Most of my patients have seen plenty of providers over the years that have heard their symptoms, ordered labs and reported that everything was “normal”. They are commonly told that their frustrating symptoms are just stress or maybe even genetic. The patient walks away scratching their heads and wondering how their labs can be normal if they feel so badly.
What Does Normal Really Mean?
But, what is normal? How are those laboratory ranges determined? The truth is that every laboratory creates “normal ranges” based on their average population. They use a standard deviation to create their range. So, your lab results are being compared to the average American population, in which:
- Over 70% is overweight or obese
- Over 100 million have diabetes or prediabetes
- 60% of US adults have a chronic disease and 40% have more than one chronic disease
Comparing your labs to a population of unhealthy people does little to help us identify if your body is moving towards disease and away from health.
Are You Like Jan?
For instance, Jan had been exhausted for years. Her symptoms had worsened to a point in which she had a hard time making it through the day. She was cold, irritable, putting on weight, depressed and fatigued easily. Her doctor continued to tell her that it was just her lifestyle as a working and overwhelmed mom and that all of her tests continued to look normal.
Jan’s thyroid labs did, in fact, fall within “normal” ranges, but when we tested her, we found that her numbers were far from healthy. Her TSH was high and her T3 was quite low. In fact, we tested a marker that most practitioners don’t look at called reverse T3. We found that Jan’s body was making too much reverse T3, not enough T3, and her metabolism and consequently her energy had taken a huge hit. Armed with that knowledge, we had a starting point to put Jan back on the path to health. For over 5 years her thyroid had been overlooked and her symptoms were ignored because she was being compared to the “norm”.
Applying Functional Ranges
This is why we do not use standard ranges in our clinics. Instead, we use something called functional ranges. Functional ranges give us smaller boundaries reflecting what the average population of healthy people present in their labs. If your numbers fall outside of the functional lab ranges, then we must provide support and tools to your body to improve your health which will shift your labs back into the range of optimal functioning. If your labs fall within these ranges, then we can be more confident that your body is functioning optimally and not just “normally”. Who wants to be normal if normal is sick?