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Blood Chemistry

by Mar 16, 2017

Over the weekend, I attended a seminar called “Mastering Functional Blood Chemistry.” We looked at several blood tests like CBC, CMP, thyroid panel, lipid panel, and more. The curriculum at NUHS has a class called Clinical Laboratory Diagnosis that teaches students how to read and understand lab reports. It provided an excellent foundation for me to build upon at the seminar. The blood can tell you a lot of information, especially when coupled with a complete physical exam and knowing the patient’s chief complaint.  

BloodDid you ever wonder how labs determine the reference ranges (“normal values”)? Labs take average values from some patients, probably a few hundred, and determine where the majority fell. Based on algorithms and statistics the lab comes out with reference ranges. Therefore, every lab has slightly different reference ranges. 

One problem with this is that the people used to determine the reference ranges probably aren’t all optimally healthy, meaning the reference range values aren’t necessarily indicative of health. At the seminar, we were given a list of functional lab values where optimal health is reflected. Functional lab values usually have a narrower range that falls within the reference ranges. This allows us to track more closely if a patient is trending toward developing problems before a reference range would flag it as being abnormal. Proactively making lifestyle changes can improve lab values before a medical condition sets in (and even after a medical condition is diagnosed!).

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About the Author

Mary Simon

Mary Simon

I'm a naturopathic medical student at NUHS. I started the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine Program in January 2014. I was born and raised in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, a beautiful town on Lake Michigan. My experiences interpreting (Spanish to English) in nearly all medical specialties solidified my decision to study naturopathic medicine, as I saw a deep need for treating the body as a whole, getting to the root causes of symptoms, and using minimally invasive low-cost therapies to restore health.


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