Wouldn't it be reassuring to find out exactly what is going on in your body, so that you can take positive, targeted steps to improve your health?

Functional testing and what it is used for

Functional tests are invaluable and effective tools for investigating nutritional and other underlying imbalances within the body that may be contributing to your health concerns. Rather than look for the presence or absence of disease, as most NHS investigative tests do, these tests examine how well your body and/or specific organs and systems are functioning, in addition to measuring nutrient levels, and how they may be effecting your health. They enable us to get a detailed and comprehensive understanding of these underlying imbalances, thereby enabling personalised nutritional and lifestyle recommendations to be further tailored to your exact health needs. These tests can investigate: digestive function and gut micro-flora balance, thyroid and adrenal health, hormonal balance, food sensitivities and environmental allergies, nutrient levels and mineral analysis.

As Registered Nutritional Therapists and accredited healthcare practitioners Kate and Nigel can offer a variety of tests from leading private laboratories, including Genova, Lorisian, ZRT Laboratories, Cyrex Laboratories and Functional DX, all of which have been selected for their high standards and quality control, and are accredited and/or certified by the Clinical Pathology Accreditation (CPA) and Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA).

What do these tests consist of and how do I get them?

The majority of these tests are non-invasive (ie use saliva, urine, stool or blood spot samples) and can be done from the comfort of your own home. However, some tests require a blood sample, this can be collected by the practice nurse at your GP surgery. Please note the Function DX blood tests require centrifuging, typically unavailable at GP surgeries. Our Clinic also offers a phlebotomy service.

The tests can be ordered during your initial nutritional therapy consultation, or if you have a certain test in mind, during a 30 minute Initial Functional Testing consultation. The test kit will be sent to your home for you to complete the test (following the simple instructions) and send directly to the Laboratory.

Kate and Nigel will interpret your results for you, and will use this information, in conjunction with a detailed history of your health concerns, medical/family history, diet and lifestyle, to create a truly personalised targeted nutrition and supplement programme tailored specifically to support your health concerns, all of which will be discussed in detail at your follow-up session. A results only service is also available.

Please note:

These tests are not for diagnostic purposes and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice and/or treatment, any health concerns should be checked out by your GP before ordering these tests.

Also, not all nutritional therapy clients require functional testing, and nutritional therapy programmes are still very effective without testing. However testing enables a more highly targeted nutrition programme to be developed, that supports specific physiologic/metabolic function, macronutrient and micronutrient needs. Testing also helps monitor the effects of specific programmes.

Types of consultation:

Test suitability consultation: To discuss the tests best suited to investigate clients' health concerns and to then order these tests up (30 mins)

Test results consultation: Review of test results + nutritional therapy consultation (in which test results will be discussed together with an in depth exploration of health concerns and diet and lifestyle history, and a personalised dietary and lifestyle plan created) (60 mins). NB diet and lifestyle questionnaire needs to be completed by client and returned at least 3 days before the results consultation.

Results only consultation (30 mins) (no diet and lifestyle questionnaire required)

What tests are available?

The following is a selection of the tests available:

Digestive function and gut microflora assessment

Digestive issues are among the most common reasons that individuals seek nutritional therapy.

A variety of non-invasive tests are available to assess digestive health and evaluate specific gastrointestinal imbalances. These include: digestive function (including digestive enzyme secretion and nutrient malabsorption), inflammatory biomarkers, intestinal permeability, gut microflora balance and the presence of parasites or fungal infections and H-Pylori infection.

Prices from £109

Nutritional Assessments

Nutrient deficiencies are associated with a huge array of health concerns, including osteo-arthritis, osteoporosis, infertility, fatigue, low mood and behavioural disorders. Long-term imbalances in these nutrients have also been associated with increased risk of many chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Many nutrient levels can be measured at your GP surgery, however, for a more comprehensive and quicker picture, a variety of nutritional assessments are available which measure blood levels of important nutrients, vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and B vitamins. In addition, organic/amino acid metabolic markers can be measured to evaluate vitamin and mineral status, protein adequacy, cellular energy production and neurotransmitter function. These tests can identify individual dietary and supplementation needs and enable nutritional programmes to be very specific and for programme success to be monitored.

Prices from £25

Immunology Tests: food sensitivity, allergy and antibody profiles

Food and environmental allergens have been implicated in a wide variety of conditions affecting virtually every part of the body, with symptoms ranging from digestive discomfort, skin problems, itchy eyes and runny noses to severe illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis and celiac disease.

A number of antibody profiles are available to assess the body's reaction to a wide range of foods, food additives and environmental allergens, which may be causing health problems. Some target the causes of immediate (IgE) allergic reactions (classic allergies such as hayfever, dust mites, pet hair and nut allergies), while others assess the sources of delayed (IgG) reactions (such as most food sensitivities or intolerances) which may not show up for days after exposure to an allergenic substance.

Functional tests are also available for assessing specific gluten sensitivity (including celiac disease and non-gluten sensitivity) and autoimmune profiles (Cyrex Tests).

Prices from £162

Endocrine Tests and Hormone Profiles

Practically all systems in the body are regulated by hormones. These in turn can be disrupted by poor dietary habits, stressful lifestyles and exposure to toxins, resulting in profound effects on health.

A range of functional tests are available to evaluate different hormones, including:

Adrenal Stress Hormone Tests: these assess cortisol and DHEA levels, and can help identify underlying imbalances associated with low energy levels, sleep problems, chronic fatigue, low mood, and anxiety.

Thyroid Hormone Tests: these analyse thyroid function and hormone production, the disruption of which affects virtually every metabolic process in the body. Thyroid dysfunction is associated with a wide range of symptoms chronic illness and has significant effect on mood, energy level, weight and sex drive.

Sex Hormone Tests: these assess imbalances in a range of female and male sex hormones (including oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone), and can help identify underlying imbalances associated with symptoms and health concerns such as PMS, infertility and menstrual irregularity, as well as acne and PCOS.

Melatonin Test: This test measures levels of Melatonin, a hormone that controls the daily circadian rhythm and is best known for its role in helping to initiate sleep. Melatonin imbalances are associated with sleep problems, low mood and stress.

Prices from £77

Genetic Testing

This looks at your individual genes to create a bespoke nutritional/supplement support programme. Genes are not always your destiny. There are various environmental, lifestyle and nutritional factors that can encourage them to be expressed or not. Consequently, in some cases it can be very useful to have an understanding of them. These tests look at certain SNPs (polymorphisms) that are connected to mental and physical health.

Functional Blood chemistry analysis

The Functional DX tests

The Functional DX tests provide a comprehensive immune and metabolic snapshot of your health by analysing functional blood chemistry. There are a number of tests available, with up to 125 biomarkers analysed.  This is what the Functional DX says about their testing:

“The Functional Health Report is the result of a detailed algorithmic analysis of your blood test results. Our analytical and interpretive software analyses the blood test data for its hidden meaning and reveals the subtle, web-like patterns hidden within the numbers that signal the first stages of functional change in the body.  Blood testing is no longer simply a part of disease or injury management. It’s a vital component of a comprehensive Functional Medicine work up and plays a vital role in uncovering hidden health trends, comprehensive health promotion and disease prevention.”

For further information on the Functional testing approach, click here. Additionally, a sample report can be found here, and client information sheet may be accessed here

SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) Testing

Call 0131 225 5542 for prices

Health and risk factor profiles

A range of tests are available which give a comprehensive assessment of various health concerns and risk factors for chronic disease. Early identification of increased risk factors allow for dietary and lifestyle changes to be adopted in order to help reduce risk and slow progression of these diseases.

These profiles include:

Skin Vitality Profile: This assesses underlying hormonal imbalances associated with skin problems such as: Acne/oily skin; hair loss; thinning, dry or rough skin; increased wrinkles; slow wound healing; and skin rashes, psoriasis or eczema.

Chronic Fatigue Profile: This provides a comprehensive analysis of various factors that may be implicated in chronic fatigue and other related conditions.

Sleep Profile: This examines a complete diurnal pattern of melatonin and cortisol to help patients struggling with hormone-related sleep imbalances.

Fertility Profile: This assesses underlying hormonal imbalances and other factors associated with infertility.

Metabolic syndrome profile, Comprehensive Cardiovascular assessment, Pre-Diabetes Profiles: These tests assess underlying factors, including cholesterol and triglyceride levels, inflammatory markers and insulin resistance, associated with chronic disease.

Osteoporosis risk assessment: This assesses underlying nutrient and hormonal imbalances associated with increased risk of osteoporosis.

Weight management profile: This assesses underlying hormonal and nutrient imbalances and other factors associated with weight gain and barriers to weight loss. Including thyroid hormone, cortisol, insulin resistance and vitamin D levels.

Prices from £111

Many other tests are also available, please email Nigel at nigel@nigelfawthrop.com or Kate at edinburghclinicofnutrition.com for more information.

Practitioners: Nigel Fawthrop and Kate Swaine