Interpreting lab results

Quest Diagnostics, one of the lab companies we work with, will now share lab results directly with patients who have an account setup with them. This could be a good step in the direction of something we talk about A LOT: People having total control of their health.

But we feel there are some important things to mention about this:

  1. We analyze lab values through a functional lens, with functional ranges based on optimal physiology, which are standardized among functional medicine practitioners through scientific data, medical research, and extensive knowledge of biochemistry. We also are looking at a lot of ratios with a variety of the biomarkers to help us determine a better understanding of how this may impact you physiologically. We are not just looking at each marker as an isolated marker like often is done in the more traditional medical model.
  2. This is different from many other physicians (especially conventional medicine ones). They may be looking at lab reference ranges that aren’t necessarily factoring in optimal physiology.
  3. Just going off the lab reference range can be deceptive because many ranges will vary based on location of the lab. – i.e. lab ranges may be different in Colorado (where people are generally considered healthier) than Mississippi (where there’s considered less healthy people on average).
  4. Googling your results or visiting websites like WebMD to try and interpret your lab results yourself can be overwhelming, scary, and inaccurate. We know many people will still search online, so we’re just telling you to search with caution. A lot of online searches are going to produce similar information to #2 and #3 above, because those content creators are within a conventional medicine/healthcare mindset.
  5. Often time lab values flagged out of range by Quest (or another lab company) may or may not be of concern when we are assessing labs from a functional standpoint. Lab companies’ lab ranges are based on statistical norms using a bell curve to establish a mean value. This mean or “normal” is where 95% of people fall- this is a concern as we know that the population is getting sicker and sicker and so many people that fall within this range are not necessarily healthy. Functional lab ranges reflect optimal health. When assessing labs from a functional standpoint we are always asking WHY a result is out of the functional range, and we are not just looking at lab results by themselves but in relation to other lab results and health status. E.g. High cholesterol: Conventional med will say anything over 200 is bad and they’ll prescribe statin. Through a functional lens, we aren’t necessarily concerned with the singular numbers; 200 may not be bad for your optimal health depending on numerous other factors associated with your physiology. We’re more interested in the total cholesterol in conjunction with other cardiovascular, inflammation markers, hormones, infections, and toxic burden on the body, to guide how much cholesterol your body needs.

The main takeaways: We always applaud patients doing their own research. But trying to interpret your labs yourself, or with the help of another medical provider, depending on the source of that information, can sometimes be confusing, inaccurate, and just down right stressful when it actually isn’t and shouldn’t be.

It is imperative to know once ALL your results have finalized you will hear from our scheduling team to set a time for you to sit with one of our providers to review the results in full, and in direct correlation with your clinical case and all that’s involved with its uniquities. So please allow us to follow our process and communicate with you accordingly. We can’t see the complete picture, with just a snapshot from some of the labs.


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