Hair Mineral Testing

barbc56

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Here's another study where the same samples were not only sent to different labs. but resubmitted later.
To evaluate intra- and inter-laboratory agreement concerning hair mineral analysis and interpretation of results, hair samples from 2 volunteers were sent to seven laboratories, which commercially offer hair mineral analysis in Germany. 6 weeks later, another identical part from the hair sample of volunteer 1 was sent to all seven labs. Altogether, 50 elements were analyzed, 23 by all seven labs. For comparability, only the results for these 23 elements were assessed. The intra-laboratory reproducibility was evaluated by the 2 identical hair samples from volunteer 1. On the average, the reproducibility seems to be sufficient (median +/- 9.48% to +/- 20.59%), but for individual elements there were unacceptable out-rulers up to 100%. Only one lab classified all elements of the first and the second analysis of the identical hair sample in the same category (below, within, or above normal range). The others grouped 4 to 7 elements different. This is not tolerable. The inter-laboratory comparability was assessed by the results of the hair samples of both volunteers. For the sample of volunteer 1 at least the results of 6 (out of 23) elements were within an acceptable range of +/- 30% from the consensus value (= mean of all seven labs). For volunteer 2 this was only the case for 2 (!) elements. Differences of more than 100% were found for most other elements. Moreover, in the vast majority of the tested elements there was no comparability of the cLassification to the respective reference ranges of the different laboratories. For example, for volunteer 1 only 3 elements (our of 23!) were identically classified by all seven labs. As neither the analytical results nor the classification to the individual reference ranges by the laboratories correspond in tolerable borders, conclusions, drawn from these results, cannot be valid. Hair mineral analysis from these laboratories is unreliable. Therefore we must recommend to refrain from using such analysis to assess individual nutritional status or suspected environmental exposure.
 

barbc56

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Given the precedence of JAMA publishing the 1985 study, I have no reason to expect the 2001 study that Barb cites to be any more objective. This is ARL's response at http://www.arltma.com/HairAnalysis.htmto that study
I guess I don't understand the logic here. 1985 was a long time ago. I am not sure criticizing a paper written a long time ago especially when other studies have occured since then is relevant.

Your first citation was from an Internet site where you buy vitamins and the second does hair analysis. Obviously biased towards getting consumers to buy their services. So you have to consider the source of information when making these type of decisions.

It is quite another thing to conclude that the interpretation of the tests results and recommendations given are valid. I don't know if there is anyway to know, except if the patient follows and benefits (or not) from the recommendations.
This is not how science works. Symptom improvement can be attributed to other things as the placebo effect, and coincidence especially in disabilities like ours where our symptoms wax and wane.

There are very concise ways of determining if something is valid or not in scientific experiments. It involves statistics, experimental design as well as many other factors. Hair Mineral Testing is quite easy to validate.


But I guess we will have to agree to disagree. Time to move to another thread.

Barb C.:>)
 

Lynn_M

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Barb C.,
The piece that JAMA published in 1985 was a hatchet job, built upon a very flawed methodology. Since JAMA published it, that indicates to me that they had no understanding of how flawed it was, and they appear to be biased. It is in conventional medicine's self-interest to denigrate alternative medicine and anything that removes control from a doctor. The credibility and motivation of Stephen Barrett has since been repudiated in a court of law.

Regarding the responses of VRP, ARL, and Dr. Larry Wilson, I don't begrudge them defending their industry. Their self-interest doesn't automatically invalidate their criticism of the hair analysis studies. I would agree that it does mean one has to be extra suspicious. ARL and Wilson's argument is that the only valid tissue mineral analyses are those where the hair sample is not washed in solvent by the lab, because hair is partially porous and unknown amounts of minerals are removed by the solvent. The two labs that did not use solvent had comparable results.

When looking at how the results are used, that is the interpretation and program recommendations for the client, I don't know how unique test results followed by a trial of supplementation and lifestyle program unique to each client is conducive to statistical analysis.

Regarding the study you posted on 6/11, do you have a reference for where this study was published? Do you know if the labs involved used solvent to wash the hair sample and when and by whom the research was conducted?

Edit: To answer my own question, the pubmed abstract is here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11878749

It is troubling that testing of a split sample yielded such varied results. I still wonder if the labs involved used solvent to wash the hair sample.
 

Allyson

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i have not real ALL the posts
i had mineral hair testing done when i first got sick
as well as the tests they asked you your symptoms which i told them and which they gave a diagnosis on
the tablets they recommended made me feel a bit better - though very expensive
however I was annoyed because i evidently had ME at this stage but they did not mention that as a possible diagnosis - nor ibs, nor coeliac, gluten intolerance or allerges, or metabolic syndrome;
( though adminttedly neither did many other docs i saw over the years btw)
i will have to dig out my notes but they said things like - too much fat will slow your matabloism and such.
I think my copper was high ans lead too and they sodl me tablets to correct it including zinc, magnesium.
So all they did really was sell me tablets.
However I had it done because i met someone who had had it done and she looked very well and heathy on their tablets
i will post the results when i have the energy
I had never really taken any supplements before that so it may just be the fact that the magnesium, zinc and digestive enzymes they sold me helped
I think it is an interesting thing to look into and i might have it re-done now and buy some more of their tablets again ad observe more carefully though I am skeptical now as they did not indicate the possibility of my disease -ME - now diagnosed by 2 specialists - from my symptoms.
Good luck with the research though, interesting topic to test.
 

brenda

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Allyson

Diagnosis is not what Hair Mineral testing is for. It shows what is in/not in the hair sample and advice is given what to take to correct that. Everything moreover, depends on who interprets the results. Additionally, some labs wash the hair sample in chemicals which alters then result.

The person who started this thread has a unique perspective and some of us who are following her advice, have found it to make more sense to what we feel is wrong and have seen definite changes when taking the supplements she advises, but does not sell herself. I buy mine from iherb and another company.
 

maryb

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It would be an impossibility to diagnose ME from hair samples alone, even useless UK GPs will exclude other illnesses via blood tests (when pushed) before they will make a diagnosis. Hair analysis can be a useful tool in conjunction with other alternative therapies for ME I'm sure of that.
 

merylg

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My results Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis from 7/9/12

Ca 110........... (22-97) HIGH
Mg 6.9............ (2-11)
Na 2............... (4-36) LOW
K 1................. (2-24) LOW
Cu 8.7............ (0.9-3.9) HIGH
Zn 15............. (10-21)
P 14............... (11-20)
Fe 0.7............ (0.5-1.6)
Mn .008......... (.010-.130) LOW
Cr 0.03.......... (0.02-0.08)
Se 0.06.......... (0.03-0.18)
B <<0.02........ (0.02-0.91)
Co .104.......... (.001-.003) VERY HIGH
Mo .001.......... (.003-.008) LOW
S 4336............ (3546-5336)

Toxic Elements (All very low)
Additional Elements all within ref range or lower. I note that Li is extremely low.

Significant Ratios Ca/P high, Na/K acceptable, Ca/K high, Zn/Cu low, Na/Mg low, Ca/Mg high, Fe/Cu low.

Toxic Ratios all acceptable.

Additional Ratios
Ratio Calculated Value Optimum Value
Ca/Sr 611.11................. 131/1
Cr/V 15.00 .................... 13/1
Cu/Mo 8700.00.............. 625/1
Fe/Co 6.73..................... 440/1
K/Co 9.62...................... 2000/1
K/Li 1000.00.................. 2500/1
Mg/B 345.00.................. 40/1
S/Cu 498.39...................1138/1
Se/Tl 120.00...................37/1
Se/Sn 6.00......................0.67/1
Zn/Sn 1500.00................167/1
 

Sparrow

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Has anyone found that their hair analysis results have shifted greatly over time? ...Or that they haven't? My doctor's run a couple of different ones about a year apart and the results are almost identical. Just wondered if that's common to anyone else, or if it's something weird to do with me or my program specifically.
 

barbc56

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Has anyone found that their hair analysis results have shifted greatly over time? ...Or that they haven't? My doctor's run a couple of different ones about a year apart and the results are almost identical. Just wondered if that's common to anyone else, or if it's something weird to do with me or my program specifically.
I would think things like hair color, a different shampoo, new hair growth which might reflect a change in health,lots of things in the environment might change the readings. I know washing of the hair sample is important but how do you wash things like hair coloring out of the hair and wouldn't it make a difference if you just had your hair colored vx. a reading done several weeks after the hair coloring is applied.

This is why I think a blood test would be more reliable. Others may disagree and it's a personal choice but the above makes me wonder about the reliability as well as the validity of the test

Barb C.:>)
 

dannybex

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Has anyone found that their hair analysis results have shifted greatly over time? ...Or that they haven't? My doctor's run a couple of different ones about a year apart and the results are almost identical. Just wondered if that's common to anyone else, or if it's something weird to do with me or my program specifically.
Well, mine was done about 9 years apart, and yes, showed significant worsening in adrenal-related problems, i.e., the sodium-potassium levels were off the charts (literally) and the other minerals were all lower. I'm not sure a year or so would make too much of a difference unless one made major changes in mineral supplementation, plus 'lifestyle' changes as well...
 

dannybex

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I would think things like hair color, a different shampoo, new hair growth which might reflect a change in health,lots of things in the environment might change the readings. I know washing of the hair sample is important but how do you wash things like hair coloring out of the hair and wouldn't it make a difference if you just had your hair colored vx. a reading done several weeks after the hair coloring is applied.

This is why I think a blood test would be more reliable. Others may disagree and it's a personal choice but the above makes me wonder about the reliability as well as the validity of the test

Barb C.:>)
The lab that Christine used makes a point of not washing the hair at the lab. If one colors one's hair, then they ask that a pubic sample be sent in instead of one from the head. Hair dyes can definitely affect the sample, especially those that darken the hair, which have been found to contain high levels of lead, among other things.
 

dannybex

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Meryl, I'm definitely not qualified to analyze your results. All I can offer for now is that perhaps you might consider looking at your diet to see if you're eating (for example) foods high in copper, or not getting enough meat (for the zinc) in your diet...things of that nature.
 

Sparrow

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[quote="barbc56, post: 295538, member: 4228"
This is why I think a blood test would be more reliable. Others may disagree and it's a personal choice but the above makes me wonder about the reliability as well as the validity of the test[/quote]

A blood test is more reliable for some things, but it can only measure the levels of what's in your blood cells or serum (and some issues are unlikely to show up there). I don't rely on any particular measure alone.

I do take the validity of the hair tests with a grain of salt. I don't feel like there's enough evidence yet to say for sure what it does and doesn't show well. But it also seems likely that being wildly different from the norm on something is probably significant.

At the moment, I'm more interested in why it hasn't changed than in what particular changes represent. I've been taking a very large number of high quality mineral supplements daily for the year between the tests, and nothing has moved at all. That makes me wonder if I'm absorbing anything, or if my body naturally re-adjusts itself to that baseline, or if the test is even less valid than I'd suspected. But if other people's are showing changes, I have to think it's likely one of the first two. Still, it would be nice to know whether supplementation is doing anything for me if I'm going to be spending a pile of money on it for the foreseeable future. :)

The other option is that the lack of change is because my levels of some things were already off-the-charts low when I took the first test. Maybe I'm just not healed enough yet to make a recognizable difference.
 

Little Bluestem

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merylg
Dog Person is no longer here and I don’t think anyone else is qualified to interpret your results. Is whoever submitted/ran your test providing you with some guidance?

My dietitian did tell the that vitamin B12 is the primary source of cobalt in the diet. If you are on one of the protocols that uses B12, that might explain you high cobalt.

Sparrow
Some of my results are changing - some because of supplements I am taking and some on their own. Others are not changing or were slow in changing despite supplements. I am still trying to figure it all out.

When my abysmally low potassium level would not come up with supplementation, I asked my physician for a blood potassium test. It was low normal. That told me that I was absorbing the potassium, but it was not getting from the blood into the cells. She drew the blood at my last visit and one of her staff called me with the results, so I have not had a chance to discuss the ramifications with her. Someone here told me that was not uncommon with ME/CFS because the movement of potassium into the cells requires energy which we are short on.

barb
IIRC, evaluation of hair testing labs showed that those who did not wash the sample got the most reliable results. The hair should be clean when the sample is taken. The lab I use asks what shampoo I used.

Only the 1-1.5 inches of hair closest to the scalp goes in the sample. That is to check the new growth for a change in mineral status.

The lab I use also says to wait at least 6 weeks after coloring or perming hair to take a sample. That should avoid most of the colored/permed hair. Again, they asked what color/perm product was used.

Obviously, since I am getting the hair test, I think they are useful for some things. Since she referred me for them, my physician must too.

dannybex
The idea is to use the test results to guide supplementation, diet and lifestyle changes.
 

merylg

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Hi Little Bluestem, I only put my results up to spark a bit of discussion. Yes my results came with some interpretation & recommendations. My low Sodium & Potassium are a change from my previous test of 8 yrs ago...a reflection of my increased fatigue I guess. My high Cobalt is really high. It was elevated before, but not as high & I should have taken note of the recommendation NOT to supplement B12.
 

Enid

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Interesting thread thanks to you all. We have little testing in the UK and certainly not hair but two observations tie in with certain stages of mine. Everything tasting of metal at one stage - ie certain metals overload presumably. And potassium found/excreted in high levels in the urine (neon orange) - not being absorbed/processed in the usual manner comes to mind. So testing for specifics up/down seems very important.
 

Little Bluestem

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Hi Little Bluestem, I only put my results up to spark a bit of discussion. Yes my results came with some interpretation & recommendations.
I am glad that you are getting help with your test results. You have succeeded in bring some life to this thread.
 

taniaaust1

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I would think things like hair color, a different shampoo, new hair growth which might reflect a change in health,lots of things in the environment might change the readings. I know washing of the hair sample is important but how do you wash things like hair coloring out of the hair and wouldn't it make a difference if you just had your hair colored vx. a reading done several weeks after the hair coloring is applied.

This is why I think a blood test would be more reliable. Others may disagree and it's a personal choice but the above makes me wonder about the reliability as well as the validity of the test

Barb C.:>)
The lab i used, on their form one had to put down the hair products/dye used.... they take that into account. I also took my hair from a spot where the hair dye appeared to be grown out (as another said there is also a pubic hair option.. I may even use that option next time to compare the two results).
........

Sparrow if doing supplementation for deficiencies isnt showing differences on your hair tests, it is probably likely you arent absorbing those things properly (or may need to be taking active forms of some things if your body is having conversion issues of some things).

Some of us need far higher levels of things then the normal and in which case standard supplementation may not be doing much at all (its often not just a case of taking a multi vitamin, far higher amounts for some of us may be needed).
Due to the illness our body may be also using some things far faster then the norm (so may need more for that reason too).
 

Sparrow

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Sparrow if doing supplementation for deficiencies isnt showing differences on your hair tests, it is probably likely you arent absorbing those things properly (or may need to be taking active forms of some things if your body is having conversion issues of some things).

Some of us need far higher levels of things then the normal and in which case standard supplementation may not be doing much at all (its often not just a case of taking a multi vitamin, far higher amounts for some of us may be needed).
Due to the illness our body may be also using some things far faster then the norm (so may need more for that reason too).
My intake is very high, high quality, and in forms that are generally very well-absorbed. I think it is my physiology rather than the supplements themselves that is holding up the process. They're just not making it into the tissues. Thanks for the response, though.
 

Little Bluestem

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My intake is very high, high quality, and in forms that are generally very well-absorbed. I think it is my physiology rather than the supplements themselves that is holding up the process. They're just not making it into the tissues. Thanks for the response, though.
Sometimes it can also be the lack of another nutrient needed as a co-factor. Potassium is needed for B12 utilization (and i think by a lot of other things, as well). B2 is needed for a lot of things including iron. Just taking more of the thing you are deficient in may not be the answer.