Integrative Medicine and blood tests

My patients often come to see me armed with blood tests ordered by their local G.P. The blood tests have been reported as ‘normal’ but my patient does not feel well…how can this be explained? There are a few reasons why this can happen. Firstly, ‘ordinary’ G.Ps are taught that all numbers in a range are ‘equally good’. The reference ranges are taken from patient results and out of one hundred results, the top five and bottom five are excluded, leaving a reference range of ninety percent. But this does not represent good or optimal, particularly when you realise that the blood tests to achieve this reference range are performed on unwell people!!

For example, if the range of ferritin ( iron stores) is 15-200, then any result between these two figures is acceptable….this is nonsense.!!

A level of 15 is inadequate and a person with such low iron will undoubtedly feel tired. I do infusions of iron in my surgery and the improvement in energy when someone has an iron less than 50 is remarkable. Similarly, the range for Vitamin D is 51-140.. but at 50 the patient is at risk of rickets, so just being slightly over the lowest number in the range cannot be optimal. Always question your doctor about what would be OPTIMAL rather than whether something is just ‘in the range.’

Another problem with ‘ordinary’ G.P. blood tests is that tests may not probe deeply enough to give enough information. Thyroid tests are a good example, where ordering ‘thyroid function tests’ will provide the G.P. with just thyroid stimulating hormone, which is a pituitary hormone, not secreted by the thyroid gland at all. Thyroxine, and certainly free T3 and reverse T3 are vital to make an accurate assessment, and the G.P. has to specifically request them.

The third challenge that G.Ps have is acquiring adequate knowledge of available tests. There are many blood , saliva and urine tests which I utilise in my practice which medical centre G.P. are unfamiliar with.They provide valuable and sometimes vital information and inform treatment protocols. The internet can provide alot of information about available tests so that patients can arm themselves before visiting their G.Ps.

Remember..when it comes to blood tests…’in the range’ does not mean Optimum health!!!


Freak Winds is a ‘Must See’

The Old Fitz is currently my favourite independent theatre venue in Sydney..every show this year has been a winner. The latest , a play written , directed by and starring a talented and experienced member of Sydney stage royalty-Marshall Napier -is dazzling.

It is a true thriller, set on a stormy night in a dusty old home. I felt worried for the insurance salesman-played beautifully by Ben O’Toole- from the moment he entered the lair…just as one should. The tension was modulated by moments of wonderful comedy, enabling me to wonder whether I was just being neurotic!. The mild mannered home owner played by Napier was brilliant- menacing in every gesture and comment. This performance was enhanced by the fact that Napier himself had recently broken his leg and was using crutches and a frame- the dichotomy worked very well indeed. The third character played by the exquisite Anna Bamford was delightful as the mysterious Myra.

This play is fantastic entertainment. Combining the show with a meal at The Old Fitz ( the restaurant has recently reopened with two clever French Chefs who serve authentic cuisine) is a marvelous way to have a champagne evening for the price of beer!


Caress/Ache at the Griffin

The Griffin theatre is a lovely little theatre tucked away on the other side of the road from the  iconic coca-cola sign of Kings Cross. This theatre has been running for many decades and has been dedicated to the task of bringing new Australian plays to Sydney- a really tremendous feat.

The current play Caress/Ache is an Australian ( World) premiere and is very very creative and intricate play. I really love plays which have several threads that eventually tie in together. The acting is stunning as well, with all of the cast members playing more than one role effortlessly. The most poignant story in this play, which explores the theme of human touch , relates to a man about to be hung in Singapore for a drug crime…of course this resonates with audiences at the moment.

I highly recommend this play, which is running until early April. it is completely absorbing ¬†and very moving. As an aside, I don’t usually read reviews until after I have seen a play. In this case I was horrified by the negative reviews which did not seem to capture the nuances of this play. Talking casually to audience members afterwards also reflected a great deal of enthusiasm for this show..so perhaps the critics get too bogged down with the joys of tearing a performance apart!

Ticket prices are so reasonable- only $35.00 for under thirty year olds.