When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.

John Muir

Bloodwork, Revisited –

The following is a question sent in from Blair Wilson, of MedX Precision Fitness, in Toronto, ON.  I’ve asked my good friend and bloodwork maestro, Holly L’Itallien, of Austin’s Merritt Wellness Center, to tackle this one.  And away we go…

Hi Keith,

I’ve been a long-time follower of yours, and must confess I share your
profound obsession with coffee, but I’m not writing you today to ask about
what kind of bean you prefer.

I recall a few months ago a great post you did about your blood work. I’m
about to get a whole bunch of blood stolen from me for analysis and I’ve
got the requisition form in front of me begging to be filled out. I was
wondering if you could spare a minute to offer some insight on what tests
to have performed to ensure adequate analysis of all things awesome.

I’m a 25 year old, one-on-one personal training studio owner in Toronto,
Ontario. I used to work up at Nautilus North with John Little and was
involved in the BBS book with John and Doug and still work closely with
John. I train once a week, sometimes once every two weeks, and I have eaten
in accordance with our ancestors for nearly three years now (just to give
you a sense of what I do)

I know there is not a sense of urgency behind me getting my blood work
done, however, I am curious and up here in the great, white north; it’s
free! I am more-so doing this to have my cortisol, testosterone, etc.
tested, but I thought I would reach out to a fella who knows more about it.

Hopefully you can spare a minute!

Hope this finds you well. Train hard today.


And now, here’s Holly –

Hi Blair,

It appears that you actually have two questions here:

1. What blood tests would provide a thorough evaluation of health status?

2. What tests would provide an evaluation of hormones such as cortisol
and testosterone?

To answer the first question about blood tests, we like to see a
Chem-24, CBC with differential, complete thyroid panel, a lipid panel
and Vitamin D.

We like to run these very complete tests because although there are
some individual markers  that can point to a specific problem, most
blood markers must be evaluated with other markers to get clearer
picture of what’s going on. And it goes without saying that blood
tests should be analyzed in conjunction with a comprehensive medical
history and standard physical examination.

When evaluating the blood test results, there are two main types of
ranges to be considered: a pathological (“lab”) range used to diagnose
disease and a functional (“wellness”) range, used to evaluate risk of
disease before it develops. The main difference being that functional
ranges are usually – but not always – narrower. The benefit of
functional ranges is that it allows us to identify patients at risk
for health problems before serious disease manifests. Lifestyle, diet,
nutrition and other strategies can be recommended to prevent disease
and support optimal heath.

The functional ranges that we use have been determined from research
from well-respected organizations such as the American Association of
Clinical Chemists. Healthcare providers who are interested in the
principals of preventative medicine will use these functional ranges,
although these ranges to not tend to be supported by conventional
medicine at this time.

To evaluate hormones, we prefer saliva tests. The hormone levels in
saliva reflect the active tissue concentrations, while blood contains
mostly protein-bound hormones, whose active levels can only be
estimated at best. Urine contains both the active hormones and
numerous metabolites and can only provide a gross estimate of hormone
production over time. Active fraction measurements from saliva are
superior to blood and urine for use in evaluating hormone status.

We usually only test hormones if the patient is exhibiting specific
symptoms, particularly if the symptoms haven’t shown any improvement
after implementing diet/lifestyle/supplement recommendations made
after evaluating the blood test.

The standard male hormone panel is a single-sample saliva test that
includes DHEA, androstenedione, testosterone, dihydrotestosterone
(DHT), progesterone, estrone  and estradiol.

If the patient is exhibiting signs of adrenal stress, the standard
adrenal stress panel is a four-sample salivary test which looks at
DHEA/DHEA-S, 17-Hydroxyprogesterone (P17-OH), insulin, and secretory

Many labs also offer the option to create customized panels.

So there you have it! If you’re interested in see what’s going on
under the hood in terms of blood chemistry, go for a Chem-24, CBC with
differential, complete thyroid panel, a lipid panel and Vitamin D and
find a practitioner who practices function medicine.

If you’re just curious to see what your hormones are up to, choose a
saliva test, either a male hormone panel or an adrenal stress panel.

Holly L’Italien, ACN LAc

A PFX12 Project Transformation Update:

Chris Scheppler is beginning to look completely different than the guy I met back in mid December.  His official PFX12 unveiling is just a few more weeks away, but here’s a peek at how Chris is doing so far. Efficient Exercise workouts fueled with solid, Paleo nutrition via Caveman Cuisine chow is serving his body miraculously!  This *is* Ancestral Wellness in action. Take a look.

…and speaking of PFX12, if you’re a trainer — or any healthcare provider for that matter, with ready access to a forward-thinking client base — be sure to take advantage of our 5-for-1 ticket sales offer.  You sell 5 tickets, and we’ll give you one free.  No gimmicks, simple as that.

And this, via Skyler Tanner

The myth of the 10, 000-hour rule.  The (very) unromantic fact of the matter (and something I wrote about , back in ‘09) is that to be the epitome of whatever the endeavor in question is requires a favorable genetic predisposition, opportunity to express that favorable genetic predisposition, and, if one is to separate one’s self from the other “point-one-percenters” in that (already) elite peer class, a honing of skills via “10,000 hours of practice/skill development”. Hard work and determination alone will not put one in an elite class.  Have I seen overachievers excel over and beyond a more genetically-gifted competitor?  Of course I have; it’s a beautiful expression of the human spirit, and it’s the theme of every “Rocky” or David-and-Goliath-like story ever told.  What’s not addressed though is the fact that the “under-dog” in question is only marginally a genetic lesser to the “naturally gifted”, and that 10,000-hours worth of drill is enough, in those particular cases, to overcome those marginal genetic shortfalls.  True magic?  It occurs when an individual is blessed with opportunity, raw genetic talent and the drive to hone those givens with “10,000 hours” worth of blood and sweat.   Good find, Skyler –

In health, fitness and Ancestral Wellness,


  1. Hi, I posted a comment today in your December posts about bloodwork, so it was funny to scroll down to this. Thanks for the informaiton.

  2. This was a great article. Are you familiar with any of the testing done by Spectracell? http://www.spectracell.com There lipid profile has an amazing amount of information. I am also interested in using their micronutrient test and their telomere test. I’d appreciate your thoughts/comments on the subject.


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