The Science Behind Nutritional Balancing And Hair Mineral Analysis
Beethoven was a musical master. But he was not without unexplained health challenges.
He suffered from digestive discomfort and abdominal pain, edema, irritability and depression. He sought answers to his mysterious condition up until the day of his death.
The mystery of Beethoven’s death has now been revealed. The culprit? Lead poisoning.
Experts in hair mineral analysis studied 6 strands of the musical genius’ hair, conclusively showing the presence of 100 times the acceptable level of lead.
Lead poisoning is consistent with the symptoms he reported during years of declining health. Lead accumulation may have been due to his love of drinking a bottle of vino with dinner (wine was often prepared, stored and served in lead-lined vessels).
Had the science of hair mineral analysis been available during the time of the great composer, perhaps he would have been creating musical masterpieces well into his 80s.
Though it wasn’t yet discovered in the 1800s, the practical application of nutritional balancing and hair mineral analysis (HTMA) has been around for decades. I had the privilege of studying with a master of HTMA, Dr. Paul Eck, in the 1980s in Phoenix, Arizona.
My Own Hair-Raising Tale
As a student and a patient, I discovered a number of riveting facts about my unique health challenges—and later those of my patients. At the time of my first hair mineral analysis test, my calcium was completely off the charts (above 200 mg% when 40 mg% was the ideal).
My calcium to magnesium ratio was dramatically skewed, explaining the hypoglycemia I struggled with in those days. These results showed that I was starting to calcify—too little phosphorous to balance my high calcium indicated premature aging. When calcium is precipitated out into soft tissues the results can be arthritis, kidney stones, excess tartar build up and even cataracts.
The sedative effects of so much bio-unavailable calcium was slowing my metabolism to a grinding halt and I was quickly becoming hypothyroid. Could my love affair with cheese have been the underlying calcium culprit? Or maybe a lack of HCl due to low sodium, iodine and zinc…all of which I was deficient in?
This “calcium shell” also pointed to major copper overload. No wonder my estrogen and progesterone balance was upset! I wasn’t aware of it in those days, but I was suffering from all the symptoms of estrogen dominance. Excess copper was catapulting estrogen production, while low levels of zinc were not able to stimulate adequate progesterone levels.
The imbalance between my sodium and potassium indicated exhausted adrenal glands. Paul Eck suggested I needed manganese to raise sodium, and he was absolutely right.
The Root of All Disease?
To this day, nutritional balancing and hair mineral analysis plays a vital role in diagnosing, treating and monitoring the progress of my clients all over the world. I’ll always remember one exasperated client who struggled with osteopenia.
I urged her to do the hair mineral analysis test to get to the bottom of her struggle to maintain bone density. She regularly took adequate doses of calcium, magnesium and vitamin D—so why were her bones becoming porous and weak? She had been all over the country—to the Mayo Clinic and Scripps—seeking answers, but had found none until she tried this important test.
Hair mineral analysis revealed an extreme excess of selenium in her tissues. When we examined all of the ingredients in the various vitamins and minerals she was taking daily, I calculated that she was actually ingesting over 750 mcg of selenium per day, when 200 mcg is optimal for most people.
Selenium is mutually antagonistic to magnesium, iron and manganese—three incredibly important (yet under appreciated) minerals involved in bone health. After addressing the relative deficiencies of those minerals and removing any dietary supplement that contained selenium, her bone density improved and osteopenia reversed!
This case beautifully demonstrates the importance of nutritional balancing and hair mineral analysis to find deficiencies and possible toxic overdoses of the nutrients in your everyday supplement repertoire.
How It Works
Strands of hair are cut close to the scalp from the back of the head and analyzed to measure the concentration of 29 mineral levels and 8 toxic heavy metals in your body tissues. The mineral levels measured in HTMA are assessed individually and also in terms of their synergistic and antagonistic relationships with one another. These ratios can uncover distinct information about glandular function—insights that can transform your health and vitality!
Hair mineral analysis test results will categorize you as either a fast oxidizer or a slow oxidizer. The most common type is slow, which favors the sedative minerals calcium and magnesium. Common complaints of slow oxidizers are dry skin, dry hair, age spots on hands and face, poor circulation, feeling cold, low blood pressure, low sex drive, fatigue, hypoglycemia and weight gain.
Fast metabolizers have higher levels of the stimulating minerals sodium, potassium and phosphorous. These folks tend to be high strung, have lots of energy and are quick thinkers.
Mineral levels are measured in milligrams percent (mg%). The following is what we’d expect from a properly collected scalp hair sample. (Variations can occur due to certain medications, hormone replacement therapy, different hair treatments and the type of hair sample used. These factors can be accounted for and properly interpreted when noted prior to analysis.)
Calcium to Potassium
Thyroid function is measured with this ratio. 4.20:1 is the ideal level of Ca/K—anything above that indicates hypothyroidism, and below points to increased thyroid activity. Symptoms like dry skin, hair loss, constipation and fatigue can be better understood by looking at this ratio and making adjustments accordingly.
Sodium to Magnesium
Adrenal status is measured with the Na/Mg ratio. A ratio of 4.00:1 is most desirable. Lower levels indicate insufficiency of the adrenal medulla—likely due to exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. Long hours in the office, going through a divorce or suffering from chronic physical pain are examples of stress that will eventually deplete sodium. A high ratio suggests the adrenal glands are working overtime and possibly heading towards burnout. High blood pressure, high blood sugar and aggressive behavior are noted in these individuals.
Sodium to Potassium
Adrenal cortex activity is measured with the Na/K ratio. Sodium corresponds with aldosterone which represents adrenal cortical activity, and potassium corresponds to cortisol secretion. The ideal Na/K ratio is 2.40:1. Results above that level indicate an acute stress response or the beginning of an inflammatory reaction.
Calcium to Phosphorous
Metabolic type is determined by the Ca/P ratio. Fast metabolizers have a greater amount of stimulatory phosphorous. Slow metabolizers favor the sedative calcium. 2.50:1 is the ideal ratio between the two. Disturbances in either direction suggest inadequate protein consumption or high levels of tissue destruction.
Calcium to Magnesium
This ratio is indicative of blood sugar regulation. A balance of 6.67:1 is optimal. Pre-diabetic tendencies are especially noted at 10:1 or above, but any disturbance in this ratio shows major issues with sugar metabolism.
Zinc to Copper
This relationship indicates hormonal and emotional balance. Variances between progesterone and estrogen can be determined with this ratio. When zinc is favored, progesterone and testosterone tend to be dominant. Higher copper is associated with estrogen dominance. 8.00:1 is the ideal balance between these two minerals. Any deviation from that equilibrium can manifest in mood swings, skin irritation, insomnia and anxiety.
Iron to Copper
These minerals are mutually antagonistic, so if the ideal balance of 0.90:1 is disturbed, a relative deficiency or bio-unavailability of either mineral may develop.
The mineral readings from hair mineral analysis are more accurate than blood testing. Why? Mineral levels in your tissues reflect a true picture of your total mineral content over about 3 months of history, whereas blood mineral levels must be kept within a very small range in order to maintain homeostasis.
Levels outside of the homeostatic range would only occur during a major health crisis or prolonged extreme nutritional deficit. Blood tests are also immediately influenced by what you’ve just eaten which can mask deficiencies.
What would you like to know about your delicate mineral balance? Ask your questions below, and read more about balancing mineral levels with this test.