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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Your Healthiest Year Yet: Exciting Advances in Functional Lab Testing

Dec 30, 2021 09:31AM ● By Gary Kracoff
Functional lab testing can be a helpful way of assessing the body’s needs. It can be beneficial for understanding the “why” of a symptom and shed light on what the imbalances may be so they can be addressed directly. Testing can help with metabolic imbalances, hormonal issues (female, male, adrenal, thyroid), gastrointestinal, detoxification, stress, anxiety, sleep and metabolic pathways. These labs tests are now available to everyone and are usually flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) eligible.

Here are a few examples:

Dutch Adrenal test - Accurately tests adrenal cortisol production and its metabolites. This is very helpful for people with sleep issues, stress and/or exhaustion.

Dutch Complete - Female and male hormone test that includes the Adrenal test.

GI Map - Research indicates that gut health impacts overall health.  This comprehensive stool test detects parasites, bacteria, fungi and more. Some conditions that warrant testing include irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, digestive complaints and skin issues.

Methylation Panel - Testing for MTHFR has many people feeling they cannot methylate properly. There is a lot more involved than just the MTHFR gene. Methylation is a chemical process that happens billions of times per second in every cell of the body. Methyl groups are transferred and donated between many different molecules which change their structure and function. Methyl groups act like billions of switches which turn genes on or off, help regulate mood, detoxify hormones, produce energy and promote healthy aging. This panel looks at more than just MTHFR and can help determine what support is needed.

NutrEval - This comprehensive functional and nutritional assessment helps identify root causes of dysfunction and treat clinical imbalances that are inhibiting optimal health. This advanced diagnostic tool provides a systems-based approach to help individuals overcome chronic conditions and live a healthier life. It includes a built-in scoring system to guide therapy around needs for methylation support, toxic exposures, mitochondrial dysfunction, fatty acid imbalances and oxidative stress. Results provide nutrient recommendations for key vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids and digestive support based on a functional evaluation of important biomarkers.

Organic Acid Test (OAT)

The Organic Acids Test (OAT) offers a comprehensive metabolic snapshot of a patient’s overall health with 76 markers. It provides an accurate evaluation of intestinal yeast and bacteria. Abnormally high levels of these microorganisms can cause or worsen behavior disorders, hyperactivity, movement disorders, fatigue and immune function. Many people with chronic illnesses and neurological disorders often excrete several abnormal organic acids in their urine. The cause of these high levels could include oral antibiotic use, high sugar diets, immune deficiencies and acquired infections, as well as genetic factors.

      Organic Acids Test also includes markers for some vital vitamin and mineral levels, oxidative stress and neurotransmitter levels and includes markers for oxalates which are highly correlated with many chronic illnesses. If abnormalities are detected using the OAT, suggestions can include supplements, such as vitamins and antioxidants, or dietary modification. The OAT is strongly recommended as an initial screening test.

DNA analysis – Functional Genomic Nutrition DNA analysis integrates genetic raw data, lab work results and patient symptoms to help understand if single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are activated and creating issues, and how specific pathways may be compromised. SNPs (pronounced “snips”) are copying errors when an existing cell divides to make two new cells that will each have a complete set of genetic instructions. Sometimes, however, cells make mistakes during the copying process which lead to variations in the DNA sequence at particular locations, called SNPs. Knowledge alone that a SNP is present is not helpful and may lead to supplementation that is not needed or may be detrimental. It does not provide a big picture of how metabolic pathways affect each other and if the pathway is functioning properly.

With the help of specialty labs, people can get a comprehensive overview of how well their body is performing. By catching any markers early on, individuals have a chance at reversing or stopping disease progression altogether.

Dr. Gary Kracoff is a naturopathic doctor and registered pharmacist at Johnson Compounding and Wellness Center, located at 577 Main St., Waltham. For more information on functional lab testing, call 781-893-3870 ext. 2 or visit