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History Of Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis

History Of Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis

A Brief History Of Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis, How it Works and What it Measures

Hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA) is a valuable tool for assessing the mineral content of your body. It is a non-invasive test that involves collecting a sample of hair from the scalp and analyzing it for levels of minerals and toxic metals. Lets chat real quick about the history of hair mineral analysis, shall we? It is a relatively new technique, but it has been used for decades to identify deficiencies and imbalances in the body. In this article, we'll take a look at the history of hair tissue mineral analysis and how it has evolved over time. 

The Early History Of HTMA (Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis)

Mineral testing by atomic absorption spectroscopy actually started close to over 75 years ago but became popularized in the 1970’s to analyze soil and the environment. In fact, it is still considered the standard method of testing to check for minerals regarding geology/plant/environmental studies and is a universal method to testing for environmental minerals and metals. 

Back in 1953, Dr. D. Mulder crafted a fascinating illustration that highlights the correlation between the minerals found in soil and how they interact with one another. Known as the Mulder Wheel, this diagram reveals how minerals affect plant uptake and utilization. While the diagram is quite complex, it simplifies the idea that minerals and metals work together in both harmonious and opposing ways. Taking a look at the Mulder Wheel photo and you'll note that the uptake of minerals is influenced by other interacting minerals while being relative to the overall amount of minerals present in the root zone - with solubility always changing.

The Mulder Wheel and History Of Hair Testing Analysis

In the 1960s, research into the use of HTMA as a diagnostic tool continued to advance. Scientists began to recognize the importance of using hair samples to measure mineral levels in the body, and they began to develop methods to accurately analyze samples. By the 1970s, laboratories had developed sophisticated methods for accurately measuring the mineral content of hair samples, and the use of HTMA as a diagnostic tool had become widespread.

The Modern History Of Hair Testing Analysis

In the 70's, two doctors named Paul Eck and David Watts delved into the possibility of using hair to measure minerals and metals in humans. Through their research, they found that minerals appeared in distinct patterns in hair, just as they did in plants. This discovery sparked the formation of Analytical Research and Trace Elements, two major laboratories used for hair testing today. Their work has opened up a new approach to understanding human health and nutrition through the analysis of hair.

Did you know that even pioneers in a field can have a disagreement that leads to a separation? In the world of HTMA testing, Eck and Watts had a quarrel over how to interpret inverted Na;K ratios. Eck believed in lowering potassium, while Watts thought that would make patients feel worse. It's a subjective matter, but here at Upgraded Formulas, we take both perspectives into account to get a more holistic view of the results. Because, in the end, it's not about who's right or wrong, but what's best for the patient.

In the 1980s, the use of HTMA as a diagnostic tool continued to grow. Laboratories developed even more precise methods for measuring mineral levels in hair samples, and the use of HTMA became increasingly popular. This led to the development of a variety of different commercial HTMA tests, which were designed to identify specific mineral imbalances and deficiencies in the body. 

Can you believe that even pioneers in HTMA testing can have a falling out? Well, that's exactly what happened between Eck and Watts over how to interpret the Na;K ratio. Eck believed in lowering potassium levels, while Watts thought that would make patients feel worse. It's a controversial topic among HTMA experts, but here at Upgraded Formulas, we value both perspectives to provide a comprehensive approach to HTMA testing.


How Hair Testing Works For You

Hair testing labs use a consistent method for analyzing hair samples to ensure accurate results. Upon receiving the sample, the hair is weighed and dissolved using a mixture of acids overnight. This process preserves the minerals in the hair while breaking down the rest. The sample is then burned in an ICP-mass spectrometer which identifies each mineral's unique frequency of light. The results are measured and analyzed to provide a comprehensive report. So, regardless of which lab analyzes your hair, the quality control process remains the same.

Hair tissue mineral analysis works by measuring the mineral content of your hair. Hair is an excellent indicator of your body's mineral status because it reflects the levels of minerals that have been circulating in your bloodstream and deposited in your tissues over time.

During the hair mineral analysis test, your hair sample is carefully washed and prepared to remove any external contaminants. The sample is then analyzed using specialized equipment to determine the levels of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, and iron.


What Exactly Does An HTMA Measure?

This test measures the concentration of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, and potassium, among others, as well as heavy metals.

Minerals are literally the spark plugs to every cell in the body. While the body can produce some of its own vitamins, minerals can only be obtained by the environment and nutrition. When we say spark plugs to every cell, what we mean is that they play a vital role in ever metabolic process in the body from energy production, growth, hormone balancing, digestion, and act as catalysts and co-enzymes to synthesize enzymatic reactions, neurotransmitters, hormones and more. While we want to avoid deficiencies of minerals independently, that isn’t enough, for minerals, as you saw in the Mulder Wheel, also influence other nutrients. Therefore it is a fine balance that must be obtained between mineral ratios to reach optimal health. If not, this can lead to a chain reaction of imbalances resulting in illness, disease, toxin accumulation and more. 

Heavy metals specifically are what many people want to be wary of, for they can affect our ability to absorb minerals, utilize them, and can sometimes even replace minerals because they look structurally similar. In times of stress or depletion, the body’s main prerogative is to simply stay alive and functioning (even if sub-optimally) and can latch onto metals as a means to do so. Running an HTMA can offer that information if one does have metal toxicity and help make the connections for any unwelcoming symptoms they might be struggling with. 

In summary, hair tissue mineral analysis is a valuable tool for evaluating your mineral and metal status. This mineral hair test provides insights into mineral deficiencies or toxicities in your body, allowing you to take steps to correct them. If you're interested in learning more about how hair test mineral analysis can help improve your health, click here to order a test today!

Barbara Madimenos
Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Practitioner
Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner
Integrative Health Coach

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