Is hair analysis clinically useful?
Yes, as long as it is not over-utilized or over-interpreted. Hair element analysis provides important information which, in conjunction with the patient’s symptoms, medical history, and other laboratory results, can assist the physician with an early diagnosis of physiological disorders associated with aberrations in essential and toxic element metabolism.
Hair analysis is very well documented and referenced with respect to measuring body burden of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic. The World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have all recommended hair analysis for determination of heavy metals in certain instances. The EPA stated in a report that if hair samples are properly collected and cleaned, and analyzed by the best analytic methods, using standards and blanks as required, in a clean and reliable laboratory by experienced personnel, the data are reliable.” (U.S.E.P.A. 600/4-79-049)
With the enormous amounts of toxic metal in the environment and widespread nutrient mineral insufficiencies, assessing patients for element imbalances and excesses is increasingly important. By assessing any of three sample sources (hair, blood, or urine) the Elemental Analysis provides a convenient and accurate window for gauging both long and short-term toxic exposure and nutrient deficiencies. The test includes measures of pervasive and potentially damaging toxins such as lead, mercury and cadmium, along with crucial mineral nutrients like zinc, calcium, and magnesium. Test reports come with a unique index that clearly displays the likelihood of external contamination for each element, placing results into their proper perspective and ensuring the highest degree of accuracy.
Using Elemental Analysis, the clinician can quickly pinpoint and treat toxic and nutrient imbalances that may be triggering chronic fatigue, depression, hyperactivity (children), “foggy” brain, stress, thyroid problems and many other health conditions.
Toxic elements may be present in the body in small amounts, yet they can accumulate with excessive or continual exposure or if the body’s detoxifying defenses aren’t up to par. Toxic elements may inhibit enzymes in the body, weaken cell membranes, or impair nutrient delivery, which can lead to illness.
Exposure most commonly occurs through everyday living, with exposure coming from a variety of sources, such as cigarette smoke (cadmium), hydrogenated oils (nickel), fire retardant products (antimony), antiperspirants and antacids (aluminum), some toothpastes and cans (tin), tap water (lead), and tooth fillings and fish (mercury).
As hair can reflect the gradual increases in toxic burden which precede the appearance of major symptoms and correlates well with overall body burden, hair analysis is a valuable tool to detect toxic element exposure.
Hair element analysis should not be considered a stand-alone diagnostic test for essential element function and should be used in conjunction with patient symptoms and other laboratory tests.