What is the difference between functional and pathological blood analysis?

Blood chemistry is a very effective tool for any practitioner to screen and identify imbalance in body metabolism. It serves as an inexpensive way to assess major bodily functions. Practitioners who have learned the skills required to analyze blood chemistry panels can provide their clients with sound recommendations, screen for health issues, and monitor changes as necessary.

There are two main types of ranges in the field of blood chemistry analysis: a pathological range and a functional range. The pathological range is used to diagnose disease; the functional range is used to assess risk for disease before disease develops. The references that are provided with laboratory test results are referred to as “the pathological range”, because if the results are out of range, it indicates potential for pathology or disease. Pathological ranges can be co-managed with your medical provider.

How are pathological standards different from functional standards?

The main difference between the functional and pathological range is the degree deviation allowed within their normal ranges. For example the functional range for glucose may be 70-90 mg/dl, but the pathological range may be 70-100 mg/dl. Levels above the pathological range between 100-125 mg/dl may indicate insulin resistance has already occurred. Levels above the functional range, but before they reach the extremes of the pathological range, may indicate future risk for developing diabetes.

It may seem that the ranges presented on lab reports and labeled “normal” for each test are decided upon by a panel of international practitioners, telling us what is healthy and what is disease. In reality, these mean pathological ranges on lab reports are determined by samples taken in that lab only. A pathological standard that all labs use does not exist.

Conventional medical training is concerned with the diagnosis of disease and rarely preventative medicine; therefore, patients are usually not consulted regarding the parameters of the functional range. The patient is usually told their numbers are borderline and that an eye will have to be kept on it, waiting for your numbers to reach the pathological range. Healthcare practitioners that practice prevention, like Dr. Karlin, are those most inclined to incorporate consulting clients when their levels present outside of the functional range. If biomarkers can be managed before they fall within the pathological range, prevention can be implemented.

When lab results fall within the patterns of a functional imbalance, strategies such as lifestyle, diet, nutrition, supplements and other non-invasive therapies may be recommended. This implementation of preventative medicine is the most effective way of avoiding degenerative disease and creating a pathway to optimal wellness.

Healthcare providers who embrace functional ranges define health as being free of disease but also having adequate energy levels, healthy digestion, ideal physiological function, etc. It is more than being symptom free as well. Optimal wellness creates a larger threshold between stress and symptoms. For example, if you view your health as a bucket of water, you want it to be close to empty so that when you experience stressors, there is a lot of room to add water before the bucket overflows, meaning the onset of symptoms. When we strive to just be symptom-free, we have very little room below our threshold and therefore, a drop in the bucket can overflow into symptoms. Once symptoms have been present for a period of time, the manifestation of disease occurs and the reversal of the symptoms and the disease becomes a more involved process. Functional medicine helps to reduce the load on the body and creates more room for stressors to come and go in life without the negative side effects, or symptoms.

Much of the research regarding functional ranges has been established by well-respected organizations such as the American Association of Clinical Chemists (AACC).

If you have a blood work report that is less than 3 months old, we can use that to determine your wellness if appropriate panels have been run. If not, we can order the proper test for you. Your test results will be analyzed and you will be provided with a detailed report of findings. We are trained in Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis and take the time to review your results with you and explain what they mean. We then incorporate the necessary assessment of your nutritional needs in the way of supplements, bio-therapeutic drainage or other relevant interventions necessary and optimal dosage. Dr. Karlin uses only the best organic products such as: Genestra/Seroyal, Thorne and Integrated Therapeutics, to name a few.

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