We all have times when our energy level is down, motivation is lacking, and we’re feeling tired all the time. Maybe it’s from too much stress, too little sleep, or that junk food habit that’s taken over your diet, but it could be an indicator of something more serious. Sometimes these nagging health concerns are hard to diagnose through conventional medical testing until they’re a full-blown medical emergency.
This is where Functional Medicine shines. You can do your own detective work and get early answers through easy, at-home health tests, then follow up with natural therapies to feel better faster and reach optimal health – before you reach a health crisis.
Cellular Level Health
Good health starts at the cellular level. Your body has a continuous cycle going on of building up and breaking down called cell turnover, which helps you stay healthy and vibrant. Your metabolism is in the driver’s seat on this process. When you are breaking down more than you are building up, your metabolism drives your body to become more acidic and disease naturally follows.
Any type of stress, whether it’s from lack of sleep, poor diet, a fight you had with your spouse, a traffic jam, unpaid bills, family problems, over-exercising or just the struggles of daily life, can drive you into acidity. When studies show stress causes up to 90 percent of our doctor visits, for everything from headaches and high blood pressure, to heart problems, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, skin conditions, depression, and anxiety, it makes sense to find a test you can do at home and ways to support your health while you learn to manage your stress.
Dr. Russell Jaffe, a Functional Medicine pioneer, recommends the Urine Acidity Test first thing in the morning, after at least 6 hours of rest. When your urine has a pH of less than 6.5 first thing in the morning, it’s a sign that toxins in your body are accumulating and you’ve become more acidic at the cellular level. It’s a simple test to do: collect a sample of your first-morning urine in a clean cup, and dip a small strip of pH test paper in it. These strips are simple, easy-to-use components of home health testing you can obtain at any pharmacy.
If you are acidic at the cell level, it’s time to increase the amount of vegetables in your diet and decrease animal proteins. Shifting the balance of your diet to become more alkaline and rich in minerals like magnesium and potassium will buffer the acidity and bring your body back into balance.
Problems with your digestive health can come on gradually and be hard to recognize until they’ve turned into a medical diagnosis. Intestinal Transit Time is a good way to measure your digestive health before it becomes a problem. Transit time is the amount of time it takes for the food you eat to pass through and be eliminated. When transit time is slow, toxins are reabsorbed and recirculated through the liver and stored in fat cells, which leads to you feeling fat, sick and tired. When transit time is too fast, nutrients aren’t absorbed causing deficiencies in vitamins and minerals like potassium, which can lead to life-threatening cardiac issues if left unchecked.
Ideal transit time is 12 to 18 hours from the time you eat something until it is eliminated. We can test this by taking 1.5 to 3 grams of activated charcoal tablets, then watching for when the black, crumbly tablets pass through in the stool. If your transit time is far from ideal, it’s time for a high fiber diet along with a Colon Cleanse to get your digestive health back on track. You can read more about the importance of colon cleansing here.
If you suffer from chronic constipation, fatigue, easy weight gain, muscle weakness or pain, depression, dry skin, cold intolerance, and/or heavy menstrual periods, you may be among the 20 million Americans with thyroid disease, and in the 60 percent of those who are unaware of even having this condition. At the risk of sounding cliche, there’s a home health test for that (well, at least in part). Dr. Broda Barnes was one of those old-time physicians who believed blood tests weren’t the only way to diagnose a health problem. He found many people who had a normal thyroid (TSH) blood test would have an abnormal body temperature, and treating them with natural, dessicated thyroid resolved most, if not all, of their symptoms.
Measuring Basal Body Temperature is one of the easiest at-home tests to do. Take you first morning temperature – before you get out of bed – in your armpit for 10 minutes, using an old-fashioned non-digital thermometer. Because there are normal variations with air temperature and hormone changes, do this for at least 10 days. It’s OK if you miss a day here or there, just get 10 days’ worth of measurements and write them on a piece of paper.
Normal basal body temperature ranges between 97.8 and 98.2 degrees F. Look at your readings. If they are consistently below 97.8, then you may have low thyroid function, especially if your symptoms match. If your temperature seems like it’s all over the place, you may have adrenal fatigue. If your temperature is all over the place but always lower than 97.8, you may have low thyroid function and adrenal fatigue.
Low thyroid function is a great reason to visit your Functional Medicine doctor. They can prescribe a natural dessicated thyroid like Armour, Westhroid or NatureThroid, and you can go back to monitoring your basal body temperature after a few weeks to see how you’re responding to the medication. While you wait to see your doctor, consider taking 200mcg Selenium, a good Magnesium supplement, 3mg of boron, EPA and DHA, and an iodine supplement daily to support your thyroid health.
If your Basal Body Temperature testing shows signs of adrenal fatigue, then you may want to do the Flashlight Test for adrenal exhaustion. Fatigue not relieved by rest, hypoglycemia, food allergies, weakened immunity that leaves you prone to sickness, foggy thinking, forgetfulness, inability to handle stress, and anxiety are all signs of tired adrenal glands. These glands produce your stress hormones and are activated during your “fight or flight” response to stress. One of your body’s “fight or flight” responses is dilated pupils. When you are under chronic stress, your adrenals become fatigued or exhausted and your pupils don’t respond to light the same way they would if your adrenals had not been overstimulated.
While you are looking in the mirror, shine a bright light into one of your eyes, from the side of your eye, not directly into it. Healthy adrenal function will cause your pupil to constrict and get smaller, and stay that way until the light is removed. If your adrenals are fatigued or exhausted, your pupil will contract for less than 30 seconds, or will alternately constrict and dilate, not able to hold either for more than a few seconds.
When all signs point to weakened adrenals, it’s time to test and supplement. UNI KEY’s Adrenal Stress Panel is a comprehensive at-home test you can do to measure your adrenal function through saliva testing. You can start supporting your adrenals with Adrenal Formula, which contains the nutrients that nourish your adrenals and glandulars to support their functioning. Avoid stimulants like caffeine and sugar, which stress adrenals and add to your problem, even when they seem to provide temporary relief.
Simple, inexpensive home health testing tools like urine pH test strips, activated charcoal tablets, and an old-fashioned thermometer can help you take charge of your health and identify issues before they become a full-blown medical diagnosis. Natural solutions found in the form of diet and supplements can turn the tide and help you reach optimal health instead of disease.