What Is Functional Metabolic Treatment?
Functional metabolic treatment is based upon the concept that by using laboratory testing to measure the levels of various chemical markers and metabolites present in the patient, patterns can be identified that point to a probable breakdown in the functioning of several or many of the mechanisms that make up that patient’s physiology.
While these breakdowns may ultimately manifest as symptoms, the advantage of a functional approach to blood chemistry, endocrine and metabolic analysis is that often, dysfunctional states can be identified BEFORE they become pathological. At the same time, the underlying cause of puzzling or even refractory (resistant to conventional treatment) symptoms can also be identified if the data (laboratory results) are analyzed properly and completely.
Proper and complete analysis means not just seeing the data, but seeing it in the light of what science has learned (to date) about the INTRICATELY interconnected systems and processes of human physiology and function.
Functional analysis differs from conventional (allopathic) analysis in that we look for pattern contribution from many different systems of the human body. We do not base our diagnoses (or non-diagnoses) upon a single marker but rather, we try to distinguish the probabilities of diagnosis, as there are many potential causes for an abnormal laboratory biomarker.
The most important part of blood chemistry, endocrine and metabolic analysis is having the ability to utilize pattern analysis and then knowing what steps to take to normalize those patterns.
Another key difference between allopathic and functional analysis is that we use functional lab ranges when assessing the test results we have obtained. To understand functional lab ranges, you must first understand how the laboratories in a given area arrive at their “pathological” biomarker ranges.
The reference ranges that are provided on a laboratory test report are called “pathological ranges”, because if a result falls outside of that range, it indicates pathology or disease.
Laboratories statistically analyze test results from the population that is local to their testing facility, and they create a bell curve to arrive at their ranges for that locale. The values that fall within the area under that curve that represents the largest segment of the population (the big bell part) become the range for “non-pathological” or normal. The values that fall within the slender arms of the area beneath the curve become the “abnormal” values. A question we might now ask is: “Do we believe that the population in general is getting more unhealthy or more healthy? Does that range truly represent the model of wellness we want to follow?” Functional analysis responds with a resounding “No.”
The main difference between the functional range and the pathological range is the degree of deviation allowed within their normal ranges. For instance, the functional range for glucose is 85-100 mg/dl, but the pathological range – which has broadened significantly over the years, and is still expanding – may be 65-110 mg/dl. Levels that are above the functional range but that may not have reached the limits of the pathological range may indicate insulin resistance and future risk for diabetes and other related dysfunctional states. Those of us who use functional ranges and analysis say: “Why don’t we try to address that NOW?”
Of course, it’s not as simple as that, because as you will recall, I said we cannot rely on one biomarker alone to arrive at our diagnosis. We have to look at patterns. But there are very specific patterns that can help me figure out WHY that glucose biomarker is out of range. And these patterns will guide us in addressing the dysfunctional physiology that kicked the whole thing off to begin with! That’s pretty powerful, don’t you think?
Conventional medical training is concerned with the diagnosis of disease and rarely preventative medicine. Healthcare providers that practice preventative medicine are more inclined to consult with patients when their levels fall outside of the functional range. If patterns can be managed before they fall within the pathological range, how powerful is that?
What it boils down to is that there are two types of healthcare providers, and it’s really dependent upon which definition of health they embrace:
1. Some healthcare providers believe that “health” is the absence of disease; therefore, if you are not diseased, then you must be healthy.
2. Other healthcare providers maintain that health is not only a state of being free of disease but also having adequate energy levels, healthy neurological function, healthy digestion, ideal physiological function, etc.
It is obvious that those in society who feel that “health” is more than just the state of being disease-free will embrace the importance of the functional ranges, whereas those that believe “health” is only a disease-free state will continue to rely on inaction until their only accepted parameter, the pathological range, has been breached.
To summarize, I am one of those healthcare practitioners who have decided to build upon the undergraduate and doctoral training already under our belt – extensive coursework such as chemistry, biochemistry, cell biology, human anatomy and physiology, pathology, clinical laboratory medicine, endocrinology, nutrition, neurology… and more. Doctors like myself have undertaken to further their studies and hone their clinical and diagnostic skills, which includes identifying patterns to ascertain probabilities of diagnosis.
I do this because I also know that there is rarely, if ever, only one cause for an altered expression of physiology, function and wellness.
If you would like more information on this subject, or would like to schedule a consultation, give Dr. Ruby Kevala, D.C. a call at 805-650-0495.