Claire Wakefield - Naturopath
As a Naturopath I am always striving to keep up to date with the latest science and investigative methods, and Hair Mineral Analysis is possibly one of the most broad spectrum tools we can use to asses a person at the deepest possible level- the elements which they are made up of!
Interpreted correctly, hair analysis results can give solid indications of mineral imbalances, deficiencies and excesses of many essential and toxic heavy metals. When certain minerals are looked at in ratios, it can even indicate things such as blood sugar problems, liver function impairment, fast or slow metabolic types, and even possibly mineral imbalances which can indicate behavioural concerns such as long term fatigue, depression, anxiety, ADHD and much more.
Assessing the minerals which are excreted in the hair is quite often a more accurate picture than a blood test, because of the 'homeostatic' nature of blood.
For example, after acute exposure to a heavy metal, it is not viable for the body to keep this toxic substance circulating for a long period, allowing it to come into contact with organs,etc.. so the blood shunts the heavy metal to an area of the body where it can be stored- often to the nerves of the central nervous system, adipose (fat) tissues, or bones. This clearance usually occurs WITHIN 72hrs of exposure, meaning that a blood test taken a few days afterwards can show no solid levels of that heavy metal in the body, however it is still in there, just not in the bloodstream!
Even the nutrient mineral levels are poorly assessed by a blood test. Due to this homeostatic (balancing) nature, If a certain mineral is low in the blood, the body is signaled to release more of it (eg; calcium from bones), in order to replace the lost mineral. So, whilst a blood test may show normal levels of calcium, a hair analysis might show poor excretion of it, suggesting chronically low calcium metabolism in the body.
Looking at the bigger picture with hair analysis, I almost always find a DIRECT correlation between the clients symptoms and the results of their hair test.
One patient presented with chronic, lifelong depression. Antidepressant medications had not worked for her, and she struggled to find the energy to get through the days. Her hair analysis revealed very low levels of Iron and Cobalt (which can be related to B12 levels), and also VERY low Lithium levels. Lithium is a mineral essential for the transport of Serotonin to the brain. Without lithium, there IS no Serotonin for the antidepressants to work on, and her extreme anemia from the low B12 and Iron was a sure-cause of her lack of energy, amongst things.
After correct supplementation, she was feeling 'better than she ever thought possible', in under a month.
Another lady suffered severe endometriosis, and had done for a number of years. Medical and herbal treatments helped, but only to a point. Her next step was surgery which she wanted to avoid at all costs. Her hair analysis showed a copper level that was through the roof (about 60x the normal range!). Copper is synergistic with estrogen- where you find high copper, you will find high estrogen in the body.
After some investigating we discovered that a house she had lived in all of her childhood was older, and had copper water pipes. She had been slowly accumulating copper in her body, her entire life.
We did a lot of chelation work and go her copper levels down.. and surprise, surprise!! No more endometriosis symptoms!
Hair samples are amazing because they are non invasive (no blood or urine collection), and are easy to use on everyone from newborn babies, right through to the elderly. Hair is usually taken from one or two tiny sections at the nape of the skull, but for those who have no head hair, pubic hair or even fingernails can be used within certain parameters.
The scope of the Hair mineral analysis is vast- and even if its just to assess if a person's diet is giving them the nutrients they require, I find this test to be one of the most valuable tools I use in clinic today.