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Have you ever gone to get blood work and had everything come back “normal” and yet you knew something was not right. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen this in practice. Typically, standard lab analysis is done to determine what we call pathology. Pathology is when something has crossed the line and is dramatically affecting the health of the body. Now there are many times when something hasn’t crossed the line but it is getting close. I consider this the difference between normal and optimal health. When you are looking at health you don’t want to just “not be sick”. That isn’t good enough. You want to have optimal health so you can do the things you desire.

I have had a number of patients whose thyroid TSH numbers were “normal” but they had many symptoms of an underactive thyroid. They were very tired, constipated, had deep heel cracks and their mind was foggy. Conventional lab analysis said everything was normal but they knew it was not. When you look at blood values from a more functional standpoint you can see patterns and values that indicate these suboptimal states. Did you know that in Canada TSH reference ranges are from 0.5 to 5.0 and in the US they are more narrow from 0.3 to 3.0. That means that a number of people in Canada sitting between 3.0 and 5.0 are not considered hypothyroid and yet the majority of them are symptomatic. This does not mean medicating everyone with Synthroid – this is a bad idea. Doing things to help the thyroid function before it gets to the stage of requiring external thyroid hormone is better. There are a number of things that can be done to help regulate the thyroid gland, from herbs to nutrition, before the need for medication. By looking at lab values from a functional perspective there are ways to help people regain their optimal health and prevent the progression to more serious disease.

The assessment of thyroid function is just one example of a functional interpretation. There are many more. It is an interesting way to gather information about your health, not just pathology. This includes things like picking up nutrient deficiencies, detoxification issues, energy problems, and blood sugar imbalances before the symptoms escalate to disease.