Naturopathic often order blood work in order to make a definitive diagnosis. The most common test I order is called a . This stands for “.” All order this test quite often and insurance companies have no issue paying for it most of the time. It’s an inexpensive test that provides many clues to health conditions ranging from infections and anemia to nutrient deficiencies and even some cancers.

For a case example, I had a patient that fainted several times and even stopped breathing during an episode. Scary stuff! She saw me right after that and we did some , including a CBC, to narrow down possible underlying causes. She had low red blood cells (RBCs), low hematocrit (Hct), and low hemoglobin(Hgb). We tested and B12 and she came up low in . She took an , and B vitamin supplement twice a day for nine months and cleaned up her to include mostly whole, fresh foods. We did another CBC nine months later. She had raised her , Hct and Hgb back into the normal range, no longer needs the iron supplement, and hasn’t fainted since.

The following list explains what all those letters and numbers stand for on a CBC result printout. Most lab results have a column for your results, one for highlighting abnormal results with a H for high and L for low, and a reference range so you know what is considered the normal range of results. You can learn much about your health by keeping track of this along with your doctor.

- – WBC’s are the normal blood cells that fight infections the body. High counts indicate infections and low counts indicate immune deficiency of some kind.

RBC- – RBC’s carry nutrients to the body and reflect the oxygen carrying capacity of the body. Low counts indicate an anemia and/or blood loss.

HGB-Hemoglobin – HGB is that portion of the red blood cell that is responsible for transporting oxygen. Low counts indicate anemia and/or blood loss.

Hematocrit-Is a measure of the blood cell volume of the sample of blood being studied. Low counts indicate anemia and/or blood loss.

MCV- Mean Corpuscular Volume- Is the measurement of the size of the red blood cell. High volumes indicate B-12 deficiency and low ones indicate iron deficiency.

MCH- Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin: is the measurement of the amount of hernoglobin per red blood cell.

MCHC- Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration: measures the proportion hemoglobin occupies in RBC.

Differential- looks at the types of WBCs in the blood sample.

PMN-Neutrophils: The main WBC type; High in acute infections.

Bands- Immature neutrophils tending to be high in certain infections

Lymphocytes-These cells are WBCs that have two different forms, a T-lymphocyte and a B-lymphocyte, are increased during an infectious process and decreased in some immune deficiencies.

Monocytes- Immature macrophages that can leave the bloodstream to fight infections; Elevated in certain diseases.

Eosinophils- Are a type of WBC indicating possible or parasites.

Basophils- Are WBC s elevated in certain infections and sometimes allergies.

RDW- Red Blood Cell Distribution Width: is the degree of RBC size variation During an infection or disease process the size of some RBCs may change.

RBC morphology- Means that each cell in the body has an identified size and shape and during blood analysis this is analyzed and compared to make sure that they are normal.

Platelets- Blood component playing an important role in blood coagulation.

My patients seem to really appreciate it when I go over their lab results with them and explain what it all means. It empowers many to make positive changes and follow-up testing feels great when it shows the results of sticking to a naturopathic treatment plan. I look at lab results a little differently than some MDs, as do most of my ND colleagues. I recommend asking your ND to go over any results you have from visits with other doctors, too. We often have diet and other advice that can help reduce or eliminate the need for prescription medications and speed up your path to healing.

Yours in good health,

Margaret Philhower, ND