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Validity of Hair Analysis Tests

The Validity of Hair Mineral Analysis


At Hair Analysis UK  we use hair tissue mineral analysis performed by Analytical Research Labs, Inc., a screening test for the level of 20 minerals and toxic metals in a sample of hair. It is a tissue mineral biopsy that is non-invasive, relatively inexpensive and extremely accurate. This laboratory uses only the most advanced and sophisticated instrumentation available today, the Perkin Elmer Elan 9000 ICP Mass Spectrometer to assess mineral levels in parts per million or parts per billion.


A hair tissue mineral analysis is considered a standard test used around the world for the biological monitoring of trace elements and toxic metals in humans and animals species. The same technology is used for soil testing and testing of rock samples to detect mineral levels.


Hair, like all other body tissues, contains minerals that are deposited as the hair grows. Although the hair is dead, the minerals remain as the hair continues to grow out. A sample of hair cut close to the scalp provides information about the mineral activity in the hair that took place over the past three to four months, depending on the rate of hair growth.


Hair Mineral Analysis Validity - Several factors combine to make ARL hair tissue mineral analysis the best in the industry!


  • They are one of only two laboratories that do not wash the hair at the laboratory. Washing hair samples at the laboratory has been shown to erratically wash out the water-soluble elements. This creates much less accurate results. In a 2001 study in the Journal of the AMA (Seidel, S. et al., Assessment of Commercial Laboratories Performing Hair Mineral Analysis, JAMA, 285(1) Jan 3:67-72.) the two laboratories that did not wash the hair, of which we were one, showed superb reliability.


  • They use technologically advanced testing instruments, including the Perkin Elmer Elan 9000 ICP Mass Spectrometer.


  • They have efficient laboratory quality control procedures. These include known controls which are tested at the beginning, middle and end of every batch of hair samples to insure the accuracy of the results.


  • They automatically retest any reading that is out of a normally expected range, provided sufficient hair is available for a second sample.


  • Test results are printed on an easy-to-read graph, unlike many of the other laboratories. This is a great benefit for both practitioners and their clients as well. The printed graph includes the mineral results, major mineral ratios and the oxidation type.


  • They offer the only complete individualized test interpretation by the method developed by the late Dr. Paul C. Eck, the  founder and pioneer of Nutritional Balancing Science with Hair Mineral Analysis. This 15-20 page report is unique as it includes information related to one's metabolic rate, energy levels, sugar and carbohydrate tolerance, immune system, autonomic balance, glandular activity and metabolic trends, a personal dietary supplement program, basic diet recommendations and other information that can be inferred from the test results.


How accurate is Hair Mineral Analysis?


Mineral analysis by spectroscopy is a very standard laboratory procedure.  The technology has been known for at least 75 years or more, and has improved greatly with the advent of computer-controlled mass spectrometers and induction-coupled plasma (ICP) instruments that are used today at all the hair testing laboratories in America, and probably around the world.


All commercial hair testing laboratories in the United States are licensed and inspected annually by the federal government, as part of the CLIA act.  They are given blind samples to run.  If they do not meet stringent criteria for accuracy, they are not allowed to operate.


The United States Environmental Protection Agency published a 300-page review of hair analysis in 1979 which they reviewed 400 studies of hair analysis.  Based on this review, they concluded that hair analysis is a "meaningful and representative tissue for biological monitoring for most of the toxic metals".  ("Toxic Trace Metals in Human and Mammalian Hair and Nails", EPA-600 4.79-049, August 1979, US Environmental Protection Agency, Research and Development.)

For more information about Hair Analysis you can read Dr L Wilsons full account here

Professional Statements rearding the Validity of Hair Analysis

"The results of the (hair analysis) quality assurance program, which included 31 participants on four continents, are described.  Of the participating laboratories, 92% consistently meet QA/QC performance limits for the determination of Hg in human hair."


   - Gill US, Schwartz HM, Bigras L., Results of multiyear international interlaboratory comparison program for mercury in human hair., Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2002 Nov;43(4):466-72.



"Bioassay of hair is attractive as it is an effective bio-concentrator, samples can be easily stored, (and) the concentration reflects an integrated value…"


   - Karpas Z, Lorber A, Sela H, Paz-Tal O, Hagag Y, Kurttio P, Salonen L., Measurement of the 234U/238U ratio by MC-ICPMS in drinking water, hair, nails, and urine as an indicator of uranium exposure source. Health Phys. 2005 Oct;89(4):315-21.



"Human head hair is a recording filament that can reflect metabolic changes of many elements over long periods of time and thus furnish a print-out of post nutritional events."


   - Strain, W. H.; Pories, W. J.; Flynn, A.; Hill, O. A.: Trace Element Nutriture and Metabolism Through Head Hair Analysis. Trace Substances in Environmental Health. Hemphill, D. D., ed. University of Missouri Press, Columbia, 1972.



"Statistical evaluation of these data by multivariant analysis (MANOVA) using a contrast matrix and by discriminant analysis showed that elemental hair anomalies can be used to diagnose correctly the above-mentioned pathologies, demonstrating the usefulness of hair analysis as a complementary tool for the detection of disturbances in calcium/bone metabolism."


   - Miekeley, N., et al. Elemental Anomalies in Hair as Indicators of Endocrinologic Pathologies and Deficiencies in Calcium and Bone Metabolism., J. Trace Elem. Med. Biol. 15, 1, 2005



"Changes in element content in hair can serve as a guide to opening up new vistas in the treatment of breast cancer on the basis of an overall analysis of symptoms and signs."


   - Kilic E, Saraymen R, Demiroglu A, Ok E. Chromium and Manganese Levels in the Scalp Hair of Normals and Patients With Breast Cancer, Biol Trace Elem Res. 2004 Winter; 102(1-3):19-25.



"The consensus of most workers in the field is that if hair samples are collected properly, cleaned and prepared for analysis correctly and analyzed by the best analytical methods, using standards and blanks as required, in a clean and reliable laboratory, by experienced personnel, the data are reliable."


   - Toxic Trace Metals in Mammalian Hair and Nails. United States Environmental Protection Agency Publication 1979; EPA-600/4: 79: 049



“An example of how mineral intake is reflected in the hair was demonstrated in a study of several thousand Iraqi peasants, whose diet contained grain heavily treated with fungicides. The fungicides contained organic mercury, which was reflected in higher concentrations in the hair when consumption was highest and decreased when consumption was lowest. Hair concentrations correlated directly with the extent of symptoms.”


   - Al-Shahristani, H.; Al-Haddad, I. K.: Mercury Content of Hair From Normal and Poisoned Persons. J Radioanalytical Chem 1973; 15.

   - Al-Shahristani, H.; Shihab, K. M.: Variation of Biological Half-Life of Methylmercury in Man. Arch Environ Health 1974; 28.



"The results demonstrate the viability of hair as a noninvasive biomonitor in assessing aspects of dietary Se (selenium) and environmental As (arsenic) exposure."


   - Spallholz JE, Boylan LM, Palace V, Chen J, Smith L, Rahman MM, Robertson JD., Arsenic and Selenium in Human Hair; A comparison of Five Countries With and Without Arsenicosis., Biol Trace Elem Res. 2005 Aug;106(2):133-44.



"The proliferation of trace element analysis as a tool for biological investigation of nutrition, growth and development, and disease processes has led to consideration of (hair) trace element analysis as a means not only of present evaluation and estimation, but also as a technique for the reconstruction of past biological events in an organism."


   - Gilbert, R. I.: Trace Elements in Human Hair and Bone. Hair, Trace Elements and Human Illness Brown, A.C.; Crounse, R. G. ed. Praeger Publications, 1980.



"The significance of hair analysis as a biological indicator of abnormal intake of trace elements in man is confirmed.  Geographical variations of hair trace element concentrations, on the whole, depend on geochemical conditions or nutritional factors."


   - Batzevich VA., Hair trace element analysis in human ecology studies., Sci Total Environ. 1995 Mar 15;164(2):89-98.



"The result of research studies indicate that hair mineral analysis can be useful as a diagnostic tool in the examination of trace metal exposure, including abnormal nutritional intake, and may assist in the study of certain mental states. They (hair mineral analysis) may suggest mineral imbalances present in the body that perhaps could be rectified by a mineral supplemented diet."


"Hair metal testing is a fascinating new diagnostic tool and often gives unexpected clues to mineral imbalances in the body.  The authors would support this statement from the results that they have accumulated to date."


   - Barlow, P. J.; Kapel, M., Metal and Sulfur Contents of Hair in Relation to Certain Mental States. Hair, Trace Elements, and Human Illness Brown, A.C.; Crounse, R. G., eds. Praeger Publications, 1980.



"By implementation of statistic pattern recognition methods, it has been found that the concentrations of Tes (trace elements) in hair can remarkably reflect different recovery phases of NPC (nasopharyngeal cancer) patients."


   - Leung PL, Huang HM., Following the recovery of naso-pharyngeal cancer patients by trace elements in hair using statistical pattern recognition methods., Biol Trace Elem Res. 1998 Jun;62(3):235-53.



"We suggest that the changed element status (Zn, Mg, and Cu) in hair may play an indicator role in the diagnosis of epileptic patients."


   - Ilhan A, Uz E, Kali S, Var A, Akyol O., Serum and hair trace element levels in patients with epilepsy and healthy subjects: does the antiepileptic therapy affect the element concentrations of hair?, Eur J Neurol. 1999 Nov;6(6):705-9.



“The constituents of the hair is determined by the entry of substances from external sources and from substances which enter it from the blood stream.”


   - Hopps, H. C.: The Biological Bases for Using Hair and Nail for Analysis of Trace Elements. Sci Tot Environ 1977; 7.



"The analysis of blood, excreted by-products, and human head hair represents method for determining body element levels."


   - Pihl, R. O.; Drake, H.; Vrana, F. Department of Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.: Hair Analysis in Learning and Behavior Problems. Hair, Trace Elements, and Human Illness. Brown, A. C.; Crounse, R. G., eds. Praeger Publications, 1980.



"Thus, it is observed that there exists some positive correlation between element levels in hair and nails and CHD (coronary heart disease), hypertension, and diabetes of these subjects."


   - Sukumar A, Subramanian R., Elements in hair and nails of urban residents of New Delhi CHD, hypertensive, and diabetic cases., Biol Trace Elem Res. 1992 Jul;34(1):89-97.



"The analysis of recently grown hair for zinc provides a biomarker of recent zinc status."


   - Rush E, Li L, Chandu V, Whiting R., Hair zinc concentrations not subject to seasonal variation in adults in New Zealand., Biol Trace Elem Res. 2003 Dec;95(3):193-202.



"These data confirm that the analysis of Zn in hair represents an addition to conventional materials in the assessment of the nutritional status of groups of individuals."


   - Contiero E, Folin M., Trace elements nutritional status. Use of hair as a diagnostic tool., Biol Trace Elem Res. 1994 Feb;40(2):151-60.



“Dietary levels of some of the essential micro-elements have been reported to correspond to hair concentrations of the elements.”


   - Reinhold, J. G.; Kfoury, G. A.; Ghalambor, M. A.; Jean, C.: Zinc and Copper Concentrations in Hair of Iranian Villagers. Am J Clin Nutr 1966; 18.

   - Strain, W. H.; Steadman, L. T.; Lankau, C. A.; Berliner, W. P.; Pories, W. J.: Analysis of Zinc Levels in Hair for the Diagnosis of Zinc Deficiency in Man. J Lab Clin Med 1966; 68.

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