Hair Analysis & Metal Poisoning

In my last post I discussed the CAM contention that metal poisoning is common and the scientific inaccuracies peddled, such as the claim that mercury poisoning causes autism. Once you have been sold on the fear, you naturally want to check whether you yourself are poisoned. CAM practitioners recommend hair analysis for this. Unfortunately.

This technique has been controversial for at least three decades; in 1983 a New York Times article alleged that the hair test industry was inconsistent, unscientific, fraudulent and dangerous to health:

In one case, a man was told that he had poisonous amounts of lead in his body and was started on chelation therapy with the drug EDTA to cleanse his system. But the excess lead turned out to be only in his hair, where it is harmless, and not in his body. Its source was a hair dye.

Had he continued much longer with the chelation treatments, he might have ”cleansed” his body of a number of essential nutrients, including calcium and magnesium, and possibly destroyed his kidneys with the drug.

In a similar case, a woman was told she had toxic amounts of selenium in her hair. Fortunately she consulted a physician before undergoing chelation therapy. Like the man above, the excess was only in her hair, not her body. Its source: the antidandruff shampoo she was using.

Wikipedia cites a 1985 investigation in which:

“Hair samples from two healthy teenagers were sent under assumed names to 13 commercial laboratories performing multimineral hair analysis. The reported levels of most minerals varied considerably between identical samples sent to the same laboratory and from laboratory to laboratory. The laboratories also disagreed about what was “normal” or “usual” for many of the minerals. Most reports contained computerized interpretations that were voluminous, bizarre, and potentially frightening to patients. Six laboratories recommended food supplements, but the types and amounts varied widely from report to report and from laboratory to laboratory. Literature from most of the laboratories suggested that their reports were useful in managing a wide variety of diseases and supposed nutrient imbalances. However, commercial use of hair analysis in this manner is unscientific, economically wasteful, and probably illegal.”

The authors did not explicitly rule out further diagnostic uses for hair mineral analyses in the future, but listed three issues that prevent hair mineral tests provided by the sampled labs from being accepted as scientifically sound and clinically viable: a lack of standardization and general agreement on the techniques by which hair mineral content was to be determined, a lack of general consensus on the meaning of hair mineral content analyses, and a lack of agreement on treatments for putative imbalances.

The labs suggested a variety of ‘abnormal conditions’ were indicated by the hair samples, none of which were actually present. These varied between samples from the same test subjects.

A second investigation in 2001 concluded that things had not improved:

Results Laboratory differences in highest and lowest reported mineral concentrations for the split sample exceeded 10-fold for 12 minerals, and statistically significant (P<.05) extreme values were reported for 14 of the 31 minerals that were analyzed by 3 or more laboratories. Variations also were found in laboratory sample preparation methods and calibration standards. Laboratory designations of normal reference ranges varied greatly, resulting in conflicting classifications (high, normal, or low) of nearly all analyzed minerals. Laboratories also provided conflicting dietary and nutritional supplement recommendations based on their results.

Conclusions Hair mineral analysis from these laboratories was unreliable, and we recommend that health care practitioners refrain from using such analyses to assess individual nutritional status or suspected environmental exposures. Problems with the regulation and certification of these laboratories also should be addressed.

I think it is fair to say that hair analysis alone should not be relied upon to determine environmental exposure to metal pollutants. Many CAM practitioners do, however, and often recommend dangerous chelation therapy based on such dubious analysis. I’ll write more on this in a later post.

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5 Responses to “Hair Analysis & Metal Poisoning”

  1. nc Says:

    Until you have lived 8 years with unexplainable pain and disease, shut up. These hair tests work and can identify heavy metals. My son is currently going through edta infusions. Each hair test comes back cleaner. We decide by how he is feeling if it is time for another test. Not the doctor. We know by how my son is feeling. Sure enough, the hair test comes back with less and less metals. He had over 16 metals 6 months ago. Uranium, arsenic, titanium, nickel,cadmium, platinum, lead, thorium, silver, the list goes on and on. He was dieing. His eyes were dull. His skin was yellowish, his hips had necrosis, his bladder was constantly spasming. He had gone from 230 lbs to 168 lbs. Why do employers now use hair test for drug use testing on their employees if they don’t work? Why are hair analysis used to identify cause of death if they don’t mean anything? I am living in the world of repairing heavy metal destruction–what are you doing? Running your mouth about something you know nothing about first hand. So again I say shut up. The edta that is being administered to my son is not stripping the good nutrients from him. It is filled with added supplements and Glutathione that is rebuilding his liver. He looks better today than he has looked in over 8 years. He is getting better. What is wrong with you?

    • Stephen Goodridge Says:

      It’s great your son is getting better that’s the first thing and probably the only thing you care about. However there are many concerns about hair-analysis which need to be taken seriously. One swallow doesn’t make a summer and all that. Which laboratory did you use and did you try others before you found this one. Look at this article and see what concerns there are: http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/hair.html. I really want to believe that it works but right now there seems little evidence for it.

      • nc Says:

        I hear you. We have had hair analysis done through doctor data. We had urine tests done with dsma as the chelating agent. All tests matched every time. Hair shows what was in you and the urine shows what is hiding in bones and tissue. I know there are a lot of highly regarded professionals that say these tests are invalid. We went to see them and they denied the test results as the cause of my son’s so many issues. However, they only thing these doctor’s could offer for my son as his liver was dieing, his bones were collapsing, his head was ringing, his vision was failing, he was dropping approx 1 pound a day and so many other problems was–DEPRESSION treated with anti depression pharm drugs that most likely contained–metals.

        We tried their plan for a few months. It was not the answer.

        We tried the Detox plan based on the hair and urine tests and his liver is alive again, his hormone levels are regaining strength, his vision has returned to 20/20, his skin is no longer yellow, his joints stopped locking up, the rashes on his skin are over,his foggy brain is finished,he is gaining weight,sleeping more than 4 hours a night, I can go on and on.

        Hair tests are only a small part of the beginning of the journey. But the beginning is the most important step. If this is the best that the medical world can offer at this time–then take it and do your research. Find out what supposedly is in you. Then find out what symptoms those metals cause. Find out what they do to your brain function, liver, soft tissue, bones and urinary tract. My son (before the hair analysis) spent 4 years in the urologist office with pelvic floor disease with no reason, spastic bladder, urinary infections and prostate problems. One of his metals is Barium that supposedly doesn’t stay in a person. It supposedly detoxes all by itself. My son’s apparently does not. Barium causes urinary issues. Barium caused his bladder issue that then caused the pelvic floor. The spastic bladder then traveled into his urethra and he could not go. The swelling caused his prostate to enlarge and I can go into more detail, but this is enough.

        After less than 12 months of a very carefully followed detoxification plan–his problems are on the run.

        After the hair and urine test, test the natural minerals in your body. A doctor that understands why some minerals are way too high and others are way low, can explain how these metals are causing this. My son has a huge difference between his extremely high calcium and extremely low potassium–it’s lead. His hair shows that he is way above the accepted (and I say this laughingly) amount. He has many other mineral differences that prove the hair tests.

        The lead almost cost him his hips.

        Can you imagine if I had not found a doctor that was willing to repair his hips and he would have had metal replacement hips put in? OMG I truly believe that every person that is going to have hip replacements should be required to have 3 tests to understand where they are with environmental metal exposure and their body burden.

        WOW–have you been wondering why some people don’t have metal issues after hip replacement and some do and some don’t in the beginning but then do? I DO.

        I have years of research and more than that of live tragedy.

        I believe in hair tests. They tell history. I believe in urine analysis. They tell current. I do not believe in blood tests. Heavy metals only show up in blood if tested within a limited amount of time after exposure. I believe in hormone testing to tie into what metals do to a person’s adrenal gland over time. I believe in cholesterol tests to ties into what metals do over time. I believe in fecal tests to test for yeast levels–heavy metals best friends.

        RESEARCH, TEST Doctors, Find new doctors GATHER GATHER GATHER every piece of information you can and tie it back to your particular situation.

        I will never change my mind. I truly understand your point of view. We were told the same thing by so many doctors. These doctors were wrong.

        Thanks for asking.

  2. jaycueaitch Says:

    The evidence I link to suggests that hair analysis does not in fact work. I am glad to hear that your son is improving but that is not evidence to support hair analysis.

    Simply repeating disproved assertions and telling those who disagree with you to “shut up” puts you on the level of toddlers sticking fingers in their ears and chanting “Can’t hear you!”

  3. nc Says:

    Ok, I am so sorry, but once I start, I cannot stop. I currently have 3 people that have responded to my blogs getting well. I do not do the doctor stuff, I take the tests and doctors opinions and research for answers that make sense for each person’s symptoms. Then I send them where they need to go next. I am so sure I am correct. I want to save the world of sick people that are sick with no western world medical reason.

    The hair tests were done by Doctor Data and the urine tests were done by Analytical Labs, the liver and hormonal tests were done at different labs and requested by different doctors. The fecal tests were done by I think Gen Path. My point is, these test have been done multiple times over many years, by many different labs and different doctor’s requesting. They all came back the same. They all screamed heavy metals over body burden. You just have to find a doctor that thinks outside the box. It is extremely difficult. It can be done.

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