Hippocrates believed that the body fluids (blood, saliva and urine) would be affected by disease and today we can conclude that disease does and can substantially affect blood composition. The presence of a virus or bacteria can be measured and in this regard, blood screening is invaluable. However, disease is much more than just a label, as in cancer, diabetes, atherosclerosis, etc....and many forms of "dis-ease" are difficult, if not impossible to measure through hematology indices alone. The presence and cause of many health problems often escape detection through conventional blood chemistry analysis alone, including such conditions as hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome and various chemical sensitivities.
Various states of "dis-ease" may only affect certain substances found in the blood, such as individual proteins, glucose, leucocytes, platelets, insulin, cholesterol, testosterone, etc... while not affecting others. For example, total serum cholesterol can be "normal" but upon further investigation, homocysteine levels could be dangerously high.
A Diagnostic Puzzle?
Of course, when one class of orthomolecular substance is altered, this can bring about subtle changes in another class of substances that ultimately influence the health and function of the body. A blood test is like a diagnostic puzzle. The physician observes the blood analytically and looks for any signs or evidence that might suggest any concerns for further investigation or stimulate the need for advice regarding lifestyle change, the need for medication, surgery, specific medical treatment, etc... With information gained from the objective analysis of the patient's blood, the physician attempts to deduce and diagnose the status of the patient, and concludes from such deduction a specific prognosis. The prognosis is often considered in relation to patterns, pathology and outcomes consistent with data obtained from medical research journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine, the Canadian Medical Association Journal or the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Blood samples can have the tendency to vary widely depending on the phase at which the blood sample was taken and on the severity of the individual's current state of health. The type of illness an individual may be suffering from often determines whether he or she requires a single blood sample or a combination of different blood samples. Blood analysis may be utilized to effectively track inherent changes or identify certain abnormalities.
Live Blood Cell Analysis
Another form of blood analysis is known as live blood cell analysis or microscopy. The procedure is also called live cell analysis, dark-field video analysis or nutritional blood analysis. This technique is definitely not conventional. One drop of blood is placed under a dark-field microscope, magnified 1000-30,000 times and projected onto a television tape recording monitor. Magnification allows the patient to view their blood cells and immune system in action with the practitioner, and to see if there are any physical disturbances present. As a result, changes in diet and certain supplements may be advised to bring the body back into a balanced state. The practitioner can also videotape the procedure for the patient or take Polaroid photographs of the television picture.
Proponents of live cell analysis are critical of conventional blood analysis as a stand alone, because blood assessment uses a stain of blood to make certain substances visible under a microscope or an electron microscope that provides ultra-high magnifications. Both approaches use "dead" blood, whereas the live cell method views live blood in motion in its entire state.
The key message here is not to rely on just one type of diagnostic test or screening procedure, because a blood, urine, or hair analysis utilized independently without backup can't provide all the information required to objectively evaluate your existing state of health or risk of disease. The outcome of each analytical technique simply forms a piece of the diagnostic puzzle required to complete the whole picture.
Did You Know?
Using blood as a sole measurement of micronutrient status is not recommended. Nutrient quantity, shapes of cells and cell metabolites in the blood do not always reflect their storage or biological function. It is possible to have normal results and still have gross deficiencies of nutrients in the cell, or have abnormal results when in fact the analysis is a function of misinterpretation or human error. Anything that is really abstract or way out will usually manifest itself through a blood analysis. It's a picture of how things are, a snap shot frozen in time, an autopsy of something preserved. Blood analysis has great medical diagnostic value and helps save many lives; however, it should not be used out of context or alone to determine health status.
Essential Metabolics Analysis
SpectraCell Laboratories, a CLIA-accredited clinical testing laboratory in Houston, Texas, is the leader in intracellular micronutrient analyses and holds the exclusive world-wide license to perform the patented FIA Functional Intracellular Analysis. Based on research that began in 1978 at the University of Texas, FIA measures how selected vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other essential micronutrients are actually functioning within the cells.
Functional Intracellular Deficiencies
Unlike other methodologies, FIA utilizes metabolically active peripheral lymphocytes and measures DNA synthesis (cell growth) in a patented, chemically-defined culture medium, free of serum or protein, to identify functional intracellular deficiencies that limit mitogenic responses or cell-mediated immune functions. Instead of measuring how much of a vitamin or mineral is present in the blood (static) FIA measures how well a nutrient works in its natural cellular environment. Quantities of nutrients measured outside the cell, as in extracellular fluid & blood plasma, do not always reflect their interactive function and quantity inside the cell. Thus it is possible to uncover deficiencies that standard serum tests may miss and if not corrected, such deficiencies could impair health by contributing to the development and/or progression of chronic disease.
In the FIA procedure, blood samples are collected in two 10 ml tubes and shipped to the testing facility. All blood specimens, which must be obtained with the support and approval of a physician in Canada, are shipped to SpectraCell at room temperature via overnight courier service, Monday through Friday. From these samples, lymphocytes are extracted through centrifugation, stimulated to grow and then incubated. These immune cells are bathed in over 60 different nutrient media, and it is their response to these media (structural and metabolic changes) that are measured as values against reference ranges established for "healthy people."
For example, if lymphocyte growth in a medium lacking thiamine is less than the growth in a complete medium, then a deficient thiamine status is ascertained. If B12 is removed from the medium and cell growth is not sufficient, this suggests that the lymphocyte cells being tested have a functional intracellular deficiency of B12. SpectraCell also tests for cardiovascular risk factors associated with elevated homocysteine and offers a total antioxidant function test (SPECTROX) which assesses the ability of cells to resist damage caused by free radicals and other forms of oxidative stress.
FIA uses the patient's own cell culture, which is consistent with the philosophy of biochemical individuality. This technique takes vitamin status to a higher, more functional level. It is also a good way to verify how much of what you should take, and whether or not you are actually absorbing, assimilating and metabolizing your supplements and natural health products.
Anyone who is interested in feeling his or her best can benefit from FIA. You can be deficient in micronutrients and not even know it; in fact studies have shown that 50% of patients taking a multivitamin are functionally deficient in one or more essential nutrients that are vital to long term health. For more information about the variety of functional tests and their costs offered by SpectraCell Laboratories visit www.spectracell.com