Tests | Integrative functional medicine blog

"Any fool can Know. The point is to understand" - Albert Einstein

Functional vs. standard blood ranges

Have you ever had obvious health symptoms but your lab tests come back normal? Many such patients, the majority of them women (but not exclusively women), are told it’s simply stress, aging, depression, or worse, its all in your head, go see a psychologist).

The problem is most doctors use lab ranges on blood tests when functional ranges
provide more clues that explain the symptoms.

The lab ranges on a blood test look for diseases while functional medicine ranges look for patterns and markers that spot trends toward disease that can still be reversed or halted.

For instance, the lab ranges for diabetes are quite high, but a functional range can let you know your blood sugar is in the danger zone well before you need pharmaceutical treatment and have caused considerable inflammatory damage to your body.

In another example, many people with clear and obvious symptoms of low thyroid function are told they are fine for years while autoimmune destruction of the thyroid gland continues unchecked and untreated, worsening symptoms all the while. Traditional doctors may only test TSH and tell you its fine all the while not even knowing that your TPO or TGB markers are leading you down the path of Hashimotos.

Functional blood ranges can help you stop the progression toward disease

Functional medicine addresses the underlying physiological mechanisms causing symptoms. In conventional medicine, a condition must have progressed far enough to diagnose and treat with drugs or surgery.

In other words, functional ranges define the parameters of good health while lab ranges define the parameters of disease.

Additionally, lab ranges are determined by a
bell-curve analysis of patients who had their blood drawn at that center, many of whom are likely quite sick. As the health of Americans continues to decline, so do the ranges for what qualifies as healthy. For some markers, we don’t know what qualifies as healthy, just average.

Functional ranges look for patterns in the markers

Functional medicine doesn’t just look at individual markers, but also for patterns among various different blood markers. All systems in the body are inter-related and a problem in one area of the body can show up as an out-of-range marker in another area. It can become a little complicated, but at the same time explain a lot of symptoms for some patients.

This can help identify different types of anemia, whether your high blood sugar is raising your risk of heart disease, or whether a hormone imbalance might be affecting your thyroid.

Another example involves looking at markers to determine whether activated or depressed immunity is related to a virus, bacterial infection, allergies, or even parasites.

A functional blood test includes many more markers

Another difference between functional and conventional blood tests isn’t just the ranges used, but also the markers ordered. A conventional blood test will typically include far fewer markers than a functional one.

We can especially see this in testing for hypothyroidism. Standard tests only look at thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) even though about 90 percent of cases of hypothyroidism are caused by an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s. This is because knowing whether a person has Hashimoto’s does not change the standard of care in conventional medicine.

However, a functional test will include markers to identify autoimmune Hashimoto’s and other causes of low thyroid function. Knowing what is causing the thyroid to under function determines the best way to manage it and improve thyroid health.

A blood panel is an important tool in the functional medicine evaluation. Ask my office for more information.

Get Functional,
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be Healthy, be happy!

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How to test for low stomach acid

How to test yourself for low stomach acid

Link to Leaky gut test
Link to Purchase Betaine HCL for test

How to test for low stomach acid.

Previously we talked about how to test yourself for leaky gut, or at least get an idea of if you might have leaky gut.

In this quick post we are going to discuss how to test yourself to see if you have enough stomach acid. This is one of the many reason that you will often hear how good apple cider vinegar is for you.

Stomach acid has many different functions. Some of the primary roles are to break down protein into amino acids so that they can be absorbed and utilized.

Stomach also aids in the digestion and absorption of certain nutrients and minerals such as magnesium - think leg cramps and relaxation, sodium - think blood pressure and adrenal fatigue, and Iron - think anemia or decreased ability to carry oxygen.

HCL or hydrochloric acid also act as a disinfectant aiding your body in the fight against all those sick bugs we get exposed to on a daily basis in our foods. Low stomach acid levels have been noted to increase the risk on someone getting H. Pylori and vibrio. Infections of the digestive tract.

So if you get sick a lot you might want to check your stomach HCL levels.

As a little side note, many people that have gastric ulcers or acid reflux often get put onto PPIs
Proton pump inhibitors. I encourage you to do some research on the side effects of these drugs. They aren't all they are cracked up to be.

And often, these people often have too little HCL, not too much. But, that is a detour we aren't going to take right now. I have that scheduled for a future post. So keep tuned in.

So here is what you do. And this is my particular approach and many doctors have different ways of doing it.

First you are going to have to buy some
HCL, don't use apple cider vinegar, and don’t use betaine HCL with pepsin. First it will be too hard to figure out exactly what your dosage might be, and second you may end up drinking a whole bunch of it. Which isn't too tasty.

So now you have your
Betaine HCL (stomach acid)

Over the next few days you are going to take varying amounts of the HCl pills until you get a reaction.

You are going to test it by taking the pill/pills before your largest meal of the day, make sure this meal has a protein. Remember protein uses HCL to be broken down. So if you have a response when you eat the protein the symptoms should go away.

The type of response you should feel is a slight warming, discomfort, or upset stomach, almost like heart burn.

So on the first day of the test you take 1 pill 15-20 minutes before the meal. If you don't feel any symptoms, the next day you will take 2 pills before the meal, and continue on like that until you get to the point that you actually have symptoms.

This will tell you how well, or poorly your stomach acid levels are.

Keep tuned in. In a future vlog/blog I will be discussing what you should do about it.

If you need a little help and guidance in your quest for better health give my office a call. Id love to help you.

Until next time

Im Dr. Craig Mortensen

Be healthy, be happy.

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How fast are you getting osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis: How Fast Are You Losing Bone?

Osteoporosis is reaching an epidemic status.
It leads to 1.5 million fractures per year.

photo of bone loss

The traditional way one is evaluated for osteoporosis is the standard Bone Density Test. Although important to have done, this is a static test and "only" provides information on the amount of bone that has already been lost.
It’s not always where we have been but where we are going.

Unfortunately it does not provide data on the rate of bone loss.

Wouldn't it be wise to know how fast you are losing bone?
Wouldn't it be of great value to know if the treatment you are doing is slowing down the rate of bone loss?


Well the good news is there is a functional medicine test called the Bone Resorption Assessment that provides an accurate measurement of the rate of bone turnover.
In short, it tells you how much and how fast you are losing bone density. Are you the turtle or the hare?

slow vs fast

Testing allows the practitioner to identify those more likely to develop osteoporosis, to intervene before significant loss has occurred, and to monitor the efficacy of treatment regimens.

It is important to identify individuals currently losing bone at an accelerated rate so that effective treatment can begin before significant bone loss has occurred.

Advantages of Urinary Bone Resorption Testing

Biochemical markers are convenient and inexpensive dynamic measures of bone turnover.

Biomechanical markers provide immediate information on the rate of bone loss, thus helping to predict future losses.

Bone density tests, unlike biochemical markers, are inconvenient for regular monitoring of therapies due to invasiveness and expense.
The following is an actual bone resorption test:
bone resorpbtion test results

This test reflects a high rate of bone loss

The following is the functional medicine science behind the test:

Pyridinium crosslinks are stabilizers of collagen molecules.Pyridinium crosslinks consist of both
pyridinoline (PYD) and deoxypyridinoline (DPD). Deoxypyridinoline is found predominantly in bone tissue, whereas pyridinoline is found in both bone and cartilage. Bone collagen contains both pyridinoline (PYD), which is reflective of collagen loss of all types, and its component deoxypyridinoline (DPD), which specifically reflects bone collagen.

Presence in the urine of higher than normal amounts of PYD and DPD
indicate a rapid rate of bone loss.
The test above reveals that the level of pyridinium crosslinks is elevated. Abnormally high pyridinium crosslinks in urine suggest increased cartilage, connective tissue, and/or bone resorption. 

Again in the test above, the level of deoxypyridinoline (DPD) is elevated, indicating an
increased rate of bone loss.

In individuals with no underlying bone disease, this is an important marker in the development of osteoporosis.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with osteoporosis, I strongly recommend that you have your doctor order a
bone resorption test. If your doctor is not trained in functional medicine, then I recommend consulting with a health professional trained in functional medicine and have them evaluate you and find out "why" you have osteoporosis. 

Simply taking the common family of osteoporosis drugs called bisphosphonates like Actonel,Boniva and Fosamax without seeking to identify the underlying reason for why you have the disease is not wise.

Again, be pro-active in your treatment and management of osteoporosis and find someone who specializes in functional medicine - Like me ;-)

If you need a little help achieving better health please contact Dr. Craig Mortensen to set up a consultation.

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Article provided courtesy of Dr. Ronald Grisanti D.C., D.A.B.C.O., D.A.C.B.N., M.S  www.FunctionalMedicineUniversity.com 


Vitamin D levels still suck?

Vitamin D levels still suck? This may be why.

declining vit d

I get a ton of patients whose vitamin D levels just plain stink (below 50nmol/L). In the toilet, and they can’t get it up.

I’ve got a quick check you can perform on your own to see if this little know fact can help you get your vitamin D levels back into the optimal range again.
Which by the way, should be around 70-80nmol/L.

BTW. If you haven’t had your vitamin D levels checked, you should. You can ask you doctor to run it as part of a routine blood lab or you can get it done with a simple
pin prick test here or check out our Functional test page for discounts on lab testing. CAUTION: Vitamin D is fat soluble vitamin (meaning you can overdose), its best to have a doctor supervise you and your levels.

Most people know the importance of healthy levels of vitamin D. If not, here is a short list of the reasons why you should care. This list is by no means comprehensive, there are simply too many too list all of them here.

  • Fights disease - including multiple sclerosis, other autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease and even the common flu.

  • It help fight depression and fibromyalgia

  • It boosts weight loss, partially by acting as an appetite suppressant.

  • Helps with bone health and bone density

  • Decreases the risk of diabetes

  • Decreases the risk of developing cancer - particularly breast, colon, prostate, ovary, esophagus and of the lymphatic system.

  • Decreases the risk of certain issues in pregnancy such as preeclampsia, cesarean section, bacterial vaginosis and even food allergies.

Most vitamin D supplements or multivitamins have around 400IU, sometimes up to 1000IU if you are lucky.

(Please stay away from grocery store brands - save your money). The dosage of 400IU per day is the bare minimum to prevent a disease called rickets, it does not promote optimum wellness nor provide any of the health benefits as those listed above.

It’s fairly standard in todays day and age to routinely take up to
5000IU per day, sometimes even up to 10,000IU per day. That is about the minimum I use in my practice for my patients. Just about anything less just doesn’t do the trick.

After treating thousands of patients, when I can’t get a patients vitamin D levels to go up…….Wait for it……..Wait for it………

I check Magnesium levels.

This can also be done with an easy blood or urine test. If your
INTRACELLULAR magnesium (not serum magnesium) is low, then it may be helpful for your vitamin D levels if you increase your magnesium intake as well.

Here is a magnesium hair elemental test you can get on Amazon.

Hair Mineral Analysis

A possibly cheaper and quicker way to get the testing done is to check out our
Functional testing page for lab discounts mailed directly to you with no shipping or lab orders emailed within 48 hours you can take to any labcorp location around the world.

magnesium rich foods

We will thoroughly cover which type of magnesium is best for you in a later blog. For now,
check out this link for some of the magnesium supplements I use in my practice.

Get out, get some sun, enjoy life, and be healthy.

Dr. Craig Mortensen

If you or someone you know could use some guidance to better health please don’t hesitate to
contact me.

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