The DUTCH Test: Get the Full Picture!
Within the realm of naturopathic medicine, diagnostic testing can reveal so many important aspects of our health. When trying to understand the root cause of a patients’ health problem, we look to finding out whether the body is functioning at it’s best and where some things may be falling to the wayside. One of my favorite diagnostic tools that I use regularly within my practice is the DUTCH complete test. DUTCH stands for dried urine test, comprehensive hormones. This test gives us so much information. The complete panel measures sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA) and their metabolites, which gives a thorough picture of both hormone production and how the body is breaking the hormones down. With that being said, what hormones do the DUTCH complete actually measure?
Measuring our estrogen levels isn’t as simple as we may think. There are three different pathways that the body can use to break down estrogen. One of the pathways leads to a metabolite that is associated with breast and endometrial cancer. If we see that the body is heavily favouring this pathway, appropriate herbs and nutrients can be used to push the other pathways and reduce the risk of developing cancer down the line.
Testosterone and DHEA are considered androgen hormones, or male sex hormones, but newsflash, women have, and need them too. When they are low, motivation, sex drive, and energy decrease. On the other hand, when these androgen hormones are too high, acne, hair loss on the head and excess hair growth on the chest, chin, back and abdomen can occur along with other symptoms. It is important that these hormones are properly balanced so that we feel and look our best.
Melatonin & Cortisol
The DUTCH Complete also measures melatonin, one of the main sleep hormones. The test can offer insight into why you might have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Cortisol, which works in opposition to melatonin is the “get up and go,” or stress hormone. Cortisol is measured and graphed over a 24-hour period. Knowing the balance between these two hormones can help to explain why someone might be tired all day, but are wired and unable to sleep at night. The DUTCH report suggests well researched solutions to offer balance for these two important hormones.
Organic Acids and Other Markers
The last component of the DUTCH Complete is the organic acid test. This portion of the test gives us insight into vitamin B6 and B12 levels, which are important for energy, immune function, and mood. Another important marker is glutathione, the body’s main antioxidant, which is important for detoxification and reducing inflammation. Norepinephrine and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters, are also tested and can help to explain and guide treatment for mood imbalances. Finally, reactive oxygen species, another chief marker for inflammation, is also measured with the test.
As a clinician, I can make educated guesses about what might be going on hormonally based on my patients’ signs and symptoms, but it’s always an educated guess. Sometimes, treating based on symptoms can give great results quickly, when the educated guess is correct. Sometimes the symptoms are murky, and what is going on is much less clear. In these cases, having tools like the DUTCH test can take the guess work out of understanding the issue and allow us to get to the root cause faster. I love this test for women suffering menstrual irregularities, those who have fertility problems, peri and post-menopausal women, anyone with energy or sleep challenges, lacking motivation and drive, or those who just want to be proactive about their health. This test alone offers us so much information and insight into our health – it is incredibly valuable in creating specific, individualized, targeted treatment plans to get my patients back on the track to better health.
If you’re looking to get a better picture of your overall health, schedule in for a naturopathic visit with Dr. Nicola Bennett, ND.
Call (604) 974-8999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today to make your appointment.