How to Interpret Your Lab Results, with Dr. Kylie Burton
| Episode 013
How many times have you gone in for your annual physical or maybe a sick appointment and you heard your doctor order a bunch of blood tests? Not only are you uncertain what each of these tests are for, but you have no idea how to interpret your results!
Grab a pen and paper because today Dr. Kylie Burton is educating us on how we can read and interpret the results of our labs—even the ones that are deemed “normal!” Dr. Kylie uses her background in chiropractic care and functional medicine to help patients experience relief and feel better beyond their diagnoses.
Click the play button above to listen to our conversation with Dr. Kylie.
Highlights from Today’s Episode
- What functional medicine is, and how it differs from traditional medical practice.
- How to navigate and understand the varying terminology surrounding alternative healthcare.
- How functional medicine can help you improve your colon health.
- How to read your lab results and find answers beyond your normal results.
Featured on Today’s Episode
Industry Spotlight: Dr. Kylie Healing Beyond the Diagnosis
Using chiropractic and functional medicine, Dr. Kylie can help you figure out the why behind your health concerns using your “normal” labs.
- Learn More: DrKylieBurton.com
About the Colon Health Podcast
Co-hosted by Dr. Dac Teoli and Ariel Bridges, the Colon Health Podcast features guest interviews with expert physicians, leading researchers, nutritional scientists, integrative health specialists, and other foremost experts in colon health.
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Ariel: Hello, everybody, and welcome back to another episode of the “Colon Health Podcast.” This is your co-host, Ariel Bridges. And this week, I am very excited for our special guest, Dr. Kylie Burton. She’s a functional medicine doctor who helps people beyond their diagnoses. So, for all the people out there that may be struggling still with symptoms, they got a bunch of lab work done, but the lab seemed normal, but you feel anything but normal. She’s here to help us out and chat more about functional medicine and colon health. But Dr. Kylie, hi, thank you so much for being here.
Dr. Kylie: Thanks, Ariel. I’m excited to be here and to talk more about the colon.
Dr. Kylie: What your normal lab really says?
Ariel: Yes, I’m so excited for us to dive into that. But to give some background for our listeners, can you share more about what it is that you do and more about your practice?
Dr. Kylie: Sure. I am a functional medicine specialist and I turn normal labs into answers, healing, and hope. My practice is worldwide. I was online before it was cool to be online. But this is no new game for me. But in the world of medicine and alternative healthcare, and holistic, and whatever you wanna call it, functional medicine, that was not how I grew up. In fact, I knew nothing about supplements, about… I mean, we ate pretty decently growing up. I mean, we always had home-cooked meals kind of thing. But I really had no idea outside of the whole, I get sick and I go get an antibiotic-type thing.
Then I got introduced to nutrition in a course at college. So I went and got my bachelor’s degree in nutrition thinking I love this concept of food helping people. But then I was in like a mix of what do I do next? I have this degree, there’s not really anything I can do with it, so I have to go on in some way, shape, or form. So I sent off a million and a half resumes and I got hired by a chiropractor. I had no idea what chiropractic even was. I had never experienced or even seen an adjustment at that point in my life. And I’m like 22 years old. He not only did chiropractic but he also did what was called functional medicine. And it’s really getting down to the root cause and causes of our health and why it’s gone so wrong.
So, getting introduced to all that, it was just like, “Oh my gosh, this makes so much sense. Why doesn’t everybody practice like this?” This is the way medicine should be done. But of course, there’s not much money in recommending nutrition and things like that. There’s a lot of money in supplements, though. So, anyway, then I started seeing a bunch of women come in. As the assistant, they would see me first and then they would see him, and they would tell me all these things about hormone problems, and menopause problems. and libido problems, and GI problems. And they would always say, “But don’t tell the doctor. And it had nothing to do with him. It was just the fact of I’m a girl and he’s a man. And women don’t wanna share these women problems with men. Right?
Ariel: Right. Right.
Dr. Kylie: So, eventually, I worked for him for a year as an assistant and I just said, You know what, screw it, I have everything I need, I’m gonna go become a doctor myself. And then that way, I can help these women in the way that I need to help them. And things really took a turn for me in, like, my final year of med school. And I was working with the clinic, and people were coming in from the community, I had this lady come in from the community who wanted to work specifically with me. She was a freaking mess. I mean, every lab test, every image, MRI, CT scan, blood work, everything you can think of had come back normal. And yet she sat in the treatment room with me and another colleague and she had the worst migraines. And she had migraines like the past three or four years and nothing was helping, not even like the strongest medication. The migraine was so bad that we had to find a black blanket to cover the window because even the smallest light was too much.
So, I sat and did my thing, answered the questions, blah, blah, blah, and then I literally said to myself in my head, if I look at her the same way everybody else looks at her, I’m going to get the same results. And that’s not okay with me. And then I took it one step further, and I said, “If I look at her labs the same way everybody else looks at labs, I’m gonna get the same results. And that’s not okay with me. So that was like the triggering moment where I said, “I need to know the better way of reading these labs.” And I’ve done so much extensive research. Basically, what I do is in everything that I was not taught in school. You know how that is, when we’re taught one thing in school, we have to go out and really learn how to do it in real life.
Ariel: Yes. Yes
Dr. Kylie: Yeah, so that was me. In fact, I graduated from chiropractic school in 2017. The same week, I became a mother. So it was all crazy but worth it. And now, three years later, I don’t even own the chiropractic table. And I didn’t own the chiropractic table before the world crashed down. But I haven’t owned one in like two and a half years. And I literally do functional medicine, and I transform normal labs into answers, healing, and hope. So if you’re listening to this and saying, “I know something’s wrong with me, it’s not just in my head. It’s not because I’m a mom. It’s not because I have IBS, or IBD, or some humera that’s gonna help solve my life for the rest of forever. There’s a better way. And we’re gonna dive into this, but transforming those normal labs, into the answers you’ve been searching for so you can stop relying on Google. It’s gonna be pretty cool. So, everybody tune in, drop what you’re doing and take notes, even grab your labs, as I’ll teach you what the labs really say.
Ariel: Yes, we’re getting juicy. You heard the doctor, grab a pen, paper, your phone, anything to take notes. I think I can go and say that’s the doctor’s orders. So before we get into the labs, and how people can kind of break those down, can you share just a simple definition, you were kind of getting into it, but of what functional medicine actually is? And you mentioned holistic medicine and things. Are there any differences or there’s a lot of terminology out there and I just want to kind of clear things up for the listener so they know what’s what.
Dr. Kylie: Yeah, there’s a lot and they seem to be growing every single day. So, when the world of alternative healthcare, we have like different branches, right? You have your natural paths. You have even chiropractors who say functional medicine. You have functional nutritionists. You have all of these concepts or pathways you can take underneath this umbrella of alternative healthcare. And really, all alternatives to healthcare is looking at something besides pharmaceuticals as the answer. And for me, personally, it’s looking at things beyond the diagnosis. I always tell people, even on my social media and podcasts, I really don’t care what your diagnosis is because if you think about it, the diagnosis, for example, IBS, you know, you have gut problems. What does it tell you is causing the gut problems? Nothing. It just says, I might have some diarrhea and chronic constipation or IBD, whatever the case may be.
So functional medicine itself, when it’s done correctly, and I’ll caveat that because a lot of people will claim that they’re a functional medicine doctor, functional medicine specialist, or functional nutritionist. And going to a weekend seminar does not cut it. This functional medicine gets quite complex. And because what it does is it literally says, All right, you have a list of 24 symptoms. And based off of your list of symptoms, I wanna now figure out what’s causing that. And a lot of people, even in the alternative healthcare world will say, “Well, what’s causing the migraine? What’s causing the chronic constipation?” Maybe we’ll just try some magnesium the night before because that will help. You’ll go to the bathroom the next day, that kind of thing. I look at it way deeper. Instead of saying, take magnesium for chronic constipation, is it really a magnesium deficiency or we got something underlying going on? And the coolest part about the colon and since I’m in “The Colon Podcast,” you guys all know that the gut leads to a whole host of things.
In fact, there’s research that’s out there that says the first sign of Parkinson’s is actually chronic constipation. Now the first sign of late-stage Parkinson’s, which is one that gets diagnosed are the tremors, but you go back and even all of my autoimmune patients, especially my Parkinson’s ones, they have major, major gut issues back to when they were kids. Right? So, functional medicine is looking at what’s causing the symptom and what led you to the place where you’re currently at? Does that make sense?
Ariel: That does make sense. And I think it’s very helpful to have that actually defined because like you mentioned, there are so many terms every day. Every day, there are new terms. So, to have a clear understanding of what functional medicine is, I think helps people understand better how it can actually help them, especially if they’re on a path for searching for answers and they feel like they’ve tried everything. So, you started getting into how functional medicine can improve colon health a little bit but I’d love to dive into what you were talking about for looking at labs and how people can look at their labs and maybe see some answers that aren’t right in front of them, seemingly.
Dr. Kylie: They are. They’re right in front of them. We just have to have the right people looking at the labs. And the nice thing is I’m gonna teach you in a very simplistic way… In fact, I teach doctors how to do this. Of all backgrounds I’ve…and massage therapists and nutritionists, and I mean, I teach 1,000 docs every week. And I’ve been doing it for a year now on how to read these labs because when you can take a normal lab ranges, which is what we always get taught, right?
So we take these normal lab ranges and we condense them into a smaller lab range. Now, before we jump into this, let me caveat that you want normal labs, you want the doctor to look at your labs and say, “You know what? They look good. You should feel great. And then you walk out the door. When you don’t have normal labs, that’s when it’s like, oh, I have heart disease, liver disease, bad cholesterol, … and IBS, or you get down to Crohn’s, those kinds of things. We want our labs to come back normal. The only frustrating part is, they’re going to be normal until you are so bad that you get that diagnosis. Until you reach that diagnosis stage, they really don’t know what to do with you. And it’s not the doctors’ fault. The doctors are only doing what they were taught. It’s the medical school systems that have failed us.
So don’t go blame your doctor for not knowing how to read the labs because they weren’t trying to listen, they were trained by me. So we’re gonna take this normal lab range, we’re gonna make it smaller. And the easiest way to understand this is if you think about the thyroid, and the common marker that everybody takes is TSH. On any given lab range, and each lab’s going to be slightly different. But overall, we’ve got a TSH marker that’s normal anywhere between 0.5 and 5.5. That’s your standard normal range for TSH. That’s like saying, I wanna find my favorite restaurant somewhere between California and New York. Good luck. That’s what these normal lab ranges are doing to us. They’re casting a wide variety match and then they’re saying, okay, now jumping in this pool of softballs and find the baseball. Right? That analogy was new, I just came up with it at the top of my head. Baseball season, it almost playoffs time.
Aereo: I like it better, it makes sense. It makes sense.
Dr. Kylie: Yeah. So that’s your normal lab ranges. And as I go through this, especially when we start talking about the colon and what you can actually find inside the gut with these lab ranges, don’t go running off to your doctor and telling them that you have a low grade chronic bacterial infection, because they’re gonna laugh at you and be like, “You have a what? What did Google tell you this time,” right? And you’ll be like, “No, no, no, it wasn’t Google. Like, this doctor told me on the podcast I was listening to.” So this is something that’s more long-term chronic where underlying all these common gut issues, IBS, IBD, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis. So whether you have a diagnosis or not or you’ve just been taking magnesium every night to fix the constipation, there’s a better way. And that’s the way to get this normal lab only condensed to the smaller lab range. Do you follow me, Ariel?
Aereo: Absolutely, yes, this makes complete sense.
Dr. Kylie: Now here’s the coolest part. You’re gonna find everything about the colon and our guts, in general. based off of the lab we all have. It’s the standard lab, I call it the lab worth the price of gold. But most people will just throw it out the window because “everything’s normal.” This lab is called the CBC, the complete blood count. It’s the number one standard lab test that all doctors take. It’s like the first thing, the first net thrown at identifying something, right?
Dr. Kylie: Now, the very top marker on this CBC is known as the white blood cell count, WBC. This is where you’re going to start taking notes. And if you have your labs, go grab them. If you don’t have your lab, go get them, because they are your labs, you have the right to them. If they are in your doctor’s office, call them and get medical record request form. Whatever you need to do, get the labs in your possession. They are yours. U’m surprised at how many people don’t have their labs, but then other people have like a whole binder full of, you know, 10 years worth of labs.
Ariel: Right? Right. And a lot of times these days you have access just online, sign up for those My Chart accounts.
Dr. Kylie: Yeah, your patient portals, they have your labs. So, this white blood cell count, it’s gonna be normal. Thank heavens. We want it to be normal. In some cases, it’s not normal, and I just shake my head when doctors bypass it but it’s okay. This lab range that you’re now willing to go off of, we’re gonna call it ideal lab range. It’s not normal. It’s smaller than the normal lab range. Just like the TSH where we go from point 0.5 to 5.5, the ideal range for TSH is 1.8 to 3. Same concept, we’re gonna narrow it down. Now it’s like, okay, now find your favorite restaurant in Georgia, find your favorite restaurant in California, find your favorite restaurant in Kentucky. We’re gonna make the area just a lot more smaller.
So that white blood cell count, the range you wanna note is between 5 and 8. So anything less than 5 or greater than 8, you now know your body is fighting an underlying low-grade infection. And that infection is wreaking havoc on any part of your body. It can be wreaking havoc on your thyroid, which is why no treatment helps. It can be wreaking havoc on your hormones, which is why you have to take 100 milligrams of testosterone every day. It can be wreaking havoc on your lining of your gut, which is why you have problems or you see if you’ve gotten a diagnosis. If not, that’s okay, too. Because what happens with these infections is that because they are systemic, they can cause a whole variety of symptoms. And when you have a whole variety of symptoms that don’t fit underneath an umbrella, now you don’t have a diagnosis and now they don’t know what to do with you. You’re not crazy. It’s not because you’re a mom. It’s not because you’ve been eating cleanly and, you know, you’re limited to 5, 7, maybe 10 foods per day, and you’re still trying to just survive. Even with eating so little.
That white blood cell count is going to determine, yes, this is an underlying problem, that if I can clear it out, I’m gonna feel like a million bucks. So when it comes to the colon and the digestive tract, we have to get rid of this concept or this idea that infections like parasites reside in our GI tract and that’s the only place they reside. That’s not true. So when you’re going to get a bacterial stool sample or even a parasitic stool sample or they have functional medicine, GI comprehensive panel now, I go into very detailed depth about your bacterial counts and whether you have good guys and bad guys. And yeah, you can spend $800 bucks for one of those panels but you don’t need to because you have everything you need right in this normal bloodwork. You just have to have the right person reading it and now that right person can be you. Right?
Ariel: Wow. Yes, that’s so empowering. That’s really empowering.
Dr. Kylie: Yeah. So the first thing is figure out what your white blood cell count says. And then you’re gonna bypass like the next seven, eight lab markers. Don’t even worry about those. Those are for later. But once you know you have an infection, you gonna know what kind. What type is it? That’s when we get down in this portion of the CBC called the differential. The one you whenever you see on your lab tests like it says “CBC with diff,” or it will just say a CBC. If it’s just a CBC, you don’t have these puzzle pieces and you need them. So go back and tell your doctor to order the right thing and check the right box and say I want the CBC with differential, the CBC is not good enough, they’re gonna think you’re crazy but you’re not.
So you want the CBC with differential. That differential portion includes the markers that identify what type of infection you’re fighting. The very first marker you’re gonna pay attention to is called neutrophils. We’re gonna go over the two of them because they’re the most important. Neutrophils, their job is to fight bacteria. So, if they’re higher than what they should be, you know you’ll have a low-grade bacterial infection. And that bacterial infection is the most common underlying cause of a whole host of digestive issues. If you wanna give it a name, you can name it SIBO, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth or SIFO, with a fungal component. Or n my world, I just say you know what, you have a low-grade bacterial infection.
Now that bacterial infection is not going to be something where you’re gonna go get tested for that’s gonna be positive. So, say, I wanna go get tested for E. coli or Campylobacter or C. Diff, or whatever the case may be, those tests will not become positive unless you’ve been on the toilet for the last 30 days because your diarrhea is so bad, right? Thank heavens they don’t come back positive because that would be miserable and you had some crazy bugs hit you. We’re talking more of these low-grade infections that lead to chronic diarrhea or that lead to chronic constipation. And I have one mom who, for the last six years, she has not been able to leave her house without Imodium. Talk about diarrhea urges. And it’s not stuff that we talk about. You don’t go to your church group and say, “Hey, I’m struggling with diarrhea,” you know.
Ariel: Right. Yes.
Dr. Kylie: It’s not something we talk about yet we all deal with some type of GI issue, unless you’re a handful, one of the few handfuls, So this bacterial infection, this marker called neutrophils, they just look for it, you wanna make sure you’re looking at a neutrophil percentage. So there’s two different types. We only care about the percentage ones. If that neutrophil percentage is above 60%, that’s your number. Write that down. If it’s above 60%, your body is fighting a low-grade bacterial infection. This can lead to all of your digestive symptoms, the ones that go unresolved, the ones that nobody can explain. Nobody can figure out. Diagnosis or not. Got it?
Ariel: Got it. I hope everyone has their pens ready. There will be a quiz. Just kidding. But I hope you’re taking notes. This is such good stuff.
Dr. Kylie: I used to take tests. I mean, it was very common for us to have four or five tests a day. And the week before I got married, I actually took 22 exams in 7 days.
Ariel: Oh, my goodness
Dr. Kylie: Yeah. You just became very good at test-taking. You’d walk into class and you’d be like, we’re having a test today? Okay. Give me the scantron. Just take it. So neutrophils…
Yeah, the neutrophils are your bacterial count, your low-grade bacterial infections. Again, don’t run into your doctors for this stuff. If you wanna learn more about how to treat it, then jump over to my podcast at “Beyond the Diagnosis,” and I can tell you the treatment plans and as far as 90-day kits and things. But that’s the first marker. And then let’s talk about before we jump into the second marker about stool samples. Because I’ve heard this over and over and over again. Someone comes back or they listen to me on some podcasts or even my own and they’re like, “Well, I have this bacterial infection. And I went and saw my doctor and my doctor just laughed, and he said, ‘No, you don’t, that’s a totally normal lab.'” You’re right. It’s normal, but it’s not ideal. And remember, we have to look at things differently if you want different results.
And then when it comes to stool sampling, your stool sample is only getting the final portion of your colon. And then not even that. They’re taking some little teeny snippet of your stool sample, taking it underneath a microscope, and then saying, “Okay, if I see a parasite in that little teeny piece, then it’s parasite positive. If I don’t see a parasite in that little teeny piece, then it’s parasite negative.” And you can literally flip a coin and determine whether you have parasites or not based off of the accuracy of those stool samples. So even though you’ve had the stool samples and they come back negative, don’t rule these underlying infections out. Make sense?
Dr. Kylie: Okay. So the next marker after you know the neutrophil count, the next marker is called lymphocytes. And lymphocytes, they’re responsible for fighting viruses. Now, there’s a reason why we’re talking about these two markers because they’re the most common combination of infections. So, usually when I’m treating a low-grade virus, and I don’t even care what the name of it is, any low-grade bacterial infection, I usually do it together. It’s like the number one cause of chronic fatigue, the number one cause of digestive issues. And then not to mention specific issues. But when you remove these underlying infections, now it’s like, now my body feels like it can function again, my brain fog goes away, my hormones are back up, and I can go do things with my kids and not fall asleep before they do while I’m reading books to them in bed. Like, the results of getting rid of these infections are pretty incredible.
And people always ask and this is a big culprit that we’ve caught even functional medicine docs with, this idea of what’s causing X? What’s causing diarrhea? What’s causing constipation? What’s causing bloating? We’re looking for something that’s a one standard cause and it’s completely wrong. We’re looking for what’s causing chronic fatigue. We’re looking for what’s causing brain fog. And the ultimate goal is, let’s just get your body healthy. And then the symptoms will start to resolve. And that’s the way it works with my patients. And it can work with you guys too because you now know how to read your own labs. So the lymphocytes count is that marker right below the neutrophils because neutrophils-lymphocytes, if lymphocyte count is above 30%, you’re fighting a low-grade virus. Do you follow me, Ariel?
Ariel: I follow. Yes.
Dr. Kylie: Okay. Just making sure I’m making sense here. Neutrophils greater than 60%, low-grade bacterial infection, the most common cause of digestive symptoms. Lymphocytes, if it’s greater than 30%, low-grade virus, most common cause of autoimmune diseases and chronic fatigue.
Ariel: Wow. That is…
Dr. Kylie: There is one more we got to talk about.
Ariel: All right.
Dr. Kylie: Because it’s related to parasites. And this marker is the one that people will listen and they’ll say, “Look, I’m terrified to go a doctor.” No, there’s no way. I don’t care if it’s 8%. There’s no way you have parasites. We took a stool test and it was negative. Pay attention to this marker too. Parasites lives in any tissue in the body, not just the digestive tract. And they’re very, very sneaky. It takes a lot to treat parasites successfully. They’re very good at hiding and then killing out and then replicating. They’re just very good at surviving. Let’s just say that. And they can survive in any tissue of the body.
So, the marker is known as eosinophils, E-O-S-I-N-O-P-H-I-L-S. It’s in that same lab test we’re still talking about where it’s just one or two markers below the lymphocytes. It’s usually two. So that eosinophils count. If it is above 3%, parasites are causing some issues inside your health. So you got neutrophils above 60%, low-grade bacterial infection. Lymphocytes above 30%, low-grade viral infection. And then jump down, get the monocyte marker and jump down to the eosinophil marker and know are parasites causing havoc inside your body wrecking leading to a variety of health symptoms. If the eosinophil marker is above 3%, that’s a high possibility. And there you have go. Now you know more about your labs than your doctor.
Ariel: This, again, I can’t say it enough times, I really hope everyone had their notebooks out. This is so much helpful information, especially for those people that really just you’re feeling like you’ve done everything. You have these normal labs. It can be very frustrating. Now you have these tools. You’re equipped to ask questions to do further research. Can you share, Dr. Kylie, for people you briefly touched on it? But for people that have now analyzed their labs and are wanting some assistance, how can they find help?
Dr. Kylie: They can go learn more on the podcast, on my podcast, that “Beyond the Diagnosis” with Dr. Kylie. And then if they wanna just jump into some supplement regimens, take a look at the 90-day reset kits. You can find that on my website at drkylieburn.com/supplements. And there are two 90-day reset kits specifically designed for bacterial infections and parasitic infections. So based off of what your labs are telling you, use that to determine what kit you need and then start healing and kick those digestive symptoms to the curb and do it long-term. Like, your results are gonna be long lasting because we’re getting rid of those underlying causes. We’re not just saying, “You know what? Eliminate every food you ever have liked in the past, and never eat it again, because you simply have to survive.” Whereas this is getting rid of those underlying culprits, now your body, your digestive tract can go back in and heal your endocrine system, your hormones can get balanced, and who knows how you will feel after 90 days.
Ariel: And as always, everyone, I will include those links to the specific things that she mentioned in the show notes so you can find them very easily. You can scroll down and click the links to these products and resources that she has shared. Dr. Kylie, I can’t even begin to say how helpful this was and informative. As we are heading out is there any kind of final words or parting ideas that you’d like to share with the listeners?
Dr. Kylie: Yeah, I hope I inspired them with hope and some courage and valuable information. Don’t just go seeking for a diagnosis. It’s really not gonna solve your issue. It might take away some symptoms temporarily. But we have to get away from this idea of chasing down an answer and the answer comes in the form of a diagnosis. That’s where we’re going wrong. And so stop chasing symptoms, stop chasing the diagnosis. Come join me on the podcast beyond the diagnosis with Dr. Kylie.
Ariel: I love it. Thank you so much, Dr. Kylie, again. And everybody, as a reminder, remember, we all have colons. Let’s take care of them. All right. Thanks, Dr. Kylie.
Dr. Kylie: Yeah, thank you, Ariel.
Ariel: Bye, everyone.