Functional medicine testing uses methods that are non-invasive, often less widely known, but sensitive and informative.
A good example of this is the test of arterial stiffness, which a recent publication highlighted.
Arterial stiffness is a well-established, well-validated test, which measures the stiffness/elasticity of the large artery (the aorta) that runs from the heart down to the legs. Elasticity is a feature of young, healthy arteries, while stiffness is indicative of cellular aging in the walls of the artery.
You will not be surprised to hear that the stiffness increases predictably with age, and that the test I use (the Arteriograph™) can calculate an ‘arterial age’ by comparing your result with a large, healthy population.
Having established a baseline reading, my objective (usually one of many objectives of treatment!) is to increase the elasticity (ie reduce the stiffness) of the aorta.
The Arteriograph™ test is sensitive, so even in people with no diagnosed arterial disease, it can distinguish between health and dysfunction, and can track improvement (or, of course, deterioration).
I use many forms of treatment to reduce arterial stiffness, including oral and intravenous vitamins, minerals and phospholipids, diet and lifestyle recommendations, exercise, detoxification, and stress release.
A report in the Journal of Nutrition (August 2014) described a meta-analysis (a kind of analysis of the consensus result from several different research projects all testing the same thing) that looked at the effect of anti-oxidant vitamins on arterial stiffness. All the projects examined were randomized controlled trials, and they showed collectively and very clearly, that anti-oxidant vitamins reduce arterial stiffness. They do this even in modest doses, even when used for relatively short periods. The size of the improvement was not always great, but because of the number of subjects (1,909 people, in 20 studies) the results were statistically highly significant. In biology, of course, small changes can have big effects. Anti-oxidant vitamins are only a small part of the total package that I use, and larger effects are very achievable.
Why is this important? Because, as a study of 2,385 people, published in the journal Circulation in 2006 showed, increased arterial stiffness can predict heart disease and strokes in apparently healthy people – even when they do not have any of the usual risk factors.
The dysfunctional processes that cause stiffness in the walls of the aorta are the same processes that, in their more advanced forms, cause heart disease and strokes.
If a person with increased arterial stiffness has the stiffness reduced (by improving the function of the arterial walls), there is every reason to expect that their risk of heart disease and stroke will also be reduced.
That is a really useful functional test, that allows us to detect and rectify dysfunctions before any damage occurs.
Do you know how old your arteries are?
Wishing you outstanding wellness.
Dr Rodney Adeniyi-Jones