Why Functional Medicine Lab Testing is So Important

Functional medicine and lab testing

Lab testing is foundational to functional medicine, and for good reason if you have a hormone or thyroid imbalance. It can show you what is causing your symptoms, if you are headed toward other autoimmune diseases (even if you don’t have symptoms), track the progress of your protocol, and motivate you to stick with your treament plan.


Lab testing includes many different tests. Some examples of testing used in functional medicine for thyroid  patients include:

Thyroid antibody testing. Conventional medicine normally only tests TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). However, most cases of low thyroid are caused by an autoimmune attack against the thyroid. This is important to know as it affects treatment. Although you may still need thyroid hormone medication, if you have Hashimoto’s thyroid autoimmunity, you also need to manage your immune system with a functional medicine protocol in order to avoid further damage to the thyroid. Screening for TPO and TGB antibodies is one strategy to test whether Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism is causing your hypothyroidism.

Food sensitivity testing. If a food you eat regularly causes inflammation, this contributes to chronic health disorders. Studies have shown a link between gluten sensitivity and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.

Gut testing. Gut problems contribute to thyroid disorders and a host of other medical conditions. Tests can screen for leaky gut, gut function, parasites, bacterial overgrowth, and autoimmune reactions.

Blood chemistry panel. This is an excellent starting point in functional medicine testing and includes the use of functional medicine ranges (versus lab ranges). Blood testing can catch a trend toward a disease while there’s still time to reverse it.

Chemical and metal sensitivity testing. As with foods, an immune reaction to chemicals or metals can trigger symptom flares.

Adrenal testing. Adrenal testing reveals the relationship between your health and stress handling. The most important test is the second one because it shows if your treatment plan is working. If not, you need to dig deeper to learn the causes of your symptom flares.

Hormone testing. Hormone imbalances profoundly affect health. Testing screens for excesses, deficiencies, feedback loops, and how well you metabolize hormones.

DNA genetic testing. Genetic testing delivers insight into disease risk and genetic metabolic variations that affect health. An example is the MTHFR variance.

These are just a few examples of the types of testing used in functional medicine when working with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. What type of testing you need depends on your symptoms and health history.

Why lab testing is important when you suspect a thyroid disorder

Functional medicine is based on peer-reviewed science and finds the root cause of your symptoms. There are a variety of factors that can lead to thyroid and hormone disorders, depression, fatigue, chronic pain, poor function, and other chronic health disorders.

Functional lab testing shows a trend toward disease

In conventional medicine, doctors use labs to screen for disease. Once a condition has become a disease, such as diabetes or autoimmune disease, the damage is significant. For instance, despite having thyroid symptoms, you may not be diagnosed with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism until your TSH reaches a certain range, despite autoimmune attacks on your thyroid. Also, TSH can fluctuate.

Functional medicine uses lab testing to catch a health trend that is on the way to disease but that can still be slowed, halted, or reversed. For instance, lab markers that show elevated blood sugar, inflammation, and poor liver function allow you to easily reverse the march towards diabetes.

Another example is autoimmunity. A significant amount of tissue must be destroyed before conventional medicine can diagnose autoimmune disease. However, by testing for antibodies against tissue, the autoimmune progression can be slowed or stopped in its early stages.

Functional lab testing tracks progress of your treatment plan

Although the first test is important for identifying health problems, subsequent testing is also crucial to let you know whether your protocol is working. If there is no improvement, it means you have not hit on the right protocol or discovered all the underlying causes.

Lab testing improves compliance and social support

Seeing the results of a lab test makes it easier to stick with a treatment plan. It also can encourage a disbelieving spouse, family member, or friend to support you. Many people think gluten sensitivity is just a fad, or that your symptoms aren’t real and you simply complain too much. Your lab results validate your symptoms and can help others be more supportive as you work to manage your symptoms and reclaim your health.

Contact our team to learn how easy it is to order the necessary tests (anywhere in the US)!

Joni Labbe

About Joni Labbe

Dr. Joni Labbe is a board-certified clinical nutritionist specializing in science-based nutrition with a focus on women's health issues. She has successfully helped pre-menopausal and menopausal women regain and maintain their health since 1995. Dr. Labbe is the author of the Amazon #1 Best Selling book Thyroid & Menopause Madness and It’s Not Just Menopause: It’s Your Thyroid. She is also a professional speaker, radio personality, fitness expert, and former host of “Healthier Way With Dr. Labbe.” Dr. Labbe is one of the country’s leading authorities on thyroid disorders, including Hashimoto’s disease. Dr. Labbe has also authored numerous articles and blogs on health, nutrition, and thyroid health, as seen in Naturally Savvy, Thyroid Nation, and Fox News. She is a Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Doctor of Chiropractic, and has post graduate training in Functional Neurology, Functional Endocrinology, Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis, and earned a Diplomate and Fellow in Nutrition from the American Association of Integrative Medicine.

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