What is a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis?
A hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA) simply stated, is a screening test that measures the mineral content of your hair. However, a hair tissue mineral analysis is much more than a test for minerals. Providing a blueprint of one’s biochemistry, a hair tissue mineral analysis can provide pertinent information about your metabolic rate, energy levels, carbohydrate tolerance, stage of stress, immune system and glandular activity. This screening test can also be used to reduce the guesswork involved when recommending nutritional supplements and dietary modifications.
Is Hair Analysis A Valid Basis For Evaluation Of A Person’s Chemistry?
Blood tests and urine tests obviously provide important information about a person’s biochemical status, but they only evaluate the fluids in the body. However, the vast majority of biochemical functions actually take place inside the cells themselves. Of course, we can’t conveniently take snips out of the various organs of a person’s body in order to evaluate what is going on in the cells, but there are cells conveniently available to us, the cells of the hair. Through extensive research and correlation of data, it has been established that there are reliable relationships between the levels of minerals in the hair and other tissues of the body. Thus, analysis of the mineral content of an individual’s hair can provide us with a general ‘blueprint’ of the mineral content in the rest of the body’s tissues. Since these minerals are crucial to the functioning of enzymes, hormones and other biochemical systems which sustain life, it is possible to read this ‘blueprint’ and see where metabolic patterns are deviating from normal.
Another benefit of hair analysis is that it may be used to assist the health care professional to pinpoint the development of metabolic dysfunctions often before symptoms manifest. While mineral imbalances in the body do eventually show up in the blood serum, they will not do so until the condition is so advanced that the individual is often experiencing overt symptoms. Tissue mineral analysis allows us to determine that an imbalance exists, before the imbalance begins to manifest disturbances on a symptomatic level. Therefore, the imbalance can often be corrected through nutritional therapy even before a person begins to suffer from metabolic symptoms.
Hair Analysis vs Blood Analysis
Most individuals are unfamiliar with hair analysis. Why would one use it and how is it different from blood analysis?
What Is Hair?
Hair is a soft tissue of the body. A hair sample is a mineral biopsy, or cellular mineral sampling. The hair is technically ‘dead’. However, minerals deposited in the hair when it formed remain locked within the hair structure. The average level of minerals is about 10 times as high in the hair as in the blood. This makes minerals easier to measure accurately in the hair.
A Cellular Reading
The site of metabolism is the cells. Blood is excellent for many tests, but does not measure activity directly at the cellular level. The blood is the ‘highway’ of the body. The cells are the chemical factories of the body.
The final destination for all vitamins, minerals, sugars, fats and hormones is the cells, not the blood. It makes sense to measure the cells directly to determine whether these substances are actually reaching their final destination.
Blood Maintained At The Expense Of The Tissues
Blood minerals are maintained at fairly even levels at all times. Large fluctuations in the blood sugar, mineral or hormone levels could affect many sensitive organs and glands that the blood is in contact with at all times.
If the blood becomes low in a mineral such as calcium, calcium is removed from the bones or other tissues to replenish the blood. A person can have osteoporosis, or demineralized bones, but their blood (serum) calcium level will be normal.
Serum magnesium can be normal, but a person can have a cellular magnesium deficiency. The same is true for all the minerals! As a result, the blood serum is not a good place to measure minerals.
Hair is an excretory tissue of the body. That is, anything deposited in the hair will be lost as the hair grows and is cut off. Thus, minerals present in excess may be deposited in the hair to be excreted. Minerals that are deficient are often not deposited in the hair, so that they will be retained.
Hair and other tissues are thus the storage reservoirs for minerals. If the reserves are low, it will show up in the hair long before it will show up on a blood test. This makes the hair an excellent place to measure minerals.
Toxic metals are removed from the blood as fast as possible. They are stored in the tissues of the body, where they will do less damage. For this reason, it is harder to detect toxic metals in the blood, although there are such blood tests. Toxic metals are easier to detect in the tissues such as the hair.
Long-term Versus Short Term
Blood tests give a minute-by-minute reading of body chemistry. This can be essential in an acute emergency where every little change must be monitored as it occurs. The negative aspect of this is that blood tests can vary depending upon the time of day, meals eaten, activity level, even one’s mood or emotions at the time of the testing.
Hair testing is an average reading of about three months of hair growth. The test is not affected much by daily or even weekly changes. This means the hair test is less useful in minute-by-minute monitoring. However, it is very useful for detecting long-term patterns.
Use Of Hair Testing For Other Parameters
Thanks to Dr. Paul Eck’s research, hair testing can be used to identify the oxidation rate, stage of stress and tendencies for sugar intolerance, glandular imbalances, immune system activity and for over 30 other conditions.
Subtle metabolic changes can also be monitored through the hair. Often layers of adaptations must be uncovered for healing. The hair test is very helpful to identify these adaptations and monitor progress.
The hair test can identify emotional tendencies and personality patterns. This is a unique benefit of hair testing that may be very helpful for the client and the clinician.
Why Are Thyroid Test Results Often Different In Hair And Blood?
The answer is that the tests measure different things. Blood thyroid tests measure circulating hormones. It is generally felt that if these levels are normal, then one’s thyroid function is normal. It is also possible that blood thyroid profiles are not always accurate.
The problem is that the hormones must pass into the cells and be converted and utilized there. Hormone receptors must be present to allow the hormones to act.
The hair analysis assesses cellular effectiveness of hormones. Often the result is different. Both tests have value. The hair analysis test may give a clearer picture of actual glandular activity. For more detail on this question, see our article on hypothyroidism, which addresses this question in more depth.
Why Are Blood Sugar Tests Normal, Yet A Hair Test May Indicate Sugar Intolerance?
First, the hair test assesses trends or tendencies only. It is not a diagnostic test. One may have a tendency for low blood sugar or diabetes that is subclinical. It will not show up on a blood test. Identifying the trend, one can take steps to prevent the disease. Hair analysis can be a powerful preventive medicine tool.
Second, the hair and blood tests measure different things. The blood test measures glucose circulating in the blood at a particular moment. The hair test indirectly assesses a tendency for glucose imbalance at the cellular level.
Many patients have symptoms of hypoglycemia in spite of normal blood tests. They may have sugar starvation at the cellular level, while the blood reading is normal. This occurs frequently. The tendency will often be revealed on a hair test, but not on a blood test.
In summary, hair analysis and blood analysis are unique and measure different areas of the body. Hair testing is less familiar, but offers a window into the cells to help balance body chemistry.
Please visit www.arltma.com for more information on current biomedical transformations beginning with a simple hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA).