Lab tests – (Blood, Urine, Saliva, Stool). Specialty lab importance for diagnostic purposes.

 In Heart & Circulatory System, Digestive System, Urinary System, Endocrine System, Immune System

Why Specialty Labs are Important for Diagnostic Purposes. Nashville Functional & Integrative Health.

Stool Studies

2000 years ago Hippocrates, who is considered the father of modern medicine, stated that death starts in the gut.  Although it is not correct that all disease starts in the gut, there are many disease processes that are heavily influenced by gut health…so much that good gut health is imperative to achieving good health through functional medicine means. 

gut health

The type of stool study that a functional medicine physician would order will look at many markers.  Certain stool studies can look for yeasts, pathogenic bacteria, and other organism that shouldn’t be in the intestines, such as parasites.  Inflammatory biomarkers such as secretory IgA and Calprotectin can also be measured.  The exocrine capacity of the pancreas can be monitored by looking at a representative enzyme.  We can also look into the digestive ability based on the amount of fat and undigested proteins in the stool.

Heavy Metal Testing

Each patient’s history can help determine the utility of heavy metal testing.  The testing is usually a combination of a blood test and urine collection in order to look at the whole picture.  Heavy metals are very difficult for individuals to clear from their body.  The difficulty with clearance is exemplified as to how fish that are higher in the food chain will bioaccumulate mercury.  The lower food chain fish never have a chance to clear the mercury, therefore, it accumulates in higher organisms.  This type of testing can be used to look further into many health conditions such as fatigue, neurological and cognitive problems, cardiovascular disease, in patients with history of cancers.  It is difficult to find all of the causes for exposure and accumulation of heavy metals, but living near metal refinery plants or having a job in electronics, welding and metal shaping, occupations that involve the use of weapons such as law enforcement and the military can be risk factors for exposure, whether current or prior.

Salivary Cortisol Testing

Briefly, cortisol is one of our body’s important stress hormones.  If someone is chronically stressed with a persistent, unrelenting stress, then the body’s focus becomes making cortisol at the expense of other important hormones such as DHEA, testosterone, and estrogen.  This can lead to an array of symptoms such as fatigue, sexual problems, truckle obesity, and diabetes.   The 4-point salivary cortisol test can help determine if someone is keeping up with stress in their lives, making too much cortisol in response to excessive stress, or if the adrenals are not keeping up with cortisol production leading to a condition called hypocorticolism (also known as adrenal fatigue). 


People who have categorically meet the pre-test probability to have specialty lab testing performed should have a conversation with our functional & Integrative health doctor in Nashville to see if these tests are warranted.  These tests can cover a wide range of diagnostics including stool, salivary, urinary, and blood studies. 

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