Functional Pathology: what is it and why do we love it?

You’ve probably heard us mention Functional Pathology before. We’re often caught spruiking it at dinner parties, raving about it over social media and recommending it to many of our clients suffering chronic acne. But what is Functional Pathology and why do we love it so much? Well. Functional pathology is a form of private pathology testing that is only open to naturopaths, nutritionists, Integrative GP’s and some allied health practitioners. It’s where we get your test results into the lab to investigate the root cause of your condition, and ultimately answer the big question – why is your skin misbehaving?

What are we looking for?

In functional pathology testing we’re looking for any insight into your hormonal, biochemical, metabolic and nutritional status. You can think of it like a giant puzzle, and functional pathology testing allows us to piece it all together and create a treatment plan specific to your body and your skin. 


How is it different from general pathology? 

Good question! Although we definitely still use general pathology as part of our analysis, functional pathology gives us extra insight into specific areas of your body and how they’re behaving. Think of it like the cherry on top of our research. 


What functional pathology tests do you use the most? 

We’re super lucky to have access to a wide variety of functional pathology tests. We most commonly recommend Stool Testing, DUTCH, and Dietary Antigen Tests. 

Stool testing is all about investigating the good, the bad and the ugly in your gut. It helps us identify any imbalances with your microbiome, check out any sources of inflammation, look into your digestion and absorption capacity and understand present pathogens (like bacteria, yeast and parasites). In the end, it helps us identify whether your acne is a result of an underlying pathogen or potentially due to a decrease in good bacteria. The skin and the gut is linked in so many ways! 

DUTCH means Dried Urine Testing for Comprehensive Hormones. What a mouthful. In short, DUTCH lets us go through your hormonal production (mainly adrenal and reproductive hormones) and metabolism with a fine-toothed comb. Many things can affect your body’s ability to efficiently break down these hormones, so we’re checking out factors like genetics, alcohol, sleep, insulin function, liver function, gut function, dietary choices and heaps more. DUTCH is all about identifying any potential sources for dysfunction which might be related to your skin condition. 

Dietary Antigen Tests allow us to quickly and easily identify any potential food sensitivities that might be making your skin condition worse. Thanks to the modern technological age, our testing options can now show us exactly what foods are causing tissue damage, and this gives us a huge head start on treatment. 

Food sensitivities can be caused by several types of immune reactions, including IgE (immediate reaction – related to histamine) and IgG (related to delayed immune reactions). We have access to both of these tests, meaning we can put together a short/long term list of foods to help you manage and treat your condition. 


How do I know which test I need?

This is where we (the experts!) come in. Mel and I are both professional skin detectives, and we’ll walk you through the process step by step in your online consultations. After going through your history, we then work towards identifying any potential imbalances and consequently order the appropriate functional pathology tests. 

It’s important to remember that no two bodies or skin conditions are ever exactly the same, and so we individualise your testing and treatment plans accordingly. For example, we may see two patients with acne. However one has a history of PCOS and the other began after taking antibiotics for UTI’s. While both conditions look similar, the underlying root cause is different. 


You’re working internally, what about my skin externally? 

We believe that the best way to treat your skin condition is not only from the inside out but also the outside in. So it’s best to work with us on your internal triggers and with Asha on your external drivers. Mel and I will help you develop a treatment plan specific to the root cause of your condition (this might mean gut repair, addressing any metabolic conditions, improving immune sensitivities, etc). While Asha will address your skin barrier function and work to reduce any pain, remove inflammation and decrease severity of breakouts through customisable skincare products. We’re a team here. And we treat you as a team, so that you can feel confident in your skin. 


Can I claim these tests on Medicare?

As Functional Pathology is considered private testing, FPT is not covered through Medicare in the same way as general pathology testing. Please feel free to speak costs with us in your consultations. 


Need some skin love? Book your consult today.

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