New patient examinations at CFNC include both running blood work and a urinalysis. Oftentimes we get asked why we run blood work when we are looking at the brain and nervous system. This blog post will explain why!
The brain and the entire nervous system are the master control center of our body. Our nervous system controls our hormone regulation, our immune system, our digestive system and more. Because of this, it is important that when we are examining the nervous system we are also assessing our metabolics. In addition to this, as functional neurologists our goal is to drive as much positive neuroplasticity as possible to facilitate changes to our patients’ nervous systems. In order to create adequate amounts of neuroplasticity, our metabolics also need to be aligned with the goals of our treatment.
For example, we need our liver to be functioning optimally to help stabilize our blood sugar so our brain and nervous system can get adequate amounts of fuel. Our vitamin D levels need to be within a certain range because our body utilizes lots of vitamin D in our metabolic and neurological processes. These are a few out of the many reasons why we run lab work on our new patients.
In this blog post, we are going to go through each of the panels that we run at CFNC and provide some insight as to why we run them.
What panels do you run on the new patient lab work?
Our new patient lab work includes the following panels:
Complete Blood Count
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
Liver Profile and Cardiovascular Profile
Vitamin D Levels
Complete Thyroid Panel (Including TPO and Thyroglobulin Antibodies)
Complete Blood Count
The complete blood count is the most routine and fundamental panel to be ordered in healthcare. This panel includes information about red blood cell markers, platelets and white blood cell markers. This panel helps to identify disorders of red blood cells such as anemias, infections, immune disorders, hereditary blood disorders and more.
This is important to assess when evaluating someone’s nervous system. This panel can help reveal if a patient is dealing with anemia. Anemia usually indicates when some of the CBC levels are low. This may be due to a lack of iron in the body and/or a lack of blood cells circulating. What does this mean neurologically? It means the body is having difficulty transporting oxygen throughout the body and to the brain. Our nervous system cannot get an adequate amount of fuel in the form of oxygen if someone is dealing with anemia. Depending on the type of anemia, some anemias can cause damage to our sensory systems in our spinal cord and can be the cause of a patient’s symptoms.
Now, what if our panel comes back with high levels? Depending on which levels are high can indicate that our liver is struggling to meet the demands of blood cell metabolism. Why is this important neurologically? If our liver is taxed and is not functioning optimally then this can result in blood sugar dysregulation, cholesterol dysregulation, and immune dysregulation. What does this mean neurologically? It means our brain and nervous system is not properly fueled and we may have inflammation present in our system that is contributing to our condition.
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
The comprehensive metabolic panel helps to provide information about liver markers, circulation electrolytes and minerals, kidney function and some immune markers. The panels help to identify dysfunction and disorder with the kidneys and liver. This panel provides information about fasting blood sugar. Blood sugar regulation is important when we are talking about the function of our nervous system. If we are having difficulty with regulating blood sugar, we will have difficulty with sleep, energy levels throughout the day and brain fog – ultimately resulting in our nervous system not getting adequate amounts of glucose to function properly. In addition to glucose markers, this panel provides information about the liver’s function. This in conjunction with the CBC panel will tell us how the liver is functioning. If it is not functioning optimally then this can affect our immune system regulation, our blood sugar regulation and more. All of which is important when discussing neuroinflammation, autoimmune conditions, concussions, autonomic dysfunction and more.
Our liver is considered the most metabolically active organ in our bodies.This is where the majority of our biochemical reactions take place. The liver is responsible for multiple vital functions, including filtering chemicals, storing glycogen for fuel, and synthesizing hormones and proteins for immune functions. This panel includes markers like bilirubin, total protein, AST and ALT. When looking at the liver and how it functions, neurologically this is one of the most important organs to consider. We need an optimal functioning liver to rid any inflammation and neuroinflammation in our bodies and provide fuel to our system.
Lipid Profile and Cardiovascular Assessment
In this profile we are assessing cholesterol markers and cardiovascular markers such as homocysteine, C-reactive Protein, and Fibrinogen activity.
Cholesterol regulation is a direct result of our liver. When evaluating liver function, we evaluate the CBC, CMP, liver profile and lipid profile! When looking at homocysteine levels we are evaluating the patient’s methylation pathways. This marker can tell us if a patient is experiencing difficulty with converting B vitamins and may be undergoing a vitamin deficiency.
In addition to this, homocysteine has several deleterious cardiovascular effects such as impaired endothelial function, increased oxidative stress and more. All of which creates more inflammation or stress to the cardiovascular system in the body and can be contributing to someone’s symptoms. When evaluating CRP, this is a very sensitive marker to the amount of inflammation there is in the body. When working with patients who suffer from autoimmune diseases, allergies, migraines, and concussions this is a very important marker to look at.
Our body cannot create its own vitamins, they have to be exogenously sourced from food and/or supplements – except for Vitamin D. The body has the ability to create its own vitamin D in the presence of sunlight. Vitamin D behaves more like a hormone in our body than a vitamin. We have receptors for vitamin D all over our body, and these receptors help to control gene expression. It is pivotal for patients to have adequate stores of vitamin D in order to create neuroplasticity. This is a very important marker that we evaluate.
Thyroid metabolism is very sensitive to slight alterations in metabolism. Medications, inflammation, hormones, and autoimmunity can all alter thyroid metabolism. With that said, there are multiple sites for thyroid imbalances such as autoimmune destruction of the thyroid (Hashimoto’s), pituitary-thyroid axis suppression and more. All of this is important information when we are dealing with brain and nervous system function.
Proper thyroid function promotes neurogenesis, neuronal migration, myelination and synaptogenesis. Meaning, appropriate thyroid function promotes neuroplasticity. If the thyroid is not functioning optimally this can cause problems with blood sugar regulation, gastrointestinal function, lipid metabolism and cholesterol regulation, cortisol metabolism, neurotransmitter expression and more! It is incredibly important to evaluate all thyroid markers to evaluate the thyroid function properly. Our thyroid panel evaluates TSH, T3, Reverse T3, Free T3, Free 4, T4, TPO antibodies and thyroglobulin antibodies. By running all of these markers we can determine possible causes of altered thyroid function.
In addition to blood work our new patient lab work includes a urinalysis. A urinalysis allows us to evaluate metabolites of our immune cells, by-products from our diet, the acidity or alkalinity of our bodies and more. This is an important panel in our lab work because it allows us to screen for infections. It also allows us to understand the acidity of our bodies; which too basic or too acidic can have negative impacts on our nervous system.
Blood Differential Count
A blood differential blood count involves evaluating the amount of the different types of white blood cells we have as a part of our immune system. This is important for functional neurologists to examine because these markers will provide an indication of acute or chronic inflammation, stress, parasitic infections, allergies, histamine reactions, bacterial and viral infections and more. This is important because when our immune system is activated to fight off a pathogen, our nervous system will also be affected. If we are battling any time of infection, it can cause our nervous system to become inflamed which can result in neurological symptoms; making this an important part of our lab work.
We do not look at each individual panel separately. We evaluate our patients’ lab test results comprehensively and as a whole. We create all of our recommendations for our supplementation, diet and lifestyle changes for our patients based on their objective lab results. Not one patient receives the same supplement regimen and dosage. Everything is created carefully and specifically for the patient. At CFNC, we feel that it is of utmost importance that we evaluate and treat ALL of the systems involved, which makes lab work a crucial part of our examination process.