Conventional Lab Testing vs the Pacific Naturopathic Wellness Panel

Photo: Our grateful thanks to Emma Simpson on Unsplash!


by Connie Hernandez, ND

Here at Pacific Naturopathic, we order and interpret testing from both conventional and specialty laboratories. 

The typical conventional evaluation attempts to rule out diagnosable disease and may include a complete blood count, a screening lipid profile, possibly a metabolic profile, sometimes TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone).

We find this testing to be inadequate,  because our purpose is not merely to rule out diagnosable disease, but to look at factors that could be optimized to better prevent disease and promote wellness.

For a fraction of the cost of the labs ordered by major medical centers, we receive far more information on our fasting Wellness Panel.  We’ve discovered cases of hemochromatosis, multiple myeloma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, liver disease, kidney disease, hyperinsulinemia, diabetes, thyroid malfunction, and other health conditions using our panel, and we’ve found numerous issues as well that could be addressed to foster wellness.

An example of the expanded diagnostics offered by our Wellness Panel has to do with thyroid function.

Conventional medicine measures TSH to assess thyroid function. (TSH is thyroid stimulating hormone, a pituitary hormone that offers feedback on the adequacy of thyroid hormone.)

The Wellness Panel looks at TSH in relation to the actual active thyroid hormones: free T4 and free T3. We have many examples of TSH indicating on overactive thyroid, when thyroid hormones are actually quite low.

A second example is that our panel pairs fasting blood glucose with fasting insulin and hemoglobin A1c in order to evaluate blood sugar control.

In looking at labs, it’s always helpful to compare a patient’s current and past labs. The reference ranges on conventional tests represent the 5th to the 95th percentile of the not necessarily well population. An individual’s levels tend to be fairly consistent unless something is amiss.  A white count of 2.9 in a person who has been well and has had that level for the last 15 years is not a concern. But a white count that has plummeted over time from 6.5 to 5.0 to 3.9 to 2.9 gives a completely different message.

In addition, when a lab value is just within the conventional range on a prior lab, but almost out of range at the high end on a current lab, we suspect a difference in function.  For these reasons, many of our patients opt for our annual Wellness Panels.

There are several reasons why practitioners of conventional medicine do not order comprehensive lab work.

First, there’s an emphasis on the pharmaceutical management of diagnosable disease, and a tendency toward specialization, rather than an outlook that’s concerned with the interconnected root causes of disease, both clinical and subclinical.

Insurance reimbursement plays a part, as each test must be justified with a diagnostic code – while our Wellness Panel offers a hugely discounted fee because it doesn’t work with  insurance. (The Wellness Panel has a patient cost of $172, while insurance would be billed at upwards of $3000 for the same panel!)

Our Pacific Naturopathic Wellness Panel helps us discover trends and root causes in order to promote wellness, beyond only diagnosing disease.

Please note: Established patients interested in a Wellness Panel can schedule one through the front desk. An appointment with Dr. Connie or Dr. Marcel is required to review the results. New patients must first have an office visit with one of our doctors before the test can be ordered.

For information about the services we offer at Pacific Naturopathic, please give us a call at 650-961-1660, use the convenient Contact Form to get in touch, or follow the link to: Consultations – Pacific Naturopathic. Thank you!