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of wellness and health rather than versus sickness and disease.”


Pathological Versus Functional Te results of a blood test are essential to understanding anyone’s current state of health. No other screenings are more efficient and effective than the comprehensive blood chemistry panels used by functional medicine and holistic health prac- titioners to establish a baseline of biomarkers for tracking an individual’s health and nutritional needs. In the field of blood chemistry analysis, there are two main


types of reference ranges—pathological and functional. Te pathological range is used by the majority of conventionally trained medical doctors that are focused on diagnosing disease. Te functional range is used to assess risk for disease before it develops, says McGary. “It is critical that you find a holistic and intelligent doctor


skilled in functional medicine,” says Boulder-based Suzy Cohen, a registered pharmacist and author of Drug Muggers: Which Medications Are Robbing Your Body of Essential Nutrients—and Natural Ways to Restore Tem. “Working with a functional medicine practitioner, as well as a local trusted pharmacist who has access to your medication regimen and sensitivities, is the safest way to regain health.” It also saves money, because choosing the best supple-


ments, herbal extracts, essential oils, dietary changes and other non-pharmaceutical healing modalities allows for healing faster, she says. Conventional practitioners, constrained by insurance com-


pany requirements, generally order simple blood panels with basic markers for heart, kidney and liver function. Tese might include reference ranges for hemoglobin, platelets, glucose, calcium and electrolytes. “Te baseline lab panel that I prefer for patients has 68 markers, plus a urinalysis. Tis means that I get five or six full pages of results, which gives me a more in-depth insight into someone’s health,” McGary says.


A Better Roadmap to Health McGary considers the most important differences between the interpretation of functional and conventional markers to be the statistically compiled range of values that functional practi- tioners consider normal and the interconnections taken into consideration during the comprehensive analysis. “Conventional reference ranges are compiled by laboratories


from a huge population of people, many of whom had their blood analyzed because they were already sick. Functional reference ranges are compiled from a much smaller population of healthy people whose bodies are functioning optimally,” she says. If a marker falls inside the tighter functional range, it’s a


green flag that compares favorably with healthy individuals. If a marker falls outside the wider conventional range, it’s a red flag that correlates to sick people. Te marker that falls in-between is a yellow flag. “Functional practitioners are looking for yellow flags, which are the early warning signs that no one sees or feels yet as


symptoms,” explains McGary, who spends more than two hours reviewing the blood analyses with clients. “We’re not only about prevention and achieving vibrant health—which we do by help- ing clients choose the best supplements to correct deficiencies— we’re also about helping individuals get to the root cause of their health challenge so that they can enjoy life.” Functional blood chemistry analysis is not generally covered


by health insurance, and can cost between $180 and $2,500, depending on the complexity of the panel, the number of mark- ers ordered and the time spent by a practitioner in consultation and interpretation of results. However, the out-of-pocket cost may be worth it, says Cohen.


“In health, sometimes you get what you pay for. You don’t want to be somebody’s number and pushed out the door,” she says. “It’s important to feel like you have been listened to and that your entire medical history has been fully evaluated.” Linda Sechrist is a senior staff writer for Natural Awakenings.


Life is a series of baby steps.


—Hoda Kotb


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January 2019


35


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