HAIR TISSUE MINERAL ANALYSIS (HTMA)
Your first step for your chelation program!
All hair analysis laboratories should be able to tell you the following information:
Hair tissue analysis will show your unique nutritional profile.
This will allow you to design an effective nutritional program based on scientific measurements.
No more guess work!
HAIR ANALYSIS CONTROVERSY
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
I have used hair tissue mineral analysis for 23 years and reviewed over 15,000 of these tests. I am familiar with all the major commercial testing laboratories in America, and much of the research. I have also written a textbook and many articles about its use.
Controversy centers around the accuracy and reliability of the test, as well as the interpretation of the readings. Also, some object to recommending diets and supplement programs based on tissue mineral testing. Iíll address these one at a time.
Regarding the accuracy of the test, mineral analysis is a standard spectroscopic analysis for which the technology has been known for some 75 years or more. The test is highly repeatable and accurate. All commercial laboratories are licensed and inspected annually by the federal government. They are given blind samples to run. If they do not meet stringent criteria for accuracy, they are not allowed to operate. The problem with accuracy arises from different washing procedures used at different laboratories.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency published a 300-page review of hair analysis in which they reviewed 400 studies of hair analysis. Based on this review, they concluded that hair analysis is a "meaningful and representative tissue for biological monitoring for most of the toxic metals". ("Toxic Trace Metals in Human and Mammalian Hair and Nails", EPA-600 4.79-049, August 1979, US Environmental Protection Agency, Research and Development.)
ON WASHING THE HAIR
I only recommend using Analytical Research Labs or Trace Elements, Inc. because they do not wash the hair. All other laboratories insist that washing hair at the laboratory is necessary. The time the hair is washed varies from three to ten minutes. Various detergents or solvents such as acetone and alcohol are employed in the washing process.
Studies by Dr. Raymond LeRoy, ScD published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, Vol.1, #2, show that washing for three and ten minutes, times used by many labs, caused erratic and unpredictable removal of mineral. The conclusions reached in the research in the above article, and backed up certainly by my experience and that of many other practitioners, are that:
1) Errors due to the erratic effects of washing are far worse than the possibility of contamination.
2) Hair is biopsy material and the washable sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium are not exogenous, only loosely bound and critical for interpretation.
3) Hair samples should not be washed at the lab, except if there is known contamination. In this case the sample can be rinsed quickly in alcohol so as not to remove the water soluble, loosely bound minerals.
What about the effect of daily showering? Research performed at Accutrace Laboratories indicates that showering is not the same as washing at the lab because:
* Showering is generally for only 15-30 seconds
* While the hair is on the head, the oil and sweat glands of the scalp are able to reestablish the equilibrium concentrations of the washed out minerals rapidly after showering. These concentrations probably depend upon many subtle factors, such as the electrostatic potential of the hair fibers.
* Shampoos are not nearly as powerful as the detergents and solvents used at hair analysis labs.
Daily swimming in pools can increase sodium and copper readings. Selsun Blue Shampoo can increase selenium levels. Head and Shoulders Shampoo can increase zinc readings. Grecian Formula and Youth Hair hair dyes increase lead levels. Otherwise hair products have little effect upon the readings.
Before using a tissue mineral analysis laboratory, practitioners should call and ask the lab about their washing procedure. Even with washing, the test is quite accurate for some minerals, but not for calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, manganese, and iron.
The differences due to washing the hair were exploited in two widely publicized articles published in the Journal of the AMA that claimed hair analysis was inaccurate.
The first article in JAMA appeared in 1985, 254(8)1041-1045. The author is a psychiatrist and had never used hair analysis in his practice. He is also a well-known medical quack-buster - that is, he writes negative articles about many alternative therapies.
For this study, he cut long pieces of his teenage daughter's hair. One should never use long hair for hair analysis. This is specified in the instructions from all commercial laboratories. Long hair unravels and mineral readings become unreliable.
Then the author washed the hair under the kitchen tap. One should never wash hair that has been cut in tap water which is full of minerals. This is also specified in instructions from all laboratories.
Then he cut the hair into small pieces and mixed them by hand. This is also unacceptable protocol. Hair is quite electrostatic and sticks together. It cannot be effectively mixed this way. He sent samples of the hair to 13 laboratories but did not mention that some wash the hair while others do not, and washing procedures vary among those that wash the hair.
Four of the laboratories showed excellent correlation, 3 showed moderate correlation and the 6 others did not correlate well. Based on this, he concluded that hair analysis is a fraud.
The second study used to discredit hair analysis appeared in JAMA #285(1), Jan. 3, 2001. For this study, six hair samples were cut from one woman's head. These were sent to six laboratories. One of them was an illegally-operating laboratory, and it showed the poorest correlation of results. Why anyone would use an illegally-operating laboratory for a scientific study is beyond me. A ìstudyî involving only one person to me is hardly significant. I would call it anecdotal.
To their credit, the authors mentioned that washing procedures vary among laboratories and this will influence results. However, they ignored their own statement in their conclusion where they did not attempt to separate out the results by which labs washed the hair.
In fact, the two laboratories that do not wash the hair showed superb correlation of the readings. This finding was completely ignored by the authors. The others showed moderate correlation. On the basis of these findings, the authors suggested that hair analysis is unreliable and should not be used.
For the 'Nightline' television expose on hair analysis, hair from a dog was sent to a commercial hair analysis laboratory. Those from 'Nightline' led the laboratory to believe it was a human sample because they did not tell them it was from a dog, although identifying the species is standard procedure.
When results came back, they were very odd because the normal mineral values for a dog are very different than for humans. The television host claimed that this was a healthy dog and that such odd results proved that hair analysis is a fraud. If one sent a dog's blood to a blood laboratory and did not tell the laboratory it belonged to a dog, the exact same thing would happen. This, of course, was not pointed out in the Nightline piece.
2002 CDC REPORT ON HAIR ANALYSIS
Another sad example of sloppy research is a review of hair analysis by the Centers for Disease Control in 2002. The CDC review of hair analysis was actually just a meeting of a panel of "experts" that took place in mid-2002. I work in the field of hair analysis and know most of the major people in the field. None were on this panel.
The panel reviewed 10 studies of hair analysis, at least that is all that are reported. (Recall that the EPA reviewed 400 studies of hair analysis in 1979.) Among the 10 were the two poor studies published in JAMA mentioned above. The main author of the second JAMA study was one of the CDCís "expertsî.
No independent research was done by the CDC. After a short meeting, the panel concluded hair analysis is not reliable. I was quite disappointed in the CDC review and wrote a letter to a CDC officer with my observations and comments. I never received a response.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH HAIR ANALYSIS
When properly performed and interpreted, I have found hair mineral analysis is an invaluable screening tool for evaluating nutritional status and general biochemistry. Few doctors or other practitioners understand it well. Most of the laboratories do not understand it well at all. I was fortunate to spend 14 years apprenticing with Dr. Paul C. Eck, a pioneer in this field and founder of Analytical Research Laboratories.
If mineral analysis did not work well, I would have stopped using it years ago, as there are many methods of nutritional assessment. I continue to use it because, when done correctly, the results are superb. More detail about washing the hair and test interpretation is found in Nutritional Balancing and Hair Mineral Analysis, published in Explore, for the Professional, in 2003.
EVERY MINERAL LEVEL AFFECTS EVERY OTHER LEVEL
Another area of controversy concerns the interpretation of the test. Often, hair analysis is viewed like a SMAC 24 or other test, in which each mineral value is regarded as a separate test.
While some information can definitely be derived this way, the SMAC approach misses a large part of the value of the test ‑ the knowledge derived from understanding the mineral relationships.
Dr. William Albrecht first described the 'mineral system' and designed the mineral wheel to indicate some of the interactions that exist between minerals. Since then, much more work has been done to identify mineral relationships.
By analyzing the mineral ratios and relationships, information can be derived about organ and gland function, mental and emotional tendencies, how the body is responding to stress and how to support the body nutritionally. Many disease 'trends' can also be identified, making hair analysis an excellent and cost‑‚effective preventive and predictive tool.
If the hair is washed at the lab, many mineral relation‚ships won't be apparent, because ratios involving the electrolytes will be inconsistent and distorted by washing. But any clinician wishing to test what I am saying, can note the following in unwashed samples:
The sodium/potassium ratio is an excellent indicator of certain trends. People in good health will generally have this ratio somewhere close to 2.5/1. When the ratio is less than one, there is a strong tendency to joint pain, allergies, digestive disturbance, liver and kidney dysfunction.
THE ELECTROLYTE VALUES REFLECT STAGES OF STRESS DESCRIBED BY DR. HANS SELYE
One of the keys to making sense of the many interrelationships present on the tissue mineral chart is to recognize that the electrolyte pattern can be correlated with the Stages of Stress described by Hans Selye. Not only does this make the stress theory a workable and measurable concept, but it instantly simplifies interpretation of the hair chart because the chemistry of each stage of stress has been studied. Knowing the stage of stress a person is in, you immediately know a lot about him or her.
While there is insufficient space to go into detail in this article about how the stage of stress is calculated, the basics are covered in an article in Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, Vol 1, #2. by this author. The stage of stress can be determined at a glance if the test report print‑out is calibrated properly. Once the stage of stress is known, many other aspects of the hair analysis become easy to interpret. For example,
* Toxic metal levels are higher in the alarm stage because metabolism tends to be faster and toxic metals are eliminated more rapidly.
* Zinc and copper levels tend to be lower in the alarm stage.
* Iron and manganese levels are lower in the exhaustion stage,
EACH MINERAL READING ON A HAIR ANALYSIS IS A SUMMATION OF MANY FACTORS WHICH CONTRIBUTE TO THE READING.
Many criticize hair analysis because readings occasionally seem bizarre, and little explanation can be found for a particular reading or change from one test to the next. Much of the explanation lies in another fact of hair analysis, another key to understanding the test.
This is, each reading represents a sum of the metabolic events in the hair.‚ While this must be obvious if one thinks about it, the implications of this are important, and this phenomenon has been thoroughly studied by Paul Eck. Components of the reading may include any or all of the following:
* the normal metabolism of hair tissue
* accumulation of mineral in soft tissue, called biounavailability
* excretion of mineral due to any number of causes
* displacement (a high reading) due to a toxic metal which displaces a physiological mineral.
* loss through the hair due to inability to retain a mineral
* a low reading due to retention of that mineral elsewhere in the body.
* a 'defender' is a low or high reading that occurs to compensate or maintain another more critical mineral level or ratio.
RECOMMENDING DIETS AND NUTRIENTS FROM A HAIR ANALYSIS
This is not an odd thing to do once one understands the interpretation of the test. The biochemistry of the stages of stress is well known. Certain nutrients assist the body in each stage of stress.
Also, certain nutrients assist the body to eliminate particular toxic metals that may be revealed on a tissue mineral test. Without going into extreme detail, these are examples of how the test can be used to recommend diet and supplementary nutrients to help restore health. The text I wrote, Nutritional Balancing and Hair Mineral Analysis, covers this subject in much more detail.
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