Lab & Diagnostic Testing
At the RED Medical Center for Natural Health, Dr. Stills relies heavily on several tests that provide a wealth of information about your overall health and specific issues you may be experiencing in your body.
These tests include:
Expanded Blood Work Analysis
In mainstream medicine, we are used to two things: Taking a blood test and receiving medication to help improve the numbers if they are out of range. For example, we take a cholesterol test and if our numbers are “too high” we are prescribed Lipitor. Here at the RED Medical Center for Natural Health, Dr. Stills takes a very different, in-depth approach to analyzing your blood.
How is RED Med Blood Work Different?
For starters, it’s important to understand that Dr. Stills will assess your health with the help of blood tests outside the standard blood work ordered by MDs. Having been in practice for close to 15 years, she has helped thousands of patients who were told “There’s nothing wrong, your blood work looks fine.” Too often, they’re told this because the blood tests they have had done aren’t those needed to correctly assess their health issues.
For example, a standard MD will typically run a cholesterol panel to assess risk for cardiac disease, despite the fact that studies have shown numerous times that high cholesterol does not correlate with heart attacks and heart disease as strongly as we’ve been led to believe.
Reducing inflammation is much more important to preventing future or reversing current disease. Blood tests for homocysteine, cardiac CRP and fibrinogen provide better insights to cardiovascular health by looking at inflammation and methylation capabilities, but these tests are rarely ordered.
Thyroid evaluations are another area where standard blood work falls woefully short, even though thyroid disorders are now epidemic among both women and men. If blood work shows a normal level of TSH level, the standard screen for thyroid health, you will be told you are fine and not given treatment.
However, TSH shows only what the brain is telling the thyroid to produce, not what the gland is actually producing or how well your body is taking up and processing the hormones your thyroid gland should be producing. At the RED Medical Center for Natural Health, your thyroid panel will include a Free T3, which is the bioavailable amount of active thyroid hormone that actually makes changes at the receptor site.Finally, Dr. Stills will also assess blood work results in ways that standard MDs may not. For example, it’s common to hear about the dangers of high cholesterol, but did you know that if your cholesterol significantly drops, that is an indication that there is excessive free radical activity occurring in the body and that cancer is most likely actively developing inside you?
You Are More than a Set of Numbers
Dr. Stills does not just look at the levels that are out of range as most traditional MDs are trained to do. By looking at ratios and optimal ranges, she can discern a more accurate picture of what is going on with your health. For example, if a test’s “normal” results range is 30-100 and you are at 31, that is awfully close to being out of range.
Furthermore, if the optimal level is between 60-80, then 31 is a very low reading, even though the lab will report that level as within normal range. When Dr. Stills takes the time to thoroughly and carefully review your results, you may find that your blood work results were far from OK, even if you were told they were within normal range.
It’s also important to understand that Dr. Stills treats you, her patient, not a set of numbers. For example, if you are presenting as a “poster child” of thyroid hormone dysfunction — inability to lose weight, hair falling out, always cold, constipated, depressed, brain fog — Dr. Stills may give you a trial run of natural thyroid support to see how you do, even if your levels look “normal.”
This treatment, which may seem counter to what the blood work says, has changed patients lives time and time again. Remember that the “normal” numbers for blood work are merely ranges, like a bell curve based on large-scale sampling. You may be below or above the curve — what’s most important is you and your story!
Do I Have to Do Bloodwork?
Every patient has an expanded blood work analysis done when becoming a patient. If all your results are within normal range according to Dr. Stills’ evaluation, then she will recommend that you have the expanded blood work done once yearly to keep track of baseline values and any changes.
How Will I Have Blood Drawn?
You will usually have your blood drawn at either LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics, two national blood work labs, depending upon which company your insurance company engages. You will need to fast 12 hours overnight (water only), and there will be many tubes of blood drawn — much more than is typically drawn for blood work ordered by a standard MD.
It will look overwhelming, but don’t worry: if you donate blood you, give away a lot more blood than will be drawn for these tests, and the expanded information these tests provide vital insights into your body’s overall health, helping identify the necessary nutritional supplements and proper lifestyle modifications to empower you to find optimal health and prevent future disease.
Food Sensitivity Testing
So much of our health is dependent upon what we choose to eat and how well our body digests and absorbs the food. Perhaps dairy and soy are causing you delayed food sensitivity reactions.
By avoiding your food sensitivities, you can lose a lot of weight and improve many health issues that you may not have even considered were related to food.
What is the Difference Between a Food Allergy and a Food Sensitivity?
A true food allergy is something we are all familiar with: if you’re allergic to strawberries and accidentally ingest something with strawberry, your eyes may swell, your throat may close and you’ll likely end up in the emergency room. Foods that you’re allergic to are foods you must avoid for life.
Food sensitivities, however, are mediated by a different immune pathway that is slower to react and not as severe and life-threatening. For example, you may have a migraine on Wednesday that is actually a result of the cheese you ate on Monday.
We typically never stop think about something we ate 2 or 3 days ago as being the cause of a symptom we are experiencing in the present moment. However, the truth is, food sensitivities often cause symptoms long after consumption, and avoiding certain foods can mean the difference between your feeling vital and healthy or feeling horrible and sick all the time.
How Do You Test for Food Sensitivities?
One common way to test for food sensitivities is through an elimination diet, in which you remove all the top offending foods (like soy, dairy, eggs, etc.) from your diet for a minimum of 30 days and then slowly challenge our bodies with them by adding them back in one by one.
While this method works, it can be difficult and frustrating for some. Having a food sensitivity test performed on you more easily and quickly narrows down what you specifically need to avoid.
Give us a call at 520-308-5040 to find if blood food sensitivity testing is the right choice for you.
Computerized Regulation Thermography (CRT) | AZ Residents Only
What is CRT?
Computerized Regulation Thermography (CRT) is a diagnostic tool used extensively in Europe that Dr Stills offers in the United States. It is a non-invasive, effective way of evaluating the function of the major organs of the body. CRT has been approved by the FDA as an adjunctive diagnostic tool for the following:
- Abnormalities of the female breast
- Abnormalities of the thyroid gland
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Extracranial cerebral and facial vascular disease
- Peripheral Vascular Disease
- Various cancerous and inflammatory conditions
How Does Dr. Stills Use CRT?
Dr. Stills fondly refers to her CRT as her Naturopathic Treasure Map. By scanning a patient she is able to immediately see what areas of the body are the root causes of disease, understand what further diagnostic tests are most appropriate and accurately create your personalized treatment program.
Here at the RED Medical Center for Natural Health, she utilizes her extensive experience with CRT as an initial diagnostic tool to see the current and future state of her patients’ health, uncovering not only the conditions listed above but also:
- Heavy metal toxicity
- Food sensitivities
- Lymphatic congestion
- Underlying dental issues
- Toxicity of the liver and gall bladder
- Kidney stress
- Many other imbalances.
Often, Dr. Stills is able to pick up these imbalances before they are fully manifested in the body, making CRT a truly preventative tool.
Knowledge is power. I often find that worrying about whether or not you have a disease growing in your body can cause more stress or actually lead to the development of disease you are fearing. By having regular thermography scans you are empowering yourself to be an active participant in your health care and supporting your body to ward off and prevent disease.
Is CRT Safe and Accurate?
CRT is a powerful diagnostic tool, particularly for identifying breast abnormalities and especially in light of the problems and inadequacies with physical examination and mammography:
A study in Germany showed that 54% of breast cancer patients were correctly diagnosed by history and physical examination; that number rose to 76% when mammography was added but rose to 92% when computerized regulation thermography was used
Recent studies published in The Lancet demonstrate that breast cancer deaths have not decreased through the use of X-ray mammography
A Swedish study showed that nearly 30% more cases of breast cancer occurred in women who had been subjected to routine mammograms for ten years compared with those women never receiving mammograms.
Moreover, the accumulated radiation associated with mammograms is quite concerning. Using CRT as your base screening tool alleviates this concern since it is simply measures temperature changes in your body and has zero associated radiation.
Let Dr. Stills be your guide in setting up a preventative screening program as well as a treatment protocol if necessary for you!
The CRT is appropriate for everybody whether they have breasts or not. In men, it is a preventative screen for prostate health.
How Does CRT Work?
CRT works by precisely measuring skin temperatures at up to 120 points across the body before and after exposure to cool air. Examining the differences in these readings gives insight into nerve signals and capillary dilation within the body and exposes potential problem areas or imbalances.
Information from the readings are then analyzed in comparison to a database of healthy patients, generating charts and reports available for reading the same day.
Will the Thermography be Painful?
Absolutely not! Upon scheduling your CRT scan, you will receive a list of instructions to follow to be sure the test results are accurate. These include things such as not showering, exercising, having caffeine, smoking or using face creams the morning of the test, not having sexual intercourse 24 hours before the test and not having dental work 3 days prior to the test. Also, women cannot be tested on the first or second day of their menstrual cycle.
What is a CRT Test Like?
You will need to come dressed in loosely fitting clothes, including a button-down, long-sleeve shirt (and for women, no bra). Hair needs to be pulled back off the face, and no makeup. The test involves three stages:
- First, you will sit in a room for 15 minutes with no cell phone to just relax and get accustomed to the temperature of the room.
- Next, your first set of readings will be taken at points across your body using a handheld, wand-like device that directly measures the temperature of your skin with no discomfort. This part of the test will take approximately 10-12 minutes.
- After the first set of measurements, you will stand in just your underwear in the room for 10 minutes. The room is kept between 68 and 72 degrees, so you may be a bit chilly while standing there, but that is important because it provides a small amount of necessary stress to the nervous system.
As the last step, the technician will take a second set of temperature readings at the exact same body points. After that you can get dressed and you are done.
Heart Rate Variability | AZ Residents Only
While we think of our heartbeat as steady and predictable, in fact, there’s considerable variability in heart rate, even among people in good health. In fact, greater heart rate variability (HRV) is correlated with greater health and fitness, as greater variability typically indicates higher functioning, more adaptability, a greater level of resilience.
Key to this relationship is the fact that heart rate is controlled by the parasympathetic nervous system. By assessing the health of the nervous system periodically through heart rate variability testing, Dr. Stills is able to track how a patient is responding to therapies and what therapies would help them best. If you are stuck in a “fight or flight” mode and very stressed out, heart rate variability is the most accurate way to uncover that physiologically and track your return to balance.
What Does an HRV Test Uncover?
Heart Rate Variability (HRV) testing is another tool for measuring overall health. It’s useful for:
Helping with early detection of disease, including cancer
Assessing how hard your heart is working to deal with current health and life issues (stress)
Tracking your progress in treatment and your personal response to therapies
Evaluating the health of the parasympathetic nervous system
What is an HRV Test Like?
The heart rate variability test is non-invasive and takes about 10 minutes, during which patients remain fully clothed.
Most patients will complete these diagnostics as part of working with Dr. Stills. Some patients may also benefit from additional diagnostics. You can learn more about these tests by following the links below.
24-Hour Urine Testing
Hormone health is complex, even intricate. Hormones guide and regulate all body functions, and every hormone effects one or more other hormones. Balance is the key, and balance is not always easily achieved. Hormones also decline, naturally, as people age. With lifespans increasing all the time, the number of years that patients may be living with sub-optimal hormone levels is also increasing. This can dramatically effect their quality life for decades. Hormone replacement therapy is more common and provides renewed vitality for thousands, but the way a patient metabolizes their hormones can also increase (or decrease) their risk for cancer or other serious diseases. Given all of this, trying to support your patient’s hormonal health without testing is like trying to drive blind-folded!
The gut microbiome resides in your large intestine and is host to more than 1000 species of bacteria that perform certain important functions from shaping the immune system to influencing metabolism of nutrients to fortifying the intestinal mucosal barrier (gut barrier).
It is important to know the abundances of the bacteria that symbiotically live in the human gastrointestinal tract because imbalances in the gut microbiome may lead to gastrointestinal symptoms, skin conditions, autoimmune disorders, immune system imbalances, and multiple inflammatory disorders.
Stool Analysis uses a proprietary microarray hybridization technology platform, using the whole-genome data to simultaneously detect over 300 microorganisms with 99% specificity and 98% sensitivity, unheard-of levels of accuracy in the detection of pathogenic microorganisms. Because Stool Analysis does not use sequencing technology, which is time-consuming and prone to high level so inaccuracy, the Stool Analysis is the most accurate microbiome test available to aid discerning healthcare providers in the assessment and treatment of gastrointestinal disorders.
The Stool Analysis report provides you with actionable recommendations that include potential risks for:
- Intestinal permeability (SCFA producing bacteria and tight junction integrity)
- Intestinal disorders (IBS and IBD related bacteria)
- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)- related bacteria
- Cardiovascularhealth (inflammationinfluencing and TMAO-related bacteria)
- Autoimmune health (celiac, Crohn’s, rheumatoid arthritis, etc)
- Neurological health (MS, Parkinson’s, and more)
- Liver diseases (cirrhosis, hepatitis, cholangitis, and more)
- Metabolic health (Obesity, diabetes, etc)
- Nutrition (Vitamin production, oxalate metabolism)
- Microbiome and hormone connections (Beta-glucuronidase and Beta-glucosidase)
- 67 pathogenic bacteria
- 24 Intestinal parasites
- 8 viruses
- 5 Fungal or yeast species
- 5 worm species
- 6 antibiotic resistance genes measured and newly added additional markers of functional digestive status:
- Pancreatic elastase 1
- Bile acids
- Cholic acid
- Chenodeoxycholic acid
- Deoxycholic acid
- Lithocholic acid
- Acetic acid
- Butyric acid
- Propionic acid
- Valeric acid
- Total SCFAs
The test performs the most comprehensive analysis available of your intestinal microbiomeecosystem from a simple one-time stool collection. This test examines the complex and intricate relative abundance of each species or genus measured, in relation to the rest of the ecosystem, to provide a unique perspective on the gut microbiome and its connection to disease and inflammation.
The functional digestive analytes aid healthcare providers in determining if deficiencies in digestive enzymes, bile, or other critical metabolites are root causes of gastrointestinal inflammatory symptoms.
The Vibrant Gut ZoomerTM also provides patients with an actionable report that includes dietary recommendations and other natural supplementation like prebiotics, probiotics, and polyphenols.
Every day, we are exposed to hundreds of toxic chemicals through products like pharmaceuticals, pesticides, packaged foods, household products, and environmental pollution. As we have become more exposed to chemical-laden products and to toxic chemicals in food, air, and water, we have been confronted with an accelerating rate of chronic illnesses like cancer, heart disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, chemical sensitivity, autism spectrum disorders, ADD/AD(H)D, autoimmune disorders, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Because exposure to environmental pollutants has been linked to many chronic diseases, The Great Plains Laboratory has created GPL-TOX, a toxic non-metal chemical profile that screens for the presence of 173 different toxic chemicals including organophosphate pesticides, phthalates, benzene, xylene, vinyl chloride, pyrethroid insecticides, acrylamide, perchlorate, diphenyl phosphate, ethylene oxide, acrylonitrile, and more. This profile also includes Tiglylglycine (TG), a marker for mitochondrial disorders resulting from mutations of mitochondrial DNA. These mutations can be caused by exposure to toxic chemicals, infections, inflammation, and nutritional deficiencies.
Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)
Bio-electrical Impedance Analysis or Bioimpedance Analysis (BIA) is a method of assessing your body composition: the measurement of body fat in relation to lean body mass. It is an integral part of a health and nutrition assessment.
Research has shown that body composition is directly related to health. A normal balance of body fat is associated with good health and longevity. Excess fat in relation to lean body mass: altered body composition, can greatly increase your risks for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and more. BIA allows for early detection of an improper balance in your body composition, which fosters earlier intervention and prevention. BIA also provides a measurement of fluid and body mass that can be a critical assessment tool for your current state of health.
Since fat loss is the goal when people set out to lose weight, and muscle gain is the goal when people set out to gain weight, the nutritionists of “Healthy Directions” monitor body composition changes (fat weight vs. lean fat-free weight) rather than monitor people with weekly weigh-ins. Rather than feeling frustrated with the scale, health conscious people are usually very happy to learn of their progress when viewing BIA results.
How Does BIA Work?
This non-invasive test simply involves the placement of two electrodes on the person’s right hand and foot. A low level, imperceptible electrical current is sent through the body. The flow of the current is affected by the amount of water in the body. The device measures how this signal is impeded through different types of tissue. Tissues that contain large amounts of fluid and electrolytes, such as blood, have high conductivity, but fat and bone slow the signal down. As BIA determines the resistance to flow of the current as it passes through the body, it provides estimates of body water from which body fat is calculated using selected equations.
The Quantum Xrroid Consciousness Interface, or QXCI, is an evoked-potential biofeedback device that measures electrical parameters of the body (primarily voltage, amperage, and resistance) and provides reactivity (probability) scores to over 9,000 natural biological substances at biological speeds (17100th of a second).
The program of the QXCI generates a rapid double-blind test, in which neither the clinician nor testee can influence the results. The information provided from the assessment is extremely valuable information targeted at wellness enhancement.
The QXCI can be used by a properly trained clinician to give very specific
Suggestions in relation to what nutritional, herbal, and dietary regime is likely to be the best for your body.
The QXCI provides reactivity scores to:
- Microbes (bacteria, virus, parasite, fungus)
- Glandular/Organ tissues
- Various Toxins
- Emotional/Stress Factors
- and much more
Adrenal Saliva Testing
Are you experiencing chronic stress, insomnia, anxiety and fatigue? Having trouble losing weight? Our ASI Panel can help you discover the causes, by measuring cortisol and five other hormones through saliva over 24 hours. We give your provider more complete measurements and deeper context for your hormone levels than standard serum and urine testing.
If you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms above, please ask your healthcare provider about our ASI panel. Your test results can give your practitioner the chance to build you a personalized treatment plan.
- Our Adrenal Stress Index can be helpful if you experience:
Chronic stress and stress-related health conditions
Fatigue or lack of energy
Anxiety or depression
Irritability or mood swings
Insomnia, sleep disturbances or difficulty waking
Difficulty losing weight
Poor memory or difficulty retaining information
Muscle and joint pain or weakness
Easy bruising or excessive stretch marks
Explore options to address potential cancer diagnosis with a selection of testing with Dr. Stills.
Genomic testing is a type of test that looks at more than just your genes but the ways in which your genes interact and what those interactions mean to your health.
Genomic testing is often confused with genetic testing. The main difference is that genetic tests are designed to detect a single gene mutation (such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations associated with breast and ovarian cancer), while genomic tests look at all of your genes.