It is unfortunate that traditional medicine mainly focuses on treating symptoms and rarely addressing the underlying cause.

Drugs don’t treat the cause of chronic illness. You have to remember the drug companies are in the business of disease maintenance and symptom management.

The more important question we must ask is what is your causing your irregular heart beat or blood clotting issues in the first place? Coumadin is effective at thinning blood and helping prevent blood clots, however, it is very difficult to keep the drug within its small window of safety. My common sense tells me if a drug has adverse reactions to natural foods that our body requires for normal function like fish oil, evening primrose oil, and vitamin K (dark green leafy vegetables), I wouldn’t be taking it.

Essential fatty acids (fish oil and evening primrose oil) are necessary for normal cell membranes, nerve coverings, hormone production, vitamin absorption and more. Vitamin K is necessary for the synthesis of osteocalcin, which is a unique protein in bone that attracts calcium into the bone matrix. Taking any drug causes nutrient deficiencies and avoiding green leafy vegetables will be causing even more.

There are many nutritional supplements that share similar beneficial properties without the negative effects. I perform many functional medicine lab tests on patients to determine the underlying cause of their problem. Metametrix ( Clinical Laboratory offers many profiles such as, a cardiovascular health risk profile, nutritional and heavy metal testing, food sensitivity testing, gastrointestinal functional profiles, adrenal stress testing, and endocrine testing just to name a few.

I also can test for deficiencies in fat-soluble vitamins and CoQ10. Vitamin E causes up to 40% reduction in the risk to the nation’s largest killer, cardiovascular disease. It accomplishes this by decreasing platelet stickiness, protecting blood vessels against developing atherosclerotic lesions, and protecting LDL-cholesterol against oxidation. Vitamin E is the body’s most important fat soluble antioxidant. Ubiquinone (CoQ10) is another fat-soluble antioxidant that is most concentrated in the heart muscle and our production tends to decline with age. This can also be tested as well as very beneficial in resolving some of the underlying causes of arrhythmias.

Everyone knows their cholesterol numbers, but they should also know their fatty acid ratios. From a simple finger stick in our office we can measure key omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as calculate key indicators to establish your optimal balance. Trans fatty acids, the “bad” oils in processed foods are also measured.

Evidence of the adverse effects of fatty acid deficiencies has led to sharply increased consumption of essential fatty acid supplements. When incorporated into the cell membranes of the body, these essential fatty acids function as precursors for eicosanoids that control a many cellular functions and responses. The balance of these fats is influenced by the fatty acids we consume. Since inflammation has now been shown to be integral to so many disease processes, nutrients which counteract inflammation can have a profound health benefits. The question is, are you taking too little to be effective or such an excess that they are causing other health problems.

Homocysteine is another very important marker to test. It is a toxic amino acid that can damage the linings of your arteries and considerably increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. It is an independent risk factor, meaning that even if there are no other signs or symptoms, this silent attack on your arteries can be hurting you. This is that person that appears healthy and there first symptom, sudden cardiac arrest, was their last one. If high blood pressure is present, the danger from homocysteine is even greater.

What causes it to be high? A detoxification process called methylation isn’t working properly.

If your homocysteine level is more than 15 umol/L, your risk is significantly greater than if it is less than 9. Many experts recommend levels less than 9 for better health. I send patients out to Quest or LabCorp for this test.

If you are interested in more information about advanced functional medicine testing, lab testing, or nutrition supplements that are right for you, schedule an appointment or ask us at your next visit.

I would like to hear your thoughts. Share them by leaving a comment below.

Ross Pelton, RPh, PhD, CCN, Natural Health Resources, Inc. Clinical Nutrition Certification Board. Post Graduate Studies in Clinical Nutrition. The biochemistry of fat soluble vitamins.

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