One of the mainstays of investigations is the hair tissue mineral analysis. While we do not have fixed treatment or testing packages (the focus on personalisation makes this impractical for us and patients), the serum analysis (eg. blood testing) and the hair tissue mineral analysis are more often than not where we begin.
The most commonly associated metals with toxicity are cadmium, lead, mercury and arsenic. The symptoms of this are diverse and often confusing on their own. They can contribute to existing conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. They can compromise the immune system and inhibit its healthy function leading to an outbreak of inappropriate inflammation or frequent infections. Fatigue, headaches, difficulty sleeping, odd aches and pains, these are all symptoms the average person might chalk up as being simply inconvenient and reluctant to address until they build up to something more serious.
And it takes time. The build up of heavy metal toxicity accumulates over years of exposure. The results of a hair tissue mineral analysis test don’t reflect what you ate or drink last week or even last month. Likely the results are due to exposures across years.
Furthermore, such testing is sometimes maligned by even established medical institutions because the interpretation of them is not very well understood. You see, the interpretation of hair tissue mineral analysis relies on training that is not immediately intuitive – unlike the blood test where high markers are high and low markers are low, the hair tissue mineral analysis needs a more nuanced appreciation of how one marker can artificially inflate or suppress another. For example, high cadmium can interfere with metabolism of other minerals and cause, say, magnesium to unusually low despite frequent and constant supplementation. The problem is not with the magnesium supply – its with the excess of cadmium interfering with magnesium metabolism. If you fix the cadmium, the magnesium will stabilise.
From this you can already see how trying to diagnose or determine what is causing a set of symptoms using just the symptoms can be misleading. Imagine if you had not done the full profile, imagine if this patient had just tested for magnesium. He or she would determine that there was not enough magnesium and attempt to supply even more wasting more time, money and overloading the system with something it doesn’t need.
But why hair tissue mineral analysis? How does it compare to blood testing? These two tests do entirely different things. Heavy metal toxicities may not be excreted in the blood and would therefore be difficult to study in a blood test reliably. Especially since there exist non-secreter populations who do not remove these easily.
One of the trickiest patterns we see emerge from such testing is what we call a dysfunctional pattern of metabolism. This is what happens when the toxic load starts to interfere with the minerals and metals downstream.
How do we address toxicity? We’ll cover that in our later articles but for now, I would leave a note that a suitable water system would do wonders for removing these toxicities from your water supply.
In summary, a hair tissue mineral analysis is a useful and necessary part of any regular screening process. While not to be done as frequently as a blood test, it is a valuable tool to eliminate hidden toxicities as a root cause of a lot of disease symptoms that do not reveal themselves in the blood.