functional medicine | 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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Dry Brush your way to a healthier body and more youthful skin.

Dry brushing = Better Health + Better Skin

dry brushing

It’s benefits include exfoliating the skin, increasing lymphatic drainage, detoxification, unclogging pores and supposedly decreasing cellulite.

What exactly is dry brushing and why should you do it? Glad you asked.

Dry brushing has been around for centuries in Scandinavian and Russian culture. It involves the use of a stiff bristled brush (preferably natural fibers) that is used to brush the entire body. The way that it is performed is by starting at the distal (farthest) regions of the body. ie. hands and feet. Stroke in medium to short strokes towards the heart working your way up until you get to the heart. Start off with light pressure and progress to medium pressure as you become more used to the pressure. A good time to do it is first thing in the morning before your shower. Try to do it 3-4 times per week.

P.S. - Please don’t use toxic perfumes, colognes, deodorants, or lotions. Even if you don’t dry brush! Healthwave has some great alternatives.

The benefits of dry brushing are a 5 in 1 deal. Get 5 benefits for the price of 1.

Exfoliate: Using the stiff bristles over the entire body brushes off all the dry and dead skin cells from the body. By scraping off those dead cells it opens up the pores and exposes the new and fresh skin cells resulting in a more refreshed and youthful looking skin. Always a good thing!

Stimulating lymphatic drainage: The lymphatic system is part of the circulatory system and the immune system. The benefits of stimulating those systems should be self explanatory. While the benefit of stimulating lymphatic drainage isn’t solely from the use of the dry brush, it is a great benefit. This benefit can also be achieved with a simple self massage of the extremities and lymphatic system.

Unclogs pores: This benefit is associated with the exfoliation that occurs with the dry brushing. By removing the dead skin and cells it helps to unclog the pores of the skin resulting in less blemishes, breakouts, ingrown hairs, dead and dry patches of skin, and many other common skin conditions. Pretty simple right? Basically you are scraping off the bad layer of skin. Makes sense.

Detoxification: This benefit is related to the previous 3 benefits. The skin is the largest organ of detoxification of the body. It has a surface area of approximately 22 square feet (2 meters) and weighs about 7.5 pounds. Research indicates that sweating is one of the best ways to detoxify the body. By opening the pores and stimulating circulation you are enabling the body to sweat better (not necessarily more) and thus increase detoxification.

As many of my patients know, I am a research and science geek. I like to see the proof. So when I looked into this claim it didn’t take me long to find multiple studies revealing that sweat can excrete Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead and Mercury. There is also some proof that Bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates can be excreted in the sweat to some degree. All good things to get out of the body.

As a side note, there are some reports that dry brushing can help in digestion and kidney function. But that route and mechanism is a little less clear. My assumption is that detoxifying by other routes puts less strain on the kidneys and that the increase in circulation aids in digestion.

If you’d like a way to increase your sweating, I highly recommend checking out a JNH Lifestyles 2 Person Far Infrared Sauna 7 Carbon Fiber Heaters. This is a great infrared sauna. Another good one I recommend is this portable one that is less than $200. Far Infrared Portable Sauna + Negative Ion Detox

Reduce Cellulite: This last supposed benefit is a little less clear. Many Health practitioners tout it as being able to help with cellulite, and it might, but I was unable to find any research substantiating that claim. Maybe partly because there is no money in conducting a study on it. My best guess on the way that is could help with cellulite is by increasing circulation you will increase blood flow to the skin. This will then essentially plump up the skin a little, giving it a more youthful looking appearance. By filling in those little depressions in the cellulite it will smooth out the skin.

Have a little intimate fun: One of the benefits that is perhaps a little more enjoyable and not something many people talk or know about is the intimate side of dry brushing. This one can actually be very beneficial. It has to do with SEX! ;-) So here’s what you do. Before a shower get all naked with your partner and take turns brushing each other from head to toe. Then let nature take its course. BTW sex has great benefits of increasing immune system, improves women bladder control, decreases blood pressure, lowers heart attack risk, lessens pain perception, improves sleep, and eases stress.

Which Dry Brushes do I recommend and where to get them.

BEST DRY BODY BRUSH for Vitality and Beautiful Skin - 100% Natural Premium Quality Bristles for Optimal Dry Body Brushing, FREE Pair Exfoliating Gloves as Bonus Gift for Shower, Detachable Brush Head with Strap, Polished Curved Handle for Long Reach, Dry Skin Brush ideal to Beautify Skin, Reduce Cellulite, Improve Circulation, Free VITALITY Body Brushing + Detox eBook, Great Gift Set, 90-Days Risk Free Purchase

Or another great choice that is a little less expensive but great quality.

Dry Skin Body Brush - Improves Skin's Health And Beauty - Natural Bristle - Remove Dead Skin And Toxins, Cellulite Treatment , Improves Lymphatic Functions, Exfoliates, Stimulates Blood Circulation

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