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A Systems Based Approach to Wellness: Why the Diagnostics are Important

While most of medicine is concerned with labeling and diagnosis, science2a integrative medicine strives to do more than that. Integrative medicine recognizes achieving health is more than just a diagnosis. Dunwoody Labs is committed in helping practitioners look at underlying processes, recognizing the many interconnected systems in the body, and identifying appropriate treatments. This approach helps to target treatments that will be effective for individuals, by treating the whole person, with the goal of optimum wellness without unwanted side effects.

Looking at underlying processes is often called a, “systems-based approach” because it recognizes the many interconnected systems in the body and treatments are designed with consideration of this complexity. However, the processes may be silent until the pathology arrives so by measuring parameters involved in the process we can uncover the roots of illness and prevent illness in the first place.  That is why diagnostic testing is important.

Regardless of the condition, there are a handful of underlying processes that will fan the fire of pathology:

  • Stress—Regardless of condition, most issues will be exacerbated and even caused by stress in one’s life. By managing stress appropriately we make the system more impervious to almost all we come in contact with. This is how we defend our bodies from the outside world.
  • Inflammation-Inflammation drives heart disease, neurologic conditions and even cancer. If we can control inflammation we can control one of the major triggers that cause genetics to turn against us.
  • Oxidation-Much like inflammation, oxidation or reactive oxygen species, a type of free radical, damage our mitochondria as well as other parts of the body. The mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell. This is where all of our energy is made. If energy production is compromised than all healing is compromised. If energy production is compromised than we feel fatigued, worn down and all normal systems in the body are weakened.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies-Nutrients drive thousands of metabolic reactions every minute in our body. Like a car, if we are nutritionally deficient then our engine cannot go as it should. A person that is nutritionally replete is a well-oiled machine. Pathology has less of a chance to grow when nutritional status is high.
  • Toxicity-Toxins such as chemicals and metals are like a wrench in the workings of our body. The cleaner the system, the better able we are to achieve wellness. By removing chemicals and metals we will decrease damage to the mitochondria and decrease inflammation and oxidation that cause pathology in the first place. Toxicity is the key thing that damages our DNA and potentiates possible cancers.

 

sciencey8In order to unravel the processes behind certain conditions we must order testing that addresses these key areas:

The Gastrointestinal Tract and Immune System

Hormone Balance

Toxicity

Nutrition

Inflammation and Oxidation

Neurotransmitters

 

The Gut as Our Window to Health:

Food sensitivity—this food sensitivity test is different than a conventional allergy. Allergies create immediate reactions such as swelling or stuffy nose. Food sensitivities create ongoing inflammation that drives chronic symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog and pain. However, we do not always feel all types of inflammation. Inflammation can be a silent player, as it is in heart disease, and will eventually cause different pathologies and conditions. By reducing inflammation with dietary changes, we decrease weight gain and fatigue but also reduce the chances of getting many diseases and even decrease our rate of aging.

Stool culture-The human GI tract houses 30,000 different beneficial flora that operate in conjunction with our own system. By examining this wealth of information we have the ability to reduce one of the major areas of inflammation. In the gut, the body decides whether it is tolerant to something or inflamed by something. By looking at a stool test, we make sure that the person is optimally absorbing nutrients and reducing the inflammatory load. This is the part of the body that houses 85% of our immune system and 95% of our neurotransmitters. Good gut health is critical to maintain wellness and prevent diseases such as auto-immune conditions, cancers, fatigue and much more.

Hormones: The Complex Interactions That Drive Our Machine

Adrenal Stress Testing- Stress drives every condition in our body. By starting with balancing adrenal function you balance the hormone cortisol, but you also improve reproductive hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. Reducing your stress makes you function optimally. Reducing stress is one of the key ways we will live longer and healthier.

Thyroid Hormone Testing-A complete thyroid profile will uncover underlying issues of fatigue, brain fog, weight gain and pain. Improper thyroid function means we are metabolically worn down and can’t drive the thousands of metabolic reactions that take place every second in our body. Proper thyroid function makes us feel better and reduces our incidence of cancer.

Hormone workup-A hormone work up is more than an estrogen level or testosterone level. A hormone work-up includes how our adrenals and thyroid are functioning because these are intimately related to the entire web of sex hormones. A comprehensive analysis of all hormones can help identify the need for bioidentical hormone replacement and also can tell a clinician to avoid that treatment when it isn’t necessary for that individual.  A good hormone work-up will also include oxidative stress or free radical measurements because free radicals damage hormones and make them more dangerous in our body. Hormones are preferentially looked at in the saliva but can sometimes be looked at in the serum as well, depending on the person and the condition.

Toxicity

Heavy Metal testing- Heavy metals are everywhere in our environment. From the lead in the exhaust that one breathes, to the mercury in fish that we eat- we all have potential for contamination. Heavy metals can cause neurological diseases and cardiovascular disease. By removing metals from the body, we improve the ability of the mitochondria to function which means more energy and increased longevity.

Oxidative Stress Testing-Oxidative stress markers tells us about free radicals in our body. Free radicals can be thought of as the byproducts of a fire. Free radicals cause cancer, heart disease, contribute to neurologic conditions, and even weight gain. Free radicals damage the mitochondria which drive how long we live. Reducing free radicals is necessary to improve the quality of life and prevent pathology from occurring.

Optimizing Systems in the Body

Cardio/Metabolic Profile—Cardiovascular disease is our number one killer today. Part of the problem is that routine biomarkers such as cholesterol are not very predictive. By measuring parameters such as oxidized LDL which is ten times more predictive of cardiovasxular disease than LDL alone, we can catch the process before the disease takes hold. This will also measure adiponectin and leptin which tell the body to burn and store fat. These markers are early warning signs of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Glycomark is also measured which tells us how the body handles sugar. This will also prevent diabetes and even dementia as the brain is very fragile in the presence of uncontrolled sugar.

Neurotransmitter Profile-Neurotransmitters are important for cognitive function, depression, anxiety, insomnia or fatigue. Antidepressants often target neurotransmitter pathways but the body can synthesize these neurotransmitters naturally if it has all the amino acids, vitamins, and minerals necessary to do so. By measuring your neurotransmitter levels you know exactly where to intervene and you speed up the process of achieving wellness. When testing for neurotransmitters you may also consider looking at markers for oxidative stress. If there is high oxidative stress or free radical production then neurotransmitters will be blocked from working correctly in your body.

 

Conclusions

In summary, there are many tests that allow an integrative medical practitioner to look at the underlying processes of disease. The underlying cause- and not just the diagnosis- should be the focus of treatment for long-term resolution of symptoms. If the root causes are not addressed, then a pathology will continue to cause problems for the person, even if the symptoms subside temporarily. Diagnostic testing of the GI tract, immune system, hormones, toxins, nutritional markers, and inflammation are important when developing a customized treatment plan. This approach helps to target treatments that will be effective for a given individual, treating the whole person, with the goal of optimum wellness without unwanted side effects.