Let’s face it. By the time you call for an appointment and drag yourself to your doctor’s surgery, you’re already sick as a dog.
The next thing you know, your doctor is ordering a whole battery of tests and you’re stuck waiting by the phone for days to get the results.
Imagine how much simpler life could be if you could catch these illnesses early – before they became serious – right from the comfort of your own home.
Here are four easy-to-do tests that could help detect an underlying condition that could lead to heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
Home Test #1:Thyroid Function
How well your thyroid works can determine how likely you are to end up overweight or suffering from serious illnesses, like heart disease and diabetes.
There’s a very simple way of measuring thyroid function that I’ve been recommending to patients for many years – the Underarm Basal Body Temperature Test.
This test is the brainchild of Dr. Broda Barnes, a physician and researcher who studied the effects of thyroid exhaustion on metabolism. It was Dr. Barnes who first wrote that people can still be suffering from functional hypothyroidism, even if their TSH test results come back fine.
Take your underarm body temperature (use an analog thermometer, not a digital one) as soon as you wake up in the morning, keeping the thermometer in place for 10 minutes. For premenopausal women, choose the second or third day of your cycle.
If your temperature is under 97.8, you may have low thyroid function – particularly if you’re showing symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, constipation, and dry skin. Talk to your doctor about treatment. I have my patients follow Dr. Barnes’ protocol, which is to take Armour Thyroid (available on prescription-only in the UK) and other desiccated thyroid preparations.
Home Test #2:Adrenal Exhaustion
The Pupil Dilation Test is so easy, you can do it without getting up out of your chair. And it can tell you a lot about your adrenal health.
I learned about this test from the writings of Dr. James Wilson, who has written extensively about adrenal exhaustion.
Like the thyroid, the adrenal gland is easily worn out, especially in response to stress. You’ve probably heard of the ‘fight or flight’ response that activates our adrenal glands. But one of the things that happens at the same time is that our pupils dilate.
So testing your pupils is actually an easy way to see how your fight-or-flight response – and adrenals – are functioning.
Just look in the mirror, and shine a strong light into one of your eyes (without blinding yourself). If your adrenals are functioning perfectly, your pupil should contract from the light and stay small until the light is removed.
However, if your adrenals are exhausted, your pupil will contract for less than 30 seconds, and sometimes only for a few seconds before dilating again. This is a rough sign of adrenal exhaustion.
Sometimes your pupil might not even be able to make up its mind, and it will alternately constrict and dilate despite that bright beam of light being aimed straight for it. It’s as if you can’t decide whether to put up your fists and prepare to fight, run for the hills, or lay down and play dead.
If you find yourself wide-eyed – even in the face of a blinding beam of light – call your doctor. For more than just a rough estimate of function, he can order a saliva test to measure your levels of cortisol. If it’s high, that’s a big waving red flag that your body is stressed out and you have adrenal fatigue.
Home Test #3: Cell Acidity
Your urine is a good reflection of what’s actually going on in your cells – especially after six or more hours of rest. That’s why you should take the Urine Acid Test first thing in the morning.
This test has an impressive pedigree, having been pioneered by kidney doctor Dr. Julian Seifter and Dr. Russell Jaffe, an innovator in functional medicine. According to their research and practice, metabolism tends to make your body’s cells acidic. When everything is running smoothly, that acidity is buffered by the alkaline foods you eat and by minerals like potassium and magnesium.
Measure the acid and alkaline balance of your urine using pH paper that you can find at any chemists. A pH reading of less than 6.5 is considered a type of ‘metabolic acidosis’ – and it’s harmful to your cells.
Toxins will linger in your body for much longer than normal, literally poisoning your cells. You’ll get sick and feel fatigued if you don’t get your acidity back in balance.
If your morning pH is less than 6.5, eat a more alkaline diet – and that means getting more vegetables and less animal protein into your system.
Home Test #4: Gut Health
The time it takes food to pass through your system and be eliminated is called ‘transit time’, and it’s a good indicator of intestinal health. You can measure it easily with the Transit Time Test.
The quicker the transit time, the less likely you are to develop digestive tract cancers, haemorrhoids, varicose veins, and a number of other conditions. When your transit time is slower – say, up to five to six times slower – toxins linger in your digestive tract and do their damage in a leisurely manner.
Measure your own transit time by taking 1.5 to 3g of activated charcoal tablets. You can get them at any health food store, and you should drink a large glass of water with them, preferably right after a bowel movement. As you subsequently go to the bathroom, pay attention to what the stool looks like and look for the appearance of the black, crumbly tablets. Your transit time should ideally be in the 12- to 18-hour range – from the time you swallow something (in the case of the test, the charcoal) to the time you eliminate it. If it takes longer than 18 hours for the charcoal to come out, add some roughage to your diet and test again. If your transit time isn’t reduced by a high-fibre diet, consult your doctor.
You don’t have to wait for your doctor to order tests like these. And if he’s not a holistic doctor, he might not even know about them.
But if your condition isn’t severe, you may be able to improve your health on your own – by just changing what you eat or adding simple supplements.
For more information on Dr. Barnes and his work, visit www. brodabarnes.org.
For more on Dr. Wilson and his writings on hormone fatigue, visit www.adrenalfatigue.org.
To explore more of Dr. Jaffe’s findings, visit www. drrusselljaffe.com.
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing
Vol. 10, Issue 1 • January 2016
Full references and citations for this article are available in the downloadable PDF version of the monthly Nutrition and Healing issue in which this article appears.