While there are a ton of tests and labs you can run, these are the ones we’ve personally found to be the most beneficial.
I would also highly encourage you to have Dr. Reid take a look at your lab results. This is an area in which she really has a lot of knowledge & expertise in, specifically analyzing metabolites. In fact, she is often hired by physicians to interpret lab results for them. She charges $135/hour and can be reached at unblindmymind.org
Organic Acid Test (OAT)
This simple urine test is what I would absolutely make a priority. It is known to give you an overall health and metabolic profile which can include nutritional deficiencies, neurotransmitter metabolites (including glutamate), oxidative stress, intestinal yeast, bacteria, minerals, oxalate, cellular energy and mitochondrial health insight. Unfortunately because this is a one time test, it simply provides data for a snapshot of time and doesn’t reflect what is truly going on over a longer period of time. It is also unable to tell if neurotransmitters, like glutamate, are pooling in certain areas of the body or brain, like the vagus nerve. However like many other tests, the OAT helps to point you in the right direction of what may need to be addressed and I would consider it one of the most beneficial tests.
If in the US can order this test without a physician by following these steps. Visit https://www.greatplainslaboratory.com and from the homepage click patients>MYMEDLAB>OrganicAcids(OAT)
Testing Glutamate Levels
There are a handful of different tests that you may take, but only a select few accurately indicate glutamate imbalances. The easiest and most cost effective way for us to test, was by trailing diet changes and watching for behavioral changes. One of the most simple tests to perform is a Urine Amino Analysis. This test will give you an overall average of glutamate and GABA levels but can be unreliable as it is unable to tell you if glutamate is pooling in certain areas of the brain, which is often the case. A simple blood test can test for blood plasma glutamate levels, but again will give you an overall average instead of a clear picture. Unfortunately, one of the most reliable ways to test for glutamate levels is a lumbar puncture. This test measures the glutamate levels in the cerebrospinal fluid but is quite invasive. According to Dr. Reid, it has recently been discovered that a brain MRI with a 5 Tesla resolution can give an indication as to where glutamate is pooling in the brain, which may be one of the most reliable tests out there.
Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA)
The CDSA is a comprehensive analysis of the overall health of the gastrointestinal tract. It is beneficial in providing insight into gastrointestinal inflammation, bacterial & fungal overgrowth, dysbiosis, malabsorption issues, possible pathogens/parasites (although often unreliable and not included in all tests), and so on. Heads up, you’re going to have to sift through stool with what appears to be the small spoon you typically get when sampling ice cream…ugh.
If in the US can order this test without a physician by following these steps. Visit https://www.greatplainslaboratory.com and from the homepage click patients>MYMEDLAB>ComprehensiveStoolAnalysis
Food Sensitivity Testing
We clearly knew that food was a big factor for our son, so not long after we started removing sources of glutamate, we decided to do some food sensitivity testing. While there are many different food sensitivity testing options, our integrative pediatrician suggested we try the Alletess IgG Food Sensitivity panel. IgG sensitivity panels test for IgG (immunoglobulin G) antibody levels (opposed to IgE- true allergy) to a variety of foods. In this test, blood is exposed to certain food proteins and the degree of IgG antibody that binds to the food protein gives an indication of sensitivity. This type of testing has been met with some criticism because of the concern, most will show more of an IgG reaction to foods we most commonly eat. However, it is important to add that many have seen substantial improvement by removing their highly sensitive foods. This may quite simply be because food sensitivities can create inflammation and often microglial activation which will result in additional glutamate signaling. This type of testing only tests for specific foods and will not indicate if there is a sensitivity or intolerance to a class or compound of foods (oxalate, phenols, salicylates, amines, sulphur, etc.)