By Mila McManus, MD
When I founded The Woodlands Institute for Health & Wellness in 2004, there were far fewer useful and affordable tests to utilize with my patients. In Functional Medicine, our goal is to identify the root causes of disease while working to build overall optimal health. Functional medicine is observing the uniqueness of each person. It is, in fact, individualized medicine. The human body is intricate and complex which can make the search for root causes in unique people a step by step, sometimes arduous process of elimination and trial and error. Thankfully, over the last decade, significant advancements in our understanding of the gut biome, immunology, nutrition and genomics have resulted in very advanced and affordable tests which tell us about you as an individual. This leads to personalized and optimized treatment plans with better health outcomes. Not only do many of these tests lead us to the root causes of symptoms and disease, but also help to identify genetic mutations, predispositions for disease, and help to detect problems early. Below are descriptions of many of the tests we offer here, many of which are new.
COLOGUARD Colon Cancer Screening is one of our newest test and a welcomed alternative to the traditional, and unpopular, colonoscopy. The test kit is used at home and is a stool collection which does not require bowel preparation, dietary restrictions or medications to complete. The test uses advanced multiple-marker, stool DNA technology to detect colorectal cancer and advanced adenomas. It is 92% sensitive for detection of colorectal cancer and analyzes patient stool for the presence of 11 molecular markers, including hemoglobin and DNA markers and can detect pre-malignant neoplasia at early onset of abnormality. Patient Profile: Intended for adults, 50 years or older, who are at typical average-risk for colorectal cancer. Offers an excellent screening for colon cancer without the hassle of a colonoscopy. A positive test result would, however, lead to a colonoscopy. It’s recommended every 3 yrs and is covered by most insurance companies, including Medicare. You are NOT a candidate if you have a history of colon polyps, and family history of colon cancer, or if you have inflammatory bowel disease (i.e., Crohns, Ulcerative Colitis).
COLOR test: Genetic Risk for Cancer is tested by examining 30 genes including BRCA1 and BRCA2 to help women and men understand their risk for common hereditary cancers, including breast, ovarian, colorectal and pancreatic cancer. Patient Profile: Individuals with a family history of cancer, or those who want to make intentional proactive lifestyle and healthcare choices to avoid or minimize risk for cancer.
IvyGENE: Cancer screening for breast, colon, liver and lung cancer is available by blood draw in our office. Patient Profile: Individuals with lab markers suspicious for cancer and/or at the recommendation of the medical practitioner.
Genetic risk detection for heart disease tests for coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction and congestive heart failure risk. Patient Profile: Individuals with a family history or uncontrollable hypertension.
Wheat Sensitivity Testing is done at the highly sensitive peptide level and can confirm Celiac disease, leaky gut caused by wheat allergy, and WGA related Vitamin D deficiency. The test also allows for tracking of the healing process for leaky gut. Patient Profile: Individuals with digestive disturbances, fatigue, chronic headaches, low vitamin D, joint pain or numbness in fingers, arms or legs, leaky gut syndrome or skin inflammation.
Gut microbiome evaluation examines bacteria, fungi and parasites, identifying imbalances and pinpointing potential risks associated with imbalances. Patient profile: Individuals with IBS, Autoimmune disease, skin conditions, food intolerances, joint pain and inflammation, fatigue, and nutrient deficiencies.
Neural Zoomer is a test designed to assess an individual’s reactivity to neurological antigens. Results provide a comprehensive set of autoimmunity markers, from a single blood draw. Neurological risk for demyelination antigens, blood brain barrier disruption, optical and autonomic nervous system disorder, peripheral neuropathy, brain autoimmunity and neural genetics (available upon request) are assessed. The results allow for early risk detection to motivate the patient to improve lifestyle and information to guide the medical practitioner to an optimal treatment plan. Test provides ability to track progress. Patient profile: Individuals with ataxia, sensory loss, neuropathic pain, muscle pain/spasm/weakness, brain fog, chronic pain, orthostatic hypotension, photosensitivity, and autoimmune disease.
IBS-D and Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth test confirms IBS-D and SIBO and allows tracking of progress following treatment. Patient profile: Individuals with abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal distension and weakness.
Lectin and Aquaporin Sensitivity test measures the body’s IgG & IgA immune responses to both specific lectins and aquaporins. Immune responses to lectins and aquaporins can result in microbial imbalances, damage of the gut lining and provoke delayed immune responses. This test is specific and defined for 16 commonly consumed high lectin foods and 7 aquaporin foods that often trigger autoimmune responses in the body. Patient profile: Individuals with known autoimmune disease, those who struggle to lose weight, or have bloating, gas, abdominal cramps, painful and swollen joints, fatigue, skin rashes, hormonal fluctuations, nausea or allergy like symptoms.
Genetic testing which, while similar to the popular 23 & Me, provides a deeper level of medical information upon which a provider can formulate treatment protocols. Many genetic mutations directly impact the methylation and detoxification pathways in the human body. Knowing the mutations allows the provider to guide the patient in addressing chronic medical conditions by using nutrition and nutrient supplementation as well as other treatment protocols. The test includes testing for MTHFR and other genes in methlyation pathways, COMT, genes related to detoxification, inflammation, and more. It’s done through a cheek swab from a home test kit. Patient Profile: Individuals with diagnoses, symptoms, or lab data indicating a tendency toward cardiovascular diseases, neurological disorders (e.g. depression, Alzheimer’s, autism spectrum, migraines insomnia), metabolic conditions (diabetes mellitus, kidney diseases, multiple chemical sensitivity, metabolic syndrome), musculoskeletal disorders (osteoporosis), macular degeneration, and cancers.
Comprehensive nutrient analysis measures functional deficiencies at the cellular level. It is an assessment of how well the body utilizes vitamins, minerals, amino/fatty acids, antioxidants, and metabolites. It also provides treatment recommendations to improve the deficiencies to enable the production of enzymes, hormones, and other substances essential for proper growth, development and good health. Patient Profile: An excellent first assessment to ensure proper supplementation as well as an excellent starting point to assess overall cellular function and needs. Also used when symptoms have not resolved with diet and supplements.
Heavy Metal Testing provides an analysis of the levels of toxic metals and essential elements in urine after administration of a metal detoxification agent. This provides an indication of the accumulated toxic burden on the body. Low level exposure to toxic metals and essential elements can result in significant retention in the body and can be associated with a vast array of adverse health effects. Patient Profile: Patients with known exposure to heavy metals, unresolved allergies, seizures, unusual neurological symptoms, metabolism issues such as inability to lose weight, history of dental work, and compromised immune function.
Food sensitivity testing helps to identify if the immune system is out of balance, irritated and up-regulated, causing it to attack our food as if it were a threat. Tests identify what foods are causing these inflammatory responses which most often result in a variety of symptoms. Results allow the patient to remove foods which irritate the immune system so that it can be balanced and down-regulated as well as provide some insight to the provider as to the degree of gut inflammation. Patient Profile: An excellent first assessment for anyone with issues of the digestive system, skin, respiratory system, migraines, muscle or joint pain, low energy, mood swings, anxiety, poor sleep, or children with failure to thrive.
Environmental Allergy Testing is a skin prick, intradermal test for 40 airborne environmental allergens including weeds, grasses, trees, dust mites, mold spores and animal dander. Test also includes wheat, corn, egg, milk, yeast, soy and oat. Intradermal testing is more accurate and sensitive than most typical blood tests for IgE allergies to foods and inhalants. Test results allow for the personalized preparation of allergy drops (not shots!) containing the antigens you need, no matter where you travel. Administering small amounts of these antigens daily will train your immune system to accept the allergens instead of fighting them. Patient Profile: Individuals who suffer with sneezing, post-nasal drip, coughing, sore throat, snoring, headaches, poor sleep, dark circles under eyes, itchy eyes and nose, bloody nose, decreased sense of smell, decreased sense of hearing, eczema or other skin rashes or bumps, fatigue, and/or frequent upper respiratory infections.
Neurotransmitter Testing evaluates the levels of neurotransmitters that directly impact daily life function related to pleasure, reward, mood, alertness, calmness, learning, libido, appetite, energy, attention, aggression, and sense of wellbeing. Patient Profile: Individuals who struggle with anxiety/panic attacks, depression, negativity, easy agitation, low mood, fatigue, impulsive behaviors/addiction, sleep disturbances, hyperactivity, PMS or PMDD and/or poor concentration/focus.
Cognitive Health Assessment by Cambridge Brain Systems provides simple and powerful online brain health assessment solutions. Patient Profile: Individuals who want to quantify cognition, track cognitive trends and want to educate themselves.
Metabolic Rate Analysis (aka Metacheck) allows you to quickly and accurately learn your resting metabolic rate. Patient Profile: Individuals wanting to know how their metabolism is truly working, i.e. how many calories are burned daily at rest, and with exercise.
Consult with your medical provider for suggestions and guidance regarding which test or tests may help to optimize your treatment plan and expand your knowledge about your health!