Frequently Asked Questions
What are the advantages of hair tissue mineral analysis?
Deficiencies and excesses of minerals are more readily observed in a hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (TMA) than in a blood analysis or urinalysis.
- Hair specimens can be collected more quickly and easily than blood, urine, or any other tissue, using a non-invasive method.
- Hair analysis is more cost-effective than mineral testing through other means.
- Unlike blood, hair is less susceptible to the homeostatic mechanisms that quickly affect trace element levels.
- Long-term deviations of mineral retention or losses are more easily detected in hair than blood.
- Concentrations of most elements in the hair are significantly higher than found in the blood and other tissues.
- Hair provides a record of past as well as present trace element levels, i.e. biological activity.
- Hair provides information of substances entering the hair from the blood serum as well as from external sources.
- Hair is invaluable in the assessment of toxic metal levels.
Which factors contribute to mineral imbalances?
There are many factors to take into consideration, such as:
Diet – Improper diet through high intake of refined and processed foods, alcohol and fad diets can all lead to a chemical imbalance. Even the nutrient content of a “healthy” diet can be inadequate, depending upon the soil in which the food was grown or the method in which it was prepared.
Stress – Physical or emotional stress can deplete the body of many nutrients while also reducing the capability to absorb and utilize many nutrients.
Medications – Both prescription and over-the-counter medications can deplete the body stores of nutrient minerals and/or increase the levels of toxic metals. These medications include diuretics, antacids, aspirin and oral contraceptives.
Pollution – From adolescence through adulthood the average person is continually exposed to a variety of toxic metal sources such as cigarette smoke (cadmium), hair dyes (lead), hydrogenated oils (nickel), anti-perspirants (aluminum), dental amalgams (mercury and cadmium), copper and aluminum cookware and lead-based cosmetics. These are just a few of the hundreds of sources which can contribute to nutrient imbalances and adverse metabolic effects.
Nutritional Supplements – Taking incorrect supplements or improper amounts of supplements can produce many vitamin and mineral excesses and/or deficiencies, contributing to an overall biochemical imbalance.
Inherited Patterns – A predisposition toward certain mineral imbalances, deficiencies and excesses can be inherited from parents.
What is the scientific community saying about HTMA?
Hair tissue mineral analysis is supported by an impressive body of literature in a variety of respected national and international scientific publications. Over the past twenty-five years hair mineral testing has been extensive. Each year in the United States alone, federally licensed clinical laboratories perform over 150,000 hair mineral assays for health care professionals interested in an additional screening aid for a comprehensive patient evaluation. This does not take into consideration the thousands of subjects used in numerous continuing research studies conducted by private and government research agencies.
A comprehensive list of scientific research articles using Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis can be found here.
Please read my teacher Dr. Rick Malter, PhD’s article “Quack Busting and ‘Junk Science’” which addresses some of the controversies associated with Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis.
I live abroad. How do I submit a hair sample?
The lab I work with, Trace Elements Inc, has partnerships with labs all over the world. If you live abroad, I will work with Trace Elements to find the closest comparable lab in your country. You will submit your hair sample to them directly and I will get the results. In rare cases a client may have to send their hair sample in to me here in the US for me to submit to Trace Elements.
How Accurate is HTMA Compared to a Blood or Urine Test?
With a properly obtained sample, hair analysis is extremely accurate. Blood tests give information about your mineral levels at the time of the test only. If you’ve just eaten a banana, your test can indicate a high potassium level, even though you may actually need potassium supplementation. On the other hand, hair analysis results indicate your overall level of potassium – your actual tissue and cellular storage levels over a period of time, not just what you ate that day or even that week. So a blood test will only accurately report what is being transported in our blood at the time of the test.
Testing for minerals in urine measures the minerals that are being excreted from your body – not necessarily what has been absorbed as fuel for your body.
So blood and urine tests are like snapshots whereas a hair analysis is the video of your mineral retention.
Which lab do you use for the hair biopsy?
I use Trace Elements Incorporated (TEI) for all my hair tissue lab tests.
TEI is a licensed and certified clinical laboratory that undergoes regular inspections with the Clinical Laboratory Division of the Department of Health and Human Services, HCFA. TEI uses ICP-Mass Spectrometry, the most modern and expensive analytical technique to be applied to routine elemental analysis. TEI performs all testing in a trace element laboratory clean room environment, utilizes the latest microwave temperature-controlled digestion technique and has a highly skilled and professional analytical/support staff. Further, each patient result from TEI is based upon an hourly National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) traceable standard curve, a rigorous quality control validation for every 24 specimens and is compared to a representative reference range derived from the like analysis of an international collection of normal and “healthy” subjects. TEI also performs routine spiked sample recoveries, daily split specimen analysis and voluntarily participates in various interlaboratory test comparison (TC) surveys. Additionally, TEI like many laboratories, participates in an on-going Quality Assurance/Quality Control program and adheres to CLIA guidelines for precision, reliability and overall good laboratory practices. Needless to say, you can be assured that we stand behind our analytical data.s
How do I know HTMA is right for me?
- Your migraines are digestive, hormonal, or chronic.
- You’ve tried everything under the sun and are still suffering.
- You want to know if heavy metals are playing a role in your migraines, and if so, which ones.
- You do not know whether you are copper toxic or copper deficient.
- You want to stop relying on pain meds.
- You eat well but are still getting triggered by food.
- You want to sleep better (or be able to fall asleep!)
- You want more energy for your kids, family, work, and self.
- Your doctor won’t do anything except prescribe suppressive meds.
- You’re concerned about the “side-effects” of your pain meds
- You’re ready to empower yourself to heal your migraines naturally.
How many tests are needed to balance my minerals?
In most cases, a single HTMA test is sufficient to determine a long-term strategy for mineral balancing. However, if your initial test shows that you have high levels of heavy metal toxicity, retesting is valauble to confirm to what extent the heavy metals are moving out through the mineral balancing program. A retest is also valauble but not required at any point after a client has reduced or eliminated pharmaceutical medications (since these all contribute to mineral dynamics), and in general to confirm that the mineral balancing program is reflecting the desired results on a tissue level.