Don’t diagnose a book by its cover

admin/ September 30, 2015/ Dr. Danielle/

Well, that’s not exactly true. Sometimes illness or disease only shows it’s ugly head on the outside. But let’s talk about the inside. And by inside, I mean what is coursing through our blood vessels and nourishing our organs – blood. Some of us vomit at the sight of it, while others see it as a pinnacle of inspiration (and by others, perhaps I mean me). You see, on a cellular level, blood is really cool. After all, it carries things like iron, oxygen, and nutrients and delivers these vital components to the rest of our body, giving us life! The other really cool thing about blood is that we can test it! Yes, we can find or confirm disease or illness in the body using our blood!! (I say this facetiously because I have actually heard an MD say that he didn’t think Naturopaths believed in blood tests).

Every year, when you (should) go to your family doc for a physical, you (should) get a requistion for bloodwork. These tests aren’t usually run to confirm a diagnosis – unless past medical history prompts this. This set of bloodwork is more or less used to ensure everything is working optimally. So let me explain what the tests are looking for.

CBC (Complete Blood Count) – This broad spectrum test essentially gives the doc an idea of what your red and white blood cells are doing. It consists of several different tests including hemoglobin, hematocrit, red blood cells and their different components (like cell volume and concentration), and the counts of all the different types of white blood cells (neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, monocytes, and lymphocytes). The normal ranges vary depending on age, or the body’s need and composition (i.e. pregnancy).

Ferritin -This is an evaluation of the iron status in our bodies. As we know, iron is the reason we are able to carry oxygen in our blood and deliver it to the rest of the body. So you can imagine the implications of being iron deficient if our body isn’t getting fed enough oxygen.

Fasting glucose – This is a measure of how much glucose or sugar is in your blood 12 hours after your last meal. If it is increased, this tells your doc that your cells haven’t been able to take in the sugar for one of two reasons: 1) you didn’t produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) or 2) your cells have become insensitive to insulin (type 2 diabetes). Sugar or glucose cell intake is necessary in order for our cells to make energy and survive.

Triglycerides – A.k.a. fat. Both dietary triglycerides and those made in the liver are transported to adipose tissue for storage.

 HDL Cholesterol –this is the GOOD cholesterol! Doc’s prefer to see a high value here.

LDL Cholesterol – this is the BAD guy! Doc’s prefer to see a low value here.

TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) – Ah, the thyroid! The master metabolic gland. This test is meant to evaluate if your thyroid is working optimally. If the stimulating hormone is low, this means that the thyroid may be overactive (because it doesn’t need any stimuation). Alternatively, if it is high, it is indicative of a sluggish or hypothyroid (because it needs lots of stimulating hormone). From a clinical perspective, some of us walk around with normal TSH levels but abnormal thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). Most family docs won’t rest for T3 or T4 unless TSH is abnormal. I know, it’s a shame. But that’s where a Naturopath can come into play! 😉

Now, aside from bloodwork run by your family doc, there are a number of different tests that a Naturopath can requisition (which aren’t covered under OHIP but may (or may not) be covered by your benefits). The two tests which I run most commonly are the food sensitivity testing and salivary hormone testing. They both can play an important role in bringing my patients back to health depending on the chief concerns.

However annoying it is, it is important that you get yearly physicals. Early detection of any disease process is key. How you choose to deal with any abnormal findings is up to you and your healthcare professional. Just don’t rule out having a Naturopathic doc as part of your team!

As my motto goes, Prevention is the foundation to which….No, wait…..It’s better to prevent disease than it is to…, seriously, hold on….Roses red, violets are blue, you look so sick, I can help you. Mmmmm….clearly that needs some work. Let me sit on this for awhile.

Peace out, Dr. D