Some days I sift through piles of laboratory tests: blood test results, hair test results, saliva hormone test results and other types of functional laboratory assessments. This stuff has a lot of value to me. It helps to paint the picture of how an individual’s body is functioning and performing nutritionally. Laboratory data and physiological test results that are correctly interpreted and understood can reveal certain key components as to where the major problems exist, as well as what parts or systems of the body to begin working on and improving function.
However, in my opinion, no matter how many lab tests and physiological tests are done, the picture is incomplete without the inclusion of in-depth questionnaires and specific intake data. That’s right! Asking the right questions can, in many ways be of greater value than a pile of laboratory tests. Don’t get me wrong, the value of laboratory data can be very important, but physiological testing is only telling a part of the story.
Nutritional Questionnaires: A Crash Course History
Some of the most influential clinicians of modern times created and placed major importance on the use of questionnaires and client intake data. Royal Lee, DDS, the founder of Standard Process, created a 200 question document that effectively identified the function of numerous glands, organs and systems of the body. Dr. Lee used this data as a primary starting point of “where to look” and how to design an individualized nutritional protocol for his patients.
Perhaps the greatest example of the client questionnaire, was the original form created by Dr. William Donald Kelley, the father of Metabolic Typing®. Dr. Kelley’s initial questionnaire was more than 2,000 questions in length! In fact Metabolic Typing® has evolved from much of the clinical discoveries and the empirical research from Kelley’s original questionnaire.
The current Healthexcel Metabolic Typing® evaluation is 120 questions in length and has been refined over the years to include and evaluate the most fundamentally important aspects of metabolic activity in the human body. I place such importance on this assessment, every one of my clients must do it.
The keen and highly insightful observations made by busy clinicians, who are working on the “front lines of battle”, and “getting their hands dirty” are of immense value. These observations and unique insights are what inspire the creation of questionnaires and intake forms.
Creating and interepreting questionnaires takes craftsmenship and skillfullness. It also takes skill of how to group and categorize certain questions.
Questionnaires: Direct Experience Of Your Body
The major factor that makes questionnaires so important is that it is the individual providing information regarding the direct experience they have of their own body. This is much different than what one or two laboratory tests provide. A lab test is more like feedback from the body. The answers from the questionnaire are giving the clinician the firsthand experience that the person has of their body. In some instances, asking the right questions replaces the need for doing any laboratory testing at all. Many times, the results of a laboratory test end up confirming and validating the questionnaire.
And this confirmation is what is needed: clinical correlation of patient experience with what the lab test is saying. That’s when you know you are on the right track.
For example: Let’s say a blood test reveals a BUN level of 20, a chloride level of 99, and a sodium level of 137. This is an indication of poor electrolyte charge, as well as possible adrenal distress, and possible digestion issues. If the person reports having symptoms of abdominal bloating and esophageal reflux, there is a concise clinical correlation with the blood test results and the symptoms being reported. The issue of low chloride and sodium and a relatively high level of urea and nitrogenic waste (BUN of 20) are strongly indicative of low stomach acid production. The digestive symptoms being reported line up succinctly with the test results.
If on the person’s questionnaire, there are several indicators of Adrenal Hypofunction (fatigue, low blood pressure, salt cravings), AND the blood test reveals low sodium, increased potassium, chances are strong low adrenal output is present.
The answers from the questionnaire provide clues. The lab test results often provide confirmation. So in the end, the lab test results and the questionnaires work succinctly.