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When Lab Tests Fail: Secrets Behind Your Lab Results

The moment you get your lab results is always filled with a strong sense of trepidation and hope. You fear the worst, but you also hope for the best. This is simply human nature that I have observed over and over in my practice. 

What usually happens next is that the patient anxiously skims through the paper, making sure that every number falls into a “normal range”, which is so kindly provided in the lab results. After that they either sigh with relief (because everything seems “normal”) or look alarmed, thinking that even one deviation from the “norm” can ruin their lives. But life isn’t as simple as that.

You might have all the perfect results but still feel awful. 

You’ve probably been in a situation where your lab results seem perfectly normal, but no matter what these tests and doctors say, you KNOW something is off… And that feeling is usually right. There’s a lot that can hide behind a seemingly perfect lab result. 

Let me explain why having normal lab scores doesn’t automatically mean optimal.


Let me begin by stressing that optimal health is more than just the absence of disease. Lack of physical pain doesn’t mean that you have achieved your best possible health. Fatigue, depression, lack of energy, irritability, and other symptoms that some ‘regular’ lab exams don’t take into account can easily turn your life into a nightmare and indicate that there are things that need to be taken care of. 

Oftentimes biochemical assessments and blood works aren’t enough to give you a full picture of your health. A more comprehensive approach is needed to determine how the whole system operates and identify the problems that hide behind these seemingly “normal lab results”.


One advantage of functional medicine is that it adopts a slightly different approach when defining what is “normal”. For example, when for traditional medicine, glucose level between 4-7 mmol/L  is considered to be normal. This reference range might be good for the average population, that includes the entire population, including people with multiple chronic conditions and serious health problems. But when it comes to a healthy person, this range should be different. 

A healthy person’s “normal range” should differ from a sick person’s normal range. This is what functional medicine does. It uses different functional lab ranges depending on the patient. For example, if you are a healthy person with no signs of serious medical conditions, for you normal glucose level might be between 5.0-6.0 mmol/L. 

So, if your glucose level is 4.5 or 6.5 mmol/L, and you go to the traditional doctor, they might assume that you are within the clinical range (4-7 mmol/L), when in reality, you might actually have some problems. 

This is just one example of how functional medicine is more forward-looking and can prevent or detect the disease at an early stage.



Naturopathic medicine believes that:

Achieving truly optimal health and wellness requires going beyond conventional lab testing and adopting a preventative plan tailored to you.

This is exactly what functional medicine is all about. It treats the whole person rather than just one particular symptom. 

Unlike the majority of traditional physicians, naturopathic doctors spend a lot of time with their patients. They want to fully understand their medical history and their current ailments. And while we do use lab tests to shine a light on your current state of health, we also encourage preventative medicine. Without that, you simply can’t reach your optimal health. 

The naturopathic approach includes an in-depth analysis of your symptoms. We listen to every little detail or complaint and analyze how it fits into the whole picture. This includes your diet, weight, physical activity, mental fitness, genetics, stressors, nutritional biochemistry,  microbiome, and even your living conditions. Of course, all that must be complemented by appropriate and comprehensive lab testing, which plays an important role in designing an appropriate treatment plan for each patient. Combined with traditional and functional lab tests, the naturopathic approach gives us a more complete picture and an opportunity to diagnose conditions that can be hard to detect through lab tests alone. In addition, this allows naturopathic doctors to recommend preventive measures for diseases that you don’t have yet, but are highly susceptible to. 

The naturopathic approach doesn’t believe in band aid solutions. It doesn’t believe in simply prescribing painkillers and ignoring the root problem. Instead, it asks questions and bit by bit builds a story that is coherent, complete, and logical. 

This story describes how you got to this point and where your symptoms are coming from. It is a story that is backed by evidence from multiple different sources, including lab tests and other important factors. 



At The Dempster Clinic – Center for Functional Medicine, we believe in thriving towards the best physical state, reaching your full physical potential, and optimal aging. We know that while sometimes the tests come back in the “normal” range, individuals still continue to feel unwell and suffer from various symptoms. 

In order to get to the root of the problem, our team at The Dempster Clinic – Center for Functional Medicine applies a model that focuses on treating your body as a whole system, that treats the causes not merely focusing on the symptoms. 

We view the body as a whole organism, rather than simply a collection of organs. Our team takes the time to listen to our patient’s story and we map their personal timeline. We examine environmental, dietary, lifestyle, biochemical and genetic factors that can influence long-term health and complex chronic disease. 

This is what constitutes a holistic approach. This way we are able to find what truly hides behind the “normal lab test results” and help you overcome the symptoms that seem to be coming from “nowhere”. There is often an explanation for that pain or lack of energy and we are here to help you find the missing pieces of your puzzle.

We want our patients to know that feeling low and tired, being in pain, sudden weight gain, depressed, anxious, constipated, or any other myriad of uncomfortable symptoms are not normal. These are all signs that your body needs some attention. 

Don’t settle for “normal” lab results, especially when you know that you are not feeling “normal”. You should thrive to feel your best health, even as you age. 

People often accept the idea that it is normal for our health to decline as we age. Or that having occasional pain is okay and there is nothing that we can do about that. But in reality, there is A LOT that we can do. It’s not about anti-aging; it’s all about optimal aging. 

Our team is here to ensure that your quality of life is as high as possible instead of ‘barely bearable’. By treating the root causes, we want to bring back the long-term relief, vibrancy, and well-being that you deserve.

I know that we can optimize your health and help you live a longer and healthier life.