Brief Education


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The finer points of hair analysis. A brief education.
The three questions answered in this section are among the most important questions we receive from our readers. The answers explain basic facets of hair analysis that confound practically every newcomer.
You may wish to read these questions and answers carefully. They contain the essence of an education in hair analysis.

  • Question: My hair analysis showed a high ratio of zinc to copper, yet Paul Eck gave me no copper to lower the ratio. Also, my analysis showed I was low in calcium, iron, chromium, and phosphorus and he has not given me any of these things. Also, my husband’s chart showed he was low in iron, chromium, selenium, manganese and phosphorus, yet you have ignored this. Why are these supplements being overlooked?
    Dr Eck: The reason you are not getting copper is because you are currently a slow oxidizer. That means your metabolism is slow. Giving you copper at this point would slow your metabolism down even further, which would make your chemistry worse. Your calcium is low, but in your case, giving calcium would slow down an already slow metabolism. Now, you say you are low on iron and we are not giving you any iron. There is a reason for this. You are low on iron, but your copper is lower than your iron. If we gave you iron, it would reduce your copper level even further, causing other problems. As far as the chromium is concerned, chromium lowers iron and you are already low on iron. So we wouldn’t want to lower it more.
    You ask about phosphorus. The phosphorus level is an indicator of protein metabolism. You have a low phosphorus because you have a poor protein metabolism. The answer is to improve your overall metabolism, not to give you some kind of phosphorus supplement.
    Now for your husband’s case. The answers concerning iron, chromium and phosphorus would be the same. The reason we didn’t give him manganese is because manganese raises sodium and his sodium is already sky-high. His sodium is 39 and his potassium is 3. This means his body is in a state of inflammation. To give your husband manganese would only increase the sodium and make the inflammation worse.
    Your husband’s body is keeping the manganese level low on purpose. In this case, the low manganese is not a deficiency. It is a defense against a high sodium. Your husband’s body is lowering its manganese levels in an attempt to lower its sodium levels.
    Now, for selenium. Selenium would raise sodium levels. As we discussed, these are already too high. Also, if we gave selenium, it would not be utilized properly, because the copper is too low (.5 milligrams-percent). Unless the copper levels are adequate, the selenium will either be lost or go into pathological deposits in the tissues.As you can see, there is a lot more to minerals and hair analysis than appears at first glance. Your questions are good ones, because they point out the common misunderstandings concerning hair analysis. Hair testing, when properly done, is reliable. You just have to know how to interpret the results.
  • Question: I sent for a hair test from the Analytical Research Labs, Inc., as did a friend. I saved some of my hair sample and sent it at a later time for a (re)check test. It came back with three major differences. So apparently they also are unreliable.
    Dr Eck: This apparent discrepancy is easy to explain.
    You assume that the concentration of minerals was the same all throughout the hair sample you cut. However, this is not the case. That is why your second sample showed different results.
    Things aren’t that simple. Here is why. The concentration of certain minerals in hair increases the farther you get from the scalp. Certain minerals migrate along the hair shaft as they move away from the body.
    Therefore, the parts of the hair sample that were from hair that was further from the scalp would have different mineral levels.
    Another potential problem is that the hairs in the hair sample may have come from different parts of the head. This would give different results.
    The only way to get two equal samples is to take the hair from one location and to cut up the sample into tiny little pieces, then mix it all up evenly in some kind of blender.
    There is even one potential problem with this method. The cutting blades of the scissors or blender may cause metal contaminants to get into the sample. The contaminants may not get evenly distributed unless the mixing is done properly.
    It is easy to misunderstand hair analysis if you don’t understand some of these details.
  • Question: I recently had a hair and diet analysis done by Analytical Research Labs after seeing the lab’s work recommended in several places. When the report I received showed an extraordinarily high lead level, I concluded that this was probably in error since all previous hair analyses (including one eight months before) had shown a more normal lead level of under 1 milligrams-percent and there had been no new exposure or symptoms corresponding to such an increase.
    A new analysis done one month after yours showed numerous differences. The most substantial of these was the lead level, now reported at its customary level of .3 milligrams-percent. As a result of this I feel that I cannot trust the work of Analytical Research Labs.
    Dr Eck: You do not need to be exposed to lead for your lead level to rise on a hair analysis. Lead levels can rise at any time when lead that has been hidden away in tissue storage is released.
    For example, as calcium levels rise, lead is forced out of the body. Also, if the calcium levels decreased, for instance, more lead would be absorbed even though there was no increase in exposure.
    It is common for levels of lead and other metals to go up and down. There can even be substantial differences in a one-month period. So the fact that a hair analysis taken one month after ours shows a different result does not necessarily mean anything.
    I could show you example after example of vast differences in mineral patterns occurring within a four-week period of hair growth.
    I mentioned that lead could be released from tissue storage. This happens all the time, and is true for all metals. Let me give you an example.
    Sometimes we have people who have used the shampoo Selsun Blue over a year ago. This shampoo is high in selenium. Yet when we test these people, they often show a low selenium level in their first hair tests.
    Then, months later, the stored selenium from the shampoo will come shooting out of the body and show up on the hair test. It was always there. But it is hidden until the body releases it.
    We are very careful about our analyses. The lab we established uses the finest equipment and most rigorous procedures of any lab we know of.  Also, to my knowledge, we spend more than anyone else on research into interpreting the results of these analyses.