Understanding the DUTCH Test: Pros and Cons

November 8, 2023 6 mins to read
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The DUTCH Test (Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones) has been a hot topic recently, especially after a critical review by Abby Langer, a Canadian dietitian. I think it’s great the DUTCH test is finally getting the recognition it deserves… Let’s dive into what this test is, the debates around it, and what experts say, so you can make informed decisions about your hormonal health.

Nutrition & Hormones

Nutrition and hormones are like salsa partners they are engaged in a complicated and delicate dance that is essential to optimum health. Hormones, which are chemical messengers in the body, regulate various metabolic processes including: growth, mood, and reproductive health. Nutrition directly influences the production and function of these hormones e.g. nutrients like fats & proteins are essential for synthesizing hormones, while the intake of carbohydrates impacts the release of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Conversely, hormonal imbalances can affect appetite & metabolism, leading to nutritional deficiencies or excesses. This interplay is evident in conditions like diabetes, where insulin imbalance affects dietary choices, and in thyroid disorders, where hormone levels can impact weight and energy levels. Honestly, hormones have such a profound impact on our health and how we feel, especially on things like energy, libido, drive and more. Understanding the complex relationship nutrition plats in hormonal balance is key to managing health through holistic nutrition.

What is the DUTCH Test?

The DUTCH Test measures various hormone levels in your body using dried urine samples which can be ordered and done at home and sent back to a lab. It’s often used to diagnose hormone-related issues like menopause, fatigue, or mood swings. The test is popular among some medical doctors, alternative health providers, and dietitians/nutritionists. But it’s usefulness is largely dependent on the expertise of the individual interpreting the raw data, which is why many in traditional medicine are critical of it’s usefulness.

The DUTCH Test Debate

  1. Support from Precision Analytical (the company behind DUTCH Test):
    • They argue that the DUTCH Test provides valuable hormone insights, often overlooked by standard tests. I agree!
    • The test is backed by scientific research and used by many healthcare providers, including over 4000 MDs. Fact!
    • They stress the importance of cortisol metabolites (a type of hormone marker) in understanding stress and heart health. Yes! Also it takes samples over a 24hr period, so you can get a better picture of hormone levels.
    • Their recent studies suggest the test’s accuracy and clinical usefulness, especially in hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
  2. Criticism and Concerns:
    • Critics, like Abby Langer, question the test’s necessity and the lack of unbiased information online. I currently have no affiliation with the DUTCH test company, but I do see the usefulness in the DUTCH tests results, especially as a nutrition professional do develop a nutrition plan that supports an individuals optimal hormone levels.
    • Some endocrinologists and gynecologists believe that the test isn’t necessary for hormone evaluation and can be misleading. There are other hormone tests that can be done at a lab, but the DUTCH test is available as an easy-at home test that can be ordered directly by consumers, which makes it allot ore accessible to many people, especially for those that don’t like doctor visits and waiting rooms.
    • Concerns about “over-marketing” and selling unnecessary supplements based on test results. This really depends on the individual. I believe supplementation is necessary due to modern agriculture leading to nutrient poor soil and food, but I always try to go Food first, then whole food supplements (e.g. moringa ground up in capsules, or cod liver oil) and then concentrated supplements or herbs to target specific deficiencies or health issues. Sometimes a supplement can be more affordable e.g. salmon fish can be expensive and one might only last 1-2 meals Vs am Omega-3 fish supplement which can last many months and target essential fatty acid deficiencies.

The Value of Hormone Testing

  • Precision Analytical’s View: They believe the DUTCH Test can guide diagnosis and treatment, particularly in cases where hormone dysfunction is suspected. They emphasize their commitment to ongoing research and transparency. Obviously as a nutrition professional I do not diagnose or treat, but, I can use your DUTCH test results to help optimize your hormones nutritionally if you book an appointment as my patient (online TeleHealth available from the comfort of your own home)
  • Skeptics’ Perspective: Experts like endocrinologist Disha Narang, MD, and gynecologist Dr. Jen Gunter argue that hormone metabolites (tested in DUTCH) are rarely used in clinical practice. They stress that validated, conventional tests usually provide sufficient information. Again I think it comes down to accessibility and affordability – the DUTCH test could provide info to develop a nutrition plan to support hormonal balance – this could provide individuals with some relief from their discomfort or health issues.

Important Points to Consider

  • Clinical Relevance: Whether the markers tested in the DUTCH Test offer insights beyond traditional tests is a topic of on-going debate.
  • Cortisol Testing: The test measures cortisol (a stress hormone) in different ways, but experts debate the necessity of this detailed analysis.
  • Research and Validation: Precision Analytical highlights their research; however, critics point out potential biases and lack of widespread endorsement by major medical societies. You know my stance on major medical societies and regulatory agencies being corrupt – it’s been evident over the last few years that they often put profit before health – and therefore the DUTCH test could be an addition to your standard testing.
  • Cost and Accessibility: The test can be expensive, and some argue that lifestyle and diet adjustments based on the test may not be unique to its findings. I agree the test can be cost prohibitive because standard tests done at your healthcare professional may be covered by standard healthcare of insurance, while the DUTCH test is not. There is also as I mentioned an element of accessibility and convenience as an at-home mail-order test, and can be a great resource for those who can afford it.

Conclusion | Be Informed!

If you’re considering the DUTCH Test, it’s essential to weigh both sides of the debate. Remember, hormone health is complex, and what works for one person may not for another. Consulting with a trusted healthcare provider, preferably one who understands both conventional and alternative approaches, is crucial in making the best decision for your health. If your physician won’t give you the DUTCH test, consider finding a more knowledgeable naturopath who can fully utilize all the DATA provided by the DUTCH test and provide recommendations. You can also book an appointment (online TeleHealth video call) to send the results to me so I can develop a nutrition plan to support your hormonal balance.

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