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Saliva As a Diagnostic Tool

Fitness for mind and body.

Traditionally, saliva tests were used to detect hepatitis, tuberculosis or strep throat. Today, technology uses highly sensitive methods of detection that has turned saliva into a tool for diagnosis of many things. Among them are hormone imbalances, liver function, immunodeficiency and even cancer.

Some professionals believe saliva tests will become common practice within two to three years for early diagnosis of cancer. They also say it could become available over the Internet.

Saliva testing costs less than blood testing. Health insurance and Medicare programs often reimburse patients for the tests.

Professionals can easily collect, store and ship saliva. No needles are required in collecting saliva; it is non-invasive and convenient for multiple sampling.

While early detection by spitting in a cup and mailing the results off to a lab listed on the Internet seem remote, clinical trial testing of saliva as a cancer predictor are underway.

Meanwhile, these tests have become powerful tools in evaluating gastrointestinal problems, stress and hormone related diseases as well as the overall wellness of the patient. Results are available in five days and a consultation with doctor or technician follows to interpret results and give therapeutic implications.

Several therapeutic implications can already be determined in a saliva test: sleep and fertility disorders, loss of libido, menopausal symptoms and loss of energy and muscle strength may all be symptoms of a drop in hormone levels.

Some physicians feel the saliva test determines hormone levels more effectively than the standard blood test. Hormones can affect virtually every major system and organ in your body.

A Mayo clinic study concluded women who use naturally occurring progesterone in their hormone replacement therapy are more satisfied with their quality of life. Now it seems that naturally occurring progesterone can reduce the occurrence of sleep disorders, hot flashes, anxiety and symptoms of depression.

So, next time your doctor wants a blood test ask him or her -- couldn't I just spit in a cup?

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