The Validity of Hair Analysis

Clients and other health professionals at times ask for proof of the validity of hair mineral test­ing. There are at least three issues to consider: the validity of the testing procedure, the significance of the results and the validity of supplement programs based upon the readings.

Validity Of Mineral Testing

Spectrographic analysis is the standard method used for determining the mineral content of soil, rocks, tissue samples and other mineral-contain­ing materials. Anyone knowledgeable in chemical analysis is aware this technique is used at every university and in thousands of private laboratories across the nation.

Tissue mineral analysis is performed at Ana­lytical Research Labs (a.k.a. Accutrace Labs) via a computer-controlled inductively coupled plasma (ICP) instrument. This is a standard testing instru­ment used throughout the world.

Accutrace replaced their Perkin Elmer Elan 9000 ICP Mass Spectrometer with the Perkin Elmer NexION 2000 ICP-MS. ICP instrumentation is faster and can analyze more minerals. Accutrace Laboratories is licensed by the federal government and is inspected annually. Blind samples must be submitted that are within standard limits.


Accuracy also depends upon careful attention to the testing procedure and the kind of controls that are run with each batch of samples. Control samples are test samples in which the values are known in advance.

At Accutrace Labs, three sets of controls are run at the beginning and end of every batch of samples, every day. If any of the readings of the controls are not within strict guidelines, the entire batch of results is discarded. The instrument is recalibrated and the batch is rerun. We know of very few laboratories that go to this much trouble to make sure every reading is accurate.

Hair Analysis Studies

One study in the Journal of the AMA, August 23/30, 1985, Vol. 254, #8, pp 1041-1045 ques­tioned the validity of the testing procedure for hair analysis. Supposedly, similar samples were sent to 13 laboratories. Results varied between several of the laboratories. On this basis, the author felt that hair analysis was a "fraud".

The problems with this study were:
  • Long hair was cut up and mixed by hand for the samples. Mechanical mixing of hair sam­ples to produce a homogenous sample is very difficult, if not impossible.
  • After cutting, hair was washed under the tap before being cut up. This is a violation of sampling protocol. Hair should not be washed at home after being cut and especially not in tap water.
  • Some hair analysis laboratories wash the samples in various chemicals including water, detergents and acetone for varying lengths of time. This creates some variations in the readings. These differences were ignored in the study. We do not wash the sample before testing.

Any one of these problems would discredit the study. Together they make it basically useless.

For those who like scientific studies, however, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reviewed over 400 studies of hair analysis in 1979. The reviews involved mainly toxic metals. The EPA concluded that "hair is a meaningful and representative tissue for biological monitoring for most of the toxic metals." This 300-page docu­ment is entitled Toxic Trace Metals in Mam­malian Hair and Nails, EPA-600 4.79-049, August 1979.

Significance Of The Readings

What do hair analysis readings mean? This is a more difficult question. Our test interpretation is based upon original research by Dr. Paul Eck.

Dr. Eck synthesized many modern biological concepts to arrive at his interpretation methods. These include general systems theory, retracing theory, theory of biological transmutation (Louis Kervan), biochemical individuality (Roger Williams), the oxidation types (Dr. George Watson), the stages of stress (Dr. Hans Selye) and the mineral system (William Albrecht).

There have been a few scientific studies of hair analysis interpretation. One article appeared in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, Vol. 1, #2, 1986. This article compared physical signs and symptoms in a group of patients with their oxidation type according to a hair analysis. The study found good, though not perfect correlation. This same journal is a good source for other hair analysis studies.

Regarding the significance of the readings, the best answer is the concepts and principles of interpretation we use correlate well with physical signs and symptoms. They allow us to predict symptoms accurately and are certainly subject to refinement by future researchers. This is the nature of scientific research.

Diet And Supplement Programs Based Upon Hair Analysis

It is one thing to interpret a hair test. It is another thing to offer a protocol for correction of imbalances. This area is even more empirical. Dr. Eck based his work on that of many other clini­cians, including Dr. George Watson, Dr. Carl Pfeiffer, MD PhD and many others who spent years designing clinical regimens to correct body chemistry. Quantities of foods, dosages of supplements, frequency of dosages and other factors are all empirical and individual in nature. The only proof of the validity of any such regimen is its effectiveness.

In summary, there is no question about the validity of hair mineral testing. The interpretation method is rather complex. We can say that the program has helped thousands of people. Ulti­mately, you must experience the program for yourself to determine its validity for you.

This material is for educational purposes only
The preceding statements have not been evaluated by the
Food and Drug Administration
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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