According to allopathy, blood testing is the best method of testing to discovering any deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, metabolic disorders, etc. Problem with blood work is that blood is simply a highway for many things, such as hormones and a series of nutrients- particularly minerals.
Sure, going for a blood sample can be handy in taking a snapshot in time of what your current CBC, hormonal profile and some water soluble nutrient status are, but it doesn't tell us the whole story. Things don't always happen over night, particularly manifestations of chronic disease, hence why it's hard to track progressions of decline.
This isn't to say we're hating on blood work, no, it can be useful in understanding iron pathologies, for iron is most abundant in blood rather than tissue, thyroid hormones, liver enzymes, cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and many other things. However, when looking to how our cells are using energy, just what fuels enzymatic reactions to occur, and if our organs have the necessary tools to produce what they need to communicate to on another, blood work falls flat. The reason for this is because minerals are at the fore front of this cascade.
You see, minerals are the electricity to our cells that spark enzymatic reactions to occur. Without them, we can't produce stomach acidity, or digestive enzymes, or carry out certain processes in the body to mitigate inflammation, or produce energy in general. Once enzymes are made, which essentially are the catalysts to accelerating the rate of a reaction from a cell, they instruct systems to produce something, like a hormone, which is a chemical messenger. Therefore, hormonal problems, digestive issues, blood sugar irregularities, or metabolic issues in general can all stem from mineral imbalances.
So now the question is just how exactly do we test minerals? The answer? Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA).
HTMA's are tests that take a sample of hair, about 1 inch thick from the nape of the neck and subsequently gets sent to a lab to be analyzed for both mineral content, heavy metals and the influences these components have on the system. This is important because minerals aren't just stand alones in the body, they influence each other and the ratios between them have effects on different body systems like our endocrine system, digestive system, detoxification system, etc. Furthermore, heavy metals play a part in this equation for they can influence how we use minerals, and if any pathologies come up, for metals can replace minerals through a process called ionic mimicry which you can read more about here.
But aside from mineral deficiencies and metal toxicities, what sort of connections can we make?
1. Your Metabolic Rate
This is typically determined by the Ca:P ratio, as well as the Ca:Mg and Na:K ratios. You can find more information here and here about it means to be a fast or a slow oxidizer. In short, it's how fast or slow the body is utilizing and storing energy. One or either isn't better.
2. The State of Your Nervous System
This is typically measured through the Ca:P ratio again, for calcium is a sedating type of mineral and phosphorus is excitatory. When one is higher than the other, we correlate it to different types of stressors and how the body is reacting to pressure.
3. Adrenal Function
We have two adrenal ratios when looking at an HTMA, and they are the Na:K ratio which is also coined as the "Life and Death ratio", as well as the Na:Mg ratio. Both are important, but when the ratios are inverted, we see it a progression of low adrenal function and dwindled energy to handle stress.
4. Thyroid Function
Ever get your thyroid labs back and show that "nothing is wrong with you" but you have hypothyroid symptoms left, right and center? It's typically a cellular issue and this is when HTMAs can be so helpful because it' not so much an organ problem but a mineral problem. we usually check the Ca:K ratio for this, as well as independent minerals like zinc, selenium and manganese.
5. Blood Sugar Imbalances
Did you know calcium is required to secrete insulin from the pancreas and magnesium helps regulate how much glucose enters into the cell? This is why the Ca:Mg ratio is pivotal at seeing not just how your diet is but how your stress response is influencing your blood sugar levels. Other minerals that can help asses this are potassium and chromium.
On an HTMA, copper is synonymous to estrogen and zinc is synonymous to testosterone and progesterone. Looking to the Zn:Cu ratio helps us see what could be going on in that department and if someone is struggling with copper dysregulation.
There are a few markers we can look to trying to find infection on an HTMA like the Fe:Cu ratio, for iron feeds pathogens, but an elevated Na level could also be a sign of stress. Looking to other markers would be necessary to figure out what exactly it could be.
8. Digestive Issues
Everyone has digestive issues nowadays, but no one can understand why. For the most part, many people are struggling with the production of stomach acidity, which we can see when looking to our cobalt levels, but also a low Na:K ratio can be a sign of low stomach acidity or low sodium in general. This could also point to low digestive enzyme production. that being said, high cobalt levels can also be an indicator of gallbladder or liver issues, which can be connected to sulfur levels as well.
9. Trauma Responses
Yep, we can see if you're holding onto trauma in your body or if you're not allowing yourself to rest in your life. This would be indicated through the Na:K ratio and Ca:Mg ratio.
This can come from heavy metals, high sodium levels on an HTMA, high magnesium levels, high cobalt levels, and even high zinc levels to name a few.
If you're interested in running an HTMA with us to really get to the root cause of your problem or gather more insight into your current state, order your kit here and follow up by booking a consult with one of our amazing nutritionists!
Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Practitioner
Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner
Integrative Health Coach