What is Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA)?

Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) is an analytical test that evaluates hair tissue for nutritional and toxic elements, as a reflection of the body's mineral stores and levels. It is a safe and non-invasive test that provides indicative mineral balances, as well as comparative ratios of nutrients and toxic minerals, such as lead, cadmium, arsenic, uranium, and aluminium, in the body. The hair samples are sent to, and prepared in, a licensed clinical laboratory, through a series of chemical and high-temperature digestive procedures. Testing is performed using highly sophisticated detection equipment to achieve the most accurate and precise results.

Why test for minerals?

Trace minerals are essential in countless metabolic functions in all phases of the life process.

  • Zinc is involved in the production, storage and secretion of insulin and is necessary for growth hormones.

  • Magnesium is essential for normal muscular function, especially the heart. A deficiency has been associated with an increased incidence of abnormal heart conditions, anxiety and nervousness.

  • Potassium is critical for normal nutrient transport into the cell. A deficiency can result in muscular weakness, mild depression and lethargy.

  • Excess sodium is associated with hypertension, but adequate amounts are required for normal health.

In the words of the late author and noted researcher, Dr Henry Schroeder, trace elements (minerals) are "...more important factors in human nutrition than vitamins. The body can manufacture many vitamins, but it cannot produce necessary trace minerals or get rid of many possible excesses."

Why use hair and not blood?

Hair is an ideal tissue for sampling and testing. Firstly, it can be cut easily and painlessly, and can be sent to the lab without special handling requirements. Secondly, clinical results have shown that a properly obtained sample can give an indication of mineral status and toxic metal accumulation following long term or even acute exposure.

The hair is a storage organ, and to some degree an excretory tissue. Measuring the mineral content of blood gives a good indication of the minerals being transported around the body, however it can not accurately measure the minerals stored in the tissues. This is because mineral levels are kept at a relatively constant level in the blood, even when an imbalance is present. As a result, the hair will change first, sometimes years before the blood.

Toxic metals are also easier to detect in the hair, rather than in the blood. They are not found in high concentrations in the blood except right after acute exposure. However, most tend to accumulate in the soft tissues such as the hair, as the body tries to move them to locations where they will do less damage.

Example:

  • 30 to 40 days following an acute exposure, elevated serum (blood) levels of lead may be undetectable. This is due to the body removing the lead from the serum (blood) as a protective measure and depositing the metal into such tissues as the liver, bones, teeth and hair.

Hair is used as one of the tissues of choice by the Environmental Protection Agency in determining toxic metal exposure. A 1980 report from the E.P.A. stated that human hair can be effectively used for biological monitoring of the highest priority toxic metals. This report confirmed the findings of other studies in the U.S. and abroad, which concluded that human hair may be a more appropriate tissue than blood or urine for studying community exposure to some trace elements. HTMA is best used in conjunction with other appropriate pathology tests for the most comprehensive picture of a person’s health.

Can I read my own hair test?

Short answer - No.

Balancing minerals and interpreting a HTMA takes years of study and personal experience to really understand how it works. It is tempting to assume that you "just supplement with the minerals that you appear to be deficient in" however this is not the case. Every mineral interacts with every other mineral, raising one mineral will in turn deplete another and so on. It really is a balancing act! Doctors and Scientists have been studying this form of interpretation for over 40 years, and a qualified HTMA interpreter knows how to "read between the lines" and can recognise patterns of hidden minerals and toxic elements.

Can I get all of the minerals I need from diet alone?

Due to modern farming techniques, synthetic fertilisers, and depleted soils from centuries of agriculture; our food rarely contains the mineral content that it once did. Consequently, we need to test and monitor our Mineral levels and ratios more than ever before. HTMA enables the individual to determine how to truly supplement, and re-nourish our body with the preferred minerals that our cells crave, without the need for “shotgunning” supplements.

How is the hair sample taken?

The hair should be clean, well rinsed, untreated and uncoloured. Using clean, stainless steel scissors cut small amounts of hair from the back of the head. Cut the hair as close to the scalp as possible. If the hair is less than 4 cm in length, keep all of it for testing. If it is longer, cut off and keep the 4 cm that was growing closest to the scalp. Place hair in the hair sample envelope provided.

The laboratory requires approximately one tablespoon of hair for testing (0.5 gm).

Do I have to use the hair sample envelope that John provides?

It is not essential, however, we do prefer that you use the envelope we provide as it is of a specific weight for the laboratory and also guarantees a clean and untainted environment for the hair sample. Mediums such as plastic or foil are unsuitable and can contaminate the sample, leading to potentially inaccurate results. Additionally, by using the envelope provided, the sample is not required to be transferred once it reaches the lab thus minimising the potential of external contamination. If you do choose to use your own envelope, place the hair sample in a plain clean unused paper envelope, making sure to write your name, gender, age, sample location (eg. scalp) and phone number on the envelope before placing the sample inside.

If I can't use head hair, can I use pubic hair?

Yes, should head hair not be available, you can use pubic or armpit hair as an alternative to head hair.

However please note that the lab's reference ranges are based on scalp hair, thus, a scalp sample is preferable; however, we can accept pubic hair, head hair or armpit hair. These samples can provide reliable data for toxic minerals, but some of the results for the nutritional minerals may be misrepresented e.g. potassium and sodium, due to contamination by soap and cosmetic makeup residue. Please ensure the hair is thoroughly rinsed with clean water and dried before taking the sample to avoid the presence of soap, deodorants and cosmetic products.

It is essential that you don't mix different types of hair e.g. do not mix head hair with pubic hair. If body hair is unavailable, fingernail clippings may be sent. The same amount of sample is required, approximately 0.5 gm. Please ensure nails are scrubbed and cleaned before submitting the sample to the laboratory for analysis. Please only use nail clippings as an extreme last restort, mineral testing is primarily based on hair samples.

Can I send my hair if it is dyed?

If hair is treated and coloured, please wait six to eight weeks and take the sample from the freshly grown (i.e. untreated) hair that does not have dye. Any hair treatment or colour, natural or otherwise, can potentially lead to less accurate results for some elements tested. This includes henna treatments.

How long is the hair sample good once it has been cut?

As long as the hair is stored in the paper envelope and in a clean dry area, the hair sample will maintain its integrity indefinitely. Please do not store the hair sample in plastic or foil as these are potential contaminants. The longer it is between cutting the sample and the sample being processed by our laboratory, the less relevant the results become to your current status of mineral and toxic element storage.

How many and which minerals are tested?

The lab analyses 20 core nutritional and toxic elements ,and provides a graph showing these levels, as well an optional 16 additional minerals for an extra charge. They are: Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, Copper, Zinc, Phosphorus, Iron, Manganese, Chromium, Selenium, Lithium, Arsenic, Mercury, Cadmium, Lead, Aluminum, Nickel, Cobalt, Molybdenum. (Optional) Germanium, Barium, Bismuth, Rubidium, Platinum, Thallium, Vanadium, Strontium, Tin, Titanium, Tungsten, Beryllium, Uranium, Boron, Sulfur, and Zirconium. Please contact us for pricing details.

How do I pay for the hair test?

Please notify John Bumpus and he will send an invoice via PayPal.

Can I claim a HTMA on Medicare or private health funds?

At present, you cannot claim the hair tissue mineral analysis on Medicare. It may be possible to claim from private health funds, please check with your fund for more information. Some health funds offer rebates on non-specific health care items when recommended by a health care professional.

How long will it take to recieve my results?

Upon sampling the tissue, it will take approximately 14 working days to receive your results at the lab. The lab will email John your results and they will be forwarded to you to print if necessary.

Do you test for chemicals or drugs in the hair?

We test the hair for over 20 different minerals (i.e. nutritional and toxic minerals), but we do not test the hair for chemicals or drugs.

Do you test the hair for allergies?

We test the hair to show the internal storage of nutritional and toxic minerals; we do not test the hair for allergies. However, due to our understanding of mineral balances, the interpretation report may indicate certain mineral patterns that are known to influence particular allergy types.

With a HTMA, can you tell me what products to take?

John Bumpus is a nutritional consultant and will make recommendations for supplements to help balance your HTMA results and enhance the natural detoxification of heavy elements.

Can vitamin requirements be determined from a HTMA?

Minerals interact not only with each other but also with vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Minerals influence each of these factors, and they, in turn, influence mineral status. Minerals act as enzyme activators, and vitamins are synergistic to minerals as coenzymes. It is extremely rare that a mineral disturbance develops without a corresponding disturbance in the synergistic vitamin(s). It is also rare for a disturbance in the utilization or activity of a vitamin to occur without affecting a synergistic mineral(s). For example, vitamin C affects iron absorption and reduces copper retention. Boron and iron influence the status of vitamin B2. Vitamin B2 affects the relationship between calcium and magnesium. Vitamin B1 enhances sodium retention, B12 enhances iron and cobalt absorption, and vitamin A enhances the utilization of zinc while antagonizing vitamins D and E. Protein intake will affect zinc status, etc. Therefore, evaluating mineral status provides good clues of vitamin status and requirements. Continuing mineral balancing research involves the recognition of many synergistic and antagonistic interrelationships between minerals and vitamins.

What if I am already taking nutritional supplements, are these taken into consideration?

John Bumpus will consider your current supplement program and if there are products that are not conducive to balancing your mineral levels he will tell you. However, the decision to continue or stop taking these products, is up to the individual. It should be noted that some products may interfere with future HTMA results.

Which product brands do you recommend?

John Bumpus currently has two preferred product ranges; Endo-met Laboratories and Trace Nutrients. These are chosen because they are specifically designed to balance minerals on a hair test, and to work with the metabolic rate of an individual. Clients on our program receive 25% off these products.

If clients would like to work with other products, an additional $35 fee will be applied, due to the extra time and research involved in formulating different recommendations with other products. Please be aware that results may vary using other products.

Is HTMA supported by scientific research?

HTMA is supported by an impressive body of literature in a variety of respected national and international scientific publications. Over the past fifty years, hair mineral testing has been extensive. Each year, in the United States alone, federally licensed clinical laboratories perform over 150,000 hair mineral tests for health care professionals, who are interested in an additional screening aid for a comprehensive patient evaluation. This does not take into consideration the thousands of subjects used in numerous continuing research studies conducted by private and government research agencies. For a list of some of the research involving hair tissue mineral analysis click here.

Why do you only recommend getting your HTMA from TEI or ARL?

TEI (Trace Elements) and ARL are the only two labs that we recommend using as they do not wash the hair sample. Washing the hair sample in harsh chemicals and detergents, removes large amounts of water-soluable elements (specifically sodium and potassium). Hair is very porous, so washing can also damage the inside of the hair tissue, skewing the results. If you have obtained a HTMA from another lab, please take this into consideration. John can do an interpretation using other HTMAs, however additional fees will be charged due to the extra time that needs to be taken to convert the values.

Can I order products from overseas?

Yes, it is possible to order our products from overseas. The postage will be quoted on a "per order basis" as freight is charged based on weight and size.

Are your products vegan-friendly?

Our two ranges of nutritional products, Endo-met Laboratories and Trace Nutrients, have some vegan-friendly options, but some may contain glandulars. For vegan support, please ask John for this option and pricing.