The purpose of the retest is to provide for a program update, much like making a mid-course adjustment during a ship or airplane voyage. It is important to know if we are still on track, or if body chemistry has shifted in some way that requires a modification in diet, nutritional supplementation, detoxification or lifestyle. If supplement changes are not made, progress may become stagnate or the nutritional program may possibly begin to reverse progress, rather than move them toward better health.
Many individuals say, "I did not show any toxic metals on my first test, so why should I retest?" We also hear, "My symptoms have improved, so why should I retest?"
These questions tell us that the person does not have a complete understanding of nutritional balancing science and the purposes of retesting. To help clarify, here are five important reasons for conducting a retest on a regular basis while one is on a nutritional balancing program:
Toxic metals may be in the process of being eliminated. This may require different supplements to support the body, other detoxification regimens, or lifestyle changes to support the process.
For example, only through retests are we often able to identify and remove hidden toxic metals that have been deeply buried in the tissues. These will slowly be revealed as the body's energy systems are able to eliminate them.
A general answer is that we suggest retesting for at least a year or two to uncover these deeper, hidden toxic metals and other biochemical patterns.
However, this common question does not have a single answer that applies to everyone. Some individuals only want to deal with a particular symptom. In this case, they may decide to stop the nutritional balancing program once the symptom has improved. This could happen quickly, or it may take several retests or longer if the symptom is related to a deep layer of biochemical imbalance that is difficult to reach.
Other patients are more interested in a general improvement of their health. This is sometimes called 'wellness', in which one desires not only to get rid of symptoms, but also desires to raise the level of health and well-being. This will often require several years on a nutritional balancing program.
The reason being that a number of individuals have numerous layers of adaptations and compensations. Many individuals may have toxic metals that are hidden deep within organs and tissues. To release these toxins and renourish the body may take several years.
An important reason for staying with a nutritional balancing program is the living conditions we find ourselves in today. Since this material easily fills several books, a brief summary is provided.
In addition, hybrid crops that are not bred for nutrition, genetically modified crops, modern agricultural practices that do not replenish the trace minerals in the soil, fresh food and even organically grown food have much less nutritional value than food grown 50 or 100 years ago. This has been studied extensively and is written in books such as Empty Harvest by Bernard Jensen and Mark Anderson, Avery Books, NY 19990. Poor food, eating habits and hurried lifestyles will cause subtle nutritional deficiencies.
These factors contribute added stress to our bodies. For all these reasons it is important to remain on a nutritional balancing program with regular retests every 4 to 6 months. This is the best way to utilize hair mineral testing to both alleviate and prevent many health problems today.
A person may feel better, yet a mineral analysis retest might reveal worsened ratios or little significant change. Conversely, a person may feel the same or worse, yet the retest shows improvement. Why do these confusing situations arise?
A key to these phenomena is to understand adaptation. A fundamental principle of nutritional balancing is that our bodies survive by compensating or adapting to stress. Adaptations are biochemical changes reflected in altered mineral levels and ratios on a hair test. Taken together, the altered levels and ratios are called homeostatic states.
For example, very slow oxidation is a homeostatic state characterized by the tendency for low energy, depression and low blood sugar. It is, however, the best the body can do at the time. Very fast oxidation is another homeostatic state with different symptoms. High levels of toxic metals is a third state and so forth.
The primary reason this occurs is decompensation. After several weeks or months on a nutrition program, nutrients are replenished and energy improves. The body then does not need to compensate as much and a change of equilibrium or homeostasis occurs.
An example is a patient with a normal zinc level, in spite of symptoms such as prostate enlargement, skin problems, decreased sense of taste and smell, poor digestion or other zinc deficiency symptoms. On a second or third test, the zinc level may drop precipitously, yet the patient reports feeling better. What happened?
The zinc reading was originally displaced upwards, to balance another mineral or by a toxic metal such as cadmium. Cadmium and other toxic metals can cause physiological mineral levels to appear higher in the hair. As energy increases, cadmium is eliminated from the body. As cadmium is released, zinc replaces it in the tissues and for a while less zinc is excreted into the hair tissue. The retention of the zinc, along with cadmium elimination, causes improvement in symptoms.
A second example is a chronically ill (compensated) patient with a fairly balanced oxidation rate on the first hair test. After one or more tests, the oxidation rate may become very slow or very fast, indicating severe energy loss. However, the patient reports feeling better.
In this case, the body had compensated for nutrient imbalances by accumulating toxic metals that temporarily balanced the oxidation rate. Cadmium, for example, will raise sodium levels. Lead can replace calcium. In spite of a fairly balanced oxidation rate, the person did not feel well because of the presence of the toxic metals, often hidden deep within the tissues. As body chemistry improved, the body began to eliminate the toxic metals, replacing them with physiological minerals. The person begins to feel better. Yet the oxidation rate may reveal the underlying imbalance and look worse for a while.
A second reason the test may look worse but the patient feels better is if the patient gains relief from an important symptom. This may produce psychological well-being, even though other imbalances exist.
A third reason for an apparent worsening of the test in spite of symptomatic improvement is that one may not fully understand or recognize the improvements. For example, higher toxic metals usually means one is actively eliminating metals, not a worsening of toxicity. An unbalanced oxidation rate may grab one's attention, causing one to overlook an improved sodium/potassium ratio or improved phosphorus or zinc levels.
The only way to detect such a subtle change would be to retest sooner. Eventually, of course, the trend in body chemistry will be revealed, but on a temporary basis it can seem as though nothing has changed.