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Lab tests

How to make lab tests lie

Saturday, June 29, 2013 by: Jeffery Scott
Tags: lab tests, disease prevention, junk science

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(NaturalNews) Modern medicine, with its heavy reliance upon both technology and pharmaceutical interventions, has changed the very nature of medicine and how it is practiced. Traditionally, medicine placed a high value upon the human skills of the physician: Intuition, insight, personal knowledge of the patient and their life circumstances, and even educated hunches. And while some lip service may still be paid to these time-honored abilities, the quest for objective data, whether from a blood test or imaging test, is now the Holy Grail of medicine. After all, how can the practitioner bill insurance or justify a proposed treatment without "proof" the diagnosis or treatment is legitimate?

But as every practitioner knows, all tests have their limits, insensitivities and "blind spots" - things they just cannot see, measure or prove. Further, in the quest for "data" and "objective proof" we can easily confuse the symptom and the cause.

A good example is cholesterol. While total cholesterol and triglycerides are easily measured, all too often little attention is paid to the underlying reason why the body is producing high levels of cholesterol, such as insulin resistance, hypothyroidism, stress, low fiber intake, etc. Thus, the symptom of elevated cholesterol is often treated directly with a statin drug under the assumption that if the symptom (high cholesterol) is no longer visible then the cause is improved. Really? The automotive equivalent of this thinking is to say that when you are driving down the highway and notice the little red "low oil" warning-light illuminated on the dashboard, you can fix the problem by putting some black electrical tape over the light itself. If you can't see the symptom, isn't everything okay? With the symptom of elevated cholesterol now "corrected" by the drug, we go about our lives hoping and believing that we are at lower risk for a cardiovascular "event".

Truth or consequences?

There are many ways in which we can make lab tests lie to us and even misdirect the clinical investigation. The Crohn's patient who is taking corticosteroids for their inflamed bowel condition may find their antibody-based Lyme test is negative due to the suppression of antibody production by the steroids. Or the gluten-sensitive patient who has been diligently gluten-free for two years, repeats their antibody-based gluten test, hoping to see if they are "still sensitive" to gluten. If antibodies are the body's response to an immune-challenging substance (gluten), how can you produce antibodies if you have not provoked your body (eaten) the offending food? Thus, the "negative" result on this important follow-up test could lead to an incorrect and potentially dangerous conclusion that they are now gluten-tolerant. Or the chronically tired patient who has a thyroid evaluation wherein only central thyroid function is tested via TSH and total T4 but without investigation of the peripheral thyroid hormones, such as free T3 or reverse T3. In this case, a correct conclusion from an incomplete test panel may lead to a mistaken conclusion about thyroid function in that patient. On another level, a patient may be experiencing multiple symptoms from food or chemical sensitivity reactions that are not mediated or measured through a conventional IgE allergy test. Not appreciating the important difference between allergy and sensitivity, may lead to a false conclusion that there are no food or chemical-induced symptoms.

Good medicine, whether natural or conventional, is that which helps restore the patient to health without harm or risk. Laboratory testing, used wisely and with a solid understanding of its limitations, can provide valuable insights to the astute, intuitive practitioner and help address true causes rather than symptoms.

Sources for this article include:




About the author:
Jeffery Scott, PhD, CCN is a author, researcher and health educator. He is author of "Mind Myths", "Your Guide To Body pH" and other works published by www.ClinicalNutritionPress.com

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