How Do We Know Lab Tests Are Reliable?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 11, 2011 at 11:11 PM

I am not talking so much about conventional lab tests. I am talking about tests given by alternative doctors. For example, one doctor I went to, sent me to have lab tests and insists that based upon them I have Lyme disease. It doesn't make sense. I also found out (from her) that she diagnosis about half her patients with Lyme. She has a lab test to back up her claim. Also, these tests for heavy metal? How reliable are they? According to one test (I took a DMPS challenge) I have enough mercury in me that I could moon-light as a thermometer. Again, it doesn't make sense.

Is there any oversight to Laboratories? How do you know they are reliable? I have become just as suspicious of Alternative Doctors as I am of "mainstream" doctors. I will take that back. I am MORE suspicious of Alternative Doctors. They seem to surf (at their patients expense) on the latest fad.



on April 12, 2011
at 12:02 AM

That's true, but I don't find Quackwatch to be a very objective source of information.



on April 11, 2011
at 11:38 PM

Have you seen applied kinesiology? Roflmao...sigh. Snake oil indeed. Check out quackwatch.com

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4 Answers



on April 12, 2011
at 12:39 AM

We can't ..........but if you have a doc who listens to you and your issues and marries that to your situation many times labs are repeated because they are the one outlier. Context matters


on June 02, 2012
at 05:50 AM

There are margins of error that apply. It is good to set a baseline and then get tested over time to see how your absolute results are trending. It will also let you know of an outlier event. Also, don't believe guidelines b/c they are constantly changing. Listen to your body. I am a DIY kind of person, so I try to direct as much of my personal health care spend as possible. Places like www.accesalabs.com or privatemdlabs.com make life easier for DIYers.



on June 02, 2012
at 08:33 AM

I've had very bad and very good experiences with alternative docs. I wish I would have listened to my gut more with the first ND I had, as she seemed quite susceptible to fads, and she would mention things like clusters of people with the same diagnosis for rare things, and was hawking a new magic supplement every time I walked in the door. Unless you live in lyme disease territory and do a lot of hiking in shorts, it is time for a new doctor.

Please don't throw the baby out with the bath water on this one though, there are excellent NDs and alternative health care professionals out there. I finally landed in the hands of an excellent practice after asking by asking my acupuncturist if she had heard good things about anyone, there was one doc multiple clients had raved about, and the rest is history.

I'm not finding it right now, but Dr. Grace who writes the Animal Pharm blog: http://drbganimalpharm.blogspot.com/ wrote a piece about how heavy metal test results are often misinterpreted with what is present in blood or hair is what your body is actually shedding not what it is holding on to, so you might just be really good at getting rid of mercury. If it was a blood test, your mercury level can spike for 12-36 hours if you ate something with mercury in it. If you want to do a fun experiment try the same panel of tests with a different doctor and see what they say.



on April 12, 2011
at 12:36 AM

I guess we don't know if they are reliable. Even if a test shows high levels of mercury, what does that really mean? It's all in the interpretation, and we're relying on the doctor for that. It's the same way mainstream doctors will tell us our cholesterol test shows high levels... well, what does that really mean? I'm not sure who to trust either. Everyone's got an agenda, whether it's to sell us something (drug companies as well as quacks hocking their alternative products) or to justify their continued existence (doctors who want to preserve exclusive authority over our health as well as the ones who just want to convince more people they need treatment for Lyme disease).

I'm reminded of the whole gallstone flush scam. Talk about snake oil!

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