Can you use any other type of hair other than scalp hair for a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA)? We get this question quite often, especially from those who don't have scalp hair or are afraid of cutting the hair in the first place because of hair loss. Understandably, we can empathize with both groups, but felt it would be more appropriate to explain why scalp hair is preferred in comparison to others.
First off, understanding that an HTMA is sort of like a tissue biopsy would help people comprehend why scalp hair is the preferred source of hair. Unlike other types of hair, scalp hair grows at a slower rate in comparison to pubic, underarm, or beard. To get a good idea on as to what is happening in the body over time, rather than a short period (like a few weeks), having a source of tissue that builds up minerals and metals is preferred. On average, an HTMA will measure about 3-4 months worth of mineral and metal accumulations which could then provide an over view of one's metabolic state.
That being said, just because it's a touch slower than pubic or auxiliary areas does not render it metabolically inactive. It's actually quite consistent when compared to other areas, hence why it is also more reliable.
The recommended areas for hair collection are the the base of the nape of the neck, posterior vertex and posterior temporal regions of the head. The length of the collected hair shouldn't be more than one and a half inches, and the weight measuring about 125mg.
Of course, in the event that scalp hair is not available, we encourage people to continue with the HTMA and choose the next best source of hair (in descending order) such as pubic, beard, underarm or even nail clippings if need.
One thing to note is that pubic hair does seem to consistently show up with higher phosphorus levels. The reason for this is because its in an area where the body grows hair at a faster rate, and phosphorus is a more stimulatory and energetically charged mineral resulting in faster growth. This also includes higher levels of metals in some cases. When reviewing one's HTMA, it's important that the practitioner keep this in mind, for it can offset some ratios, making the test look more different than it seems. This is why it's so important to work with a trained professional when reviewing the HTMA.
Regardless of which area you choose to send your sample with, rest assured that HTMA testing can provide so much insight into one's health from metabolic processes, hormones, adrenal health, thyroid health, blood sugar, inflammation, digestion, nervous system and even trauma!
If you're looking to run an HTMA on yourself , click the link here to check it out!
Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Practitioner
Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner
Integrative Health Coach