Hair Analysis

In cases of extreme and/or diffuse hair loss it is essential to find out what is causing the loss. There is now a way of asking your hair ‘what is troubling it?’.

A small sample of your hair (0.25gm) is taken from the rear of the head and sent to Doctors Data Laboratory in Chicago. Doctors Data have over 30 years’ experience in providing tests to determine nutritional status and exposure to heavy metals and toxic chemicals. Before testing, the hair is cut into 0.3cm pieces and mixed to obtain a representative sample, washed three times with Triton X-100 to remove external contamination, and rinsed with acetone and de-ionised water twice. The sample is then digested using trace metal free nitric acid and temperature controlled microwave digestion. This method has been demonstrated to remove external contamination yet retain volatile elements that can be cooked off using other methods such as open beaker digestion.

Hair element analysis provides important information on nutrients left over after the body has taken it’s quota and over a much longer period of time than blood or urine testing.

Hair is essentially an excretory tissue rather than a functional tissue. As protein is synthesised in the hair follicle, elements are incorporated permanently into the hair with no further exchange or equilibration with other tissues. Scalp hair is easy to sample and, because it grows an average of one to two cm per month, it contains a “temporal record” of element metabolism and exposure to toxic elements.

Nutrient elements, including magnesium, calcium, zinc, copper and chromium are obligatory co-factors for hundreds of important enzymes and also are essential for the normal functions of vitamins. The levels of these elements in hair are highly correlated with levels in organs and other tissues.

Toxic elements may be up to several hundred times more highly concentrated in hair than in blood or urine. Therefore, hair is the tissue of choice for detection of body burden and past exposure to elements such as arsenic, aluminium, cadmium, lead and mercury. Hair loss will often increase through the body’s ‘dumping’ of it’s toxins into the hair roots.

Hair mineral analysis should not be considered a stand-alone diagnostic test for essential element function, and should be used in conjunction with patient symptoms and other laboratory tests. In cases of hair loss, it has been found to be a valuable aid in determining the cause of rapid thinning.