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Alternative Health:

Digestive and Nutritional

Deficiency Testing

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Please note that these listings are for information purposes only and do not imply an endorsement or recommendation of any specific test for any specific medical purpose. If you have a health concern, see your doctor for a diagnosis and specific medical treatment.

Nutritional Testing

When I switched to a holistic doctor, he recommended I have nutritional testing done from Spectracell Laboratories. Spectracell doesn't test for all of the nutrients mentioned in my site, but they do have a wide variety of comprehensive tests. They do the cellular kind of testing, which according to alternative health doctors, is more sensitive to deficiencies than the plasma blood tests often ordered by conventional medical doctors, especially for determining deficiencies of magnesium.

According to their tests I was low in vitamin B12 and biotin, which did logically explain many of my symptoms, especially my breathing problems. I have noticed a great deal of improvement in my health problems through increasing these two nutrients in my diet. I didn't have the testing done until I had already solved many of my health problems through diet changes from my research, so I suspect I would have had even more nutritional deficiencies had I been tested when I was having a lot of health problems. It would be interesting to find out if other people with connective tissue disorders, pectus excavatum or scoliosis are low in these same nutrients. If you are interested in having these types of tests done, you can contact Spectracell and they can provide you with a list of doctors local to where you live who utilize their testing.

I get the tests done for my whole family evey year or two. It is expensive, but for me worth the price.

Another lab that does nutritional testing that is frequently utilized by holistic type doctors is listed below.

Meridian Valley Lab
801 SW 16th Street Suite 126
Renton, WA 98055
425.271.8689 (tel)
425.271.8674 (fax)

Healthy.net also has a site listing diagnostic laboratories for integrative health professionals that perform nutritional testing.

Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA)

The CDSA is a set of integrated diagnostic lab tests that evaluate how well a person's digestive system is functioning through examining his stool. I have had this done for myself, and I'm interested in having it done for whole family. The authors of the book, "Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine" note that many holistic physicians consider the CDSA a "foundation" screening test that consistently provides valuable clinical information.

It's not just what you eat that is important, but also what you actually absorb from what you eat. You can have the best diet in the world, but if you don't have the right digestive enzymes, enough hydrochloric acid or you have too much pathogenic bacteria or yeast in your digestive system, you could still be suffering from nutritional deficiencies. A lot of people with connective tissue disorders, or isolated symptoms of connective tissue disorders, have irritable bowel syndrome which is often linked to digestive difficulties. As such, digestive tract testing may be something to consider for people with these types of disorders.

The book Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine has a great section on digestion and the CDSA. One of the diagnostic laboratories they mention for the CDSA that has a web site is:

Meridian Valley Clinical Laboratory


Stomach: A slave that must accept everything that is given to it, but which avenges wrongs as slyly as does the slave. 
Emile Souvester

Healthworld online also has a site listing diagnostic laboratories other labs that perform the CDSA.


My Experience With Nutritional Testing

In the first genetic exam I ever had, I was diagnosed with an inherited connective tissue disorder called Mitral Valve Prolapse syndrome, in a large part because of my mitral valve prolapse and pectus excavatum. I was told it was an incurable genetic disorder, and that I had a 50-50 chance of passing on to my (then future) children. Years later I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, followed by a diagnosis of an "undefined" connective tissue disorder similar to both Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

I was always a bit dubious of the MVP syndrome diagnosis, because no one else in my family ever had pectus excavatum. It seemed a bit odd that the doctors could be so sure it was inherited, especially since no researcher had ever actually identified this alleged "bad" MVP gene. Plus, after getting the third unique diagnosis for what I had, the whole genetic exam routine bit seemed to be pretty far from an exact science. Since each connective tissue disorder diagnosis I received was mutually exclusive with the other three, then logically, at least two out of the three, if not all three, of the doctors I had seen had made an incorrect diagnosis.

My skepticism paid off, because through doing my own research I found out that most of my symptoms, including my PE, were most likely linked to nutritional deficiencies and digestive problems, although they probably do have a genetic component, too. Last year I saw a holistic doctor who recommended that I have cellular nutritional testing. The test results showed I had vitamin B12 and biotin deficiencies. This test explained many of my remaining symptoms that I hadn't been able to figure out on my own. Interestingly, the test results not only explained my symptoms, but quite a few of my relatives' symptoms, too, even the ones who didn't really have enough symptoms to be diagnosed with a full blown genetic disorder like me.

What's the difference between a general
practitioner and a specialist?

One treats what you have,
the other thinks you have what he treats.

I found the joke above on a joke Web site. It is meant to be humorous, but I think it actually has a ring of truth to it. I suspect whether or not you get diagnosed with nutritional deficiencies or an incurable genetic disorder depends significantly upon the kind of doctor doing the exam. Truth be told, I believe most inherited connective tissue disorders are part genetic and part environmental, so to get a big picture of what you have wrong with you, it may help to see both a geneticist and a nutrition oriented physician.

A Marfan researcher told me a few years back that mitral valve prolapse is an incurable condition - some thing you are born with or not. An osteopath recently told me that a patient of his no longer showed any sign of mitral valve prolapse on an echocardiogram after receiving intravenous magnesium therapy. Interestingly different perspectives from different branches of medicine towards the same disorder, aren't they? (There's actually more scientific evidence supporting the osteopath's claim than there is the Marfan researcher, as there are many studies showing magnesium treatment is beneficial for mitral valve prolapse and many studies show MVP is an age dependent condition, most often appearing in women of child bearing age.)

In two opposite opinions, if one be perfectly reasonable, the other cannot be perfectly right. 
Oliver Goldsmith

One of my friends has a relative who is going to school to be a doctor. She told me that out of her relative's four years of medical school, nutrition was covered for exactly one week, and that week wasn't exactly filled with stellar nutritional information. It's no wonder that many conventional medical doctors tend not to know much about nutritional deficiencies.

In my experience, in order to explore the role that nutritional deficiencies and other environmental factors may have played in my connective tissue disorder, I have had to seek out doctors who know something about nutrition. They are certainly not the majority of doctors, but they do exist. In the past few years of seeking holistic care, I've probably learned more about what is really wrong with me than I had in the previous decades of conventional medical care because my problems were all caused by my diet, nutritional imbalances and digestive problems--something conventional medical doctors aren't always trained to look for. Below are some resources to help others to try to find nutrition oriented doctors and other alternative care practitioners.



Related sections of interest:

Tips on Holistic Health

Testing for Digestive and Nutritional Deficiencies

Is Your Diet Too High in Fiber?

How to Find Holistic Doctors and Naturopathic Physicians

Alternative Health Books I Recommend


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