The Art of Lab Testing

The Art of Lab Testing
Scott Resnick MD 2022

When I saw this post, I almost wanted to scream. This is so wrong on so many levels. If there’s an art of lab testing, this is akin to a kindergarten hand-painting.

I’m speaking as a Functional Medicine doc who has dedicated himself to this practice for more than a decade, so hear me out.

First, my best wishes go out to April. I hope you find a great physician who helps you to feel better and doesn’t just see your illness as a way to make money. Good docs are out there, but sadly so too are many opportunists.

Here’s why this is wrong. A laboratory test should be used to establish or confirm a diagnosis made by clinical means. In other words, the provider’s thinking should guide him or her to have that suspicion clarified by a confirmatory test.

Lab Testing Should Answer a Clinical Question

If your doctor can’t say, “I am checking this test because the story you are telling me makes me think that you have _____”, you should ask him or her to reconsider ordering the test.

Next, if the test’s result doesn’t lend itself to an intervention, it shouldn’t be checked. Check the “Mold Study” in the photo above. First, we are exposed to so many different fungal spores through the air, we can all expect to test positive for one or more. Aflatoxins, penicillamines—these are all common in the environment. Is there a single drug or herb I can use to rid the body of a previous exposure to a mold spore, to detoxify mold? No, there’s not.

Looking for mold may not be an entirely useless test; it may have some value. But as a first-line assessment for someone with fatigue? Never.

What can we do about this? I am of the belief that we are entering a new era of medicine. This era is characterized by three factors, all of which are in our control.

Lab Testing Essentials in 3 Steps

First, everyone reading this post is super smart, motivated and able to take sensible, effective health care interventions into our own hands. What is needed is a plan that follows a sensible, science-based approach.

Second, we are learning that for so many medical conditions, we don’t need to use “conventional” medications. The vast majority of “diagnoses” can be addressed with lifestyle changes like yoga, or focused supplementation. Not all supplements, and not all tests, are created equal. With the right guide, you can spend your time and money wisely.

Finally, who to trust? I am a little biased here, having spent four years in medical school, then six in post graduate residency training in Surgery and then Gynecology. I have seen patients for decades, have used bioidentical hormones 20 years. My training additionally included a fellowship in functional medicine. So why is it that so many people are shelling out big bucks to the 25-year-old chiropractor, fresh out of school, who claims to be a functional medicine “expert”? I don’t get it.

I feel that we are on the cusp of a new era in medicine, one that is patient-driven, patient-focused, and based in accessible functional testing and thinking. There is a sensible, systematic, and science-based approach to health that doesn’t require a $5000 shotgun start.

Our physiology is priority-based, meaning that by satisfying biochemical foundations, more complex systems, like the brain, heart, and reproductive systems, can flourish. The process is simple, accessible, and reproducible.

It’s Time to Democratize Medicine

Anyone else out there ready to make some changes? There’s a sensible process for health that we can all tap into, one that is science-driven, cost effective and that works. But it doesn’t start with ordering “one of everything” at your provider’s office.

We are the stewards of our own health. We have access to quality lab testing, and so many treatment options. This power is in your hands. You can learn to use it wisely.

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