It’s very convenient now to order your own blood test or urinalysis, or other lab test. I asked 6 people today, and no one knew this, but it’s huge and can speed up your healing by months! I thought today I should write about this topic just in case you didn’t know.
First of all, I want to make sure that you realize that results garnered from your lab tests should never to be used as your sole means of diagnosing. Don’t drive yourself crazy. For example, if your cholesterol is high, that does NOT mean you have heart disease or that you’ll end up with a heart attack. So take these tests under consideration and continue to work with a physician about your own clinical diagnosis. That being said, I am thrilled to tell you that you can test yourself these days, for pretty much anything! It’s absolutely fantastic and it will help put you and your loved ones on the track to better health much faster.
Maybe you didn’t know that you could self test nowadays?
In the old days, if you wanted to check something, you had to make an appointment with the doctor, wait for that appointment (days to weeks), then drive there which may be hard for some of you… ask for the test you want, or hope they offer you the correct one, and then go to a lab somewhere else (usually you’d have to wait because you might have to be fasting), and then wait another week or more to get your results after you take the test. So old-fashioned! It’s a shame that it was this way for decades. Today you can order your own tests from many labs, either online, or by walking into labs or hospitals.
You can go to the lab and have your own samples taken. I just did it the other day because I wanted to check my thyroid levels and make sure they were still perfect. I walked into the hospital out-patient lab and ordered them, filled out a form, had blood drawn and was out the door about 8 minutes later!
It’s kind of amazing to just walk in and order labs of any sort! You wait time depends because you are served on a first-come, first-serve basis. You would do your tests on the spot, and then the results are mailed or emailed to you directly, or you can download them without any physician’s ordering. The headache is completely gone, did you know that?
Typically results are made available on your lab’s secure website (it should begin with https, not http in the URL), and also, many labs today offer doctor consultations with your results, depending on which test, and where you buy it from. You want to use trusted online sites because you will be entering your credit card information to purchase the test.
Rest assured that every time you order your own test, it is done with the same accuracy and care like a physician had ordered it. It’s pretty simple.
Online labs abound, and all you do is select the test you want, and get your results (and oftentimes interpretation) via email, or with access to their online portal.
Quest Lab already does this (but not Labcorp according to the rep I spoke with on the phone today).
You can literally order off that website all by yourself, or alternatively you can walk in to a Quest location (although I highly recommend you call in advance to make an appointment) but either way, you can self order tests, and they offer many. The other way to do this securely is to log on to a website such as DIRECT LABS, (choose a category of tests, or type in the little blue search box on the left to find a test you want).
RequestATest.com or WalkInLabs.com and you’ll follow the instructions. These companies differ in their approach, so evaluate them on your own. The point is that you can take the hassle out of lab testing, and even if you need a local lab or a phlebotomist, you can arrange that pretty easily as well.
That’s because laboratories are available in almost every city nationwide, especially Quest or local hospital labs. These are sometimes partnered with the websites I m mentioned above, so you can have your samples taken locally and quickly if blood is required. Urine or feces, or saliva samples can all be obtained from the convenience of your own home.
Even simpler, go online to a laboratory’s website and buy their tests securely and quickly. You can see what analytes are tested by clicking on “Sample Report” if that option is available on the website, or even just a list is shown. Again, you can simply log on to a secure website such as Direct Labs, (choose a category of tests, or type in the little blue search box on the left to find a test you want).
RequestATest.com or “WalkInLabs.com and you’ll follow the instructions. Study all of those sites to make sure they offer the test you desire. I will talk about exclusive and extraordinary specialty tests soon! Those are mentioned below in this article in the section called “Specialty Testing.”
Advantages of Being in Charge (Ordering Your Own Tests)
1.It’s quick and hassle-free!
That makes sense because you are in charge and some tests are even done from your own home and mailed back in pre-paid envelopes. For example, nowadays, you can obtain blood spots (prick your finger like many people with diabetes do), saliva tests, urine samples and urine strip tests from home. I have to say, the new blood spot tests are impressive, and you can do them from home with a little lancet that is provided in the test kit. You don’t need a needle in your arm vein anymore for certain tests!
2. It’s far more private.
No one will find out what your results are, unless you share them yourself.
This can be useful for drug and alcohol testing for a family member, or testing yourself for a sexually transmitted disease STD. As of late, there is controversy surrounding genetic tests because they may reveal gene SNPs and therefore be misconstrued as highly predictive for a particular disease (which isn’t necessarily true.
A SNP doesn’t have to be expressing itself even if you carry it). Anyway, you may want your medical practitioner or insurance company to stay out of your business, and you may possibly NOT want them to have access to your medical file which contains the genetic test. Why? Again, just in case there is a genetic polymorphism that raises risk for stroke or cancer or some other disorder. In this case, the advantage of self-pay, self-purchase through a private and secure website might be ideal for your situation.
3. It’s much less expensive.
Self-pay pricing is dramatically reduced compared to insurance prices. By ordering your own labs, you no longer have to pay for physician’s visit to order the test. Monitoring your ferritin and cholesterol, or hemoglobin A1c just got a whole lot cheaper!
You don’t have to wait weeks to go to the doctor to order a test you learned about, plus you don’t have to wait for -and pay for- the follow-up visit to find out what your results are. I know many patients who have done this very thing over the years spending like 450 dollars and waiting 3 to 6 weeks to find out their lab results were all normal (worrying the whole time, and waiting for doctors to return their call … which never happened). It’s a huge advantage to order your own test, get results in a timely manner, and save hundreds of dollars for appointments.
4. You can take control of your health.
By this I mean that you are now in charge, you have control again, and you can order tests that you want that may have been ill-received by your practitioener who thought you were silly for requesting a ‘heavy metal test post-MRI’ but maybe you want to take control and see if you were poisoned by the contrast. For more on that, read my controversial article, Does MRI Contrast Stay in Your Brain?
I also feel that many of you spend your days learning about your own condition, and you have WAY more knowledge and information about a particular situation or condition that you’re suffering with… in many cases, more knowledge than your own physician who might give you all of 7 minutes to listen. Oftentimes, a disorder is very superficially handled (unless they themselves have it), or it’s handled in the most conventional way using only what was taught at pharma-funded trade shows. So you can take control of your own health and order highly specialized tests that are cutting-edge and more revealing than the normal metabolic panels and basics.
5. You might get well quicker!
This is true in many cases because you take weeks to months out of the lab testing, you can provide to your physician all sorts of tests for interpretation that you have ordered. You don’t have to wait weeks to months in between visits to ask a physician to order things for you, or rely on them for ideas. You can search yourself, order your own tests, and get helped faster. Most physicians appreciate a patient who is proactive, intelligent and able to provide data in a neat, concise manner (so this could speed the time needed to find out what treatment, medication or therapy is needed for you).
6. The most useful test kits of all are available for you!
You may not know this but there are now specialized test kits that require special tubes and specific methods to collect portion of your blood, like serum or plasma. Many of them have to be drawn Monday through Thursday.
Not to get too complicated, my point is simply this: Many laboratories have competent phlebotomists who have seen these test kits many times, or they are able to take the time to read the instructions and do them correctly. There are labs that you can call ahead and walk into, who do know how to handle these specialized test kits, and mail them off for you. Don’t be afraid to call the local outpatient hospital lab, Quest, Labcorp and many physician’s offices that have labs in them… ask if they can process your special test kit meaning, “Can you draw the blood, spin it down in a special way as described on my instruction sheet, and just handle my [insert name of your test kit]. Are you familiar with such and such test?”
If for some reason your physician doesn’t have a phlebotomist, visit anylabtestnow.com to find a location near you. There’s also PSI for Phlebotomy Services International and you can visit phlebotomyservices.com or call 1-855-600-3722. There are other options if you visit GPL4U.com/bloodraw
Just be aware that if you use an outside service like one of those above, you might have to pay a small fee for the blood draw (and sometimes an insurance company will cover that, but not always).
Anyway, once you get the test kit, it is possibly more complicated than a quick venipuncture, and then you feel like you’ve hit a road block. Don’t feel that way! I’m saying that there are many places who can handle your request.
Disadvantages (and my workaround!)
Sometimes there’s no interpretation available for a test so you don’t know what the results mean until you see your physician and show him/her the results.
Workaround – So many physicians, possibly even your own, offer phone or Skype or Zoom consults where you just talk to each other remotely. These are much faster and easier for a doctor so they might be able to get you in sooner and go over your lab findings (even if they didn’t order that test).
2. Abnormal levels.
If a biomarker is abnormal -either above or below the normal reference range- then you will have to get guidance from a physician to fully understand the meaning of your lab.
Workaround – Search online at health organization websites that provide information for a particular disease. You can search online on many trusted websites, for example Lab Tests Online: https://labtestsonline.org/ Lab Tests Online is actually a health information web resource designed to help patients and caregivers understand lab tests that are commonly ordered.You can obviously google search it, you don’t need me to tell you this, but only study trusted sites. The internet is the wild wild west you know! So again, google away however, be careful that you are reading from an experienced health care practitioner that wrote the article. Some articles are harmful, or maybe it’s better to say they aren’t useful because they misinform you (ie not based in fact, or from clinical practice/observation, or not scientifically supported)
So be careful doing what you mentally consume online. Don’t let everything you read ‘stick’ or you will self-diagnose yourself with serious diseases that require all kinds of pills, then you’ll give yourself insomnia and an ulcer worrying about it 😉
3. Some people do not know what the appropriate tests are for a particular problem, symptom of medical condition.
Workaround – Be proactive and search. There are so many workarounds here. For example, you can ask the PA or Nurse Practitioner at your doctor’s office, if you can’t actually see your doctor. You can still self-test by starting with the basics like a CBC and a SMAC 20 which will give you a lot of preliminary information. You can order some of the most common lab tests such as those that examine liver function, thyroid, and A1c.
If you are post-menopausal (women) or post-andropausal (men) and have hot flashes or feel diminished concentration, coping abilities and libido… or feel less mentally active (brain fog), or depressed, definitely order DUTCH Complete Hormones. I offer that amazing test because I’m now a practitioner with that company and can bring the test to the public. I have to say it’s incredible. There are many videos and articles related to interpretation.
You could click on categories of tests to narrow it down, you will see this on many of the sites I’ve recommended today. Visit websites that provide information for your disorder/condition. Read the forums. For example, you may not think of nickel testing but some people with psoriasis are sensitive to metals! Ask someone in your support group if that applies, ask friends or colleagues who have the same problem as you for the names of tests they have done recently. People want to help. You can also search my website because I have about 600 articles archived here, and sometimes I mention appropriate lab tests. I also have numerous books on various topics including diabetes, thyroid, migraines and medication side effects.
Insurance may or may not reimburse you without a doctor’s order. To be fair, more and more insurance companies are coming around, so you can call and check with your carrier and find out.
Workaround – Tell them at the lab that you are self-pay, and paying cash because the prices are dramatically lower than if you put it through your insurance. Also, some specialty labs may cost a few hundred dollars, but if it uncovers the missing link in your situation, and yields more precise information then you can be more proactive in your treatment approach. In fact, I’ve seen this time and time again, certain specialty tests (see below) may cut out years of more useless unremarkable lab testing for you, not to mention dangerous imaging studies requiring contrast and more pills and prescriptions! Common sense will tell you that even if your insurance doesn’t pay for a specific test that is more revealing, that’s still going to cut out years of suffering, and thousands of dollars wasted on superficial lab tests that come back normal every year (while you keep suffering). So my workaround is to pay up front, and save on the back end.
If you need a prescription for an abnormal level (say you have elevated A1c or you have deficient T3 and T4 hormones… maybe unhealthy cholesterol ratios) you cannot self-order medication, so you have to take your results in to a doctor. Now what, right?
Workaround – Try herbal options first, and vitamins or amino acids.
Try diet and exercise, or sauna and detox protocols. Change your lifestyle or dietary intake of certain foods or chemicals. All of this is something you can do for yourself, and you don’t actually need a cholesterol-reducing pill. For example, if your cholesterol ratios aren’t perfect, consider the positive studies regarding omega 3 fatty acids, cod liver oil, fish oil and CoQ10.
Let me be clear: If you desire a cholesterol-reducing medication, you would need your physician for that, and there’s now even a workaround for that because there are natural herbal statins! Did you know? And finally, the first-line treatment that includes a change in diet and moderate exercise (and/or supplements) are known to positively impact cholesterol and lipid ratios. For that matter, statins are prescribed along with diet and exercise, you can hear them even say that on TV commercials.
Very Special Test Kits that I Frequently Recommend or Talk About
Some of you don’t even realize there are amazing tests out there, they are available for you, and you can self-order them. You may or may not need to get your blood drawn at the local lab, however, it depends on the test.
But I want you to know these are available to you today, without a doctor’s order!
So if you want or need specialized testing for example, the OATS test, a CardioIon, or GI Effects test, you can get them! You now have available to you all kinds of special test kits offered by Genova Diagnostics, Doctor’s Data, Great Plains and others. Here’s how it works:
1. Sometimes your own physician can sell you the test kit if they have it in their office. There are many doctors today that have these exclusive tests, you just have to ask.
2. If your doctor doesn’t have them in-house, they can file paperwork and become registered with these special labs, and once qualified, they can order some test kits to their office, and then give you (or sell you) the test kit.
3. I’ve done step #2 because I am actually a licensed pharmacist, and I’m a practitioner with these special labs, so you can buy through a link I provide. I can’t interpret results though, they don’t allow pharmacists to diagnose or anything like that, and online blogging about health is highly scrutinized by the FDA hence the never-ending obligatory catch phrase … “The FDA has not evaluated these statements, this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, prevent… blah blah blah.. ask your doctor if it’s right for you.”
Of course, we know that 80 to 90% of doctors do not fully understand herbal supplements, or homeopathics, but the FDA requires everyone to say it. Like a broken record. Forgive me…
Anyway, I will now list some important test kits that might be helpful to you, and these are all available online, no doctor’s signature is necessary. You buy the kits online, and handle some of these at home easily (or utilize your local laboratory if blood is required). In no particular order, here goes:
GI Effects® Comprehensive Profile – Stool (1 Day Collection) Genova
Requirement: Home collection – stool (one sample)
Analytes – This is by a mile the single most incredible GI test you will ever take, so if you have gut issues, long-standing health problems, food sensitivies, mental health problems or autism, this test can uncover some root-cause issues. You can take 20 regular stool tests offered by your doctor – even different ones- and it will never come close to showing you these analytes here! It also shows you what antibiotics will work, and what herbal antibiotics will work! It looks at the fingerprint of your probiotics, and can see overgrowth of candida, parasites, worms, fungus and bacteria (and more). It’s truly incredible, you can clik to see a sample report, and I’ve taken a screenshot of an 11-page SAMPLE report to give you an example of the power of this test!
CardioIQ Advanced Lipid Panel (by Berkely Heart Lab)
This panel directly measures your standard lipid panel in addition to your lipoprotein subfractions. LDL exists as small, dense molecules and large, buoyant ones and evidence suggests that more small particles greatly increase the risk of heart disease. This remarkable test also measures your Apolipoprotein B and Lipoprotein(a). This is a good test for people who are already on cholesterol lowering medications, those who are worried about heart attack/stroke and those contemplating the next step if medication hasn’t worked. Here’s an example below of a Sample report.
Homocysteine is high in people who take NSAIDs, or those fighting chronic illness, or methylation problems. It is often high in depression and heart disease. Homocysteine is an amino acid that plays a role in destroying the lining of your artery walls, promoting more blood clots, and scar tissue. High levels may increase the chance of heart disease and stroke, especially if you have other risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, or family history. If you’d like an even better picture of this, the next test is are more comprehensive.
Methylation Profile -Doctor’s Data Kit
Provides a functional assessment of common SNPs (MTHFR, MS, CBS) and provides the important “methylation index,” a ratio of SAM to SAH.
Organic Acids are the primary metabolites of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin which are sometimes imbalanced in chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression and insomnia. HVA (Homovanillate) and VMA (Vanilmandelate) are neurotransmitter metabolites that offer insights into symptoms such as mood disorders and fatigue, and will are combined with markers for Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6 and glutathione deficiency. When the body has inadequate cellular levels of vitamin B12, vitamin B6 or glutathione, levels of their corresponding organic acid increase and spill into your urine. In some cases, these markers are more effective than measuring the nutrient directly. See screenshot for sample report.
Dutch COMPLETE Hormones
Requirement: Home collection urine strip (4 samples over 24 hrs)
The BEST way to test your hormone levels, this will evaluate cortisol to cortisone, estradiol, estrone, estriol, testosterone, DHEA, progesterone and more. It is by a mile more useful to a doctor who needs to address your hormones, or uncover the cause of your mid-life hormone-related symptoms. I’d highly suggest this to all women over 50, and/or men and women struggling with any reproduction issue at ANY age, even young women struggling with PMS. There is nothing like this! See below for a screenshot, from a 14-page analysis that also includes kidney function markers, organic acids, neurotransmitter metabolites (for mood/emotional problems), glutathione markers, B6, B12 and MORE. It’s my favorite test of the bunch
Melatonin Profile by Labrix
Requirement: Home collection saliva
The Melatonin Panel provides a snapshot of your sleep/wake cycle during a 24-hour period. I recommend this panel for those experiencing sleep disturbances, chronic migraines, early awakening, autoimmune disorders and cluster headaches.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.