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  • Writer's pictureDr. Cassandra Paiano, ND

Functional Laboratory Testing 101

Did you know, naturopathic doctors can order a variety of different functional laboratory tests? This includes food intolerance testing, functional stool testing, hormonal testing, specialized panels, and more. Functional laboratory testing evaluates how well your body is (or isn't) functioning on a spectrum of health. It provides deeper insights into the root causes of health concerns. Let's break it down into some of the most common functional tests ordered at Kingsway Wellness: 1. Food Intolerance + Candida Screen Food intolerance testing is a type of functional assessment, that identifies delayed hypersensitivity reactions to specific foods.

A delayed hypersensitivity reaction differs from an immediate-sensitivity reaction (i.e. anaphylactic allergy to peanuts) in that it is not life-threatening, and symptoms show up a few hours to a few days after consumption of the offending food.

This test also screens for candida overgrowth. Candida is a type of yeast that is normally present in the human GI tract in small amounts. While small amounts do not cause problems in a healthy person, an overgrowth of candida can cause symptoms very similar to those caused by food allergies.

Both candida overgrowth, and food intolerances can lead to chronic inflammation if not properly identified, and addressed. This test can be particularly useful for those struggling with eczema, bloating, irregular bowl habits, IBS, arthritis and allergies.

2. GI-MAP The Gastrointestinal Microbial Assay Plus (GI-MAP) is an innovative clinical tool that measures gastrointestinal microbiota DNA from a single stool sample.

It detects pathogens (bacterial, parasitic, and viral) that may be disturbing the normal microbial balance, or contributing to illness. The GI-MAP also assess for functional markers of digestion, absorption, inflammation, and immune function.

The GI-MAP also provides insight on commensal bacteria - the trillions of microorganisms that inhabit the intestinal tract, extract nutrients from our diet, maintain gut barrier function, and protect against colonization by potential pathogens.

The GI-MAP can be a powerful diagnostic tool in autoimmune diseases, IBS/IBD, digestive complaints, brain fog, skin complaints (acne, psoriasis), depression, and anxiety.

3. The Dutch Complete

The Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones (DUTCH) is another functional test offered at Kingsway Wellness. It provides a comprehensive assessment of sex and adrenal hormones and their metabolites, cortisol, and melatonin.

The DUTCH test is unique because it provides a complete picture of hormone levels, which cannot be seen in testing serum (blood) or saliva alone.

The DUTCH test helps to correctly identify the root cause(s) of hormonal imbalances that can present as a wide array of symptoms such as weight gain, low libido, fatigue, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), irregular periods, heavy periods, mood swings, acne, infertility, and more. 4. 3-Hour Lactulose Breath Test

Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, which is normally found in the large intestine. It is estimated that 1 in 7 people have SIBO, and 80% of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have SIBO.

SIBO can present as severe bloating, abdominal pain, flatulence, nausea, motility issues, constipation, or diarrhea. The bacteria can damage the intestinal lining and impair absorption, resulting in inflammation, increased food sensitivities, and nutrient deficiencies.

A three hour lactulose breath test offers the most comprehensive results. It involves a strict preparatory diet and protocol, and consumption of lactulose; a sugar that can only be broken down by bacteria. After bacteria breakdown lactulose, they produce a gas which is measured on the breath test. There is a high recurrence rate with SIBO, thus proper diagnosis is key, and it starts with the right testing. 5. Specialized Blood Panels Naturopathic doctors also have access to hundreds of routine, and specialized blood tests. A few of the popular panels often ordered at Kingsway Wellness, are:

  • Healthy Living Assessment Panel

  • Nutrient Panel

  • Inflammation Panel

  • Thyroid Panel

  • Autoimmune Panel

  • Fatigue Panel

These specialized patient assessment panels are a great tool for gaining insight about one’s health status. They are also helpful at detecting underlying imbalances that lead to disease.

While some patients are looking to achieve optimal health, and others are looking for a proper diagnosis - almost every patient can benefit from functional and specialized lab testing. Speak with your naturopathic doctor to determine which tests are most suitable for you.


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