CBC: Careless Blood Classification
Too many people are ignored by conventional medicine because they are not sick enough to be diagnosed with a disease using the current medical definitions, but not healthy enough to function optimally. The mere absence of disease is not health. In other words, even if your lab results are “normal,” it doesn’t necessarily mean you are healthy. When is the last time you’ve been told your blood work was “normal,” but you still didn’t feel right?
The most commonly used blood test is the CBC (Complete Blood Count). It’s often done as part of a routine checkup. The CBC can help detect blood diseases and disorders, such as anemia, infections, clotting problems, and immune system disorders. This test measures many different parts of your blood, but tells nothing about cancer, and misses many infections which don’t raise the blood count. You could have a normal CBC and have many types of cancer and many infections.
Many patients get blood work done and are told they are “normal” based on current laboratory values. Their lab results look normal but they don’t feel normal and healthy. There’s a simple explanation for this disconnect between analysis and reality. These “normal” values or ranges are based on a sick population of people, not healthy ones. Most people that get blood work done already ill or suspected of having a health problem. Does it make sense to compare your blood test results to averages taken from people who were already experiencing symptoms? Absolutely not. That is why being normal is not good enough. Normal blood test scores simply mean you are not yet as sick as the other people used to determine the “normal” range.
These “normal” ranges determined by each lab are called pathological ranges. Pathological ranges are used to diagnose disease. If your numbers say that you fall into the normal pathological range, it just means you are not showing symptoms of a pathological condition. However, we all know that we can still have metabolic disorders and other symptoms of disrupted harmony in your overall health. Dorland’s Medical Dictionary defines health as: “A state of optimal physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”. Using pathological ranges to diagnose someone with a clean bill of health is misleading at best and in some cases irresponsible and is a huge disservice to the patient. For we know that health is not simply the absence of disease symptoms. Although being absent of disease symptoms is a positive thing, it does not mean you are optimally healthy.
Furthermore, each lab has a different range that they consider normal. They are determined by each individual lab and not by a centralized agency. Normal Ranges are determined by taking approximately 100 to 200 people who tested recently with a particular lab. These people’s results are then averaged to determine the middle of the Normal Range. The high and low sides of the Normal Range will be two standard deviations from the average.
By the time the doctor diagnoses you with a pathological condition, you are already very unhealthy. You already have symptoms of disease. In many cases, it is too late for simple preventative measures. More invasive and stronger treatments are required to regain optimal health. A more responsible and preferable way monitor your health would be to find specific patterns in your body that indicate problems before your conditions develop into full-blown diseases and disorders. We need “normal” ranges that indicate a state of optimal health, not just disease-free bodies.
Pathological vs Functional Ranges
While standard medical laboratories utilize pathological ranges to analyze the results of your blood work, responsible doctors analyze the results by comparing them against functional ranges which are typically narrower. This allows us to find “sub-clinical” functional imbalances which may be causing symptoms even though there is no “pathology.” Typically, functional ranges are better indicators of a person’s current state of health.
The functional ranges were developed by the American Association of Clinical Chemists (AACC) and are based on a sample of healthy individuals. Utilizing functional ranges to analyze your blood test results allows us to find functional abnormalities before pathology results. Often, these “sub-clinical” abnormalities can be reversed through dietary and nutritional therapies, stress reduction, other lifestyle modifications and natural remedies can bring your body back into balance before you reach a pathological state, while simultaneously avoiding most pharmaceutical interventions.
Basically, a pathological range is used to diagnose disease. A functional range is used to assess risk for disease before disease develops. Unless you have already been diagnosed with a disease, using functional ranges gives you a more accurate picture of your overall health. Furthermore, using functional ranges when analyzing blood chemistry will not lead to a false diagnosis of health just because they are not sick enough. It is more dangerous to believe you are healthy when you are not than to be told you are sick when you are not. If you receive a false-positive diagnosis, further testing should clear up the misdiagnosis. However, a sick person that was told he was healthy may not have further tests to validate the original analysis.
Most health care providers believe that care should only be provided when disease is present. This view is generally formed from conventional medical training which ignores the philosophies of preventative medicine and nutrition. Healthcare providers that practice preventive medicine are those most inclined to consult patients when their levels register outside of the functional range. If biomarkers can be managed before they fall within the pathological range, preventive medicine can be practiced. Traditional healthcare providers usually do not embrace the concept of a functional range. Practitioners who embrace the importance of functional ranges usually are also concerned about diet, nutrition and lifestyle changes.
Remember that our approach is the most important aspect of any decision one makes, action one takes, and conclusion one reaches. The approach represents the starting point, and if you start in the wrong direction it will be more difficult to reach the intended goal. Each individual needs to find their own motivation to take up the challenge of lifelong learning that leads to the development of good critical thinking and responsible decision-making. And when it comes to blood test analysis, how you interpret your results may be the single most important aspect of determining our level of wellness. It is essential that each individual educate themselves on the tests and treatments that are offered to them by the medical community.
Remember that it is much easier medically and financially to prevent diseases than to try to cure them.