What does “normal” really mean when it comes to lab tests?

Naturopathic and functional medicine practitioners often interpret conventional labs more carefully than just a binary determination of “normal/abnoral”. There is good reason for this. A more careful look at lab values can an ammount to a life preserver for medical refugees who are castaways from strict interpretations.

Shoe size is a good analogy regarding lab interpretation. Most labs define “normal” as the average result of a pool of asymptomatic patients plus or minus 2 standard deviations. This covers about 90% of the “normal” population. If you were to use this standard to determine what the average shoe size was, it would probably be somewhere between 6 and 12. Given biological individuality, it becomes rather absurd to suggest that you could give any human being a shoe between size 6 and 12 and expect it to fit. Continue reading “What does “normal” really mean when it comes to lab tests?”

Medical Refugees & Navigating Conventional & Alternative Health Care

Complementary and alternative medical (CAM) clinics are serving as the de facto refugee camps for people with health conditions that are not addressed by “conventional” medicine. CAM clinics are staffed by licensed Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) and Integrative Medical providers who blend conventional healthcare with  alternative diagnostic and therapeutic techniques. The 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), found that 38 percent of US adults use CAM. The boundaries between CAM and conventional medicine are not absolute, and over time specific CAM practices may become widely accepted.

When medical refugees turn to alternative medicine, there are advantages and disadvantages. In this article, I’ll present my perspective on the strengths and limitations of both conventional and alternative medical approaches, and offer my navigational advice. First, lets cover some important definitions. Continue reading “Medical Refugees & Navigating Conventional & Alternative Health Care”