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CBC is a blood test that many doctors run. However, the analysis of the results and what we do with them is wildly different depending on who you go to and what reference ranges they consider “normal”.

CBC is a blood test that many doctors run. However, the analysis of the results and what we do with them is wildly different depending on who you go to and what reference ranges they consider “normal”. Working with integrative functional medicine doctors assures that your values are being compared to OPTIMAL levels, and not ones that were determined based off research of already unhealthy individuals. Here, I break down the fundamentals of the CBC so you can better understand what is being checked for each time you get this run.

The CBC tests the structure and function of 3 main components of blood:

  • Function of blood is to help your body communicate, connect and circulate nutrients/water/waste from organ to organ, and hopefully out. It’s a multidimensional system that has many interconnected parts.
  1. White blood cells (WBCs), also called Leukocytes.
  • Leuko – cytosis (means an increase of circulating WBCs). This is seen in acute, active infections.
  • Leuko – penia (a decrease in circulating WBCs). This is reflected in blood work for patients with chronic (untreated) infections, chemo patients and people on long term raw diets since raw diets deplete the body of blood building foods which is traditionally meat.
  • 2 overarching groups with further subtypes –
  • Granulocytes (3 subtypes) – release granules filled with chemical signals – a means of communication between cells
  • Neutrophils are called first defenders – make up about 80% of circulating WBCs – (called bands and segments in their immature forms) – high in bacterial and/or other pyogenic infections.
  • EEEosinophils – are run to rule out 3 things (intestinal parasites; allergies and atopic diseases; and coxsackie fungal infections).
  • Basophils are phagocytic and contain 3 main chemicals (histamine; seratonin and heparin). Basophils are called “mast cells” when found in the blood.
  • Agranules (2 subtypes)
  • Lymphocytes (high with systemic toxic reactions & low levels predispose patients to recurrent infections)
  • Monocytes (2nd line of defense. They tend to rise and start doing their job after 3 days of the initial insult).

2. Red blood cells (RBCs), also called Erythrocytes – screens for dehydration.

  • 2 functions: carries oxygen from lungs to tissues & carries CO2 from tissues to the lungs
  • Reticulocytes (immature RBCs) – 1st 2 days of circulation life. Run to differentiate between anemias.
  • HCT: % volume of RBCs. Also determines cause and type of anemia. Should rise with treatment. High in asthma/emphysema/dehydration/polycythemia veras/spleen hyper function
  • Hemoglobin (Hgb): carries oxygen in RBCs. Screens for dehydration and should increases as we treat anemia.
  • RBC indicies:
  • MCV: volume – measures size
  • MCH: measures average weight
  • MCHC: a calculated value
  • RDW (RBC distribution width): indicates degree of anisocytosis (aka size variations)… high in B12 deficiency

3. Platelets, also called Thrombocytes — evaluates bleeding/clotting diagnoses

  • 70% circulate in the blood & 30% circulate in the spleen
  • MPV (mean platelet volume) – average size
  • PDW (platelet distribution width) – how uniform the are in size

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