Hair tissue mineral analysis or HTMA is a soft tissue mineral biopsy that uses hair as the sampling tissue. A biopsy is an analysis of a body tissue. Hair is considered a soft tissue, and hence hair analysis is a soft tissue biopsy. The test measures the levels of 20 or more minerals in the hair with an accuracy of plus or minus about 3%. This is about the same level of accuracy as most blood tests, or a little better. For accurate measurement of the water-soluble elements, the hair sample must not be washed at the hair testing laboratory. The preparation of the hair sample at the laboratory is a debate that exists among the laboratories that offer hair mineral testing. Most laboratories, unfortunately, wash the hair with powerful detergents and toxic solvents such as acetone or alcohol. As an aside, hair is extremely useful for testing many things besides minerals. These include drugs, toxic chemicals and DNA. These, however, are not the focus of this article. At times I have heard people say that hair is not helpful for testing the body. In fact, the very opposite is the truth. Hair is frequently used in forensic medicine, and in drug testing clinics. It is also used worldwide for biological monitoring of many animal species for toxic metals. Radiance. When performed and interpreted as suggested in this article, hair mineral testing is quite amazing. It is not just “another test”. It is a measure of the radiance of the body, and of the brain, in particular. This is not easy to explain, but somehow the mineral deposition in the hair tissue reflects the vitality of a human being or animal. The hair mineral test’s ability to assess and predict physical and psychological states of the body is quite unlike blood, urine, feces and every other method of testing the body that I have encountered. I encourage any practitioner to look into this. The keys to using the hair test in the way I am describing are: 1. One must not use a laboratory that washes the hair at the laboratory 2. The mineral values must be graphed on the calibrated chart used by Analytical Research Labs, and no other lab of which I am aware. 3. One must perform a lot of tests - at least 100 - and interview the clients to see if the tests reflect what I suggest they reflect in this and many other articles on this website. Not a medical diagnostic test. Confusion often arises when doctors or others compare hair testing to other medical tests. The hair mineral test, as performed and interpreted as suggested on this website, provides a window into the whole body system. It provides a tremendous amount of information about the system, but not so much about “diseases”, which are of a different paradigm that I call the conventional or allopathic medical paradigm. For example, the hair mineral test provides indicators of inflammation, but inflammation can manifest as any of 20 or 30 medical diagnoses. Another example is the hair test can provide information about calcium deposition in the soft tissues. However, calcium deposition can manifest as any of at least 10 or so medical conditions such as arteriosclerosis, arthritis, spondylitis, bursitis, gall stones and more. History and development of hair mineral testing. Mineral testing by atomic absorption spectroscopy was developed almost 100 years ago. It has been, and continues to be, the standard way to test for minerals in geology, agriculture, plant, animal and human tissue studies. It is also the standard method of environmental mineral testing used throughout the world. Human hair tissue mineral analysis became widely available in the 1970s. The development of computer-controlled spectrometers advanced the accuracy and reliability of testing, and reduced the cost. Dr. Paul Eck was a pioneer in this area, and began researching the use of the test in the mid-1970s. I started working with him in 1982, and continued until his passing in 1996. Since then, I have continued and expanded on his basic ideas about how to interpret a hair mineral test, and how to correct imbalances revealed on the test. Many new patterns have been identified that expand the usefulness of the test. Why measure minerals? Minerals are sometimes called the ‘sparkplugs’ of the body. They are needed for millions of enzymes as co-factors, facilitators, inhibitors and as part of the enzymes themselves. As a result, minerals have a great deal to do with the health of our bodies. By analyzing mineral imbalances in the body, one can learn a lot about the causes and correction of hundreds of common physical and mental health conditions. A specific class of minerals, the toxic metals, are also extremely important today due to a nutritionally depleted food supply and the presence of environmental toxicity almost everywhere on planet earth. Studying toxic metals is thus very important today to monitor their spread and learn about their many damaging effects upon the bodies of human beings, animals, plants and other organisms. Even more can be learned about human and animal health by studying the ratios of the major minerals in the body. This is a more complex area, but a very important and fruitful one. Finally, by studying more complex patterns of minerals in the body, one can learn even more about human health and disease. Why use hair? Hair makes an excellent testing material for many reasons: 1. The most important reason is that it works for nutritional balancing assessment. Exactly why it works, and why other tests such as those with blood, urine, muscle testing or electronic machines do not work, I don’t know. However, we have not been able to duplicate the hair test results using these other methods of testing the body. 2. Simple and non-invasive. Sampling is simple and non-invasive. 3. A stable biopsy material. Hair is a stable biopsy material that remains viable for years, if needed. It also requires no special handling, and can be mailed easily. 4. Easy to measure mineral levels. Mineral levels in the hair are about ten times that of blood, making them easy to detect and measure accurately in the hair. 5. Rapidly growing tissue. Hair is a fairly rapidly growing tissue. This enables one to obtain a recent biochemical picture of soft tissue metabolism. 6. A non-essential, excretory tissue. The body often throws off toxic substances in the hair, since the hair will be cut off and lost to the body. This is very helpful to identify toxic metals, for example, and other things. 7. Wide variation in the readings. Mineral levels are kept relatively constant in the blood, even when pathology is present. This must be done because blood touches all the body tissues, and too much variation is dangerous. This is the reason many people have normal blood tests even when they are quite ill. Hair minerals do not circulate, and pose no threat to the body. Values often vary by a factor of ten or much more, making measurement easier and providing a tremendous amount of accurate knowledge about the cells and the soft tissue of our bodies. 8. Easier detection of toxic metals. Toxic metals are easier to detect in the hair than in the blood. The body quickly removes toxic metals from the blood, if it can. For this reason, most toxic metals are not found in high concentrations in the blood, except right after an acute exposure. In contrast, many toxic metals accumulate in the soft tissues such as the hair because the body tries to move them to locations where they will do less damage. 9. A longer-term reading. Hair testing provides a long-term reading, while blood tests and urine tests provide a more instantaneous reading of the body. Both types of readings have value. For example, blood tests can vary from minute to minute, depending upon one’s diet, activities, the time of day and many other factors. This is beneficial in some instances, but is often less helpful when seeking an overall metabolic reading. At this time, (2015) blood tests do not work for nutritional balancing assessment. 10. Cost-effective, accurate and reliable. Advancements in computer-controlled mass spectroscopy and other technologies have rendered the hair mineral biopsy an extremely cost-effective, accurate and reliable test when it is performed well. The US federal government licenses all hair mineral testing labs in this nation, and similar programs assure quality in other nations, as well.