Functional Medicine and Specialized Lab Testing Bring Real Results -- By Dr. Stephen Stevenson

Unlike Conventional Medicine, Functional Medicine recognizes that problems in the GI tract are frequently the underlying cause of many chronic illnesses. Because of this, Functional Medicine practitioners use a specialized test not typically used in a Conventional Medicine setting.

Usually, a Conventional Medicine practitioner will order a stool test only if significant diarrhea or other issues. The test may use a culture to look for the presence of a small number of pathogenic bacteria, conduct a microscopic evaluation in search of a few particular parasites, or check for the presence of a toxin produced by a pathogenic strain of C. difficile bacteria. In addition to being limited in its scope, some components of this type of testing are not particularly sensitive and miss infections that are actually present.

One of the techniques used to evaluate the status of the GI tract in Functional Medicine is a stool test called the GI–MAP. The GI–MAP takes a more comprehensive look at the overall status of the GI tract. It provides a thorough evaluation for infections by testing for multiple bacterial, parasitic, and viral infections not typically tested for in the conventional setting. By using Advanced qPCR technology, this test looks for the presence of the DNA of pathogenic organisms in the stool sample, providing high levels of sensitivity and specificity. This test can even tell you how much of a particular pathogenic organism is present.

In addition to testing for infections, the GI-MAP evaluates the status of normal bacteria to determine if there is a healthy balance of these highly beneficial microbes. It also measures markers that indicate the status of