Once you start following The Schwarzbein Protocol -- eating correctly and taking supplements -- the next step is to know exactly what’s happening with your digestive and immune systems.

Here’s what Dr. Schwarzbein does with all of her new patients. This is what I’ve done and suggest for all my patients, too.

1. Get a” take-home” stool/saliva test, also called “The GI Panel.” This test is a 7 day process where you take stool and saliva samples on days 4 & 7, we express mail it to the lab, and within 2 weeks or so we have a great look at the inside processes of your gut, and what you may be silently struggling with. It also tells us about food intolerances and your immune system (60% of your immune system is around your intestines). Cost: $200

2. Take a blood test that detects up to 90 different food allergies. If you have a few allergies, we eliminate those foods. If you have a lot of foods that come up positive, that requires a special healing protocol. This test is a kit, which you can prepare with me, or your own doctor. If you work with me on this, there is a blood draw and prep fee of $35-$50. Cost: $250-300

Once we get test results, I will make recommendations for healing. Suggestions may include diet changes, supplements, seeing a doctor for antibiotics, and/or using a gut healing shake 1-2 times a day for 3 months.

Several months after the healing protocol, we would retest your gut and your blood to check on the food allergies.

This is all a process that I realize you may need to budget for. The only other tests you may want to consider along the way, which are part of the Schwarzbein program, are the sex hormone blood tests to check your levels of progesterone and estradiol as you go through perimenopause and approach menopause, and an adrenal stress test to check your cortisol levels. The adrenal glands may be in overdrive or “burnt out.” This is caused by unbalanced daily stress, caffeine, cigarettes, sugar and alcohol consumption or not sleeping. This test is an easy one, done at home with saliva and costs $150.

Any and all of this will keep you on the healing path. Don’t be overwhelmed -- it’s all good and you can do it in pieces. All of these things are mentioned in Dr. S’s book “The Program.”

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