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Scientist Using Microscope

Functional Pathology 

Health Testing from a Functional Perspective

A GP or specialist are trained to use the common pathology tests to look for disease, not health, so if results come back inside the range, that is all the doctor is interested in.  This testing is important, but it is not a measure of health unless the results are read from a functional perspective.

Tests from your doctor are undertaken on blood that is mixed with preservatives and taken to the lab to be assessed for markers by a pathologist. 

When your doctor reads your results, he/she is looking for frank pathology. They do not read blood test results for functional health, they simple want to see if you are inside or outside the very large range that may hint at a disease state.


It is important to know that an ‘all clear’ on a blood test just means that you aren’t in the ‘bad enough’ range to show up as having a problem.  There is a functional range that your doctor doesn’t measure.

When we look at tests from a Naturopathic perspective, we are looking at how your body is doing from a functional health perspective. Doctors generally review tests from a pathological perspective, which can miss the signals of decline that we want to see to catch change before it becomes entrenched.  

Test ranges are based on the general 'norm' or a group of not necessarily healthy people. These ranges also keep being changed, allowing more people to fall into the ‘normal’ category, when they are actually in clinical decline. 


Two examples of this are:

1) Kidney filtration – eGFR – which used be considered normal if the reading was >90; now the range has been reduced to >60, allowing more people in the decline category to go home not realising that their kidneys are taking strain.


2) Thyroid Stimulating Hormone - TSH - used to be 0.04 – 4.0, now the range is 0.05 – 6. The optimal functional range for this measure is 1.5-2, anywhere under or over this range will give symptoms of dysfunction that will go unnoticed medically, until there really is a disease in place, by which time recovery is going to be harder.

3) Vitamin D - the current range is 

It's good practice to take your blood tests with you to your Naturopathic appointment for a functional review and discussion from a health perspective.

(NB: Testing through Naturopathic clinics are done through functional pathology labs, not mainstream labs, so are out of pocket tests and are not subsidised by Medicare. )

Learn more HERE

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