Beyond “Normal”: Understanding Your Lab Results

When it comes to our health, we often rely on lab tests for answers. But what happens when you receive your lab results and find yourself asking, “Are my labs normal?” At MyHealth1st, we are committed to offering evidence-based, data-driven holistic medicine, and understanding lab results is a crucial part of our approach.

The Importance of Measuring Labs

We believe in the mantra, “Measure, Treat, Measure, repeat.” By measuring labs, we can objectively demonstrate the presence of an imbalance or the underlying source of a pathophysiology. How else can we prove that we’re treating anything at all? Furthermore, how can we call our treatments effective if we can’t prove they resulted in a measurable, positive change in a patient’s labs? Assessment is the element of care that keeps physicians accountable for their outcomes and gives patients the peace of mind that they’re getting measurable results following their treatments and lifestyle changes.


Deconstructing the Idea of “Normal”

When patients ask, “Are my labs normal?” We need to first consider what normal means. Lab companies such as LabCorp base their reference ranges by looking at 95% of individuals. If you fall within that range, it doesn’t mean you’re healthy. It simply means you’re within the range of 95% of people. Big whoop.

If you’re aiming for optimal health, you should know that in a country riddled with obesity and chronic disease, average does NOT mean healthy. Even more, these lab ranges often fail to account for individual differences and don’t measure for optimal health:

  • Gender Differences: Many tests, such as lipid, CBC, and thyroid panels, do not differentiate between genders, even though research shows clear differences.
  • Medication Impact: Reference ranges often don’t adjust for patients on medications, such as thyroid and proton pump inhibitors, or even supplements like Biotin and Vitamin D, which can skew results.
  • Menstrual Status: For women, reference ranges for hemoglobin and hematocrit are based on cycling women who lose blood monthly. These ranges may not be appropriate for menopausal women, women on hormonal birth control, or those who have had a hysterectomy.
  • Fasting Status: Some tests should be conducted when a patient is fasting, but reference ranges are not always adjusted for non-fasting patients.
  • Hormone Deficiency: Women often face a bias where elevated FSH and LH during menopause is considered “normal,” despite symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and mood disorders indicating hormone deficiency. This contrasts with men, where deviations from the normal youthful range are flagged as abnormal. Such a disparity suggests women in menopause are unjustly normalized for deficiency, overlooking their potential need for hormone replacement therapies like BHRT
  • Population Averages: Standard reference ranges are typically based on population averages, which may not reflect optimal health. For example, a “normal” glucose or hemoglobin A1C level might be within a range that is actually indicative of pre-diabetes.

The Role of the Interpreting Physician

It is the job of the interpreting physician to contextualize the results to the patient at hand. This involves asking the right questions and drawing informed conclusions. It also requires the physician to know what labs to measure and to know how to discern patterns between markers and across time. However, not all physicians are trained to do this or even look beyond the standard reference ranges. Even fewer recognize that labs can be in range but still trending in the wrong direction—red flags in disguise for a developing condition or disease-state that can be easily prevented!

Our Approach to Lab Analysis

At MyHealth1st, we measure serial labs on all our patients to interpret patterns over time. We believe health is a condition as much as sickness is, and maintaining health requires proactive action to optimize one’s lifestyle and environment. Just as we take our cars in for regular maintenance, we should approach our health in the same proactive manner.

The Importance of Proper Testing Protocols

Many of our patients come to us surprised by our testing protocols. Here are a few examples of the measures we take to ensure accurate labs:

  • BHRT Patients: Always have their labs measured prior to their next pellet procedure. We measure post-pellet labs at 6 weeks for women and 4 weeks for men. This is the ideal window for their hormones to be peaking following an insertion. Otherwise, we’re shooting in the dark (for dosing) next round!
  • Vitamin and Mineral Levels: Patients measuring mineral levels such as vitamin D and zinc, getting their homocysteine measured, etc., need to hold vitamin and mineral supplements 24 hours prior. Otherwise, we’re just measuring the supplements they took that day and not where their serum levels are truly sitting.
  • PSA Measurement: Male patients who are having their PSA measured (which we do for ALL men on testosterone at our clinic) need to withhold from ejaculation at least 48 hours prior to going to the lab. Otherwise, they can have misleadingly elevated PSAs that will flag.
  • Strenuous Exercisers: Patients who love their cardio and weightlifting need to take a 36-hour break before their labs. Exercise can increase liver markers and impact red blood cell count and clotting markers, among other things.

Taking Control of Your Health

In conclusion, understanding lab results goes beyond simply asking, “Are my labs normal?” It requires a holistic approach that considers the individual’s unique factors and a proactive stance towards maintaining health. At MyHealth1st, we are dedicated to providing our patients with the tools and knowledge they need to navigate their health journey with confidence.

Ready to Go Beyond “Normal”?

Let’s work together to unlock your full health potential! We offer evidence-based, data-driven holistic medicine, tailored to your unique needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.



  1. Optimal DX. (n.d.). Shortcomings of Standard Reference Ranges. Retrieved from
  2. BioBalance Health. (n.d.). Recommended Lab Values. Retrieved from
  3. National Institutes of Health. (2016). A review of the challenges in using biomedical big data for economic evaluations of personalized medicine. PubMed Central (PMC). Retrieved from
  4. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (n.d.). Blood Tests. Retrieved from
Picture of Lilly Young

Lilly Young

Lilly Young, raised in the realm of health and wellness by her mother, Dr. Lari Young, blends her passion for writing and medical research to offer insightful contributions to the MyHealth1st blog.