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 Naturopathic Medicine: Take Control of Your Health  
 
Lauri Aesoph M. ND ©
What if I told you there are laboratory tests so technologically advanced that they can tell you and your doctor about the state of your health years before disease develops. Conventional lab tests detect current illness, but they miss the subtle nuances of pre-disease conditions like leaky gut syndrome. Nor do they usually indicate your susceptibility to particular ailments.

I spoke to representatives from three different laboratories around the country about the latest in laboratory technology. We discussed various trail-blazing tests, and what symptoms or situations were indicated for each. Ask your doctor about these eight lab tests so you can truly practice preventative health care.

Looking for Osteoporosis
Once you hit 35, gradual bone loss is inevitable. This trend is accelerated by smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, genetics or race and may eventually result in osteoporosis. Full-blown osteoporosis is painful; losing bone is not. While we should all take steps to prevent or slow bone thinning, you may want to take extra precautions if you're an unusually fast bone loser.

Special X-rays are usually used to detect brittle bones. However, this pricey test isn't sensitive enough to see if or how rapidly you're losing bone. By the time bone loss is noticed it may be too late.

Fortunately, labs like Meridian Valley Clinical Laboratories in Kent, Washington now offer a simple, inexpensive (around $70.00) urine test that measures a bone loss protein called Type I collagen. The higher your levels, the faster you're losing bone.

Bone is continually breaking down and rebuilding itself, says Karen Wissinger, Meridian Lab's Administrative Director. In 10 days, the osteoporosis or NTx test tells your doctor how fast you lose bone, not merely how much is gone. Prevention against further bone thinning can then be taken.

The NTx test should be performed on women (or men) 30 years and older who are at high risk of developing osteoporosis. This establishes a baseline reading. The test can be repeated every year or two to see if bone loss rate has changed. Treatment effectiveness can also be assessed by repeating this osteoporosis test six to eight weeks--the time it takes for bone loss patterns to change--after the initial NTx.

The Parasite Test
About five to 10 percent of the general population have parasites, estimates Dan Lukaczer, ND, Assistant Director of Educational Services at Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratory in Ashville, North Carolina. This is much higher than what most conventional doctors report.

Increased world travel and a rise in immigration to this country may explain why pinworms, giardia, disentamoeba and other protozoan parasites or worms are more common. "Or it might be parasites have been prevalent for a long time but not detected before," suggests Lukaczer. Unlike conventional doctors, inquiring about parasite-like symptoms is standard protocol among many natural health physicians.

Diarrhea, cough, itching, skin rash, bloody stools, unexplained fever and abdominal pain all strongly suggest an intestinal parasitic infection. However, these bugs can launch symptoms like headaches, chronic fatigue and joint pain too. Food allergies and autoimmune disease may stem from parasites. You can also be infected and feel nothing unusual.

Most laboratories offer parasite testing. But at Great Smokies, specialists in digestive lab tests, searching for parasites is a passion. "Our lab techs are well trained and well versed in these bugs," says Lukaczer. "We do around 500 parasite tests per week, much more than the average lab. In addition, we run extra specialized tests that the normal reference lab doesn't. So we pick up infections not normally detected."

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