Functional Medicine Parasite Testing – Dangerous Bug Identification at Its Best
Functional medicine parasite testing may be a completely new topic for you. Like many, you likely thought that all testing for parasites was the same. Take a stool test with your doctor and treat what shows up. However, there are differences, and not just small ones. With recent outbreaks seen at fast food chains and a pattern of showing up in the food supply every couple of years, you may very well be at risk. If so, this means that knowing that there is a difference between parasite tests and which ones to avoid could come in pretty handy.
Traditional Parasite Testing – A Microscopic View
Parasites by nature are elusive. Yes, there is the occasional gross example of someone defecating worms and seeing them in the toilet. A search on Google would quickly make you think this is the norm. However, that is rarely the case when we talk about parasites. In fact, I don’t remember the last patient that has experienced this. Therefore, a more precise level of detection is required to visualize these organisms. Traditionally, this has been done with a microscope. Someone sifts through the stool sample looking for parasites. Obviously this is a big improvement over the eyes alone. However, it is not perfect.
Having been around the functional medicine scene for going on 2 decades, I am astonished at the advances in testing methods. There was a day when microscopic examination was the standard for parasites. And honestly, it did help find infestations and give patients answers to their symptoms. The down side is the element of human error. It is a reality. Parasite testing that only uses a microscope and a set of human eyes will at times miss a parasite. And if you are the patient that it missed, you are going to still be struggling with stomach problems and other unexplained symptoms.
Functional Medicine Parasite Testing – A Better Option
You may have heard about testing your DNA, aka your genes. It’s all the latest buzz. Test your DNA and find out what diseases you are prone to and what you can do about them. Turns out, this is not all DNA testing is good for. Just like you can test human DNA, you can also test the DNA of various “bugs”. Bacteria, fungus, viruses and yes, even parasites are detected with DNA. DNA is the current state of functional medicine parasite testing. Testing that is not using this methodology is lagging behind.
DNA based tests are conveniently automated. The level of detection is far more sensitive as a result. Equally, when you eliminate the potential for human error, you also increase the accuracy of the findings. What shows up on the test more accurately reflects what is in the gut. This is a big win for you as the patient because you are not dealing with a parasite that goes unidentified.
Now, let’s be realistic, is this test perfect? Detractors of this methodology claim that it identifies even dead organisms and is too sensitive. I personally see those not as a disadvantage, but an advantage. Some of these claims are easily overcome by having realistic reference ranges to act on that only trigger action when a threshold is reached, indicating a clear parasite infestation that should be followed up on.
What The “Best Tests” Are Missing
All DNA tests are not functional medicine parasite testing. Since DNA has become the new standard of detection, it is much more common in hospital and other clinical settings. So why not simply go this route. The most common reason to look at true functional medicine parasite testing is the number of parasites assessed. My observation has been what while the methodology is good, it is limited in the number of parasites that it assesses. This varies from location to location, but I have not viewed one at this time that shows as many clinically relevant parasites as functional medicine parasite testing.
Now looking forward, when you hear the reports of parasites and wonder whether you are infected, you have the information to make a decision about the best testing methods to pursue. Even better, is that functional medicine parasite testing does an excellent job of looking for parasites, it does even more by taking a comprehensive look at multiple organisms in the gut and the influence they have over the entire digestive process. You simply cannot go wrong with this type of testing.
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