Tell me if this sounds familiar. You go to a doctor or naturopath or functional medicine clinician and the appointment goes great. You feel like they understand you and you feel just a little glimmer of hope… hope that you might finally find some answers and get better.
Then the rug gets yanked out from under you…
The clinician has recommended you get a battery of tests to get to the bottom of your health struggles and this is only going to cost you an extra… $2,700?!?!
What do you do?
Many chronically sick people end up on a fixed income due to only being able to work part time or sometimes not at all.
Maybe you’re one of the fortunate ones that was able to get approved for disability, but that’s only a drop in the bucket compared to your healthcare costs.
You’ve saved for months just to be able to afford the consultation with this doc because you had heard great things about him and you’re running out of options.
Now it’s time to make a decision, do you get the tests done, adding to your mounds of credit card debt and hope it shows something and gets you back on your feet? Or do you cut your losses and go back home, defeated and hopeless?
In a Perfect World…
In a perfect world, everyone would have access to endless funds for healthcare and insurances would actually pay for the tests they really need… and I’d have a unicorn to ride down the streets of Dallas and it’d be 70 degrees and sunny every day.
What? It’s about as likely as the first two things…
If this perfect world existed, here’s a list of tests that I would LOVE to be able to run on each and every one of my clients:
|Cyrex Array 2
Cyrex Array 3
Cyrex Array 4
Cyrex Array 10
BioHealth SIBO Breath Test
BioHealth CSA + H Pylori
Doctor’s Data CSA
Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide
Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone
Genova Diagnostics OAT
Intestinal Permeability Assessment
DUTCH Complete Hormone Test
Serum Methymalonic Acid
Serum Vitamin D
MARCoNS Nasal Swab
Metal Toxicity Panel
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
Iron Panel + Ferritin
Complete Blood Count
If we were to run all of these tests, it could cost you more than $6,000! But we’d be looking at any and every possibility.
Part of the problem is that many of these tests are not covered by insurance, but that’s a whole other can of worms that we will not open today.
Now, that’s in a perfect world where money is no object, but I’m going to assume most of us do not have $6,000 laying around and we all know (maybe a little too well) that the world is not perfect!
So, how can we find the middle ground and get the information we need without putting people into bankruptcy?
Here’s my opinion on this:
The World is Not Perfect
This will come as no surprise to you, but the world is not perfect and life isn’t fair, so we have to make some hard choices.
Using the appropriate diagnostic tools such as questionnaires and physical examination can help make those decisions. Sometimes you will see clear patterns that lead you down one path or the other and guides decision making regarding what tests to run.
Other times there is NOT a clear path and we must make some hard decisions, here are the tests that I would choose to run, given a limited budget and a medical history that has left others stumped.
DUTCH Comprehensive from Precision Analytical
What does it test for? Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) function, Sex Hormones, Methylation Status, Thyroid Function (Disclaimer: DUTCH testing does NOT directly measure thyroid hormones but given the data on adrenal function and sex hormones, we can make some pretty good guesses about thyroid function and a reasonably priced thyroid panel can confirm these hypotheses.)
Overview of Utility: We can use this to get an overall view of your hormone functioning from top to bottom, starting with the hypothalamus where everything starts, all the way out to how your body produces and then metabolizes and eliminates hormones from the body.
This is vital information that can really cue us into what’s going on “under the hood.”
Cost to Clients: $400
Comprehensive Stool Analysis from Doctor’s Data
What does it test for? Gut microbiology (good and bad bacteria), Candida, Parasites, Pancreatic Enzyme Function, Metabolism of Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats, Inflammation of the Intestinal Lining
Overview of Utility: With this test we can see what the gut microbiome looks like as well as many other functions of the gut. While it is not as complete an assessment of the gut as I’d like, it’s a very good place to start.
I debated putting this one on my paired down list of tests, but I couldn’t find a better option for getting an overall look at what’s going on in the gut.
Cost to Clients: $394
What does it test for? Food intolerances that can lead to severe inflammation and autoimmune conditions.
Overview of Utility: This may not sound like an especially impressive diagnostic tool, but it actually can provide a great amount of data. It’s my low-tech secret weapon… and it’s FREE.
You can eliminate the most common foods that people have problems with, such as, wheat, dairy, corn, rice, nightshades (white potatoes, peppers, tomatoes) and nuts/seeds. Go without these foods for 30-90 days, then systematically, you add each one back to determine if you have a reaction to that specific food.
The reintroduction of the foods must be done in the right way or your results can be skewed. You add back one food group at a time and you eat it daily for 3-5 days and monitor your progress. If you do this and have not had a reaction or return of symptoms by the end of the week, then you can assume that food is safe and move to the next food group.
Admittedly, elimination diets can be tough to do and are not a quick answer by any means, but when funds are limited, it beats the hell out of paying $1,000+ for Cyrex testing to give you lab data about your food intolerances.
Cost to Clients: FREE
The DUTCH test, comprehensive stool analysis and the elimination diet alone can shed light on hormone issues, gut issues and food intolerances, which accounts for the majority of pathologies I see with my clients.
Highly Specific Testing
As I had said earlier, sometimes with the right questionnaires and conversations, it may be possible to pick up on a pattern that leads us down a very specific testing route. Here are a couple common paths that we end up on.
Lyme and Other Chronic Infections. Some patients present with symptoms that are very specific to chronic infection and would immediately make me think that they may be suffering from Lyme (migrating joint pain), Bartonella (unexplained “scratch” marks on the back), Babesia (drenching night sweats), etc.
In this case, we’d start looking at tests like DNA Connexions that tests the urine for fragments of these bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.
Mold and Environmental Toxins. Only about 25% of people have genetic predisposition to becoming sick after exposure to water damaged buildings, but if a person suspects or knows that they have been exposed to a water damaged building, then we’re going down that road to get to the bottom of it.
Likewise, if a person suddenly became ill after moving or changing jobs, then this comes to the top of the list as well.
Heavy metals could be considered for many clients as well. If a person was living in a building that was built before about 1977 or if they had amalgam fillings (which, surprisingly, are still common), then I would be inclined to start down this road.
Bonus Strategy: Use What Has Already Been Done
People that come to me have often been to several, if not dozens of doctors and had loads of testing already done. These tests can be useful, especially when they’re some of the more common tests that I would normally do, such as, complete blood panel, lipid panel, comprehensive metabolic panel, basic thyroid panel, etc.
If a person’s symptoms haven’t really changed, these tests are still worth looking at and could shine light on a situation that may have slipped through the cracks. There are certain cases that would warrant redoing some tests but that’s beyond the scope of this article.
I hope this helps clarify which tests I find to be the most helpful for clients and how you can get the best bang for your buck when it comes to your health.
If you’re having trouble finding answers and want to know what tests are vital to regaining your health and getting back to the life you deserve, contact me for a free initial consultation. We’ll talk about what testing may be appropriate for you and which ones you might want to leave out.