Hair Tissue Analysis

Example of the first two pages of a report.

Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) is a standard test used by the EPA to assess heavy metal exposure, and is widely recognized as an accurate indicator of the ratios of elements playing a key role in metabolism. As a test for the absolute values of minerals active in cellular metabolism it may be less accurate, but the ratio information is what is required to assess metabolic function. Hair essentially creates a journal or log of these ratios over time, and a typical tissue sample may contain 6 weeks of metabolic activity. This contrasts with mineral testing in blood or urine, which captures current metabolic ratios, which will change over the course of a day or week. There are many conditions that that blood and urine tests are excellent diagnostic tools for, but capturing long term averaged metabolic function is not one of them.

Heavy Metals
Heavy metals such as Mercury, Lead and Uranium are easily seen in hair samples. This is a good pre and post test for undertaking a mild to clinical detox protocol. A mild detox may be as simple as adding Chlorella to your diet with meals, to a clinical detox involving Chelation therapy. HTMA is inexpensive enough ($250.00 retail, $125.00 for clients) so that it is relatively affordable to monitor your progress with follow up tests.

Metabolic Minerals Analysis
This is an evolving technology based on our understanding of how minerals are used in our systems in conjunction with an ever expanding set of data correlating symptoms with the ratios of metabolically assimilated minerals such as Calcium and Potassium.  Trace Elements Inc. has acquired a database of over 300,000 tissue sample tests which they have accumulated since the early 1980’s and which have been correlated with symptoms.  (The actual tissue is destroyed in the testing) Although this is an informal study, it is one of the largest privately or publicly funded data sets available. With this data they built an automated system linking many common health imbalances and the hair sample mineral ratios. The six week log of metabolic activity in a hair sample captures the essence of many different conditions that interfere with overall health and vitality. Examples of the types of symptoms that can be seen in the results are adrenal exhaustion, sluggish metabolism, poor digestion, anxiety, sleep issues, depression, etc.

A comprehensive discussion of this subject can be found here:


Common Mineral Ratios and Their Relationships


High calcium relative to potassium will frequently indicate a trend toward hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). The mineral calcium antagonizes the retention of potassium within the cell. Since potassium is necessary in sufficient quantity to sensitize the tissues to the effects of thyroid hormones, a high Ca/K ratio would suggest reduced thyroid function and/or cellular response to thyroxine. If this imbalance has been present for an extended period of time, the following symptoms associated with low thyroid function may occur: fatigue, depression, dry skin, overweight tendencies, constipation, cold sensitivity

Zinc is required in sufficient amounts for the retention of potassium. A low zinc-to-copper ratio is
frequently indicative of a trend toward reduced thyroid activity or expression as a result of a
potassium deficit.
This HTMA profile has been associated in the past with an increased frequency and intensity of
blood sugar fluctuations. This is partially due to the requirement and role of zinc in the storage of
insulin in the pancreas. In addition to blood sugar fluctuations, if this mineral pattern becomes
chronic, this patient may have an increased tendency toward skin blemishes and fungal
Zinc deficiency relative to copper is frequently seen in strict vegetarians, and the degree of
imbalance is often directly proportional to the rigidity of the vegetarian diet.
A low zinc-to-copper ratio is usually seen with the following;
Viral Infections, Liver Dysfunction, Estrogen Therapy, Gallbladder Obstruction
This ratio is below the normal range. The adrenal glands play an essential role in regulating
sodium retention and excretion. Studies have also shown that magnesium will affect adrenal
cortical activity and response, and reduced adrenal activity results in increased magnesium
retention. The sodium-magnesium profile is indicative of reduced adrenal cortical function. The
following associated symptoms may be observed:
Fatigue, Constipation, Dry Skin, Lowered Resistance, Allergies (Ecological), Low Blood Pressure
Calcium and magnesium should always be in a proper balance to one another. If this normal
equilibrium is upset, one mineral will become dominant relative to the other. In this case, calcium is
high relative to magnesium (see high Ca/Mg ratio), which may be indicative of abnormal calcium
metabolism, resulting in excessive deposition of calcium into the soft tissues. In addition, even
though the magnesium level is not low at this time, excess calcium relative to magnesium will
suppress magnesium function within the body.
Calcium and magnesium are important elements whose roles include involvement in muscular
response. When not in a normal balance, an excess of tissue calcium relative to magnesium will
frequently lead to constant muscular tension and contraction. If the muscles surrounding the
urinary bladder are in a state of tension due to this error in mineral metabolism, the volume capacity
within the bladder will be reduced. This condition may contribute to an increased frequency of
urination due to the restricted size of the bladder.
A deficiency of magnesium relative to calcium (see high Ca/Mg ratio) may allow calcium to
precipitate out of solution, which can contribute to calcium deposition into the urinary tract and
gallbladder. Over an extended period of time, this profile has been correlated with increased
tendencies toward kidney and gallstones.
A deficiency of, or increased requirement for vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) leads to alterations in the
metabolism, utilization and balance between calcium and magnesium. Calcium retention will
increase and the excretion of magnesium will also increase when vitamin B6 is lacking. Therefore,
an increased need for vitamin B6 may be indicated by your current HTMA pattern.
High copper relative to iron can be antagonistic to many functions of iron metabolism, and can
often contribute to iron-deficiency anemia. Copper in excess will interfere with iron absorption and
decrease the utilization of iron by the body. The low Fe/Cu ratio is reflective of a positive trend
toward copper-induced anemia.
(COPYRIGHT, TRACE ELEMENTS, INC. 2000, 2004, 2009)
How Hair is Analysed:The sample is heated in a vacuum to a point where the individual elements shed energy by glowing. Each element glows at a specific frequency. The light from the elements is sent through a prism where it is separated into the individual frequencies. The points in the graph are those frequencies and the corresponding elements. The height of the points equals the relative quantity of the element, and it is therefore simple to calculate the ratios of elements in the sample. It is the ratio information that is most interesting for metabolic analysis and which is most accurate from this type of test, as absolute values will vary depending on the non-tissue weight of the sample (conditioners etc.)
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