Schedule Your Complimentary Call

When was the last time you went to your doctor’s office and sat down with your provider and had them go through every single lab they ordered for your routine / annual blood work to explain what each one was testing and what your levels meant?

Naturopathic medical providers are clinically trained to understand what each lab marker means, as well as what it might indicate if your level falls within certain regions (e.g. upper limit or lower limit) of the lab reference ranges.

Here are just a handful of lab markers that you might have noticed popping up on the pages of your lab results:

MCV/MCH: If your levels are in the lower ends of the ranges, this typically indicates small and pale red blood cells (i.e. microcytic, hypochromic anemia), which is most often due to an iron deficiency; however, in the absence of a deficiency of iron, then additional testing is indicated to rule out lead toxicity / poisoning. However, if your levels are in the higher ends of the ranges, this actually indicates a Vitamin B12 and/or folic acid deficiency of your red blood cells (side note: it is very common to see elevated levels of Vit B12 and/or folic acid in the blood, even in megaloblastic anemia, when there are inherited genetic methylation defects present). The MCV stands for “mean corpuscular volume” and the MCH stands for “mean corpuscular hemoglobin,” which essentially means, what size (large or small) are your RBCs, and how much hemoglobin do they contain?

Vitamin B12 / Folic Acid: The levels found in your blood do not necessarily indicate the levels found within your cells / intracellularly, nor does it even indicate whether or not your cells have the ability to make use of the forms of B12 and folic acid that are available to them. Many of us have inherited genetic methylation defects found on our methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) genes, which can create difficulty with how our blood cells are actually able to make use of these essential vitamins. Every single cell in our body that undergoes cell division requires the ability to make use of the active forms of B12 and folic acid in order to successfully divide. What is even more interesting is that even those of us who do not have an inherited mutation on these genes, can have epigenetic (e.g. environmental) factors that impact the way these genes are expressed / turned on or off.

Homocysteine: This is an inflammatory waste byproduct that can accumulate, which can lead to adverse cardiovascular events, such as coronary artery disease, heart attacks, clotting, as well as strokes when levels are elevated. Typically, when one has an inherited genetic methylation defect on one or both of their MTHFR genes, they tend to accumulate homocysteine, and have a difficult time recycling it back into useful methionine (this is part of the “methylation cycle,” which is memorized ad nauseam in Naturopathic medical school). In order for this cycle to work effectively, we need to be able to synthesize the active and useable forms of both Vitamin B12 and folic acid, which many of us struggle to do on our own.

Ferritin: This lab marker can indicate two things. First, it is an indication of your iron reservoir / stores (i.e. how much iron is available for your RBCs to pull from in order to effectively oxygenate your blood and tissues / organs?). When ferritin is low, it is generally the first sign of an impending iron deficiency anemia, if one does not already exist. However, ferritin is also an inflammatory protein, which the liver releases as an “acute phase reactant” during inflammatory states (e.g. tissue / cell damage, injury, surgery, chronic disease, etc.). Therefore, it is not uncommon to in fact be iron deficient; however, due to widespread or systemic inflammation, simultaneously having a ferritin level that is actually elevated (i.e. not reflective of the deficiency in iron).

HbA1c: This marker is an indication of how much glucose is essentially sticking to your red blood cells throughout their lifecycle (i.e. specifically the hemoglobin component within your RBCs). A red blood cell generally has a lifespan of ~ 120 days; therefore, HbA1c can give you an idea of how much glucose is circulating in your blood during this time. If this level is high, then it indicates prediabetes or diabetes; however, generally speaking, providers do not often discuss what it means when HbA1c levels are in fact too low. Lower than normal HbA1c levels can oftentimes indicate an overall average blood glucose level that is trending below a stable baseline (e.g. due to fasting or not eating enough throughout the day). This can also be problematic because blood sugar levels that are too low can in fact strain your adrenal glands, and impact stress hormone release, which can not only lead to mood swings throughout the day, but also insomnia and sleep disruptions while attempting to sleep overnight.

Human Transforming Growth Factor Beta 1 (TGFb1): This is an inflammatory marker that can help to indicate the relative overall toxic burden of an individual. It has been studied to be at least partly associated with mold mycotoxin exposure; however, it can also be elevated in the presence of toxic heavy metals, glyphosate / pesticides, BPAs / phthalates / plastics, benzenes / other industrial toxicants / etc. Typically, this test is not adequate enough to determine the type(s) of toxin(s) present; however, if this is elevated, then we can do additional (ideally orally-provoked because toxins can be stored in the body for decades) urine testing to determine which toxins are high, and just how high they are. This information helps to guide our treatment recommendations so as to effectively bind and/or otherwise guide these toxins out of the body. Depending upon the type of test we order, a single urine sample can be tested for everything from mold mycotoxins, to toxic heavy metals, to glyphosate, to industrial toxicants, and the list goes on.

If you are interested in a provider who has been trained in Docere (“Doctor As Teacher”), which is one of the foundational pillars of Naturopathic Medicine, please visit our Principles of Naturopathic Medicine page to learn more about what we do:

Latest Posts

Do Your Doctors Review Your Labs With You?

When was the last time you went to your doctor’s office and sat down...
Read More

How Toxins Can Impact Weight Loss

Have you been noticing that your clothes are fitting tighter, or that no matter...
Read More

How To Improve Your Lab Numbers

Simple Lifestyle Changes to Drastically Improve Your Lab Numbers Are any of you struggling...
Read More

Inclusive Guide to Berberine

What is Berberine? Berberine is a chemical compound that is found in nature. There...
Read More
Call Us Text Us
Skip to content