Both conventional medicine and functional medicine doctors rely on laboratory test results to better understand what is going on inside the body. There are limits, of course, to what these tests reveal. Functional medicine digs deeper.
Laboratory testing is an essential part of the evaluation process at Princeton Integrative Health and is used to help establish treatment plans. It begins with the same foundational health assessment that conventional doctors use: Blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, BMI—they are all vital indicators of the state of your physical self. Additional tests are often recommended, which help get to the root cause of a patient’s medical condition.
These are some of the functional medicine tests used at Princeton Integrative Health to evaluate a patient’s health:
Gut health is the window to our overall health, and this cutting-edge test provides a great deal of information about our gut microbiome. So much more than a simple stool evaluation, the GI-MAP is a DNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which allows us to diagnose disease with very small sample amounts. PCR is often referred to as molecular photocopying because it can produce millions of copies of a section of DNAin a few hours.
The GI-MAP is helpful in detecting and identifying pathogens, worms, inflammation, malabsorption and potential autoimmune triggers. It can detect gastrointestinal pathogens that cause such conditions as colitis and gastroenteritis as well as other diseases that may on the surface appear entirely unrelated to gut health but, in fact, are. Chronic GI symptoms, autoimmune conditions, cognitive challenges, skin conditions, joint pain, hormonal imbalances, food sensitivities and many other health issues can often be traced to pathogens in the gut or an imbalance in gut microbes. A better understanding of the gut microbiome holds promise in the prevention and treatment of many diseases.
An Organic Acids Test (OAT) can provide a “metabolic snapshot” of a patient’s overall health, offering insight into how the body is functioning in a number of ways. Performed from a simple urine test, OAT tests help us to determine vitamin and mineral deficiencies, amino acid deficiencies, oxidative damage and antioxidant need, detoxification capacity, neurotransmitter production, systemic bacterial and yeast issues and more.
We know that many people with chronic illnesses and neurological disorders will excrete several abnormal organic acids in their urine. High levels of these acids may be the result of oral antibiotic use, high-sugar diets, immune deficiencies, acquired infections and genetics.
This information is highly valuable when treating patients who are experiencing fatigue, mood changes, weight issues, sleep disturbances, depression and chemical sensitivities, bloating, joint pain, gas, distention, reflux, autoimmune disorders and more.
Many health problems are caused by hormonal imbalances. There is a strong relationship between our hormones and stress, for example. The DUTCH test is a comprehensive test that evaluates adrenal and reproductive hormones. It was developed to assess hormones including cortisol, melatonin, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and more. The DUTCH test tells us more about hormones than we would learn from a conventional blood test, which measures only the levels of hormones. It also indicates how hormones follow a specific circadian rhythm, and how they are converted, used and detoxified (or not) in and from the body. This all correlates to the levels of stress in our bodies. This information helps us to guide both men and women at various stages of their lives to optimize their hormonal balance through lifestyle, hormone therapy and nutritional changes.
Leaky gut is a condition where the intestinal lining of your GI tract literally breaks down, allowing undigested food particles, bacteria and other pathogens to compromise the immune system (80 percent of which resides in the gut) and seep into the bloodstream, causing inflammation and immune responses resulting in issues such as allergies, food and/or chemical sensitivities, fatigue, chronic GI problems, autoimmune disease and other health challenges. It is hard to feel optimally well if you have leaky gut. This test provides an assessment of your intestinal permeability and determines how well (or not) your gut lining is helping to safeguard you from these toxins and pathogens, including gluten, bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
Nutritional deficiencies are frequently the root cause of many chronic diseases and conditions, including depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances and fatigue. This testing measures dozens of nutritional components, including specific vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other essential micronutrients found in the blood. By analyzing the blood in this way, we can identify many deficiencies and make recommendations for repletion and supplementation to achieve greater well-being. We use this testing to customize a patient’s nutritional assessment and provide an individual treatment plan.
A standard lipid panel alone may not predict your true risk for cardiovascular disease. Recent studies show that lowering your LDL cholesterol reduces your risk for a cardiovascular event by only 25 percent, and at least half of people who have experienced a cardiac event had cholesterol levels in the “normal” range.
To gain a more comprehensive look at their risk, we recommend advanced, specialized testing for some patients, particularly those with risk factors, to evaluate lipids, inflammation, metabolics and genetics.
Toxic exposure is a reality of our daily lives, but toxic overload can stress our bodily systems and manifest in various ways. Toxins can lead to elevated oxidative stress and increase demand on the body's detoxification pathways, particularly in the liver. When the liver can't adequately eliminate toxins or infectious byproducts, these toxins can clog up normal detox pathways and lead to a range of chronic inflammation symptoms. If you're experiencing multiple chronic symptoms and can't lose weight despite diet and exercise, you could be carrying a high toxic burden.
Princeton Integrative Health also offers testing for Lyme disease, toxin/chemical exposures, and other health-influencing factors
“Throughout the process, we engage, educate, empower and encourage people to make health a priority. We give them the resources and tools they need to make real life changes, and provide the support they need to make those changes stick.”
- Jenna Richardson