Understanding Lab Tests and Digestive Health
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, digestion is very important in supporting and maintaining good health. Some digestive problems such as Leaky Gut Syndrome are due to modern causes such as antibiotics and are best diagnosed with modern methods of laboratory testing.
Irritants in the digestive track can cause poor absorption of nutrients, food allergies, formation of inflammation that obstructs digestion and proper elimination and a congested/toxic liver. This complex and tangled web of conditions leads to all sorts of health issues as I outlined in a previous article here. Making matters even more complex is the fact that some chronic health issues rooted in poor digestive health may not even show signs of digestive problems. Obviously poor treatments results can occur when the root-cause is not address.
The challenges to restoring digestive health becomes complex and may include the following:
- Identifying and eliminating the irritants
- Clearing inflammation
- Detoxifying the liver
- Healing the gut lining
- Promoting and feeding healthy gut flora
- Strengthening immunity (chronic cases tend to experience low immunity and frequent infections)
- Strengthening Adrenals (frequent infections and other stressors weaken adrenal function and lead to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – a major problem strained by modern lifestyle stress and poor diet leading to a multitude of health issues)
Note: Adrenals glands produce hormones (chemicals messengers for regulating body functions) supporting the following functions:
- regulates the “fight or flight” response or the body’s reaction to stress
- affects blood pressure
- affects blood sugar levels
- affects growth and development
- affects sexual characteristics
Check out this article on the effects of coffee on the adrenals: Effects of coffee on the Adrenal Glands
Treatment outcomes for such complex conditions may not be optimal but simple lab tests using saliva and stool samples can help target the irritants and focus treatment for more effective results.
The following is a list of simple lab tests we offer at the clinic when working with digestive health issues to identify irritants:
- Food Intolerance & Immunity (saliva test): milk protein, gluten protein, egg protein, soy protei
- Any typical food allergies identified with this test may require an additional and more extension food allergy panel to identify all food allergies/irritants.
- Parasites: Toxoplasma (saliva test) – a digestive irritant often found with people living with cats.
- Fungal/yeast cultures (Candida), bacterial pathogens, flora cultures & parasites (stool test) – these tests identify and quantify a variety of pathogens and their abundance.
- Candida releases an aldehyde which irritates the gut lining leading to leaky gut. Medical doctors may not place importance on testing for candida because most people tested positive for candida, but the test used at the clinic quantifies the level of candida from 0 to 5. If the levels are between 0 and 1 no treatment is needed but levels between 2 & 5 require treatment. These levels give us a range of severity to better direct the level of treatment needed.
- This test also measures levels of good and bad gut bacteria. High levels of bad bacteria require treatment to knock out these pathogenic colonies. Also knowing the levels of good bacteria can tell us if probiotics are needed or not.
- Lastly, people who travel outside the country may have digested some bad bugs which also can be tested and identified.
- Lysozyme (stool test) – a natural anti-histamine that elevates in response to inflammation or infection in the large intestine with conditions such as IBD (Irritable Bowel Disorder), Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s disease, GI infections and colon cancer.
- Anti-Chymotrypsin (stool test) – a marker for small intestine inflammation. Elevation usually indicates food allergies, microbe irritation or an autoimmune process. It is difficult to observe inflammation in the small intestine via scoping but this test is very accurate and makes it easy to identify.
- Chymotrypsin (stool test) – a global indicator for pancreatic function. Sometimes low pancreas and stomach function can be the cause of digestive distress instead of increased intestinal permeability (Leaky Gut Syndrome). In Traditional Chinese Medicine low levels of chymotrypsin would be translated and diagnosed as Spleen Qi deficiency.
- SIgA – Intestinal Immunity (stool & saliva test) – a marker for immune function along the gut lining. Patients with leaky gut usually have low levels of SIgA. If Anti-Chymotrypsin is not showing inflammation but SIgA is low this shows there is still an irritant present but the immune system is too weak to produce inflammation in the gut. This may sound tricky but just know these lab tests help bring more clarity to diagnosis and treatment.
Food Allergies – Identifying Food allergies can require more extensive testing to identify all possible allergens that need to be avoided to heal the gut. The skin prick test identifies IgE food allergies but some food allergy reactions are delayed and testing for IgG is much more comprehensive in identifying food allergies.
All irritants must be identified to properly heal the gut and restore optimal digestion. Some people struggle with such problems without comprehensive testing and targeted treatment.
And just keep in mind, antibiotics are the #1 cause of Leaky Gut Syndrome that can destroy the health of the gut biome. You could go through a long process of staying away from problematic foods and allow the gut to heal but the next round of antibiotics, although sometimes unavoidable, can work against all those efforts requiring you to take alternative measure to optimize gut health and digestion.
Let me know if you have any questions on this topic – Contact Us.
If you’re interested in all natural solutions to your health concerns, I’d like to offer you a free consultation to find help. Contact the clinic today and let’s schedule some time to sit down and review your health concerns.
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