Laboratory Testing and Hormone Panels
Laboratory testing is an effective way to evaluate overall health, screen for potential medical conditions and monitor the progress of treatment once implemented. In her practice, Dr. Hitkari, Naturopathic Physician, performs both standard diagnostic tests and specialized Naturopathic laboratory tests to guide treatment when applicable.
Specialized Laboratory Tests offered (Please click on the links below to learn more or book in for a free 15-minute consultation):
Adrenal Testing - Learn more
Food intolerance testing - Learn more
Female Hormone Panel - Learn more
Menopause Assessment Panel - Learn More
Dried Urine Test For Comprehensive Hormones (DUTCH) - Learn More
Male Hormone Panel - Learn more
Body composition testing (BIA) - Learn more
Comprehensive Stool Analysis with or without parasitology - Learn more
Nutrient deficiency testing - Learn more
Vitamin D testing - Learn more
Telomere Testing - Learn more
Thyroid testing- Learn more
Majority of people feel their best when their hormones are balanced and working properly. If our hormones become out of balance, it can cause both emotional and physical distress. To maintain our physical and emotional well-being, as well as, protect ourselves from age-related diseases and conditions, it is important that we obtain optimal hormone balance. In order to determine whether or not your hormones are out of balance, it is best, to not only obtain a health history and symptom picture but also, to test hormone levels to determine which treatment options would be the best.
What Are Hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers that help to relay information from one part of the body to another part. They help the body's nervous, endocrine and immune systems communicate effectively with each other. They are secreted from endocrine glands directly into the bloodstream where they travel to their target tissue and attach to specific receptors to regulate the functioning of that tissue.
Sex (Steroid) Hormones:
When the majority of people think about hormones, the first hormones to come to mind are our sex or steroid hormones - estrogens, progesterone, and testosterone. But of equal importance are two other steroid hormones known as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and cortisol, produced by the adrenal glands.
These hormones contribute to our general sense of well-being. They support a broad range of physiological functions such as sexuality, reproduction, thyroid function, brain function, bone density, and cholesterol levels. Our sex hormones are of particular importance to men and women experiencing age-related declines in hormone activity such as perimenopause, menopause, and andropause (male menopause). They are also of great importance to women experiencing fertility issues or menstrual cycle irregularities.
How Do I Achieve and Maintain My Hormone Balance?
Hormones exist in a very delicate balance and for this reason. They can easily become out of balance and lead to a myriad of symptoms (see Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance). To achieve and maintain hormone balance takes effort and may require a close working relationship with your Naturopathic Physician.
To determine whether or not a hormone imbalance may be contributing to overall health issues, a symptom picture first needs to be collected, along with a family medical history. Once it is determined that a hormone imbalance may be contributing to your symptom picture, hormone testing is used to determine where there are hormonal excesses and deficiencies and to help monitor hormonal fluctuations. Continuing symptom assessment and hormone testing allows your physician to monitor the progress of your treatment plan.
How are Hormone Tests Performed?
There are three main ways of assessing your hormone status - saliva, urine, and blood testing. These different types of hormone tests differ in their sampling and analysis techniques and each has its own pros and cons. Your Naturopathic Physician will discuss with you which type of testing is the most appropriate to address your particular needs.
Saliva hormone testing is an accurate, painless, convenient and clinically useful way of measuring hormones. Thousands of studies have been published on the use of salivary hormone testing and many more are being added on a regular basis.
The benefits of saliva hormone testing include the capability of identifying existing hormone excesses or deficiencies. Once a hormone imbalance has been identified, nutritional, nutraceutical, herbal or bioidentical hormone therapy may be implemented.
Urine hormone testing measure two things - the hormones themselves and hormone metabolites over a 24-hour period of time. Measuring both hormones and their metabolites can give a better overall picture of hormone production. Both serum and saliva hormone panels are able to track hormone release throughout the day. In contrast, the urine hormone profile provides an average of the hormones released in a day.
Urine hormone testing is the best way to get a picture of overall hormone production or to see how supplemented hormones are being broken down in the body.
Blood (Serum) Tests:
A blood test can also be used to test hormone levels. A potential problem with this method of collection, however, is that the sample just gives a snapshot of the hormone levels. This is not ideal. Hormones can fluctuate from moment to moment and from day to day, therefore, blood hormones levels may not give the most accurate representation of the hormone imbalances occurring in the body. For example, if a perimenopausal woman’s blood sample indicates that her progesterone level is within a normal range, it does not necessarily mean that she has a normal amount of progesterone all day long. She could be higher or lower at any given time throughout the day or throughout the month.