Importance of Lab Tests

Hemocult Test KitDr. Richards is a skilled diagnostician, as her patients will attest. Most say she is brilliant. In contrast, many doctors take a cursory look at a patient's symptoms and call this diagnosis. Insufficient information leads to ineffective, even damaging treatment. A case in point is the misuse and overuse of antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals.

There is no substitute for objective scientific data. Each patient is different - even patients with the exact same condition. Lab results take the guesswork out of treatment and provide Dr. Richards with the information she needs to treat the unique metabolic factors present with each patient.

Specialized Lab Tests

Hemocult Test KitOne of the most commonly asked questions in my practice is: Doctor, do I really need that test? That's probably because I prescribe a wide range of laboratory tests to ferret out each person's unique biochemical needs.

My off-the-cuff response is always: "Well, my crystal ball is broken. So, I guess we need the lab test." I'd like to explain that point of view in a little more detail.

Consider, if you will, the complexity of the human body. The liver has 500 known chemical functions. That doesn't begin to touch on cellular biochemistry, where each cell performs hundreds of chemical reactions daily to support your life. How is it possible for anyone to know exactly what you need on a daily basis? Lab tests give us our best option to look inside your body and see how it's working.

For people with few to mild symptoms, a comprehensive blood chemistry panel, with thyroid panel, complete blood count and urinalysis will often suffice. I understand the panel we use now costs over $300 when billed through insurance; however, since we pay $50 for it, that's what you pay. It's one of the ways we try to get the best information for you at the lowest cost.

As people have more serious health challenges, more extensive testing may be required. Many people with chronic health challenges are faced with intestinal dysbiosis - a disruption in their gastrointestinal tract which makes them unable to utilize their food and nutrients adequately and which is very disruptive to the immune system. In those cases, I will often prescribe a Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis and parasite screen.

Other people, especially those with immune dysfunction or severe allergies need to be checked for heavy metal toxicity. A hair analysis is the most cost effective and efficient way to do so.

Some people with serious allergy problems, auto-immune disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, or psychological disorders need extensive allergy testing, using a whole blood-based allergy test, not skin prick or RAST testing. (see Allergy Testing below)

In people with the most serious health condition, I may prescribe an ION Profile. This is a comprehensive test, which looks at urine and blood to assess a wide variety of metabolic processes in the body and how they interact with each other. It can detail blocked pathways in amino acid metabolism, fatty acid imbalances, as well as vitamin and mineral deficits. Although valuable, its cost reserves it to the most serious cases.

We also prescribe a wide variety of other blood tests including: PSA testing for prostate disorders, tumor markers for breast and ovarian cancer, DHEA sulfate tests, blood typing, bone resorption studies, and a host of others.

Truly, the nutritional prescriptions prescribed at the RFHC are personalized to your individual needs. Any testing that is prescribed and the cost will be discussed with you at the time of your appointment with Dr. Richards. Call the RFHC and make an appointment today to have your overall health needs evaluated.

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Bloodwork ReportPreventative medicine is gaining recognition as the cost of catastrophic health care escalates out of reach. It is much less expensive to prevent arteriosclerotic disease than it is to perform coronary bypass surgery, for example. Fortunately, we now know that the two leading causes of death in the US - cardiovascular disease and cancer - are diseases of lifestyle. That means you can positively affect your future by taking appropriate action now.

The questions becomes: What supplements do I personally need to take? That can only be determined from your personal biochemical profile. A multi-channel blood chemistry, blood typing, urinalysis, complete blood count and thyroid panel provides a wealth of information for a relatively low cost [see Specialized Lab Work above]. When that data is analyzed in terms of optimum health, a picture emerges of what parts of your body need nutritional support and what lifestyle changes you can make to improve your own well-being. All of this information is extracted at a pre-pathology state, before you are desperately ill and conventional medical intervention becomes necessary.

From that data, I prepare a personalized written report, using a database containing years of research and clinical experience. The report takes into account your biochemical individuality and contains recommendations concerning your diet, your special nutritional needs and lifestyle changes you need to make.

You, too, can enjoy better health and vitality. You can reduce your risk of disabling degenerative disease. Call our office today so that we can have the privilege of helping you get on the track to optimum wellness.

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The Phonocardiogram to customize your nutrient needs

In light of the fact that cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death and illness in the US, I think finding a way to assess the heart's functional status at the earliest possible time is incredibly important. The phonocardiogram is a tool which will tell much more about a person's health than "just" the state of the heart.

Today, the alternative health care paradigm is shifting to wellness - providing what the body needs to perform optimally and reversing deficiencies before the onset of a symptom pattern which can be termed a "disease." Most of us want to stay well, rather than "get" well.

At the beginning of this century, diet was considered the single most important factor which influenced health, and the emphasis was on adjusting the nutritional intake to relieve symptoms the moment they appeared. Symptoms were considered an early- warning system of nutrient malnutrition - very perceptive, don't you agree!!

It was during this time that the heart was found to be a very useful and reliable indicator of the state of an individual's overall health. When challenged with nutrients, the heart reacts and adapts within seconds, clearly indicating whether a nutrient is "heart friendly," "heart aversive," or "heart neutral."

Responding to a need to develop tools which could accurately record and measure the heart cycle, Dr. Royal Lee, a dentist by education and an inventory by profession, designed and introduced in 1937 the first phonocardiogram - which he called the Endocardiograph. By providing a recording of the heart sounds, the Endocardiograph allowed documentation of the heart's responses - leading to accurate and detailed evaluation.

In 1987, the instrumentation was further refined by Drs. Goodheart and Schmidt, resulting in the modern phonocardiogram in use today - the Acoustic CardioGraph (ACG). The ACG records the sounds of the heart as the blood moves through the various chambers, valves and vessels. The graph signature reflects the opening and closing of the valves, the contraction and strength of the heart muscle and the efficiency of the movement of the blood supply - all in present time. To the experienced eye, it also reflects the organization of the heartbeat (which reflects the electrical conduction system) and the length of the resting cycle. It also documents arrhythmias and heart murmurs. Furthermore, adrenal function, the efficiency of the calcium ion exchange and the effect the liver may be having on the heart can all be determined.

This plethora of detail allows the doctor to evaluate functional physiology at a cellular level, using the hardest working organ in your body - your heart. Since the heart works constantly, it has the most urgent need for optimum nutrition. Nutrient changes which affect heart cells will, inevitably, be reflected elsewhere in the body, as well.

There are two questions which are commonly asked about the ACG. The first is: "Doctor, I've had an EKG and it was normal. Why do I need an ACG?' To answer, let me briefly contrast the EKG with an ACG. The EKG records the surface electrical impulse as it moves through the nerves of the heart tissue. The only thing it can reveal is whether or not there has been damage to the electrical conduction system. For example, after a heart attack, the heart muscle repairs itself by forming scar tissue in the area of the heart attack. Scar tissue does not conduct the electrical impulse; therefore, an EKG can tell if you have ever had a heart attack. Scar tissue does not conduct the electrical impulse; therefore, an EKG can tell if you have ever had a heart attack. You might say that an EKG reveals history, while an ACG reveals the present, and the future.

So, to answer your question: "Great! If your EKG is normal, you have had no damage to your heart. Now, we need to know whether there's a process at work that may cause damage in the future so that we can avert it."

The second questions is: "I don't have a heart problem. Why do I need a phonocardiogram?" Actually, the answer is the same: "If we optimize the health of your heart, you may never suffer from heart trouble." This aside, ferreting out the details is very exciting! I have found, through our pilot program using phonocardiography testing to further customize your nutrients, that the phonocardiogram is the most valuable tool I have to customize your nutrient needs. A blood panel can give me a list of nutrients you apparently need - the nutrients which research has proven are effective for your particular condition. However, the ACG allows me to find out which of those nutrients you personally need to normalize cellular function.

In our pilot study, no one has actually needed to take every nutrient indicated by the blood work. In some cases, one or two out of three or more recommended by the blood profile have actually corrected the heart cycle, In a few cases, we have had to alter the form of the nutrient - IntrinsiB 12 Folate, instead of sublingual Resin B 12, for example. In some people, the phonocardiogram turned up heretofore undiagnosed deficiencies.

The entire process has been tremendously exciting, because it is just further confirmation of what I teach and believe - we are all biochemically unique! Supplying each of us with our unique requirements can only result in healthier and happier lives.

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Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the US. Twice as many people die each year from heart and blood vessel disease than die from cancer. And, it is called "the silent killer," because most people have NO symptoms until the disease is far advanced. In fact in more than 50% of all cases, the first symptoms of a heart attack is sudden death.

An excellent tool for detecting silent heart damage is a screening electrocardiogram (EKG). Early pathology can then be dealt with before it becomes life threatening. Indications for EKG screening include; 1) a family history of cardiovascular disease, 2) a personal history of elevated cholesterol values, 3) symptoms including chest pain, arm pain or frequent bouts of indigestion, 4) smoking, 5) high blood pressure or variable blood pressure, 6) persistent cough, 7) chronic lung problems including asthma or emphysema, 8) endocrine disorders, particularly thyroid problems 9) any person over 35 and 10) before beginning an exercise program.

If you have any of these risk factors, I recommend you have an EKG at the RFHC immediately. A baseline EKG can be enormously useful to your physician if you experience a cardiac event. I recommend that you carry it in your wallet if your are at risk for heart disease.

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Allergy Testing

There is a great deal of confusion even amongst doctors about allergic reactions and the symptoms that they can cause. I have actually had some medical doctors tell my patients that "hives are the only true allergy." That simply shows the depth of their ignorance in this area.

Over the last 10 to 15 years, with the emergence of the AIDS virus, information regarding our immune systems has ballooned. We now know that the classic allergy picture - itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose - is just the tip of the iceberg.

We now know that allergic reactions can cause an entire host of unexpected reactions. Listed below is a table with a partial list of symptoms that have been demonstrated to be allergic in nature.

In reality, the immune response can be divided into four separate classifications. Type I allergies (immediate hypersensitivities) are your classic symptoms: hives, itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose. This represents less than 10 percent of the immune system and is mediated by the IgE type of antibody. This is the reaction that is elicited with a skin prick test.

Type II allergy reactions are mediated by the IgA antibodies which are found in the mucous membranes of the mouth, eyes and digestive tract. They are also mediated by IgM and IgG and these two antibodies circulate through the bloodstream. They are delayed hypersensitivities and occur anywhere from four hours to four days after exposure. They are tested with IgG RAST blood testing, but it only gives you part of the picture for these allergies since the other types of reactions are not tested.

Type III allergy reactions are immune complement fixation reactions where the antigen and antibody react further with complement in the bloodstream causing further reactions. There is no isolated test for complement fixation reactions.

Type IV allergy reactions are cell activation reactions of the sort found in killer cells responding to tumors. They are mediated by the lectin/cytokine pathways and, with these reactions as well, there is no isolated test.

This is truly a case where the definition has limited the vision. Since doctors only believed that Type I allergies were important, they only tested for Type I allergies and they only saw Type I allergies.

At the RFHC we do a comprehensive whole blood test which will pinpoint Type II, III and IV allergies. Once you have pinpointed "hidden" allergies, Type I allergies become obvious since all of those reactions are very immediate. If you get a rash when you eat a strawberry, you are pretty clear that you're allergic to strawberries. Therefore, I seldom test for Type I immediate hypersensitivities. When that is necessary, we use an IgE blood test instead of pinprick because it has been demonstrated to be more reliable.

With the upsurge in childhood asthma and autoimmune disease in the American culture, it is clear that allergies are becoming an increasing health challenge for many people. If you suspect that allergies are part of your health puzzle, please contact us here at the RFHC and we will be happy to arrange for testing.

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Spirometry, a quick, cheap, old fashioned test of lung capacity, is turning out to be the single best indicator of general health status and of the risk of developing heart disease. Researchers reported that the test is as good at predicting overall mortality risk and the chances of death as measurements from blood pressure, blood cholesterol, glucose tolerance (an indicator of Insulin output) and even age.

For women, it even predicts the, risk of heart-related death better than age, Dr. William N. Kannel of Boston University Medical School said at a conference sponsored by the American Heart Association.

Moreover, Kannel said, researchers at the National Institute on Aging have discovered that the measurement, appropriately called "vital capacity", is the single best index of the aging process itself. "It may be a measure of general fitness," he said in an interview. "Your ability to take a deep breath determines how long you're going to live."

The test technically called forced vital capacity (FVC), can be administered in a few minutes with a simple machine called a spirometer.

Women at high risk of premature death and heart disease can expel less than two liters of air, while those at lowest risk have an FVC of four or more liters. Men in the high-risk category can expel less than three liters, compared to five or more among low- risk men.

FVC "is a simple, practical office procedure which is useful for predicting cardiovascular morbidity (disease) and mortality and heart failure," said Kannel and his colleagues, Helen Hubert and E.A. Lew. "It provides a convenient and efficient way to select candidates for cardiovascular events in advance of symptoms."

The newly appreciated usefulness of FVC is derived from 20 years of data on 5200 residents of Framingham, Mass. Kannel is former director of the 30-year-old Framingham Heart Study, which has uncovered much of what is known about the relationship between lifestyle and heart disease risk.

An FVC value that falls too fast over time, Kannel explained, "is saying things are going to pot and you'd better do something about the things you can. A sudden drop", he added, "is an ominous sign."

FVC has been shown to be especially useful in predicting patients likely to develop congestive heart failure, a dangerous condition in which the heart becomes progressively weaker and unable to pump blood through the lungs and the rest of the body.

The Framingham data showed that men with the lowest FVC scores - that is, the smallest lung capacity - had four times the risk of developing heart failure in one year than those with the highest FVC scores. Among women, the highest risk group was almost 20 times more likely to develop heart failure than the group with the lowest risk.

The lung capacity scores were very strong indicators of overall mortality risk and the risk of all sorts of heart and blood vessel diseases, including heart attacks, strokes and hardening of the arteries. Furthermore, the importance of FVC scores as predictors does not decline with the age of the patient, as a number of other heart disease risk factors do. The researchers do not know why FVC is so much stronger as an index of disease and death risk in women than in men - an unexpected finding. They are also unsure just why lung capacity is so strongly correlated with mortality in particular.

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Case Profiles

Case Profile (Heart, EKG)
"I was originally going to a general practitioner for chest pain. From just one EKG, he diagnosed me as having angina pectoris. So, he prescribed heart medications for my condition. When he left the state, I saw a cardiologist. Without running any further tests, the cardiologist maintained the original diagnosis and, as a precautionary measure, he kept me on the meds. Well, the chest pain never got any better, even after seeing two doctors! I felt that the heart meds were rapidly killing me.

At the suggestion of my wife, I reluctantly sought help from Dr. Richards. She determined that I, in fact, did not have angina pectoris. The condition I had was Prinzmetal's angina, which came about from food allergies. Dr. Richards prescribed a nutritional/allergy avoidance program for me based on allergy and blood tests. After a short while, the pain in my chest stopped. --FLR

Mr. R. was right, the heart meds were killing him. He also has a heart block, and the medications he had been prescribed are contraindicated in that condition. They drive the patient into heart failure. Not only is he free of chest pain he's also free of heart medication, as well. --Dr. Richards

Case Profile (Phonocardiogram)
I have been an active patient of Dr. Richards' for over six years. During that time, I have had several blood tests and nutritional programs. After the first program, I promised myself I would never again take any supplement without having reliable data to show I needed it. I couldn't imagine better nutritional guidance than a blood work-up. Well, that was before I had my nutritional program evaluated on the phonocardiogram! Dr. Richards used the information from my most recent blood test to determine what supplements to test on the phono. I was fascinated to see for myself that most of my new supplements were heart-positive. A few made no difference (heart neutral, I think), and a couple were not good for my heart. In two or 3 instances, I actually needed a different form of the vitamin that was prescribed. Using those results, Dr. Richards modified my supplement program. I am 100% confident that I need everything that I am taking, and that I will improve as a result of my supplement program. --LDM

LDM developed a post-viral "chronic fatigue-like" syndrome at the beginning of this year. Her progress has been slow and steady. Perhaps the most outstanding result from her ACG was that she is one of the people who cannot take synthetic B vitamins. So, we provided the Bs in another form. Her heart cycle showed immediate improvement with just that one change. --Dr Richards

Case Profile (Laboratory, Nutrition)
"Your wife is a very sick woman. She's been through too much and I don't expect her to live more than three to six months." This was my forecast, given to my husband, after my surgery in July of 1990. With that prognosis, I was then given nominal care in preparation for my demise. In January of 1991, my immune system collapsed. However, I felt that I wanted to live and continued to struggle.

I first saw Dr. Richards in April of 1991. She was thorough in both examination and testing, but more than that, she was thorough in gleaning medical history from me. The road has been rough, but her care brought me through and was most comprehensive. As a friend stated after I described the care I was getting, "She's helping your body to heal. "She was so patient because I was suffering both physically and emotionally. I had been the victim of surgeries and the ramifications from them, some serious medical neglect, over-medicated, over-worked, and stressed to the max. It took a long time, but life is so precious and I wanted to treasure any extension of time I could have with my family. It means a lot to have a doctor who is willing to help you fight to live, rather than one who doesn't care enough to try. Standard medical training and treatment does not have all the answers. I'm living proof of that. --EK

EK has made a remarkable recovery, with very little support from her medical practitioners. She has wonderful determination and her courage has been a large factor in her recovery. --Dr. Richards