The human body works like a domino effect. If one domino falls, they all fall. This concept is a little lost in today’s world, where people have normalised various health issues due to their rampancy. We see every other person suffering from bloating, acne, lethargy, weak immune system and a wave of such symptoms. These dysfunctions indicate things going off in the body on a cellular level. It is important to fix them, lest one may also suffer in the long-term.
Despite multiple health interventions, most people are stuck with guesswork for their symptoms with basic blood tests. But advanced tests are here to the rescue, giving us a deep dive into the root cause of underlying dysfunctions! In today’s world, gastrointestinal and autoimmune disorders are on the rise. As a healthcare practitioner it is inevitable to be aware of the best tests available to heal your clients, and more importantly how to choose between them.
This is a four-part blog series: In the first part we cover GI-MAP by Diagnostic Solutions and Array 12 by Cyrex. The rest of the series will cover the Functional Genome Analysis test, OMX and the Dutch Plus hormone panel.
Magnifying the gut with GI-MAP
We know that troubles with the gut can give rise to a lot of dysfunctions through the gut’s connection with the brain, immune system, metabolism, thyroid, skin, hormones, heart, and bone! There are trillions of microbes - good and bad - living in our gut that play a vital role in our overall health. This is called the gut microbiome. The gene set of these microbes is 150 times greater than that of the human genome! Analysing this ecosystem with advanced tests like GI-MAP (Gastrointestinal Microbial Assay Plus) has become quite popular today.
GI-MAP gives us invaluable insight into the DNA of the microbes living in the gut. It uses advanced qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction) technology to amplify specific regions of the DNA present in a stool sample — it can detect even the smallest amounts of genetic material.
Some conditions that warrant testing are autoimmune diseases, IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome), digestive complaints, IBD (irritable bowel disease), brain fog, skin problems like acne and psoriasis, depression, anxiety, diabetes, weight loss issues, and hormone imbalance. Since the health of your gut plays a key role in every organ system and practically every disease condition, this test is a potentially useful tool for almost all cases.
How is GI-MAP different from other gut tests?
- It amplifies and detects pathogens that are often missed in techniques like culturing and microscopy.
- Since it uses quantitative PCR, it not only identifies the presence of microbes but also gives a precise measure of their abundance: How high or low the population of a pathogen is and whether it needs to be treated.
- The quantitative analysis helps to assess the severity of an infection or imbalance in the gut microbiome.
- It can also test for antibiotic resistance by analysing the genes of pathogenic bacteria in your gut.
GI-Map assesses the following:
- GI-MAP looks for various pathogenic bacteria, parasites, viruses and worms wreaking havoc in your gut.
- It also looks at friendly bacteria like commensal bacteria that extract nutrients and energy from our diets, maintain gut barrier function, produce vitamins like biotin and vitamin K, and protect against colonization by potential pathogens.
- It gives us an idea of the general health of the gut microflora and measures the levels of good bacteria against the bad.
- It assesses fungi/yeast in the gut that may be culprits for dandruff, joint pains and itchy scalp. It also looks for non-pathogenic parasites that don’t cause diseases but lead to issues like gas and bloating.
- It can benefit people with autoimmune diseases as some pathogens are associated with autoimmune conditions.
- It is also a good measure of gallbladder health and checks if the stomach is secreting enough gastric juices. It has markers that indicate pancreatic functions and the amount of fat present in stools.
- The gut controls 70-80% of our immunity so the test can tell us where one’s immunity lies on a spectrum.
- It detects your gut’s reaction to gluten.
- It can be used to test for leaky gut if the optional zonulin marker is included.
Keep in mind that the results of GI-MAP reflect the different strains of pathogens carrying toxic genes, not the level of toxins that may be produced by them. A practitioner has to couple the findings from the test with the patient’s health, volatile nature of some pathogens and the expression of virulence factors in the form of symptoms.
The Array 12 - Pathogen-Associated Immune Reactivity Screening from Cyrex Laboratories
A lot of factors influence the human microbiome such as genetic makeup, diet, environmental stressors, stress, sleep and activity. Often, your immune system can get overwhelmed with excess environmental stressors like heavy metals, chemicals and drugs. This can create an imbalance in your gut microbiome and make it a breeding ground for pathogens, infections and colonisation by non-beneficial bacteria, viruses, yeasts and parasites.
While trying to restore the balance, your immune system may start attacking its own cells, tissues and organs that have been contaminated – this might progress to autoimmunity.
Decode your dysfunctions with Array 12
Array 12 by Cyrex can help assess the presence of these pathogens triggering autoimmunity. Array 12 analyses the immune load from 29 viral, bacterial, fungal, parasitic and stealth pathogens that may be dormant in the body. It uses blood samples to look for IgG (Immunoglobulin G) antibodies against pathogens that show immune reactivity long after exposure.
For example, it can detect gingivitis bacteria that contribute to tooth decay, penicillium used in antibiotics, acinetobacter that plays a role in multiple sclerosis due to cross-reactivity with neurological tissues, not-so-well-known pathogens such as borrelia bacteria from ticks that cause lupus.
If interventions such as detoxification, diet and lifestyle changes are not working then this test can be used to dig deeper. Array 12 is recommended for patients with chronic conditions such as gastrointestinal distress, fatigue, body aches, unexplained inflammation and neuroinflammation.
GI-MAP v/s Cyrex Array tests
Most autoimmune conditions are idiopathic, that means their causes are unknown and can only be deciphered to a certain extent. So, advanced tests like GI-MAP and Array are your best bet.
While Array 12 is useful to trace existing pathogens causing auto-immune diseases, GI-MAP can go the extra mile to spot infections that could potentially develop into auto-immune conditions in the future. It must be clear till now that GI-MAP is much more detailed, however here are some cases where Array 12 may be more useful than GI-MAP:
- GI-MAP may miss out on infections that have passed on from the gut to other organs in the body, this is where Array 12 can be helpful. For instance, in cases where Candida is too extreme it might not show up in the gut and be traceable in other organs.
- Array 12 is helpful to spot Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and tick-borne diseases that GI-MAP may miss out on because they are found in the blood and not in the stool.
- In addition to positive and negative ranges, Array 12 also shows equivocal ranges to detect infections that may have existed in the body in the past.
However, if we really have to choose then GI-MAP is the most elaborate advanced test available. Even for people with autoimmune conditions, we recommend that they first go for GI-MAP and get a comprehensive snapshot of their gut. Array 12 can complement GI-MAP to probe further into the autoimmune condition.
People also often compare GI-MAP with Array 2 by Cyrex for gut issues. If one wants a detailed analysis of the gut then GI-MAP is the way to go. Whereas Array 2 can be used as a complementary test to check the integrity of the intestinal barrier and gut permeability, food sensitivities and allergies.
The results from advanced tests are helpful to get to the bottom of dysfunctions. It is important that you sign up with a good functional medicine practitioner to get an accurate interpretation of your results. So, if your disease has taken over your life, get going with these advanced tests and target your health issues with utmost precision!
- What is the GI Map and how can it help me? Hey Hey MAE
- GI-MAP By Diagnostic Solutions vs Array 2 By Cyrex Laboratories. Casa De Sante
- Gut Health Analysis. Ann Arbor Holistic Health
- Array 12 By Cyrex Laboratories - Rupa Health
- What is the GI-MAP and is it worth it? Hungry Hobby
- Cyrex Laboratories Announces Key Piece of the Environmental Trigger Puzzle With New Array 12 in Canada.