Noninvasive Sample Collection
We pursue noninvasive testing because we believe that medical treatment should have as little impact on the patient as possible. Noninvasive sample collection is a hallmark of our testing and why we have chosen to focus almost exclusively on saliva and stool. The convenience of noninvasive sample collection relieves patients of the common anxiety over needles and conventional blood draws. Patients can collect their samples in the convenience of their own home and mail their samples straight to the laboratory for their provider to receive the results.
From our perspective, if a target substance can be identified and measured in saliva, there is no need for a blood test. Blood tests can be expensive, more labor intensive, inconvenient, and carry the risk of adverse health outcomes. We recommend choosing a noninvasive diagnostic test as a primary option.
The ability for a laboratory to measure something is only important when there is a clinically relevant application. The philosophy of DiagnosTechs is to offer panels and tests that are highly reliable and have direct application to medical treatment. Our original testing panel, the Adrenal Stress Index (ASI), was the first to introduce cortisol testing by saliva to routine clinical practice. Today saliva is understood to be the Gold Standard for measuring unbound, active hormone levels in the human body. In addition to saliva, our stool testing uses state-of-the-art methodologies and equipment to analyze microbes, parasites, pathogens and inflammation markers, which can help diagnose a wide range of physical symptoms.
Precision and Reliability
We continuously invest in technology to improve the technology underlying our testing. Testing methodologies and reference ranges are regularly examined and refined to deliver the best possible results.
Because hormone levels fluctuate over time, noninvasive sample collection allows us to measure at specified time intervals to create a more accurate assessment of hormone levels throughout a day or month. A provider may take these results to compare different periods of patient treatment or other physiological states – such as on hormone replacement therapy. Since patients collect their samples themselves, it is uniquely convenient for patients to collect multiple samples without the hassle or pain of a visit to the lab for a blood draw.
Saliva Testing Advantages
Saliva testing specifically measures free, unbound hormone levels. This is because saliva-producing, or acinar, cells only allow unbound steroid hormones into the salivary ducts. This eliminates the need to estimate how much circulating hormone is present in a patient’s body.
If measuring total hormone levels in serum, calculations are required to estimate levels of free hormone. Even then, the levels are estimates and are not predictably reliable measures of free hormone activity at the tissue level. The advantage of salivary testing is created a useful picture of biologically active levels of hormones at the tissue and cellular level.
Dynamic, Chronobiological Measurements
In order to accurately study how hormones affect a patient, it is necessary to look at hormone levels dynamically. In other words, hormone fluctuations are just as important as their level at any given one point in time. The practice of including a time component to the evaluation of a patient is called chronobiology. There are many well known chronobiological processes: sleep/wake cycles, seasonal mood changes, a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle, etc.
The hormones that influence many of the cycles in our lives can be viewed as markers to check if our body is in a healthy state from a standpoint of chronobiology. For example, multiple sample outpatient saliva testing allows a clinician to monitor the hormone regulation of a woman over her entire monthly cycle! This information can have profound diagnostic significance and can lead to therapeutic strategies which may be overlooked by one sample testing of her hormones.
All major steroid hormones, and select peptide hormones, and antibodies can be readily detected and measured with reproducible results from a patient’s saliva. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is the most prevalent laboratory technique utilized in measuring hormones, antigens, and antibodies within the saliva. The process involves using a prepared solution of antibody that is specific for a substance. The saliva sample is exposed to the solution that has the known antibody. If the substance tested for is present in the saliva, the antibody will bond to the substance and an enzyme linked chemical reaction will notify the scientist via a change in color. These test results may be designed to provide either qualitative (“positive” vs. “negative”) results or quantitative results (i.e. 5-50 nM/L, for example).
With these things in mind, saliva analysis through ELISA is an excellent alternative to blood serum testing, as it is is clinically applicable, and scientifically accepted to study a patient’s chronobiology, while also being more economical.
Stool Testing Approach
Many stool tests are simplistic – looking for a single element or small group of biomarkers. Our Gastrointestinal Health Panels are quite comprehensive and can provide detailed insights into microbial presence and balance, potential parasites, pathogens and inflammation markers. Results will identify or rule out many potential causes of patient symptoms.
Learn more about our Gastrointestinal Health Panels.
Other Sample Types
Urine – currently, we use urine to measure Pyrilinks-D in our Bone Health Panel.
Mucosal Swab – the mucosal swab is designated to identify Yeast, either as part of your Yeast Panel or in a Flex-Matrix Custom Panel.