I often have patients come to me complaining of weight gain, bloating, fatigue and difficulty sleeping. They’ve often beaten themselves up for years thinking it’s their own fault for feeling this way. As a result, they make matters worse by working out even harder and adding unnecessary stress to their lives. I remind them that it’s not their fault for feeling this way, there’s always a reason for it. Then I get started digging to the root of the problem.
I typically start their workup with these three functional tests:
Origins Initial Panel
I begin by ordering a comprehensive blood panel that would be drawn at any regular laboratory including Quest or Labcorp. This initial panel evaluates for overt disease that should be immediately addressed. This panel includes the following:
♦ assessment of electrolytes, liver and kidney function
♦ screening for anemia and iron status
♦ expanded thyroid tests
♦ common vitamin/mineral deficiencies screening (ie vitamin B12, vitamin D, Mg)
♦ evaluation of insulin resistance
♦ evaluation of hormone imbalances
This test comes back fairly quickly, and we can often start making changes right away to help the patient feel better.
I know, sounds gross. But this is the best way to evaluate gut health, and this is probably the most important functional test that I run. So much of our health status depends on the health of our gut and microbiome. A healthy gut leads to improved mood, better hormone regulation, better nutrient absorption, a healthy immune system, healthier skin and increased metabolism; just to name a few!
The results of this test allow me to determine the following:
♦ beneficial and imbalanced bacteria (the microbiome)
♦ digestion and absorption status
♦ inflammation status which affects nutrient absorption and intestinal permeability (leaky gut)
♦ the presence of yeast or parasites
People often enjoy dramatic health results by balancing the microbiome, improving digestion status, and clearing unwanted pathogens such as yeast and parasites. To balance the microbiome, I will tailor a specific regimen of prebiotics and probiotics, digestive enzymes, antimicrobials, antifungals, and/or antiparasitics based on the patient’s specific clinical picture and their lab results.
Our hectic lives lead to a revved up hypothalamus/pituitary/adrenal axis which consumes essential micronutrients and leaves us depleted. I often recommend a dried urine test which evaluates the status of the patient’s stress hormones, over 4 different times of the day. This gives me detailed information as to why they might be having a mid-day slump or why they might feel wired at night and can’t sleep. Whether cortisol is high (wired and tired) or low (fatigued), I recommend adaptogens to support the adrenals while they make necessary lifestyle changes to deal with the stress. Adaptogens are a unique group of herbal ingredients that have been used in Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. They are called adaptogens because of their unique ability to “adapt” their function according to your body’s specific needs. If your body has high cortisol levels, the adaptogens strengthen the body’s response to stress and increase resilience to cortisol. If you have lower cortisol levels, the adaptogens will boost energy and help you sustain wellness.
People often come to me exhausted and frustrated. Showing my patients objective data as to why they feel the way they do is very empowering for them. They leave understanding the root cause of their symptoms, and they stop beating themselves up for being moody, tired, and bloated. The data from these tests give patients the ability to understand why they feel the way they do, but that is only the first step. I work with the patient to tailor a specific plan to eliminate that cause, so they feel like their best self again. And of course, the cornerstone of all wellness is ensuring the patient is consuming the appropriate caloric intake, carbohydrate, fat and protein content that is specific to them and their lifestyle. I love supporting my patients as they start to feel better and achieve the wellness they deserve!