Lab tests look normal, yet you still feel bad?
Pathological Versus Functional Ranges
Have you recently been to the Doctor, had your blood drawn, and was told everything is normal….yet you are still fatigued, your hair is falling out, you experience bloating or you just feel awful? I have patients come into my office weekly that this has happened to. I have come to a conclusion as to why this happens. Not all Doctors read blood tests the same. There are two main types of ranges in the field of blood chemistry analysis: a pathological range and a functional range.
The pathological range is used to diagnose disease; the functional range is used to assess risk for disease before disease develops. The references that are provided with laboratory test results are referred to as the “the pathological range”, because if the test results are out of range, it usually indicates the potential for pathology or disease.
The main difference between the functional and pathological range is the degree allowed within their normal ranges. For example, the functional range of glucose may be 85-100 mg/dl, but the pathological range may be 65 -110 mg/dl. Levels above the pathological range may indicate diabetes. Levels above the functional range, but before they reach the extremes of the pathological range, may indicate insulin resistance and future risk for developing diabetes. Another functional value I use often is the TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone. I often find TSH levels outside of the functional range causing pathological hypothyroid symptoms.
Conventional medical training is concerned with the diagnosis of disease and rarely preventative medicine; therefore, patients are usually not consulted regarding the parameters of the functional range. Health care providers that practice preventive medicine are those most inclined to incorporate consulting patients when their levels present outside of the functional range. If biomarkers can be managed before they fall within the pathological range, prevention can be practiced.
Many traditional health care providers do not embrace the concept of a functional range. My belief is that care should be provided before the disease is present. In my office, I run a number of blood test panels and I look at the functional range. I work at bringing hormone, mineral and vitamin levels back into the functional range, so your body can function at an optimal level. I address what the western medical community calls a “low normal” or a “high normal” and see huge changes in a person’s vitality with restored energy and enthusiasm for life when these levels return to functional.
Read our blog post about Pathological vs. Functional Ranges for more details.