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Oxidative Stress on a Blood Test Panel
by Dicken Weatherby, ND

For more information on Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis Click Here.

Oxidative stress and the free radical damage that it causes to
cellular structures is a real problem in this toxic world. High levels
of free radicals are associated with exposure to environmental
pollutants, inflammatory diseases, and low antioxidant status. Free
radicals are very unstable and reactive with other molecules. Once
free radical reactions begin, they tend to multiply by chain
reactions with cellular material. The chain reactions tend to have
long lasting effects and the potential to cause cellular damage (i.e.
cell membrane or DNA disruption). It is important to remember that
our body needs a certain amount of oxidative stress to deal with
toxins, microbes, etc. Both too much and too little oxidative stress
is a problem.

Identifying oxidative stress can be quite difficult in practice,
without relying on expensive panels from out-sourced labs. What can we do
in practice to help determine whether or not oxidative stress is a
problem using some of the tools at our disposal? I like to be able to
order expensive panels when my "gateway" testing indicates that it
is a good idea.

What do I mean by "gateway testing"? An example of a gateway
test for oxidative stress would be the Oxidata urine free radical

It is a test that should be run routinely in practice, especially on
those patients whose symptomology points to a possibility of
oxidative stress. An Oxidata test result that is grossly abnormal
would be a "gateway" to ordering the more expensive out-sourced
lab panels for oxidative stress. Another gateway test for oxidative
stress would be your Chem screen and CBC.

One of the first things on a chem screen that may indicate some
kind of oxidative stress and free radical activity is a total
cholesterol that is suddenly below its historical normal. Unoxidized cholesterol
acts as a lipid soluble antioxidant and a free radical scavenger in
the body, so decreased levels put the body at risk for developing
oxidative stress, especially lipid peroxidation, and increases the
chance of free radical induced diseases. I do not see a suddenly
decreased cholesterol level very often, but when I do I am much
more likely to order an oxidative stress panel from one of my out-
source labs.

Other elements on a blood chemistry and CBC that may indicate
oxidative stress are a decreased lymphocyte count. I will do an
article on the neutrophil/lymphocyte ratio at some point in the
future, but a low lymphocyte count is not a good thing to see.
Platelet levels may also be decreased along with an increased
globulin and uric acid level.

Red blood cells are particularly sensitive to oxidative stress, which
can cause red blood cell hemolysis. This will increase bilirubin
levels. If you see an increased bilirubin level always order a
fractionation to see what the cause is. Increased RBC hemolysis
will typically raise the indirect bilirubin level.

© 2004 Dicken Weatherby, ND


Dr. Dicken Weatherby is a graduate of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. He is the co-author of the best-selling book "Blood Chemistry and CBC Analysis- Clinical Laboratory Testing from a Functional Perspective". To learn more about Dr. Weatherby's functional diagnosis books and sign up for FREE functional diagnosis tips, tools, and techniques, visit his web site at

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