There are these widely held misconceptions that as long as one eats healthy you don’t have to worry about mineral deficiencies; that taking a multi-vitamin provides good insurance against deficiencies; that a copper IUD is a ‘safe’ option for women’s birth control because it's 'non-hormonal'; that supplementing with extra calcium is great for bone health; that nutrition and mental health have little or no relation; that a proper detox can be done in a few weeks; that blood tests are a reliable measure of the body’s nutrients…all of these beliefs being so far from the truth and which, until they are dispelled, only perpetuate the denial and suppression of finding real answers to many of today’s most common health complaints, both physical and mental. The information on this page offers a starting point for education and understanding.
“There is not a single disease ever identified caused by a lack of a drug, but there are diseases caused by a lack of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Why, then, do we consider the former - chemical medicine - the standard of care, and food-as-medicine quackery?” ~ Sayer Ji
The delicate balance of minerals in our bodies has far reaching effects on health, both physically and mentally. Almost all physical health conditions, even many mental health conditions, can be traced to the functioning of our endocrine system. This system (which includes the adrenal and thyroid glands, pancreas, hypothalamus, parathyroid...) is largely affected by key mineral balances. By restoring a healthier balance of minerals, the functioning of the endocrine system improves. HTMA (Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis) is a screening test (using hair from the scalp) which, much more accurately than blood testing, indicates mineral imbalances and heavy metal toxicities and provides the evidence required to design the most effective nutritional and detox programs. You'll discover which vitamins and minerals are best for YOUR body, which ones could actually be hurting you, and how imbalances are affecting your health and energy.
Unfortunately many physicians still rely on blood testing to test for metal toxicity and mineral imbalances. Misdiagnosis or non-detection is common as a result of such outdated practice, since blood testing does not accurately pick up on stored mineral imbalances. The blood can show high levels immediately after or during acute exposure (useful for hour by hour monitoring), but ignores long term stored and bio-unavailable levels or cellular deficiencies.
Example 1: A blood test can show a perfectly 'healthy' level of copper even in the presence of copper toxicity in the tissues (very common).
Example 2: Forty days after acute lead exposure, lead is undetectable in the blood, though it's still in the body.
Example 3: When blood calcium drops, calcium is removed from bone to replenish the blood - meaning the blood calcium can appear within normal range even though bones are being demineralized and osteoporosis is developing.
Example 4. An intracellular magnesium loss or potassium loss may be occurring at the cellular level even when the blood shows normal or high.
Example 5: Even the more advanced RBC (red blood cell) test for magnesium lacks logic. Roughly only 1% of the body's magnesium is in the blood - almost all of it is in the mitochondria of the cell - and red blood cells don't have mitochondria! A person can be depleted of magnesium before it shows up in a blood test.
These are just a few examples of excesses and deficiencies that are missed in the blood but can seen on an HTMA. Even more importantly, blood testing fails to provide key mineral ratios which are the essential indicators that must be examined to properly determine the extent of mineral deficiency or toxicity conditions, and the subsequent supplementation and correction program. Without this vital information, supplementation (or mineral detox programs) are being done blindly.
When toxic amounts of a mineral (or heavy metal) accumulate in the body, they do not stay in the blood. This is due to blood's homeostatic nature. It must, by necessity, remove excess toxins and minerals quickly. Some of this excess gets excreted in urine (urine analysis shows what's being excreted). Much of the excess amount however gets stored, in a bio-unavailable form that the body can't use, in the cells and tissues. In many cases where HTMA data would pick up toxic levels of stored minerals or metals in the body, the doctor relying on blood test results may tell the patient they're fine. This over-reliance on blood results is a key reason why so many symptoms remain 'mysteries' to physicians, why the epidemic of 'copper toxicity' remains largely silent and greatly misunderstood or even denied, and why there is such poor understanding of the connection mineral imbalances have on health.
"HTMA is truly the gold standard to determine the status of magnesium in the body and not even the heralded Mg RBC test can challenge HTMA with the accuracy and insight that this tissue analysis provides, especially when comparing blood levels of the nutrient minerals and toxic metals to the tissue samples." ~Dr. Robert Selig
Blood is simply a system of nutrient transport, and it always works to return quickly to a homeostatic balance.
*** The blood level does NOT reflect the stored tissue levels of metals and minerals at the cellular level ***
“Hair is formed in the dermis from a cluster of matrix cells that make up the follicle. During the growth phase, metabolic activity is greatly increased, exposing the hair to the internal metabolic environment. This includes the extracellular fluids, circulating blood, and lymph. As the hair reaches the surface of the skin, its outer layers harden, locking in the metabolic products accumulated during this period of hair formation.”
~David L. Watts, Ph.D.
"Trace elements (minerals) are more important than are the vitamins, in that they cannot be synthesized by living matter. Thus they are the spark-plugs in the chemistry of life, on which the exchanges of energy in the combustion of foods and the building of living tissues depend."
~Dr. Henry Schroeder
Though far from exhaustive, the following provides a quick glance at just some of the many conditions affected by mineral imbalance. The contributing minerals mentioned are also not exhaustive, and also do not include toxic metals - an additional source of many physical and mental problems. HTMA data provides detailed information on over 30 essential minerals and toxic metals.
Significant accumulations of heavy metals (especially lead, mercury, aluminum, and cadmium) and/or excess copper are found in the profiles of many ADD/ADHD children and adolescents. Additionally, significant imbalances in the essential nutrients involved in glucose regulation and cellular energy production are another factor. (Since most ADHD individuals have adrenal impairment, stimulant drugs 'seem' to work by boosting neuropsychological functioning, but this only further wears down the adrenals, making the same dose less and less effective.)
Adrenal Health & Energy
The balance between sodium and magnesium indicates the strength or insufficiency of the adrenal glands. When the adrenals are activated, sodium rises. High sodium and potassium, especially relative to calcium and magnesium, indicate high adrenal activity. A low sodium level (a reflection of aldosterone) indicates exhausted adrenals. High levels of bio-unavailable copper will also exhaust the adrenals. With exhausted adrenals, the body will constantly feel fatigued and, in turn, many other physical and psychological conditions may develop. Improving adrenal performance is a key focus of mineral balancing. Copper also plays a large factor in those with chronic fatigue due to copper's role in ATP energy production. "By balancing the minerals, you can increase your ability to release energy from foods. And you can increase your cell's ability to utilize that food energy to produce human energy." ~ Dr. Eck
Though the Alzheimer's Association as of 2017 has yet to publicly make the connection in their literature, I would suggest excess copper plays an important role. As I explain in more detail at the bottom of this page, consider the following: Copper antagonizes zinc, and zinc deprivation causes cell death in the hippocampus, where memories are recorded. “In Alzheimer's disease, the hippocampus is one of the first regions of the brain to be affected, leading to the confusion and loss of memory so commonly seen in the early stages of the disease.” ~Dr. Ananya Mandal. At the same time, excess copper causes neuronal toxicity while zinc deficiency causes neuronal damage [source]. Alzheimer’s is characterized by degeneration and/or trauma of neuronal structures [source]. Dr. Rashid Dean, PhD, a research professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Department of Neurosurgery, has shown in that “over time, copper’s cumulative effect is to impair the systems by which amyloid beta is removed from the brain. Amyloid beta is a main component of the amyloid plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients”. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal concluded in 2013 that “Copper appears to be one of the main environmental factors that trigger the onset and enhance the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by preventing the clearance and accelerating the accumulation of toxic proteins in the brain.”
Iron deficient anemia can develop as a result of bio-unavailable copper. With a deficiency in available copper, iron will build up in storage areas and also become bio-unavailable, leading to anemia. The answer is usually NOT taking more iron, but rather making copper bio-available. Also, low HCl in the gut impairs iron absorption, and most Slow Metabolizers (around 80% of the population) are HCl deficient. The focus should not be on taking extra iron, but making iron more absorbable and available.
A high level of copper is a major contributor to anxiety. Also, those with low tissue calcium and magnesium, as well as those with a high sodium to potassium ratio are also more prone to feeling anxiety.
Insufficient magnesium relative to calcium will increase the tendency for calcium deposition in the arteries. This Ca/Mg ratio is often missed in conventional testing but is easily seen through HTMA.
A mineral pattern showing a high level of calcium to potassium along with a high sodium to potassium ratio, a low calcium to magnesium ratio, and a high level of copper often creates a "pseudo-bipolar" condition that can be ameliorated through the adjustment of minerals. Copper's stimulatory effect can cause fluctuations between manic and depressive conditions.
As calcium releases insulin from the pancreas and magnesium prevents insulin release, a high level of calcium relative to magnesium leads to increased insulin secretion, and a tendency for hypoglycaemia.
...is a common occurrence of liver toxicity (as copper and other toxins build up in the liver)…among other factors.
Low copper relative to zinc allows an increase in LDL and a decrease in HDL. This imbalance can lead to hardening of the arteries, regardless of the total serum cholesterol or triglyceride levels. A low level of magnesium is also a major contributor to heart attacks. In fact, as stated by Dr. Andrea Rosanoff, Ph.D, (co-author of The Magnesium Factor), "the most important marker for impending heart disease is a low magnesium to calcium ratio in the cells." Excess calcium (which excess copper and/or stress can contribute to), especially relative to magnesium, increases soft tissue calcification, arterial plaque and atherosclerosis (which then increases risk of heart attack). Yes...all that calcium you're being told to consume and supplement may actually be increasing your risk one day of heart and stroke (source)! While this calcium/magnesium imbalance would be very difficult to ascertain through blood testing, through HTMA we get a clear view.
Chronic Fatigue (see adrenal health and energy)
A high level of copper and calcium, and especially high calcium relative to magnesium, along with the natural effect of depleted /weakened adrenals, are all major contributing factors to depression. The more apparent this slow oxidation mineral pattern, the more likely depression is to develop.
Since excess copper may affect MAO and serotonin levels, many young women in particular are at increased risk of depression as they enter puberty due to their increasing estrogen raising the retention of copper. (Copper toxicity incidentally depletes zinc, copper and vitamin B6, three nutrients essential for serotonin production (our happy hormone), further increasing a shift toward depression). This underscores the importance of assessing mineral levels (and detoxing excess copper) before adolescence which in turn can then help lessen the risk of depression and other psychological disorders for young women.
Digestive Issues / Candida / Yeast
A high level of copper can impair digestion and bowel motility resulting in gas and bloating. Furthermore, copper is a natural fungicide. When the copper level becomes too high it becomes bio-unavailable (creating a deficiency condition), and with this deficiency in bio-available copper, yeast and candida are allowed to flourish. Meanwhile copper lowers zinc. When zinc is low, digestive enzyme, HCL, and bile production become impaired. Deficiency of zinc also increases the permeability of the gut lining, potentially opening the door to leaky gut. When protein synthesis is low (a result of low phosphorus), digestion is further impaired. Low potassium will also lead to reduced HCL secretion, further impairing digestion, mineral absorption, digestive enzyme production, and ultimately creating a breeding ground for pathogens.
Emotional Apathy & Relationship Withdrawal
As explained by Dr Eck in the 1985 book 'Energy', adrenal exhaustion (low sodium and potassium) creates a tendency for a person to withdraw from romantic relationships. Physiologically, sex and romance are forced to be put on hold for the survival of the body. The person may seek out new partnerships, careers, and life changes during this time as doing so is a way to 'stimulate' their otherwise depleted body. If burnout is paired with a current stressful event or a past traumatic experience, a calcium shell is likely to form. This high level of calcium (which copper toxicity contributes to) effectively blocks emotions and deadens feelings as a means of protecting the body/mind from stress overwhelm). A lot of relationships fall victim to this powerful mineral imbalance, causing one partner to withdraw as they no longer feel for their partner, believing the relationship to be the problem rather than an underlying mineral imbalance. The low Na/K reflecting exhaustion can also create a high suppression of emotion, even though the individual may not acknowledge it. The same is also true with high levels of copper toxicity which can create the numbing calcium shell effect while also reducing zinc and in turn lowering NGF which is directly related to the intensity of romantic feelings.
Though we're 'taught' to take a TUMS or antacid for relief, the cause is actually a deficiency of stomach acid which impairs the ability to properly digest food. The antacid offers short term relief at the cost of making the condition worse long term. Sodium, potassium and zinc levels provide great indicators of stomach acid production, and with heartburn, a deficiency of these levels can be expected.
Excess levels of toxic metals such as cadmium, mercury, and lead, along with accumulations of copper, iron, or manganese are often seen in children with hyperactivity.
A low zinc level is just one key factor that will impair the body's immune system
High sodium to potassium over a long time leads to chronic inflammation. The potassium level reflects glucocorticoid activity, and so a low potassium level may be a warning of an inflammatory process in the body.
...commonly results as a sign of liver overload or adrenal exhaustion, the status of both being evidenced through HTMA. Vitamin C deficiency (common as the copper level goes too high) impairs serotonin production, also leading to insomnia.
Kidney & Liver Function
A high sodium to potassium ratio can lead to kidney and liver dysfunction. A high level of copper (or any toxic metal for that matter) can also overload the liver.
Any bodybuilder knows the importance of protein for building muscle. A high phosphorus level indicates rapid protein breakdown, while a low phosphorus level indicates inadequate protein synthesis and tissue breakdown. Healthy production of HCL (which we can infer the need for through the HTMA status of potassium, sodium, and zinc) boosts muscle protein synthesis, which in turn improves growth and training effectiveness. (Incidentally, if you're seeing some unwanted fat around the waist, that HCL will also support the liver to produce bile which in turn will help in the breakdown of fat).
Muscle Tightness and Twitches ...often a sign of magnesium and/or potassium deficiency
Though most people understand that calcium is important for preventing osteoporosis, what many aren't told is that too much calcium relative to magnesium and other essential minerals will actually increase the risk for osteoporosis. Adequate magnesium is required for calcium to be deposited in the bone. Yet, women especially are being pushed by doctors and media messages to take more and more calcium, and a large portion of packaged food in the grocery store is 'fortified' with calcium. Consider the insanity of loading up on all this calcium without first understanding your magnesium level and ensuring adequacy in other nutrients. Without doing so, your risk of osteoporosis is actually increasing! It's a fact that women in western countries have among the highest osteoporosis rates in the world, even though they are one of the world's highest consumers of calcium! We can compare that to Peruvian and Japanese women who consume a much higher ratio of magnesium to calcium, and yet have extremely low rates of osteoporosis. Numerous Western studies also show that those who consume more calcium from dairy have higher risks of fractures. For most people, and women especially, adding excess calcium will not only increase their risk of osteoporosis, but will also slow metabolism and exacerbate tendencies toward hypothyroidism, adrenal insufficiency, and accumulation of toxic metals.
PMS type symptoms
One of the many negative effects of excess copper are heightened PMS type symptoms. In part, copper increases sodium retention which aggravates PMS symptom, while also antagonizing zinc and and B6, two nutrients which can help reduce PMS symptoms. (The PMS reactions of moodiness and irritability, though typically associated with estrogen, is moreso estrogen's effect on the mineral pattern, specifically - as estrogen increases it in turn increases copper retention).
Schizophrenia & Paranoia
It’s well known that neurotransmitters affect psychiatric conditions, and we can’t ignore that nutrients affect neurotransmitters. Excess copper for example will decrease dopamine and raise norepenephrine, and this imbalance can be one of the causes behind schizophrenia and paranoia (and other mental health conditions as well). On top of copper’s role in affecting neurotransmitter levels, copper toxicity also impairs the functioning of the neocortex. Displays of paranoia are relatively common in cases of extreme copper toxicity and especially if copper is mobilized (dumped) too quickly. This is why HTMA guidance is so important when detoxing copper, and it’s time the mental health community starts acknowledging this important mineral connection rather than simply treating patients with dangerous psychotropic drugs.
Skin Conditions (such as eczema, psoriasis, acne)
As copper (and other toxic metals) build up they can clog the lymph system which leads to toxins breaking out through the skin. Zinc deficiency may also show up via the skin in the form of psoriasis or eczema.
During the alarm stage of stress, the increase in aldosterone production raises sodium over potassium, while potassium is lost through the urine. With high Na/K the person can be easily overwhelmed by the slightest stress or irritation and over-react. This response can by-pass higher cortical intellectual functions, making it more difficult to counsel the individual about their reactions. Balancing the Na/K will allow the person to better control their emotions and awareness. Stress left uncorrected will deplete magnesium and zinc and eventually exhaust the body's adrenals and both sodium and potassium plummet as a result. Proper interpretation of HTMA provides an excellent look at one's "stress profile" along with the effects that stress (internal or external) is having on their system.
Thyroid Health & Weight
Calcium slows down the thyroid while potassium speeds it up. Potassium is required to sensitize the cells to Thyroid hormone, while Calcium blocks the absorption and transfer of all hormones and nutrients into the cell. The balance between calcium and potassium is a great indicator of the efficiency of the thyroid gland, which can in turn lead to both energy and weight challenges. Excess calcium also slows metabolism, which in turn can also lead to weight struggles.
Chances are almost certain that yes, you would! Everyone has mineral imbalances, it's just a matter to what extent. Often, those who believe they are living the healthiest seem to have the greatest imbalances. This is especially true for vegetarians and vegans who are admirably committed to living healthy, yet will almost always have signs of copper toxicity, zinc deficiency, and potassium deficiency. One of the most important minerals that almost everyone is deficient in, magnesium, is chelated (depleted) by glyphosate (the main ingredient in the Roundup herbicide sprayed on a vast majority of crops, especially wheat, oats, lentils, peas, non-GMO soybeans, corn, flax, potatos, etc. We even lose magnesium when under stress (something that affects pretty much everyone). Also applicable to everyone is the fact that we are exposed to toxins daily, through the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. Those toxic elements can then go on to actually replace our essential minerals in receptor sites. Calcium for example might be replaced with strontium; zinc might be replaced with mercury, etc. We are also exposed to toxic levels of some metals in utero, beginning life on day 1 with imbalances. On top of that, many individuals are on one form of medication or another, and medications for pain, heartburn, depression, thyroid disease, cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc can deplete iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc, potassium, and various vitamin levels. We can trace toxic metals to our water and a large supply of our crops. Not only is glyphosate a concern as mentioned, but even crops labeled 'organic' are often sprayed with 'organic' copper sulfate which numerous studies show is toxic to humans. Also, our soils today are so greatly nutritionally depleted that even if you do all you can to eat raw and 'healthy', the food itself is deplete in mineral content. Even if you take a one-a-day multivitamin, this does not ensure that you are actually absorbing those minerals, nor are those nutrients customized for YOUR body. Most people have low stomach acid, and this poor digestion further affects the absorption of minerals - even if you consume enough of a mineral it simply may not be getting absorbed. It's also unrealistic to believe that decades of toxins and imbalances can be fixed with some 30-day fast or packaged detox program. Balancing takes time, together with specific nutrients targeted for your own unique biochemistry.
Here is an example of a slow metabolizer pattern, which is easily recognizable by seeing calcium, magnesium and copper all elevated above a lower sodium and potassium. (A fast metabolizer would have the opposite pattern, with higher Na and K relative to lower Ca, Mg and Cu). While infinite variations to this exist based on each individual mineral level, the majority of the population (roughly 80%) today reflects a slow type pattern. (The red line represents the ideal level.) The high Ca relative the low K reflects a very high Ca/K thyroid ratio, and thus a very slow thyroid. The high Na relative to K reflect intense stress. The low Na and K levels reflect adrenal insufficiency. A degree of copper toxicity is also seen, further evidenced by the high Ca and low K.
So what would happen to this individual if they are given calcium supplementation, or vitamin D supplementation, both of which are so commonly promoted these days? It would be disastrous, as both will further raise calcium and lower potassium, slowing the thyroid even further, and intensifying the Na/K stress response. Copper will have the same effect - further increasing calcium and lowering potassium. What happens then with a high Na/K stress ratio? Magnesium gets used up, or depleted. Though the chart shows what looks like a "healthy" level of magnesium on the surface, it's important to understand what's really happening here. The high Na/K is burning up magnesium, where the magnesium is being lost intracellularly, going into the blood temporarily, and getting picked up by the hair follicle. In other words, this "healthy" magnesium level is in fact a sign of rapid magnesium depletion, and so for this individual, magnesium supplementation is essential. If this person were to take calcium without adding in magnesium, they are opening the door to the calcification of organs and tissues, increased insulin levels, increased risk of muscle spasms, and increased risk of blood clotting; all the while the bone structure gets weaker as the calcium (without adequate magnesium) ends up in soft tissue rather than the bone. Psychologically, the high Na/K increases anger, anxiety, panic, and shorten's a person's fuse, making them more irritable. As magnesium drops as a result due to the heightened stress, depression and denial creep in, as well as a tendency towards various addictive behaviors. Negative aspects of one's personality prevail. The risk of diabetes, inflammation and heart attack also increase.
Though these aforementioned symptoms merely scratch the surface, they show the danger of blindly giving supplements or dietary advice without having this vital HTMA information to work off of. A person with this pattern should definitely not be supplementing with vitamin D or extra calcium for the reasons noted above. On a side note, it's common for doctors to prescribe high doses of Vitamin D for such a person, however that will only further deplete magnesium as well, and it is magnesium that is needed to maintain adequate Vitamin D levels (in other words, it is restoring a healthy magnesium level that will help raise low Vitamin D levels...not taking more Vitamin D!!). A high copper diet will also worsen their pattern, further slowing the thyroid and weakening the adrenals. What this person DOES need is magnesium, and they would benefit greatly by adding potassium and Vitamin A (to help raise potassium) and zinc and vitamin C (to help lower copper). By targeting specific minerals in this manner, we can effectively reduce many of the most prevalent physical and psychological symptoms out there.
HTMA is a form of advanced nutrition science that threatens both the politics and finances of the health ("disease") care system. Money is not made by selling 'awareness' or natural healthy foods high in mineral content, but rather in pharmaceutical drugs that can be patented and sold for large profits - many that then cause side effects which then require more pharmaceutical drugs - a system that perpetuates profits at the expense of the public's health. In 1985 and again in 2001, two studies were picked up by the Journal of the American Medical Association that on the surface (to a person untrained in HTMA analysis) seemed to dismiss the accuracy of HTMA. Though these studies violated most all acceptable protocol for testing, including ignoring the most basic principles for how to cut the hair itself and even using an illegally operating unlicensed mineral testing laboratory, and even though the data when properly interpreted after the fact still showed very clear patterns and accuracy, the articles and subsequent media campaign nonetheless cast an unnecessary doubt over HTMA among those who simply didn't take the time to research it further. As a result, those behind the studies have disgracefully held back the progress of medicine, impeding nutritional awareness and answers that since could have saved the health and lives of many. In fact, the author of the first study was found by the California Appeals Court to be "biased and unworthy of credibility", yet continues to run websites that discredit HTMA and various other holistic practices that help people avoid drugs and surgery, including acupuncture, TCM, chiropractic, orthomolecular therapy, naturopathy, et al. Nonetheless, great marketing efforts went into promoting those bias studies at the time, and many today who fail to understand this history still refer to those studies in forming their view on HTMA, shying away from it instead of taking the time to truly understand it. Skeptics often refer to back to those studies, calling into question the accuracy of HTMA. Accuracy is influenced when the hair is washed at the lab, however when assayed properly by either of the two leading HTMA labs (which don't wash the hair sample), the great accuracy of HTMA is easily proven.
This article provides an excellent background summary into the fraudulent and malicious attempts that have gone in to suppressing HTMA: http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/soy-alert/hair-apparent-the-case-of-the-quackbuster/
Perhaps the most important reason why HTMA is not more commonly accepted amongst doctors is that most of them have received very little training in nutrition, let alone the complex interpretation of HTMA charts. Interpreting HTMA data is not as simple as just looking at a mineral level. It is infinitely complex, and very confusing to anyone not fully committed to full time study and pursuing a deep understanding. An advanced training of mineral ratios and their various effects on physical and mental health is required to properly use HTMA in practice. It is currently easy for any M.D. to open an account at a testing lab and pass the results on to their patients, making the very dangerous assumption that a mineral level on a graph can be read at face value. The most important strength of HTMA is in the correct INTERPRETATION of the results, which goes far beyond just looking at what mineral appears high or low on a chart. An example of this is provided in the HTMA 101 Example above. Unfortunately incorrect interpretations of HTMA data leads to poor improvement in patients, and as a result it becomes easy to dismiss HTMA as not being an accurate tool. In effect, those people have dismissed a very accurate and powerful screening tool based on ignorance and their own lack of understanding. (If any health practitioner has not studied the Eck / Watts approach to HTMA and the mineral system, then they simply don't have the full concepts to understand your HTMA).
As a result of bias and flawed studies, lack of nutritional education in medicine, and doctors who were not able to help patients using HTMA due to their own lack of HTMA training, the toll has been taken, and many in the medical community who haven't researched HTMA further simply dismiss it. There are however thousands of peer-reviewed references that support HTMA and its astounding accuracy (when using either the ARL lab or TEI lab), decades of research behind mineral interrelationships and balancing, and clear relationships between medical conditions and mineral patterns. Those who understand the benefits of HTMA (including various heads of government, world class athletes who have access to the very best medical care, forward thinking doctors and health practitioners, as well as the US Environmental Protection Agency, choose HTMA as the primary method of heavy metal testing and mineral screening.
Dr. Paul Eck (founder of Advanced Research Labs (ARL) and Dr. David L. Watts (founder of Trace Elemnents Inc) are considered the pioneers of HTMA research and nutritional balancing. Working together they broke the "code" of hair mineral data in 1975. In their collaboration, they also applied concepts including the stages of stress (Dr. Hans Selye), biochemical individuality (Roger Williams, PhD), sympathetic and parasympathetic balancing (Dr. Melvin Page), oxidation types (Dr. George Watson), and mineral balancing (Dr. William Albrecht). They further went on to develop specific mineral ratios that represent 'ideal' levels, with deviations from this 'ideal level' resulting in various yet consistent medical manifestations, both physical and psychological.
Over time, Dr Watts began noticing that people who were dumping copper (detoxing) would have high Potassium levels, and would often get worse when ARL's recommended correction involved a reduction in Potassium. Dr. Watts discovered that the elevated Potassium level during copper dumping is actually a loss of Potassium from within the cell, reflecting a Potassium deficiency, rather than excess. Though this loss was further evidenced through urine testing, Dr. Eck refused to accept this phenomenon and this in turn led to a split between Dr. Eck and Dr. Watts and their approach to treating the Na/K inversion. Dr. Watts then went his own way to create TEI in 1984.
Personally, I do not agree with the approach used by many of the ARL practitioners who give calcium and vitamin D supplements to slow metabolizers - such an approach is widely disagreed upon by those who've studied under the TEI/Watts/Malter system and who recognize that for such individuals, giving extra calcium and vitamin D only worsens their mineral pattern, or keeps them stuck.
Other labs that provide HTMA services are fine for heavy metal testing, but due to their hair washing procedures that throw off key mineral levels including sodium and potassium, I would be hesitant to recommend them for the purpose of mineral balancing. Both ARL and TEI specialize ONLY in HTMA, and are both recognized as the leading labs for HTMA testing, following all proper testing protocol. Only their treatment approach differs slightly. TEI also tests for more heavy metals that what ARL offers. TEI is a federally licensed and certified Clinical Laboratory: #45-D0481787.
All minerals are either antagonistic or synergistic to certain other minerals. Meaning when one mineral goes up, it may raise or lower other connected minerals. This is represented by the 'Mineral Wheel' on the right. While endless scenarios could be painted with various minerals, here is a one very basic circuit. As copper goes up, calcium increases while zinc and potassium drop. The heightened calcium can end up creating a "calcium shell" that numbs emotions, while the low potassium will increase both the Ca/K ratio (slowing of the thyroid) and the Na/K ratio. A high Na/K ratio leads to negative aspects of personality including increased anger, anxiety, panic, fears, a shortening of one's fuse, and a decrease in the functioning of the higher cortical mind. Meanwhile, magnesium will also drop as a result. The drop in magnesium increases risk of such things as diabetes, inflammation, and heart attack, while increase panic, denial, and the sense of stress. In turn, the heightened calcium with the lowered magnesium leads to a high Ca/Mg ratio, resulting in an increase in insulin, low blood sugar, and increased risk of muscle spasms and blood clots. Each of these increases stress which in turn further increases the Na/K ratio, increases the copper level, and lowers magnesium, and the cycle
continues to spiral.
When correcting any condition through nutrition, or when taking supplements, we must recognize that nutrients do not operate independently from other nutrients. Having a clear picture, as presented through HTMA, is essential prior to supplementation, and makes supplementation and corrective guidance much more practical, meaningful, manageable and safer. Understanding one's mineral levels should be an essential first step to any dietary, weight loss, or health restoration program.
Just as important as individual mineral levels are the ratios between certain minerals. Over decades of research and thousands of cases, certain conditions can be clearly determined by the extent of a mineral ratio. Some of the key ratios are:
Metabolic Type Ratio (Ca/P)
The ideal Calcium to Phosphorus ratio is 2.6:1. Above 2.6 represents a slow metabolizer experiencing stages of stress burnout and a slowing of the adrenals and thyroid. The slow metabolizer is fatigued due to impaired conversion of nutrients into energy. Below 2.6 represents a fast metabolizer experiencing intense stress and a tendency for magnesium & calcium loss. The fast metabolizer is burning their fuel too quickly and running themselves out of energy. Too high a calcium level slows metabolism. Looking at this ratio you'll see your metabolism speed...which in turn determines which diet is most optimal for you. (Example, a slow metabolizer should generally consume lower amounts of fat and calcium as both will further slow metabolism further).
Stress Ratio (Na/K)
The ideal Sodium to Potassium ratio is 2.4:1. The higher this number, the more intense the person's stress condition, and with it, a tendency for negative psychological and 'short fuse' reactions, fight or flight, and anger. A high ratio of sodium to potassium is also associated with asthma, allergies, lethargy, kidney and liver problems. The higher the number, the more likely the patient is also losing magnesium. As copper levels rise, this ratio increases. Vitamin D also has a similar effect by lowering the Potassium level, further increasing this ratio (in other words, a person with a high Na/K ratio should NOT be taking Vitamin D!). A low ratio on the other hand can be a reflection of adrenal burnout and exhaustion, and at very low levels can lead to heart attack and cancer and, like a high ratio, liver / kidney disorders. The balancing of this ratio is essential, especially for anyone dealing with copper toxicity who, at high levels of copper or copper mobilization through detox, is greatly affected by the negative psychological aspects of a high Na/K which create reflex 'short fuse' reactions that bypass higher cortical intellect functions. An exhausted low ratio on the other hand can reveal suppression of emotion. As it affects both the physical and psychological, until this ratio is balanced it can be almost impossible to 'get through' to a person. This key ratio therefore shows the intensity of stress, the corresponding psychological stress reactions that a person may experience, as well as the propensity for magnesium loss.
Thyroid Ratio (Ca/K)
The ideal Calcium to Potassium ratio is 4.2:1. Both calcium and potassium play an important role in thyroid activity. As calcium slows the thyroid and potassium speeds it up, a high ratio of calcium indicates a underactive thyroid (and symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, cold hands and feet, depression, lack of sweating, and tendency towards constipation…). A low Ca/K ratio indicates an overactive thyroid (and symptoms such as excessive sweating, irritability, nervousness, and loose or frequent bowel movements during stress). To help with weight loss, diet & exercise will help, but it could be an uphill battle against a slow thyroid if the Ca/K ratio isn't first addressed). Even when a blood thyroid test comes back healthy, the HTMA may show otherwise, as the HTMA better shows how much thyroid hormone in being absorbed. Thyroid issues can be seen through HTMA long before they might ever show up in blood.
Adrenal Ratio (Na/Mg)
The ideal Sodium to Magnesium ratio is 4:1. Sodium levels are directly associated with adrenal function. A higher ratio represents hyper-adrenal activity (with symptoms including inflammation, aggressiveness, impulsiveness, diabetes, hypertension, Type A personality), while a low ratio represents adrenal insufficiency (leading to fatigue, depression, hypoglycaemia, poor digestion, changes in weight, and allergies). HTMA provides excellent indicators that show if a person is hyper-adrenal or hypo-adrenal, and how exhausted / burned out they may be. The more burned out the individual, the more cautiously detox needs to be approached (especially with copper), as the liver is likely not yet producing enough ceruloplasmin to bind to the copper, nor is adequate bile being produced to excrete the copper that is being mobilized through detox.
Hormone & Energy Ratio (Zn/Cu)
The ideal Zinc to Copper ratio is 8:1. A higher level of zinc generally reflects progesterone dominance and copper deficiency (with symptoms that may include anemia, arthritis, neurological disorders, cardiovascular disorders, amenorrhea, and more). A higher level of copper on the other hand indicates copper toxicity and estrogen dominance with symptoms which may include skin problems (such acne, psoriasis, eczema), emotional instability, "spaciness", detached behaviour, schizophrenia, PMS, reproductive problems, prostatitis, menstrual difficulties including amenorrhea, diminished feelings, depression and fatigue. (Note that often copper toxicity may be present even with a high Zn/Cu ratio and other factors need to be looked at to determine latent toxicity).
Blood Sugar Ratio (Ca/Mg)
The ideal Calcium to Magnesium ratio is 7:1. Hypoglycemia occurs as the ratio moves in either direction away from the ideal and, at both very high and very low calcium levels, mental and emotional disturbances may result. A high ratio of Ca/Mg also leads to increased insulin secretion, increased risk of muscle spasms, increased risk of blood clotting, and heightened anxiety. A very high calcium ratio as can result from copper toxicity can lead to the numbing of feelings and a detachment from reality, known as the 'calcium shell'.
Will taking the hair sample affect my beautiful hairstyle?
No. This is a concern for many women especially. The size of the hair sample is so small (about 1 tbsp), and taken in very small portions from the underneath layers at the back of the head, that visibly it makes absolutely no difference to anyone's hairstyle. Even on a man with short hair, an adequate sample can be taken without anything being noticeable. For those with short hair, as long as you have 1 cm of growth that is enough to work with.
If I know I have toxic metals, can't I just chelate them out?
Chelation therapy should be a last resort, used only in emergency situations. First, with chelation, you are typically pulling out the good with the bad; it's difficult to target just one thing. Also, toxic metals are often inside cells or linked to enzyme binding sites as a replacement for an insufficient level of the preferred nutrient. In other words, the toxic metal is serving a purpose. As an example, mercury is antimicrobial (a reason why it's a part of dental fillings). If you try to chelate mercury out of the body too fast, it can allow infections to catch fire. Instead, the mineral balancing approach aims to restore a healthy level of the nutrient mineral while also supporting the adrenals and liver, and which then in time allows the body to safely release the toxins naturally.
Can I still do this if I've colored my hair?
Certain hair dyes can affect the reading, but it will usually be specific to one mineral. As long as we know which product you've used, we can proceed. However, it is suggested that you try to let your hair grow out at least 1/4" or so if possible and work with that untreated portion. If your sample contains dye treated hair, then ensure you've washed your hair at least 8 times since the treatment before sampling. Bleached hair is more problematic, and it is advised that enough virgin hair be allowed to grow out to use for the sample. Again, even 1/4" or so will suffice... it simply means that the shorter the hair sample length, the more strands will be required to obtain the required amount.
What if I live far away?
No problem. I work with clients as far away as Europe, Asia, and South America (with a few exceptions). I provide you with a one-page instructional which explains the proper protocol for cutting the hair sample (anyone can cut the sample for you as long as they follow the instructions I provide). You'd then mail me the sample along with the completed Lab Submittal Form which I also send you, both of which I then submit to the testing lab (Trace Elements).
I want to proceed with an HTMA. What is the process?
Upon receiving payment you receive a one page instructional which explains how to properly collect the hair sample, along with the Lab Submittal Form to fill out. Once I receive the hair sample and Submittal Form from you by mail, I forward them to the testing lab (Trace Elements). After I receive the charts back from the lab, I put my report together for you explaining what the charts and ratios mean, how they may be affecting your specific health concerns, along with a diet / supplement / detox regimen that can help bring you into better balance. You can expect to receive my report, along with your lab charts, typically within 12 to 15 business days of me receiving your hair sample.