Here we are again… mid December. The time for holiday cheer and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of our HSA money! The end of the year is a natural time for us to reflect on our goals. Have we achieved the change that we wanted in our careers? Our relationships? Or the most common of all… our health. Did we lose that weight? Did we finally overcome that insomnia? How about dealing with those hormonal skin breakouts or that pesky joint pain that keeps you from dancing. Whatever it is health related resolutions are by far the most common at New Years. So, why does it almost never work?! As any productivity expert would tell you in order to properly chart a path forward you first need good data on where you are. Before we can chart your path forward to the healthy and happy life that has eluded you we need to logically and thoroughly assess the three major systems of your body: the stress response, digestion, and detoxification. Let’s quickly look at how we can get actionable data with a few simple lab tests done in the convenience of your own home.
In Functional medicine the first body system we examine is the stress response, sometimes referred to as the HPA-Axis or the adrenal function. When we investigate the health of this system we are really looking at the production and rhythm of two main hormones, cortisol and DHEA. Cortisol is a glucocorticosteroid and governs everything from our alertness and mental focus, to inflammation throughout the body, to the health of our immune function. Improper cortisol production will lead to a wide array of symptoms, such as weight gain, anxiety, poor digestion, fatigue, skin breakouts, etc.This is the dreaded “Adrenal Fatigue” you’ve read about. If only it was so simple as “fatigued” adrenals! Adrenal dysfunction is caused by a wide assortment of issues, but the first step towards correcting it is proper testing. Why do we prioritize testing this hormonal stress response? Because it sits at the top of our cascading hormonal physiology. If the stress response is not working properly then it is extremely difficult to achieve lasting health gains anywhere in the body. Often fixing the stress hormones will allow the body to heal all kinds of deep seated health issues that have perplexed us for years. I test and correct the stress response of every single patient I work with and this is the most glaring area where standard medical care currently drops the ball. Here at Origins Medicine we use either a BioHealth 201, which uses 4 simple saliva samples, or a DUTCH test, which is a more advanced hormonal test from a urine sample and is recommended when we suspect sex hormone disruption.
The next essential test is checking the gut thoroughly for infections. Wait a minute!! You didn’t even complain of digestive issues! The reason why this is so essential is that there are many extremely common infections which have developed over millions of years to set up shop in our stomach or intestines and happily pull nutrients from us while taxing our immune systems and leaving us inflamed. A classic example of this would be H. Pylori. H. Pylori is a bacteria which infects the stomachs of about 40% of the population and can lead to bloating, pain, or even ulcers. In some people it causes no digestive issues, however it causes inflammation in every person it infects and increases our risk for certain cancers. These infections are like small fires of inflammation hidden in our body. We often can’t achieve a life of energy and health until we extinguish those fires. I feel like it’s a pretty low bar that the patients I work with should be free of any active and draining infections! (Why this low bar is not a part of standard medical care I find incredibly perplexing!)
The third of our primary Functional medicine tests is the organic acid test. This is an extremely detailed examination of our physiology. As a bi-product of the various chemical processes of our body we excrete organic acids in our urine. 46 of these acids are examined in an organic acids test and it measures everything from our body’s capacity for energy production (fat, carbs, protein), vitamin and mineral nutritional status, phase 1 and 2 liver detox markers, bacterial and fungal overgrowth, inflammation, and even an examination of our neurotransmitter levels. An organic acids profile is the best way to see trends in the physiology that may be headed towards disease. It also allows us to identify the root cause of stress and inflammation and it is the one exam I recommend yearly for patients as an overall health screening. It is an incredibly complex test to interpret and I spent six months of advanced training with Dr. Dan Kalish just on the interpretation of this one test!
The synergy of these three tests give us a complete and robust picture of a person’s health. The results give us a highly actionable information to put together a personalized and targeted therapeutic plan to correct the root cause of health issues and restore the level of well-being that for many of us is a distant memory. So, if you have tried and failed to reach your health goals in the past, if you’re looking to just approach your health with actionable biomarkers, or if you’ve been struggling with a health issue that remains unresolved contact our office today and let’s gather the information now to make a 2017 a healthy and happy year!