A CBC (complete blood count) is a simple blood test used to evaluate for anemia, folate deficiency, methylation status, dementia risk, parasites and other infections.
Functional medicine practitioners who focus on nutrition, high serotonin/high dopamine mood disorders and dementia per the Walsh Approach and digestive health rely on the CBC test for three key reasons.
- MCV – red blood cell volume. Enlarged cells are referred to as macrocytes. Macrocytosis is indicative of a B12 or folate deficiency. When there is a chronic deficiency of either or both of these B vitamins, then macrocytosis appears.
- MCV – When folate deficiency is suspected, particularly in overmethylators, there tends to be an overactivity of serotonin and dopamine. High serotonin and dopamine in depression can be addressed with folate and niacin supplementation.
- Eosinophils – various chronic allergic and inflammatory conditions can cause elevated eosinophils, a type of white blood cell. When elevated above 4% above the total WBC count it is important to rule out cancer, kidney disease and most commonly, parasitic infection. Parasites happen to be very common in the general population. This includes helminths (worms – pinworms, round worms, tapeworms, etc.) and protozoans (giardia, toxoplasmosis, cryptosporidium, amoebiasis, etc.). Ova and parasites may be detected via microscopic and DNA stool testing. Proper diagnosis and treatment can be tricky. Your functional medicine physician can assist with most effective options.
A complete blood count test measures several components and features of your blood, including:
- Red blood cells, which carry oxygen. Too much or too little require attention
- White blood cells, which fight infection. Shift of white blood cells help to determine if infection is due to virus, bacteria or parasite.
- Hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. Used to identify anemia
- Hematocrit, the proportion of red blood cells to the fluid component, or plasma, in your blood
- Platelets, which help with blood clotting
Abnormal increases or decreases in cell counts as revealed in a complete blood count may indicate that you have an underlying medical condition that calls for further evaluation.