Many physicians still rely on blood testing to assess for metal toxicity and mineral status. Unfortunately this blind-spot in medical thinking results in widespread misdiagnosis and non-detection of mineral-related health issues since blood testing does not accurately pick up on mineral imbalances at the cellular level or toxicities at the tissue level.
These are just a few examples where a patient can mistakenly be given a clean bill of health when relying on blood data (even though they know deep inside that something is off). These excesses and deficiencies however can usually be picked up quite easily on a properly interpreted HTMA. Even more importantly, blood testing fails to provide key mineral ratios, 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. Blood 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
As explained above, blood is simply a system of nutrient transport, always working 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 ***
HTMA offers the following key benefits:
“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.
HTMA, is a powerful and potentially life-saving screening test. Unfortunately, many people fall victim to the "HTMA is quackery" message, not understanding the history behind HTMA, the origin of that message, or even understanding that there are various forms of "hair analysis" and not all are the same. While some forms of HTMA hold much more validity than others, the grouping of all hair analysis as being the same and then writing it off as "quackery" not only reflects ignorance, but also often ends up hurting the very people who could be helped most by HTMA - especially those affected by copper toxicity. This section provides a background into these attempts to dismiss HTMA.
HTMA is a form of advanced nutrition science that threatens the finances of the health ("disease") care system - disease labels and pharmaceuticals are more profitable than supporting people with minerals and nutrition. Keeping HTMA suppressed keep the public away from the understanding of how mineral imbalances impact health, and empowers a system that perpetuates pharmaceutical profits at the expense of public health. In 1985 and again in 2001, two small studies were picked up by the Journal of the American Medical Association that, on the surface, 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 of .999%, the subsequent media campaigns were presented in such a way as to cast doubt on HTMA. As a result, those studies, still often referred to, have been used to disuade people from HTMA and, in doing so, impede the progress of nutritional understanding, especially with conditions such as copper toxicity and magnesium deficiency. In fact, the author of the first study was found by the California Appeals Court to be "biased and unworthy of credibility". Yet this individual continues to run various websites that discredit HTMA by calling it 'quackery', while using the same term to also discredit a large number of other natural health practices that help people avoid drugs and surgery, including acupuncture, TCM, chiropractic, orthomolecular therapy, naturopathy, et al. These sites, often appearing "science-based" and official, commonly show up near the top of search results. The public, largely unaware of this background, innocently fall victim to such messaging, and then end up sharing it with others, keeping people more and more in the dark. At the time of those bias studies, great marketing efforts were put in to their promotion. Skeptics love to refer back to those studies, giving ammunition to call into question the accuracy of HTMA. Accuracy, to be fair, is influenced when the hair is washed at the lab, the incorrect interpretation of results is applied, or the use of 'hair analysis' devices are used which completely ignore the science of mineral balancing and which read levels at face value. Such practices are, unfortunately, fairly common, and are legitimate reasons why one might question HTMA validity. However, when assayed properly by either of the two leading HTMA labs (which don't wash the hair sample), the high accuracy and benefits of HTMA is easily proven.
The use of prescribed clinical quality control, including method validation, proficiency testing, split sampling,
and good laboratory practices clearly demonstrates that measuring trace elements in hair can be analytically valid.
The high accuracy of HTMA is further explained, along with corroborating lab data, in the orthomolecular.org article referenced below. Additionally, 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/
An unfortunate practice that has further hindered the broader acceptance of HTMA is that a large number of practitioners from a popular 'HTMA / nutritional balancing' school have been led to infuse dogmatic views of religion, sexuality, etc into their programs with clients. This has done widescale damage to the reputation and validity of HTMA as a whole, and provides ample ammunition to those who call it quackery. Such dogmatic views however have nothing to do with authentic HTMA and only dilute the nutritional and scientific health value that HTMA provides.
Another reason why HTMA is not more commonly accepted amongst doctors is that most MDs receive very limited training in nutrition, let alone the complex interpretation of HTMA charts. Interpreting HTMA data is nowhere near as simple as just looking at a mineral level. It is extremely complex and takes years of dedicated study, yet some practitioners just assume they can read a chart at face value. Currently, any M.D. can open an account at a testing lab and pass the results on to their patients, with the assumption that levels can be read at face value. Doing so, of course, will give an incorrect interpretation. The most important strength of HTMA is in the correct INTERPRETATION of the results. Without such, it becomes easy to dismiss HTMA as not being an accurate tool. That however is not the fault of HTMA, but rather ignorance and/or a lack of understanding on the part of the practitioner. (If any practitioner has not studied the Eck / Watts approach to HTMA and the mineral system, then they likely do not have a full conceptual understanding of HTMA).
The Internet is full of misguided information, including articles written by popular 'celebrity' doctors in which they shamefully dismiss HTMA in favor of promoting the idea that "the only way to get accurate mineral status information is by measuring levels in the blood." Such a statement alone shows a glaring ignorance as to how the body's biochemistry works - our biochemistry happens in the cell, not the blood, and imbalances typically occur at the cell and tissue level long before they appear in blood. The benefits of HTMA over blood are explained in more detail at https://www.mineralsandhealth.com/htmavsblood. The over-reliance on blood is also why so many people struggle with symptoms yet their blood mineral levels come back within range and they are dismissed as "fine". The ignorance and denial of HTMA is putting lives at stake, literally. There are cases of deceased where the blood test showed "normal" but the post-mortem HTMA picked up the cause!
As a result of bias and flawed studies, lack of nutritional education in medicine, doctors who either couldn't help their patients with HTMA due to their own lack of HTMA training or who dismiss HTMA in general, the toll has been taken. With copper toxicity especially, affected women frequently ask "why isn't there more awareness", yet are sometimes hesitant themselves to pursue HTMA based on something they read online about 'HTMA being quackery'. Not understanding this history, the public are the ones who have fallen victim.
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, clear relationships between medical conditions and mineral patterns, and indisputable science that blood operates homeostatically at the expense of cell and tissue levels. Patients who have spent thousands of dollars and numerous years getting 'medically recognized' testing done yet who are still no further ahead can often find clear answers within their very first HTMA. 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.
A long list of references supporting the use of HTMA in the research and healthcare fields is available here: https://www.traceelements.com/EducationalResources/HTMA.aspx
Additional references for this drop-down discussion:
There are numerous services today that offer what they term "hair analysis". Indeed, any test that analyses hair can technically be called "hair analysis". However they are NOT all the same, and so many people get misled when they order a "hair analysis" assuming all the testing is the same. This just further clouds the understanding and reputation of HTMA, and leads people further astray from finding the answers that they're looking for. This is especially true when it comes to copper toxicity, for which already there is so much confusion spread online and in some social media groups as to how to address it. To understand your mineral imbalances and how they impact health, it's so important to work with the right kind of hair analysis.
Often, people will order a test that's "on sale", or they'll copy what someone else in some FB group has ordered, and in the end they end up wasting their money. For example, some hair analysis services will test a few mineral levels and a plethora of odd metals, a few of which will almost always appear high and cause panic in the client without further explanation. Some hair analysis services simply label the mineral and metal levels as "high, normal, or low", without any specific numbers provided from which essential ratios and mineral relationships can be determined. Some hair analysis tests promote themselves more for food sensitivity testing, others are more focused on toxic metals; some labs wash the hair sample, others do not; some labs use mass spectrometry testing, others use bioresonance... the differences between such services are like day and night!
For those who are focused on understanding their copper status, please do not rush out and buy a test just because it includes "copper". So many people make this mistake, and when the results come back, there is often no information provided for key nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, or some other minerals too, depending on the lab. The levels of those minerals are essential to understanding one's copper status. Copper "toxicity" or "deficiency" is not determined by simply seeing a high or low (or normal) HTMA copper level. Copper must be considered in the context of those other minerals!
For those looking for authentic HTMA, at least for the purpose of nutritional mineral balancing and understanding copper toxicity, it is highly suggested to work with either the pioneering labs ARL or TEI (or their affiliates), and then, equally important, having it professionally interpreted by an experienced practitioner. The power of HTMA, beyond being properly assayed, is in the professional and personalized interpretation of the data, not just the chart.
The bottom line is: be cautious when buying a discount service or just some automated report ...too many people end up more confused than ever and left without proper personalized guidance on how to go forward. In the end, with HTMA, you'll often get what you pay for.
Dr. Paul Eck (founder of Advanced Research Labs (ARL) and Dr. David L. Watts (founder of Trace Elements 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 Dr Eck / Wilson disciples and 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. Likewise, many HTMA practitioners follow a "nutritional balancing" approach which infuses conspiratorial views of politics, religion, and spirituality...this completely takes away from the true science of mineral balancing and only further adds fuel to those who aim to de-legitimize HTMA. Such an approach is NOT what we believe in here!! Meanwhile, a popular protocol being promoted through social media these days pushes the idea that everyone should avoid nutrients like zinc and molybdenum...this (for some people) can be very damaging and detrimental and underscores the importance of never approaching mineral balancing from a "one size fits all" approach. Unfortunately, many nutritional balancing practitioners are being trained in these outdated and ignorant approaches.
When it comes to the actual testing however, both ARL and TEI are labs that specialize ONLY in HTMA, and are both recognized as the leading labs for HTMA testing, following all proper testing protocol. Between the two, TEI tests for more heavy metals than what ARL offers. TEI is a federally licensed and certified Clinical Laboratory: #45-D0481787. TEI is the lab we, here, work with.
The misconception is that by simply eating "healthy", your body will be nutritionally balanced. This is not the way our bodies work however. 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. An example of this can be seen in vegetarians and vegans who are admirably committed to living healthy, yet will almost always, sooner or later, show 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. In fact, supplementing most vitamins can actually further deplete your minerals! 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.
"For many years I thought that because I grow and eat organic produce and eat a well balanced diet, my minerals would be taken care of!
I am sad to think it's taken this long before I've truly discovered the importance of minerals." ~Jo
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' you saw at the top of the home page. 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 metabolic type..which in turn helps determine what type of diet can be 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 response, and with it, a tendency for negative psychological and 'short fuse' reactions, fight or flight, and anger. The higher the number, the more likely the patient is also losing magnesium. Vitamin D supplementation may increase this ratio by lowering the Potassium level. In other words, a person with a high Na/K ratio should generally not be taking Vitamin D, especially at high dose). 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. 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 an underactive thyroid (or more commonly, hypothyroid "expression" even if clinical lab markers are okay. A low Ca/K ratio suggests an overactive thyroid. Even when a blood thyroid test comes back healthy, the HTMA may show otherwise, as the HTMA better shows how well thyroid hormone is being absorbed. Thyroid issues can often 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.
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 very often copper toxicity may be present even with a high Zn/Cu ratio and this underscores why 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. The risk for hypoglycemia increases 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 Profile 1 HTMA provides your mineral, metal, and ratio results in numerical and chart format. This is the key information any practitioner needs to then work from.
A Profile 2 provides an automated lab report and basic protocol. It can provide the client with some basic guidance, however, there is also a danger in relying solely on a Profile 2 report. The complexity of HTMA makes it near impossible for any computer to properly assess a mineral pattern. "Loss patterns" for example, are extremely common in HTMA, and these patterns can show up as a high HTMA level even though the body is losing, or depleted, in that nutrient. Yet, automated reports will typically suggest there is no need for that nutrient because it appears 'high' in the chart. Likewise, hidden toxicities are often missed when relying on an automated report. Getting the most out of an HTMA needs a properly trained human eye. Most budget services will simply provide a Profile 2, but this lack of further guidance is one of the reasons why people remain so confused about their HTMA results. If you are working with a well trained HTMA practitioner, there is little need for the Profile 2, and the protocol and guidance provided becomes much more targeted and personalized.
While HTMA has been regaining popularity amongst practitioners, unfortunately there are far too many who are using it without adequate training. This section offers a few important words of caution...if a practitioner is doing any of the following, it's probably a wise sign to work with someone new.
1. Major Red Flag --> reading charts at face value (telling you a high bar means you have enough, or that a low bar always means deficiency)
2. selling one 'magical' protocol that they try convincing you is the answer to everything
3. denying the idea of copper toxicity
4. pushing chelation therapy
5. simply providing a discounted (or free) computerized report without further explanation and guidance (many 'services' out there do this...be careful!!)
6. not taking into account a person's health history, medications, etc when reviewing HTMA charts
7. frequently pushing the supplementation of high dose Vitamin D
8. protocols suggesting no one should supplement certain minerals such as zinc or molybdenum
9. providing fringe hair analysis services (there are many of these out there too!) without any training in the concepts developed by Eck and Watts
10. services that 'scan' a single hair follicle (and again provide only a computerized report)
11. not understanding or educating clients on the emotional and psychological effects of imbalances shown in the HTMA
12. pushing dogmatic and conspiratorial views of religion, politics, or sexuality (this has nothing to do with authentic HTMA!!!)
13. looking at (and trying to 'fix') mineral levels in isolation without regard to the big picture.
It cannot be stressed enough that HTMA charts should never be read at 'face value'. Many discount' services simply pass on an automated lab report without any further guidance, and it leaves so many patients left wondering what to do with their results or, worse, they follow computer-generated suggestions which so often ends up not being accurate. This further confuses the public and marrs the reputation of hair analysis. Likewise, many HTMA practitioners are trained in a "nutritional balancing" approach that claims to be 'true HTMA' but includes abstract and often offensive views on sexuality, politics, religion, and spirituality...such approaches only further lead away from real biochemical science and provides fuel for those who wish to dismiss the value of HTMA. It's imperative that the integrity and authenticity of nutrition-based hair analysis be maintained, for it offers an extremely important tool when used correctly.
Any M.D. can open a lab account, but this alone does not qualify them to interpret HTMA. The majority of those offering HTMA have simply not been adequately trained to work with the results. HTMA looks simple, but is infinitely complex - it requires years of dedicated practice. A good practitioner must be able to speak to you about: the interrelationship of minerals, mineral ratios, hidden toxicities, mineral loss patterns, how and when low (hidden) copper signifies a toxicity, etc. They'll have training from more than one approach, and will avoid pushing blanket 'root protocols' that claim to provide the answer to everyone (we are all bio-individually unique!). Lastly, the qualified practitioner should have years of HTMA experience and be equally capable of understanding psychological manifestations of mineral imbalances as they are with physical symptoms.
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.
"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 (or rather, severe adrenal hypo function), 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. "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. I discuss this connection more on the www.coppertoxic.com website. 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 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, since calcium and magnesium have a sedative effect on the central nervous system, 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)…as well as possible leaky gut and 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, especially relative to magnesium, increases soft tissue calcification, arterial plaque and atherosclerosis (which then increases risk of heart attack). 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 and vitamin B6, these nutrients essential for serotonin production (our happy hormone), further increasing a shift toward depression). The resulting zinc deficiency is also known to increase 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. 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). 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 usually 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. With heartburn, a deficiency of these levels can usually 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. A zinc / calcium imbalance can also play a major role by way of affecting melatonin.
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 more so 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.
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 T3, 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.
HTMA offers benefits FAR beyond just screening for copper toxicity. Our HTMA (through Trace Elements Inc) tests for 36 minerals and toxic metals. Every person has various imbalances, with copper being just one. For many people, copper is not the issue, but there are other imbalances that show up which can hold the key to understanding their symptoms. There are also those who feel copper might be the issue, but the test reveals some other imbalance of even greater importance. HTMA is also invaluable for seeing circulating levels of toxic metals, which can then further guide a more intelligent detox approach.
As much as HTMA can be used to provide insight into current symptoms, HTMA is equally as much a proactive test for addressing hidden imbalances today before they end up manifesting as symptoms down the road.
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.
How much hair do I need to cut?
In total you need about 125mg of hair, or roughly 1 full tbsp. The amount is not taking in one 'chunk', but rather is snipped in small portions from various locations around the back of the head so as not to make the cuts visible. If the hairstyle is very short, that is still fine, you will simply need to cut more 'strands' of hair than if the hair is longer. If the hair is long, to ensure the most accurate results, please do not include hair any longer than 1.5" away from the root as that data becomes too old to use. If scalp hair is simply not available, then the secondary location for sampling is pubic.
The full sampling procedure is provided to you upon ordering, or you can also view the general details of sample collection at the following link: https://traceelements.com/LabServices/SampleCollection.aspx
Can I still do this if I've colored my hair?
Certain hair dyes can affect the reading, but are unlikely to affect your overall mineral profile - rather it will usually be specific to one mineral or, more so, one specific metal. 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 mainly with the untreated portion. The longer your natural roots, the easier it will be to cut the sample, and the less strands (pieces) of hair you will need to cut to reach the required sample weight needed by the lab. If your untreated roots are fairly short, you will simply need to be a bit more careful in cutting the sample, and more strands will be needed. The bulk of your hair sample should be natural hair (a tiny amount of dyed portion is not a major concern to your overall mineral profile, especially if we know which product/color you've used). That being said, if your sample contains dye-treated hair, please 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.
Is there anything else I should know for preparing my hair sample?
When you order with us, you'll receive a detailed instruction page with specific guidance on preparing and cutting your hair sample. Simply though, your hair should be clean (freshly washed within 4 to 24 hours of collecting the sample) and free of any product (no hair spray, gel, etc). Most shampoos are fine to use, however certain shampoos are not recommended prior to sampling as they can affect specific mineral levels. Many anti-dandruff shampoos (such as Head and Shoulders) contain zinc pyrithione, which can throw off the zinc level. The selenium in Selsun Blue can throw off the selenium level. It's a good idea to avoid these shampoos for the week prior to sampling. If your hair has recently been exposed to ocean salt water, or Epsom salt bath water, it's also a good idea to do several hair washings before sampling.
As our service is personalized and never assumes your levels at face value (a mistake that automated reports often make), as long as we know which products you've used prior to sampling we can adjust for those factors if we see anomalies in your results.
What if I live far away?
No problem. I work with clients as far away as Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America. Some countries have restrictions which require you to order the lab test through a local provider, however regardless of where in the world you live, I can still work you on a consultation basis after you've received your lab charts. For most countries (those not listed here), I am happy to order the lab test for you and provide my full service. 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).
As HTMA results are not meant to be read at face value, we highly recommend including professional interpretation with your HTMA. All our Value Packages include a high level of personalized support. Of course, the bigger the package (Silver, Gold, Platinum), the more support and guidance is included.
Without a doubt, the value of the Platinum Package is priceless and, with the Mineral Mastery course included, can be one of the most important health decisions you make in life - and indeed will serve you for life!
If your focus is just on the here and now and getting the most out of your HTMA, then the Silver Package provides you with excellent guidance personalized to your situation, including protocol guidance related to your HTMA and far beyond. We put 4+ hours of professional guidance and personalized attention into your report and protocol!
If you're on a tight budget, then the HTMA + 60min Consult will still provide you with great guidance based on your HTMA results plus a chance to get your questions answered.
Absolutely not! We've eliminated the hassle of waiting for an unnecessary kit to arrive by mail. Some services use the "Kit" as an attractive marketing ploy, however for this test a "kit" is completely unnecessary. Across thousands of our clients, less than 0.2% have felt they needed a "kit". Besides, why wait for days (or in some cases weeks) for a kit to arrive by mail when it's not even needed! Upon your order, we have an efficient system that allows you to get started immediately - you could even have your hair sample on its way to the lab as early as tomorrow!
Absolutely YES! Though we're recognized in part for the leading role we've had over the years bringing copper toxicity education to the public and practitioners, HTMA is about MUCH more than "just copper". Our focus is on helping educate how ALL the key minerals interact together, and how various imbalances impact health. (After all, understanding all these various mineral and metal connections is at the core of what we teach through our Mineral Mastery program).
Your HTMA test examines 36 minerals and toxic metals, and working with us we help you understand how they all interact together. Even for those with "copper concerns", there is always more going on than just copper, and we help you put it all together.
When we order HTMA testing for our clients, we run our tests through Trace Elements Inc (TEI), one of the 2 original pioneering labs in this field and which follows all proper testing protocol.
However, we're experienced in ALL HTMA lab interpretation. If you already have HTMA results from a different lab, that's no problem! Rick has worked with literally dozens of HTMA providers around the world (even those presented in different languages), and he can assist you with interpretation of those results, regardless of which lab your results are from (as long as your results include numerical values for your levels).
(Some labs only give ranges for your elements (for example, "high, normal, low"), and such data is insufficient for optimal application of HTMA. We do not recommend labs that only provide ranges without numerical values.)
Upon your order, you are able to collect your hair sample immediately. Our system eliminates the lengthy delay of waiting for an unnecessary "kit" to arrive by mail. We will get you started right away! You then mail your sample to the lab (in Texas). Once the lab receives your sample, their typical turn around time is 3-5 business days. At that point, your results are either immediately emailed to you or, if you are having Rick write your report/protocol, it then goes into his cue of reports which varies on average between 4-7 days.
For consultations, we work with clients all over the world. No matter where you're located, we're happy to support you!
For HTMA laboratory testing, we serve the USA, Canada, and many countries around the world.
Do you live outside North America? Some countries outside North America have a special agreement with the Trace Elements testing laboratory, requiring the test itself to be ordered locally. If you live outside North America, please visit this link for the list of countries where testing needs to be ordered locally. We're connected globally and can help you find a qualified provider in your country. (Note: if you are interested in one of our value packages (Silver, Gold, Platinum) but need to order the lab test itself in your own country, simply reach out to us and we'll discount your package price by $110 which you can use towards ordering the test portion locally).
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