8 Reasons Functional Medicine Labs Might Be Right For You

Functional medicine labs are tools by which a practitioner explores a patient’s health in a comprehensive, personalized, and holistic way.

They represent the paradigm shift from the reductionism of conventional medicine to the holism of a functional medicine approach to health creation.  They give a functional medicine practitioner unique insight into the complex, interconnected workings that make us truly one-of-a-kind.

Combined with a detailed functional medicine history, functional medicine labs can be a pivotal point of leverage that inform the most effective treatment. Functional medicine lab findings can signal specific lifestyle and supplement treatment intervention to more strategically impact health and the expression of true wellness.

In this post, we’ll explore the ways that functional medicine labs might help you in your own health creation.  Let’s get to it!

What is Functional Medicine Lab Testing?

First of all, let’s define what I mean by functional medicine labs.  

In general, laboratory testing, whether through functional medicine or conventional medicine, is a way that practitioners gain insight into the chemical and functional processes that make us alive!  We do so through collecting and analyzing samples from our bodies including stool, urine, saliva, and even hair!

Functional medicinal labs are the specialized, in-depth tests used to gain insight into the complex functions of the human body.  These labs attempt to tease out the root causes of disease and correct dysfunction through lifestyle, nutritional, supplemental, and even pharmacological interventions when warranted.

(Read more about what a functional medicine stool test actually shows)

How are Functional Medicine Labs Different from Conventional Medicine Labs?

Functional medicine labs are different from conventional medicine labs in the following ways:

  • They might be the same as conventional tests, but use narrower “optimal” ranges rather than focusing on “normal” ranges
  • They consider the complex, interconnectedness of our body systems
  • They explore ideas outside of the conventional model including the gut microbiome, genetic testing, mitochondrial function, functional nutrition status, environmental toxins, and oxidative stress
  • They are designed to detect changes in function, even before symptoms and signs arise
  • Rather than focusing ranges for the diagnosis of disease, they focus on the spectrum of function to optimize, balance, and correct functional changes.

Don’t worry, it’s not your job to interpret these!  This is what many functional medicine practitioners like myself spend years studying to perfect and better understand the complexities of each individual person!

8 Reasons You Might Consider Functional Medicine Labs

Now for the fun, practical exploration.  Let’s dive into the reasons or perspectives that you might encounter in your own wellness journey.  Any one or combinations of these 8 reasons might inspire you to explore what functional medicine labs can do for your personal wellness!

This image lists the following 8 reasons that functional medicine labs might be for someone that are discussed in the body of this blog post.

1.) You’re Seeking Health Optimization and Prevention

Functional medicine labs are designed to pick up subtle changes in our chemistry that can guide wellness treatments.  If you want to feel empowered against conditions that run in your family or social circles, these labs can provide insight.

Functional medicine labs are used to optimize health through recommendations that are especially rooted in lifestyle interventions. These include stress management, quality sleep, balanced nutrition, regular movement and exercise, and a healthy sense of connection – with yourself and others!

2.) “Everything is Normal” on Your Conventional Labs, but You “Don’t Feel Normal”

This can be a frustrating situation that is experienced all too frequently in our conventional model.  What’s considered “normal” on routine, conventional labs are generally designed to catch emergent conditions or stark disease states. This is where conventional medicine excels.  

However, some patients with these less specific, or disregarded health concerns may feel unheard or even ignored and medically gaslit.  Functional medicine testing can sometimes give insight into these more complex layers of dysfunction. 

3.) Functional Medicine Labs Motivate Lifestyle Changes

This fact is rooted in our human behavior.  In many instances, we resist change unless we are “forced” to change.  Such motivations come in many ways, but being able to physically measure and see your resilience to stress or your “leaky gut” or your toxic overload on a lab has the power to shift our lifestyle.

In functional medicine, lifestyle changes are paramount to both treating the current conditions that we experience and preventing future dysfunction.

4.) You Want to Test in the Comfort of Your Own Home

Many functional medicine tests may be completed at home.  This offers a layer of convenience that is not as commonly experienced in the conventional model.  Patients can collect their urine, stool, and salivary sample via detailed, including instructions and then ship them back to the labs directly!

5.) You are Looking for Details Help with Your Menstrual Cycle, Getting Pregnant, or Menopause

Functional medicine labs offer unique perspectives in the management of many common issues with women’s hormones.  For example, a woman can track hormones throughout her entire menstrual cycle with month-long dried urine testing.

Additionally, many functional medicine hormone labs test the way our bodies breakdown hormones such as estrogen.  This provides insight into the management and prevention of hormone-dependent cancers such as breast cancer!

6.) You Want to Know “Why” You Have Your Condition or Disease

There is a phrase in functional medicine that states, “______ is the name of your condition, not the cause.”  Fill in the blank with any condition you can think of or that you may experience – acid reflux, Hashimoto’s, depression. 

Conventional medicine is great at classifying dysfunction and naming it – AKA the art of diagnosis.  But often, arriving at the diagnosis signals the end of questioning.  Conventional practitioners match a diagnosis to a specific drug, and that’s virtually the end of management. 

Functional medicine labs attempt to get us closer to the “why” behind a diagnosis.  It looks at diagnosis as the “start” of the questioning, not the end.  By gaining insight into the “way”, the thought is that we can more effectively treat dysfunction by supporting an individual’s functional expression of their condition.

7.) You’re Seeking a More Comprehensive, Personalized Approach

There is no doubt that functional medicine testing can give us extensive insight into how you as an individual are functioning at a chemical level.  When used strategically, these labs can give you an overarching assessment of your expression of health and function on the continuum.  

8.) You Want Targeted Treatment Solutions to Your Health Concerns

Rather than matching a sign or a symptom with a supplement (i.e. bloating? take a probiotic),  any findings on functional medicine labs can offer more targeting solutions.  They can truly guide a plan that is unique to YOUR individual root cause.

When practiced ideally, the functional medicine labs guide tailored treatment solutions.  The goal is not to waste time and money, trying to react to and suppress symptoms, rather than getting to the core dysfunction or imbalance itself.


Hopefully, you can see the value that functional medicine labs can provide.  They ground and guide functional medicine interventions in YOUR personal expression of health and function.

If this resonates with you, please continue the conversation with me and book a free 15-minute discovery consultation around how a comprehensive, lab-based functional medicine program might benefit you!

As long as we are reacting to disease and dysfunction and symptoms already exist, we are already far along down the continuum of function.  Functional medicine labs offer us the opportunity to see more personalized detail and potentially intervene more directly to support health creation from the inside out.

Remember, health is contagious, share the love.  If you enjoyed this post, please like, share, or follow me on Instagram, and subscribe to my mailing list below.  

About the Author

Headshot of Dr. Kenny Mittelstadt for Author Bio in Color

Kenny Mittelstadt is an acupuncturist and functional health practitioner based in San Antonio, Texas.  He is trained through the Institute for Functional Medicine and received both of his doctorate degrees with highest honors from Southern California University of Health Sciences. He focuses on empowering patients through creating opportunities for integrated understanding and personalized root-cause healing - starting with gut health and growing beyond!

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