearly that there is a lot more to the picture besides elevated cholesterol and LDL. And in fact, the rise in LDL and cholesterol is due specifically to what is revealed with the adrenal and thyroid stress!
So you have model #1: A system which is searching for pathology and is choosing to address the part rather than the whole. Yes cholesterol and LDL are elevated, but this healthcare provider is not seeing the bigger picture; not searching for the underlying causes, which are many. This model fails to address why this person’s health is suffering, and instead offers little to no relief, other than a few pills, and if they’re even lucky minimal, allopathic nutritional advice. If they are going to get any nutrition advice at all, it’s probably going to be from a government-standardized nutritionist or dietician, someone who recommends the same type of diet for everyone, usually whatever the government happens to be subsidizing.
In model #2 you have a highly functional system, one that addresses causation, takes into account the numerous functions of the body, as well as resistance factors like hyper adrenal function and heavy metal toxicity. In this system, the seasoned healthcare provider is going to recommend a step-by-step strategy for improving function, rather than treating the symptoms and effects of dysfunction. This strategy is going to involve:
- Specific dietary and nutritional guidelines, tailored to the individual’s biochemistry
- Nutritional supplements that aim to improve the functioning of weakened glands, organs and systems
- Lifestyle changes including a specific fitness regimen
- Heavy metal detoxification factors, including reducing exposure to toxic metals
It is very clear which system of healthcare works better, doesn’t it? An intelligent practitioner is using as many of the available tools as they can because they are in search of what is really causing dysfunction and suffering for the patient.
If you are interested in obtaining a functional blood test interpretation, click here.
Adrenal Function & Behavior
When interpreting specific blood chemistry factors, one should take into account the highly functional relationships. For example, if sodium and chloride values are high while potassium is low, you can bet that the adrenals are pumping out high amounts of cortisol. When this pattern is inverted, you can be pretty certain that the adrenals are broken down and are very weak. In the first case you know that a person is in a resistance state of stress. They may be very defensive, protective and mentally wired. In the second case, a person is in more of an exhaustive state of stress and may appear defeated, weak and vulnerable.
A person without these degrees of adrenal imbalances may appear to be more grounded and calm yet alert.
It is very true that much of our behavior is a result of chemical patterns in our bodies.
Besides behavior, tired and stressed adrenals can also cause diminished immune function, allergic hypersensitivities, impaired digestion, and numerous liver and endocrine problems.
Relationship Between Adrenals & Kidneys
When those sodium, potassium and chloride levels drift further out of balance, the kidneys also work harder. Besides filtering the blood, the kidneys also are extremely important for maintaining the pH of the body. Sodium, potassium and chloride are all very important for normal cellular transport, electrolyte status and pH values.
The mineralcorticoid aldosterone, which is produced by the adrenals, has the main job of retaining sodium. When excess aldosterone is produced, the body holds onto excess sodium. This is a common pattern in adrenal hyperfunction. In adrenal hypofunction, this pattern tends to be inverted, as there is decreased aldosterone production and a result, there is more sodium being excreted through the urine.
in general, aldosterone causes potassium loss through the kidneys.
Thyroid & Adrenals: The Intrinsic Relationship
There is an intrinsic relationship between thyroid function and adrenal function. The adrenal glands are largely under control of the sympathetic nervous system. The thyroid is strongly influenced by the parasympathetic nervous system.
A deeper look at adrenal, hypothalamus and thyroid relationships shows how weakened or burned out adrenal glands will cause a cascade of problems for thyroid functioning. The adrenal-derived glucocorticoid hormones (which includes cortisol) can inhibit the conversion of T4 to T3. Someone with high cortisol output is in danger of low thyroid function! In addition, high cortisol output can result in excess production of negative T3, also called rT3. rT3 will compete with the production of the more essential T3, which is another way the thyroid is inhibited. CRH (cortico-tropin releasing hormone) is released by the Hypothalamus in response to stress. It too can inhibit thyroid function by blocking the production of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). On top of this, if a person has mercury toxicity (from let’s say mercury-containing dental amalgams) and is not eating ideally for their type of metabolism, the likelihood of developing hypothyroidism is substantially high.
Assessing The Person, Not the Disease
Functional healthcare is desperately needed in today’s predominantly symptom-based model. Healthcare should address the person, and that person’s holistic nature, which is a dynamic interaction of spirit, mind and body. Healthcare should strive to be about health, rather than disease or disease maintenance.
From a functional perspective, there is a lot that can be done to improve a person’s health. Analyzing blood chemistry functionally greatly helps to improve the chances of a person being helped. Click here if you are interested in functional blood test interpretation.