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Relationships Make Treatments More Effective

Deb Post

Deb Post

Nuances, the slight and subtle shades of things going on below the obvious, and interrelationships, the connections between things, is as essential to the success of friendships or romantic relationships as it is to a patient/professional health practitioner relationship. In the eyes of functional medicine practitioners such as Dee Harris, founder of D-Signed Nutrition, and Deb Post, advanced registered nurse practitioner and owner of Wellbridges, both in Bonita Springs, nuances and interrelationships provide valuable keys to helping a patient recover their health and in guiding them towards attaining optimal health. “In our patient relationships, our knowledge and understanding of up to date research in blood chemistry testing, microbiome testing and the interpretation of test results is essential,” says Harris.

In functional medicine, where food is considered to be medicine and used in developing a treatment plan to improve a health condition and future test results, office time invested in patient education regarding test results, nutritional guidance and supplements is critical. From the first visit and the completion of the comprehensive intake on the personal and family history individual and their family’s medical history, the return on an individual’s investment in their health begins.

There are many types of blood chemistry tests, which measure enzymes, electrolytes, lipids (fats), hormones, sugars, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Test results are reported as numbers, and often depend on factors Dee Harrissuch as sex, age and medical history of the patient. An individual’s data is then compared to a standard normal reference range. “Standard numbers differ between functional and conventional medicine,” advises Post, adding that the cost of tests also vary among testing labs and practitioners.

Functionally trained practitioners listen intently to a patient describe their symptoms, lifestyle and health habits and usually order a comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP), which includes an electrolyte panel and tests for kidney and liver function, as well as glucose and calcium levels,

For treating underactive or overactive thyroid, also know as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) blood is measured for levels of this hormone made and released by the pituitary gland. A full thyroid panel includes the T-4 hormone, T3, free T3 and antibody profiles.

“The functional analysis of blood test results is not only a window into the workings, nuances and interrelationships between the body’s organs and systems, but also the most important entry-level assessment for patients who are intent on catching critical changes in the body before they manifest as chronic disease. Depending on the results, a science-based prevention program can be created to reverse disease and restore health by looking at hidden health trends and analyzing, from a functional perspective, where on the spectrum of health to disease an individual lies,” explains Harris, who notes that conventionally trained doctors generally look only at the numbers from a pathological perspective to diagnose disease, rather than the relationship between things in the body that can be improved with nutritional support.

For instance, when cholesterol numbers are going up, conventionally trained practitioners don’t consider toxic exposure or the cholesterol/thyroid interrelationship. “Functionally, I look at fluoride and other toxin levels, toxic exposure, stress, zinc and selenium levels, as well as a possible genetic test to see if a patient’s body is converting beta-carotine to vitamin A.”

“Costs for full toxic profiles, like the cost for blood testing vary significantly with as much as a $1000 difference, depending on the test and if a patient pays cash rather than putting the expense through their healthcare provider,” advises Post.

Functional practitioners can give a list of tests they need to an individual that they can present to their doctor to determine what is covered by insurance. A doctor may not order the testing directly, because they will be required by law to start treatment, which generally means prescribing pharmaceuticals. Costs for tests that aren’t covered by insurance can be paid out of pocket directly to a functional practitioner that works with local laboratories. Sometimes the total charge includes office time for interpreting results and consulting on lifestyle changes and nutritional support.  

According to Post, if clients have to pay full price for basic lab work, they can visit PrivateMdLabs.com to order tests directly at a discount of roughly 60 percent or more. On the splash page of the website, there is an additional 10 percent discount. Clients select tests that go into their shopping cart, pay LAB CORP for them and get a lab slip and receipt, which they print and take to the lab. Results come directly to the client and are given to the practitioner for interpretation.

Local Resources

D-Signed Nutrition, 3531 Bonita Bay Blvd, Ste. 300, Bonita Springs. 239-676-5249. D-SignedNutrition.com.

Wellbridges, 9200 Bonita Beach Rd., Ste. 213, Bonita Springs. 239-231-8354. Wellbridges.com.

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