My brother asked me what tests I recommend and that got me thinking that I’m starting to feel confident about a few recommendations for anyone not getting real help from their MD. In addition to my own saga, I’ve been trying to help my wife and youngest daughter with their health issues and through this process, I’ve seen a lot. So here’s my list.
First, I’m assuming you’ve tried a lot of obvious things like food elimination diets – cutting out sugar, fruit, high carb foods, gluten and dairy. But I’ll go a little further and say that I’m really interested in finding the root causes of illness. So for example, I feel much better eating only whole foods – primarily meats and veggies with no sugar, fruit and very low carb (a semi-ketogenic diet). But that’s not what I consider a root cause or real solution. A good starting point, but not enough for me and millions of others.
I believe the primary reason chronic illness rates are skyrocketing today is exposure to toxins, blue light, pathogens and stress combined with lack of exposure to sunshine, physical activity and relaxation. These root causes will cascade dozens or hundreds of symptoms on you leading you and your MD to assign lots of relatively unhelpful diagnoses: fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, sleep apnea, anxiety disorder etc etc. The risk for you is that you hang your hat on one of these diagnoses and stop looking for the root cause.
If your MD says “Of course you have fatigue, you have hypothyroidism.” that’s not good enough. You want to ask why you have it!
Another critical risk is that your MD orders tests and trials that make you much sicker, or that you poison yourself by taking the wrong supplements. Both of these tragedies happened to me.
Keeping in mind the root causes of illness, here is a list of lab work you might consider to help you and your MD untangle whatever mess you have found yourself in. If you can afford them, or your insurance is covering them, I like these tests because the issues they affect very significant populations if not everyone alive, in order:
Get a vitamin D test, specifically for 25(OH)D – usually covered by insurance 4x a year – read vitamin D and sunlight deprivation for importance. Note, Dr. Jack Kruse will say vitamin D supplementation is not sufficient, that if you want to be really healthy, you’ll need to get outside in the sunshine and live in a latitude that corresponds to your skin type – which means if you’re dark skinned and live in Boston or Seattle, you’ll need to move South, maybe to San Diego, Atlanta or Jacksonville! And then there is Morley Robbins who says vitamin D supplementation is dangerous because of its cascade effect on your biochemistry especially vitamin A, copper and ceruloplasmin levels.
Get the Western blot Lyme disease test and try to find someone to do dark-field microscopy analysis of your blood. There are those who say the Borrelia bacteria which causes Lyme disease is almost universal today, meaning everyone is infected. Certainly everyone in my family is. I know because I have a microscope and can see the bacteria very easily. Of two healthy friends I tested, one was infected and the other not. It’s a dangerous bug to carry, in my opinion, whether you are symptomatic or not. It feeds on manganese and possibly iron which over the long term will destabilize your mineral balance causing a cascade of other problems. Furthermore, if you are asymptomatic, your Borrelia is lying in wait for some other physiological insult, like an exposure to mercury, to weaken you sufficiently to where it can begin wreaking havoc in your body.
Hair Mineral Analysis Testing
A hair tissue mineral analysis (htma) test will reveal mineral deficiencies and heavy metal toxicities. Have it reviewed by a Nutritional Balancing Science expert because there are many hidden subtleties to interpreting hair tests. You’ll get a picture of your body chemistry describing your metabolic rate, adrenal and thyroid function, nervous system imbalances, protein synthesis health, inflammation, energy levels, mental health, liver and kidney health, and carbohydrate/sugar control tolerance. But most importantly, you’ll get a path forward to correcting problems. Here’s why I’m so confident in hair testing –
When I was so ill that I could not walk more than a couple blocks without resting, there was no MD who could say what was wrong with me and there was no blood test that didn’t pronounce me healthy. But if you look at my hair tests from four years ago, you (or a nutritional balancing practitioner) would know instantly that I was in extreme burnout or the death pattern. That’s quite remarkable if you think about it. It’s predictive!
Urine Toxic Metals Challenge Test
Our bodies sequester toxic metals in places like the brain and liver where it may consider they’ll do the least harm. As a consequence, lab work becomes difficult. Even hair mineral analysis testing which is extraordinarily accurate won’t always reveal your toxicities. That’s because the sometimes the toxins are not circulating in your body and not being excreted – they’re in storage.
That doesn’t mean they are not harming you – neither the brain nor the liver work well when they are stewing in lead, mercury and copper as mine are.
But there is one lab test which will reveal your toxicities. It’s called a provocation test or provoked urine test. It’s really simple – you take a chemical chelator like DMSA which is a chemical that has a high affinity for and binds heavy metals. So it circulates in your body (though it doesn’t cross the blood brain barrier) grabbing metals where it finds them, and then it gets excreted in your urine along with the heavy metals it captured.
Your test results will analyze the quantity and variety of metals in your urine giving you an idea of your toxicity levels. My urine challenge test results were not as impressive as my hair test results but they did show a consistent pattern that led me to believe lead and mercury toxicity played a key role in my suffering. Later I learned that lead increases the toxicity of mercury 18 fold.
You’ll find all kinds of dirtbags calling this quack medicine, including people who claim to be MDs. All I can tell you is, these skeptics are not people who have experienced heavy metal toxicity and chelation. I can only speculate that they are there funded by the dental amalgam companies who will be forced to pay billions of dollars in damages one day when the truth eventually gets out. Who else would belittle basic science?
Think about the pro-tobacco machine of 25 years ago.
Get an ALCAT food sensitivity test. This looks at how one’s immune cells respond to a vast array of foods or other substances under conditions designed to mimic what happens in real life. Immune cells, when activated, produce both free radicals and inflammatory substances that can cause tissue damage and premature aging.
I include this here because many people with chronic illness develop odd and very restrictive diets because of unpleasant reactions to food which might include fatigue, belching, bloating, stomach pain and other issues. This happened to both me and my daughter at different times.
Here’s how this test helped my daughter. She was having lots of digestive problems so we tried various elimination diets which was an enormous amount of work in very difficult for everyone involved. She was eating maybe seven foods only and we knew she needed more variety. The ALCAT results corresponded very nicely with some foods that she knew created a big problem for her. But there were a couple foods on her list of seven in the moderate reaction category. These are food she was eating in great quantity. So this test helped her avoid overeating foods that were triggering her immune response and it allowed us to add a much greater variety of safe foods. This didn’t solve her health problems because she has Lyme Disease but it’s a step forward. And that’s how you win a war, one battle at a time. You need small wins.
Get a stool test from Genova which includes parasitology but keep in mind that parasitology testing is notoriously unreliable. You may be better off doing a parasite cleanse instead. Note that a number of pathogens are blood-borne or can be detected through antibody testing. My own blood work revealed Strongyloides antibodies.
This may be the only thing I never blogged about! My MD sent me for a sleep study and it was an absolute nightmare. When I researched it in Google I found it’s quite a scam. You pay something like $750 or more to go sleep in a hospital bed with a dozen or more wires attached to your scalp. The sleep center didn’t take any basic care to accommodate people with difficulty sleeping. The bed was not comfortable and the room wasn’t dark nor quiet. Imagine that – an uncomfortable bed in a room with blinking lights from machines, light coming under the door along with the conversation of nurses just outside the room. The only way I could get a very brief sleep was by taking a benzodiazepine.
They found I had positional sleep apnea, but because I had not slept well called the results inconclusive and invited me to come back again, to pay another $750 for another night of hell. I didn’t to it. Instead I bought my own oximeter that would record my sleep history and allow me to download it to my PC.
That was years ago and now you can purchase an attachment for your iPhone which accomplishes the same thing for $40.
I did end up sleeping with a BiPAP machine for several years which is quite a nuisance. Finally I decided to teach myself to sleep on my side which mostly eliminated my apneas.
Everyone knows or can sense that our bodies heal during sleep, that’s why I consider the home sleep study so important. Anything you can do to improve your sleep is a precious step in the right direction. Sleep apnea alone can destroy your life as can anything else that ruins your sleep!
If you have no idea at all what’s wrong and haven’t done any testing in the past, you couldn’t go wrong by getting all of these tests (the numbers are lab corp ids) assuming your insurance company is paying the bill (as mine does). If you think given the number of possible tests that the idea of listing these is foolish, you might be right. On the other hand, I’m trying to list tests that I think may be overlooked by most practitioners – the ones that aren’t necessarily obvious:
- Human Herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) Antibodies, IgG – 161075
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Antibodies, IgG – 006494
- Parvovirus B19 (Human), IgG, IgM – 163303
- Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) Acute Infection Antibodies Profile – 216655
- Strongyloides, IgG Antibody, Qualitative, EIA – Test Number: 164000
thyroid – read about Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- TSH And free T4 – 224576
Free T3 – 010389
Reverse T3 – 070104
TPO antibodies – 006676
CMP – 322000
CBC With differential – 005009
Hepatic function panel – 322755
vitamin D, copper & iron – read this for interpretation by Morley Robbins
- 25 (OH)D (calcidiol) – 081950
1,25 (OH)2 D3 (calcitriol) – 790540
mag rbc – 001537
plasma zinc – 001800
serum copper – 001560
serum ceruloplasm – 001560
ferretin – 004598
iron & TIBC – 001321
sugar control etc
- a1c – 001453
- RBC Mn – 790540
Let’s look at my daughter’s NutrEval – this gave me the confidence to give her significantly more methylation support and allowed me to add a few other supplements based on some key deficiencies.
I knew from her 23andme genetic analysis which you will read about further down the page, that she has many of my methylation SNPs, but it was nice to have confirmation from a second source. I’ve heard many doctors say that studying genetics rarely lead to improvements in their patients health and that genetics show a snapshot in time because genes can flip on and off in response to environmental influences. Getting the nutritional analysis done is a way to avoid putting too much weight on genetic flaws.
And, it motivates me to do further testing to explore her high copper result. It also makes me wonder if I had done a NutrEval myself at age 13, perhaps mine would’ve looked somewhat similar. A picture of someone on a teeter totter. Healthy enough for now but…
Click the thumbnails to read:
Get your genetics from 23andme and then use livewello for analysis. For my money, the methylation profile is where the action is – it drives your detox system and if that’s dragging, you’re headed for trouble. Look at your PEMT genes and your diet. Studies have recently shown that because of common genetic polymorphisms (see mine), choline deficiency is a widespread problem. Men, postmenopausal women, and premenopausal women with PEMT SNPs need to increase choline intake in the diet to offset elevated risk of liver dysfunction. Translation: you can develop fatty liver in 3 weeks if your diet is deficient in choline and you have PEMT flaws.
Avoid Like the Plague
- Don’t read quackwatch and skeptic websites – these parasites prey on those of us suffering with chronic illness. They get an ego boost from throwing around uninformed opinions. They are uninformed about the complexities of your illness and the details of your peculiar situation. Even worse, they are uninformed about the therapies they call scams – you’ll see that no skeptic will ever do their own experiments, so they never have any firsthand knowledge or experience from which they could speak. Why not? Because they have nothing invested, no illness (except maybe for mental illness) and no consequence for being wrong. Because the skeptic has no investment and no consequence, he or she is unwilling to make any effort to discover the truth. You on the other hand have a lot at stake. If you blindly accept the skeptic’s word who says liver flushing is quackery, you may never recover from your toxicity and chronic fatigue or or immune dysfunction. The real world runs on effort, not the ego puffery of the skeptic.
- Avoid falling for the medical diagnosis your MD (or even your naturopath) wants to pin on you and never stop searching for root causes. Whether you’ve been told you have hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, IBS, adrenal fatigue, rheumatoid arthritis etc, these are just collections of symptoms, not root causes. Examples of true root causes are emotional traumas, automobile or sporting accidents, toxic exposures, prolonged stress, sleep loss, poor or wrong diet, infections of all kinds and genetic flaws.