Frequently Asked Questions
Why Test for Minerals?
Minerals are very important for cellular function and are a requirement for good health and abundant energy levels. Minerals were originally referred to as the "spark plugs of life" by Dr. Henry Schroeder (Trace Elements, Inc., 2011, p 3). We all know, and for some by experience, that when the spark plugs in our cars, ATVs and lawnmowers are worn out, they simply just don't start or they just don't operate as efficiently as they are designed to.
The importance of minerals really comes to light in the following statement, from an interview with Dr. Paul Eck: "Every single physical living cell on earth is derived totally from minerals and mineral-based compounds. Every single living body cell, including the DNA genetic codes themselves, are dependant upon minerals for both their structure and function" (Chatsworth, Colin & Loren, p 112).
A deficiency of certain minerals will undermine the ability of the body to utilize its full scope of nutrients, vitamins included. We also need the correct amount and the right minerals for hormone and enzyme production that support many body systems (Trace Elements, Inc., 2011, p 3). HTMAs for example, reflect the dynamics of the vital mineral system which relate to neuro-endocrine balance or imbalance. In this way, HTMAs reflect how the body is responding and has responded to stress.
What Can Cause a Mineral Imbalance?
Mineral imbalances can occur in a compressed (or acute) time frame or they can occur over a longer period of time. Acute illness such as those involving fever, acute stressors and toxic exposure are some examples that could cause a shift in the mineral patterns on a shorter term basis. From a broader scope, stress and trauma, lack of sleep, dietary habits, medications, vaccinations and toxins in the air, water and food supply as well as certain nutritional supplements (when taken and not actually required), could cause a disruption in the mineral patterns. Take for example the ingestion of Vitamin D on a daily basis. If a slow oxidizer metabolism is using Vitamin D because they think their body requires it, they could be increasing their calcium levels while decreasing their potassium levels. As a slow oxidizer, this person already has a tendency to have high calcium and low potassium; therefore, the ingestion of Vitamin D is only going to make this mineral pattern much worse. Supplementing with Vitamin D could potentially further slow the metabolism down affecting the thyroid and adrenal glands, and cause increased tissue calcification (pain in the joints, muscle cramping, etc).
How does an HTMA Compare to Blood Tests for Minerals?
Excesses of minerals are often deposited into the tissue because blood has a homeostatic nature to uphold. This applies to toxic metals as well. This means that blood has a very narrow range of parameters it must operate within, similar to the pH of the blood and how it needs to remain much more constant than the pH of urine and saliva. Although blood will show acute toxic mineral exposure, eventually these toxic elements will be "tucked away" into the tissue so they are not causing havoc in the transport medium. With deficiencies, the tissues will also show these first because what is available will be taken out of tissue storage and put into the transport medium for use, keeping the blood at its more constant state requirements. Analyzing the blood for minerals is a good indicator of the extracellular transport of minerals to and from the storage areas of the body (Trace Elements, Inc. 2011, p 3). An HTMA on the other hand, can give us a more complete snapshot of the metabolic processes pertaining to the minerals occurring on an intracellular level (Trace Elements, Inc. 2011, p 2).
Is HTMA used for Diagnosis?
No. An HTMA is not intended in any way to be used for diagnosing. It is a test to ascertain the mineral patterns that have been deposited in the tissues recently (in the last 6 to 12 weeks) based on the newest inch and one half of new hair growth. Understanding the mineral patterns helps to make appropriate and accurate supplement and dietary recommendations in order to make one's recovery from stress, energy and health issues much more attainable. In the same way that we wouldn't treat dehydration by taking Vitamin C, if the mineral patterns are reflecting a stressed metabolism, it makes rational sense to restore the minerals that are deficient, give the body what it needs to utilize minerals that the body is storing but not able to use, and to help the body detox harmful toxic elements. With this support, the body on its own, can be given the opportunity to heal itself when the biochemistry is given what it needs.
How Often is an HTMA Test Recommended?
When embarking upon your first HTMA, it can be helpful to understand that backing oneself out of health imbalances can take time. In fact, many people who come to HTMA have already made levels of commitment to their health on a daily and on-going basis. One test will likely not be sufficient if you're really wanting to gauge how your mineral patterns are operating and how the supplements and dietary changes you've initiated are helping to shift your mineral imbalances. Because of our high stress levels today, coupled with nutrient deficiencies, interference fields, toxins and stimulant drugs like caffeine that are today's "norm", it should be understood that changes in one's dynamic mineral patterns are going to take some time and effort. And with the mineral patterns being dynamic and labile, any new stressor that is very taxing to the body can affect the interplay of these minerals once again; however, when one's metabolism shifts to a more balanced state, he or she also can become more resilient to stress.
Initially as we work together, I will likely suggest an HTMA every 3 months. After 3 months, and based on your new HTMA, the supplements will likely need to be changed to reflect the new test and new dietary recommendations may be made. On a longer term basis, and once the mineral patterns become more balanced, longer spans of time could certainly be observed between HTMA testing if the client chooses this. As a long term preventative health strategy, bi-annually or annual HTMA testing could continue to help one maintain his or her mineral dynamics in a more ideal range. Our health is a commitment and an investment, but I can't think of anything better to invest in.
What type of information does a lab report provide and what can I expect it to look like?
Please feel free to read through a sample Profile 2 Report provided by TEI Labs.
Chatsworth, Colin & Loren. Energy: How it Affects Your Emotions, Your Level of Achievement, and Your Entire Personal Well-Being, p 112. Sam Biser Press.
Trace Elements, Inc. (2011). Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA): Balancing Body Chemistry.