by Dr. Lawrence Wilson

© June 2015, The Center For Development


All information in this article is for educational purposes only.  It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.


            Dr. Eck, with whom I studied nutritional balancing science, knew there was a close relationship between iron and aluminum.  Since Dr. Eck’s death 19 years ago, I have observed that iron, manganese and aluminum are often eliminated at the same time on hair mineral analyses.  These are toxic forms of iron and manganese, often oxides.  Their elimination often together gave rise to calling these three minerals ‘the three amigos’.


The other possible amigos.  Since discovering the three amigos, I have observed that other minerals can be in an amigo or toxic form.  These include, but are not limited to boron, copper, nickel, chromium, selenium, lithium, cobalt, molybdenum and perhaps other minerals as well.  They, too, can form toxic compounds, mainly oxides, that irritate and stimulate the adrenal glands and kidneys, mainly, helping to raise the sodium level and the sodium/potassium ratio on a hair mineral test.


Removing the amigos.  Getting rid of the amigos is an important step in healing for most everyone today.  At times, daily use of a near infrared sauna and perhaps the simultaneous use of daily coffee enemas may be required to effect their removal, but not always.  That is how I first noticed the association of these three minerals.




1. If any one of these three minerals are elevated on a hair mineral analysis, the others are present in excess as well.  The level of aluminum that I consider elevated is about 0.2 mg%.  The level of manganese is about 0.04 mg% and the level of iron that is considered high is about 1.8 to about 2 mg%.  This is important because different laboratories use quite different normal values at times.


            2. Most people have hidden amigos.  Most everyone has quite a few of the amigos when they begin a nutritional balancing system.  Most often, though not always, aluminum is elevated on early hair mineral analyses, while the iron and manganese levels are often low on early tests.  This appears to occur because they are sequestered deep in the liver or in other organs and are in fact biologically unavailable.  For this reason, they do not show up on the hair mineral analysis.


              3. In fact, some are often what we call poor eliminators.  This means the body cannot eliminate them properly, so they are building up inside the body.  To learn more about this, read Poor Eliminator Pattern on this website.


            4. Amigos are somewhat biounavailable forms of minerals, often oxides, that irritate and thus support the sodium level in the body.  I believe that the iron and manganese that are eliminated during nutritional balancing programs are in a biounavailable form that the body cannot convert into a usable form.  Instead, the body must remove these compounds.  Aluminum is a toxic metal and so it is logical the body would remove it during nutritional balancing programls.

The biounavailable forms may well be oxides, which are very irritating and toxic to the body, such as MnO6, FeO2, FeO3 and AlO2.  For this reason, the three amigos could be called the oxides or the irritants, as this is the effect, generally of oxides in the body.


5. The amigos cause oxidant damage and are highly inflammatory, especially iron oxides.




The amigos contribute to many health conditions, both individually and collectively.  Let us begin with the collective effect.




            A major collective effect is that the amigos appear to stimulate or irritate the adrenal glands, causing them to function a little better than they otherwise would when the adrenals are depleted and their activity is sluggish.

In other words, the three amigos appear to help offset or moderate symptoms of adrenal insufficiency to some degree.  For this reason, as the three amigos are eliminated from the body, a rebound reduction in adrenal activity can occur.  This is rarely noticeable, however, because at the same time we always support adrenal activity with vitamin B-complex, B5 in particular, vitamin C, adrenal and thyroid glandular substance and other supportive nutrients in many instances.  Therefore the person often just feels more stable and energetic, in spite of reducing the stimulatory effects of the three amigos.

 In other terms, the amigos serve an interesting adaptive role in supporting the sodium level on a hair mineral analysis by supporting or rather irritating the central nervous system, or perhaps the adrenal glands themselves, in such a way that the glands produce more aldosterone and raise the hair tissue sodium and, at times, the potassium level.  Dr. Eck figured out years ago that manganese and iron, along with chromium and selenium, seem to raise the sodium level on a hair mineral test.  This is part of the body’s complex mineral balancing system.

Aluminum has less of this effect to some degree, and does its damage in the brain and central nervous system, mainly.




IRON.  In addition to its adaptive role above, iron in oxide form has many extremely toxic effects on the body.  Most involve inflammation, mental and emotional effects, and effects on blood sugar.  Iron can deposit in the pancreas and contributes to many cases of diabetes and perhaps hypoglycemia.  Unfortunately, doctors do not look to this cause of diabetes.  They would need to biopsy the pancreas or liver to find it.

Iron is also known to deposit in the heart and the arteries leading to hemochromatosis and hemosiderosis, among other conditions.  It also accumulates in the joints in some cases and is associated with arthritis.  It also favors the growth of certain bacteria and contributes to infections.

In the brain, iron settles in the amygdala and is associated with the emotion of rage or anger.  for much more information about the effects of iron toxicity, read Acquired Iron Toxicity and The Iron Personality Type on this website.


MANGANESE is another essential trace mineral that is very toxic when in excess or in an oxide form.  It can deposit in the joints, arteries, brain, liver and elsewhere. 

Most of these people seem to have symptoms that include dizziness, ear problems such as Meniere’s syndrome or tinnitus, and some have copper toxicity symptoms, possibly as a compensatory mechanism.  They may also suffer skin disorders, emotional issues, joint problems, muscle twitching and disturbed sleep, all of which can be due to copper toxicity or perhaps due to the manganese elevation.  As the manganese comes down, these often improve.

A manganese personality type?  Some people with high manganese have the following qualities: highly intelligent and sometimes quite intellectual, non-emotional or somewhat emotionally detached or even a schizoid, somewhat irritated or irritable, and perhaps somewhat arrogant.  This, of course, will change as manganese is eliminated.

Manganese madness.  Very high manganese is associated with a form of schizophrenia or detachment if mild, and other anti-social and at times violent behaviors.  Manganese miners are subject to a condition called manganese madness.  Psychopathic murderers were found to have high levels of hair manganese, as reported in Toxic Metal Syndrome, by Casdorph and Walker.  For more on manganese, read Introduction To The Minerals.


Other causes for high levels of manganese. High manganese is found in a lot of well and other tap water supplies, especially in communities in New England on the east coast of the United States including Warwick, Massachusetts, for example.  Here the water supply is contaminated with manganese, as evidenced by many people with very high hair manganese levels for no other apparent reason.

Also, we have found one hair product, Phomollient Styling Foam by Aveda, that is high in manganese.  Do not use this product, especially just before sampling hair for a hair mineral analysis.  Manganese compounds are also found in gasoline, although we don’t see high manganese from this source, in my experience.

When manganese is high on a hair analysis due mainly to contamination of the water or due to the hair product above, usually it has not caused as much damage to the body so that symptoms are not severe related to manganese toxicity from these sources.  One might still have manganese toxicity from other sources, of course.


ALUMINUM compounds  are known to interfere with cognitive activity, and perhaps with memory and other mentally-related functions.  Aluminum has an affinity for the skin.  Aluminum also may replace some calcium in the bones and be a cause of fractures that should not have occurred if the bone were stronger.  These are among the best known of the harmful effects of aluminum. 

Aluminum acetate is used as a skin remedy, where it is also called Burrow’s solution.  Aluminum is also used as a stomach remedy to soothe the stomach.  It is naturally high in mint teas and is used in products such as Mylanta, Maalox, Gaviscon and many other anti-acids.  Please do not use these products.  It is also naturally high in all clay products such as bentonite, azomite, montmorillinite, zeolite and others.

Aluminum is extremely widespread in the environment, so it is hard to avoid for most people.  Among the most important sources are table salt and tap water, to which aluminum is often added.

Other sources are anti-perspirants, anti-acids, aluminum cookware if used a lot, aluminum cans possibly, though not usually,  and certain foods such as mint teas of all kinds. 

Aluminum is usually added to municipal drinking water supplies as an agent that makes dirt and other particles clump up so they can be removed from the water.  This clarifies the water but adds aluminum to it, a deadly toxic metal.  It is just one of many reasons to avoid tap water most of the time.

Unfortunately, only steam distillation and perhaps reverse osmosis will remove the aluminum.  Also, all foods made with tap water, including all breads, pastries, many juices, pickles and thousands more items are thus often high in aluminum for this reason.


NICKEL. Nickel is often associated with feelings of anger, depression and at times a desire to take one’s own life, or suicidal thoughts.  When the nickel is removed, these thoughts tend to go away.  In this sense, nickel is a most fascinating toxic metal in the body.


AMIGO COPPER.  Copper can cause hundreds of symptoms.  These are discussed in the article entitled Copper Toxicity Syndrome on this website.


CHROMIUM AND SELENIUM.  At times, chromium and selenium also appear to accumulate in the body in a biounavailable form, perhaps as an oxide.  They may perform the same adaptive function of stimulating or irritating the adrenals.  They may be released along with iron, manganese or aluminum on a retest hair analysis during a nutritional balancing program.  For this reason, they are included as other less common ‘amigos’ or friends.

Their levels seldom elevate as much as iron, manganese or aluminum, but occasionally they will elevate on a retest, or even be elevated on an initial hair mineral analysis.  In the case of selenium, the use of Selsun Blue shampoo can also elevate the reading, so this must be ruled out by asking the client about hair care products that were used while the sampled hair grew.




            More recently, other minerals have been identified that can act as crutches to stimulate the adrenal glands.  They also seem to form oxides or perhaps other very irritating compounds.

            These minerals are boron, cobalt, molybdenum, lithium, and at times calcium and magnesium.  At times, these minerals will elevate on a retest hair analysis, in particular, as they are eliminated.  While not all biounavailable calcium and magnesium is in the form of an oxide, it is possible.

            Together these minerals form a powerful way for the body to irritate and stimulate the adrenal glands to keep the person somewhat balanced as far as adrenal activity is concerned.  They also are powerful general irritants and toxins for the body that often cause oxidant damage and severe illness, eventually.  Understanding the amigos is therefore a very important and basic aspect of human physiology and pathology that is often overlooked.

            Instead of taking loads of anti-oxidants that are often yin and can unbalance the body, I recommend removing the amigos, which are the underlying cause of oxidant damage, in many cases, and then the anti-oxidants are not needed.




            Restoring the adrenals.  I have observed that only if the adrenal glands are renourished, rebuilt and restored will these sequestered metals be released.  Aluminum is often easier to remove, but iron and manganese can take longer in some cases to release than most of the other toxic metals.  One may need to remain on a nutritional balancing program for several years or more.  Then, suddenly, the hair level of iron and/or manganese will elevate for a few months as a deposit of these metals is eliminated from the body.

In many cases, sauna therapy or coffee enemas are required in addition to diet and nutrient therapy to release stored iron, manganese and aluminum. 

In addition to restoring the adrenal glands through diet, lifestyle, supplementation and detoxification procedures, calcium, magnesium and zinc supplements appear to help antagonize and remove these metals as well.  Often supplementing with bioavailable manganese is necessary or at least helpful as well.


Balancing the key mineral ratios on a properly performed hair mineral analysis.  This is also required in most cases to eliminate most of the amigos.  Only nutritional balancing science focuses on this aspect of healing, that I am aware of.


Manganese and sometimes other bioavailable mineral supplements still needed.  I have found that it is helpful or even necessary to supplement bioavailable manganese, and often selenium and other minerals, even when the hair level is elevated.  The high hair reading is a biounavailable form, and most everyone still needs more bioavailable manganese and other trace minerals.  Some practitioners hesitate to supplement manganese when the hair level is elevated, but I have encountered no problems doing this, and usually the hair level declines toward normal in all cases. 

            Very rarely, a client needs a bioavailable form of supplemental iron when the hair iron level is elevated.  If it is needed, it does not seem to present any problems, either.




            Removing biounavailable iron using nutritional balancing science may take a few months or even a year or more.  However, it is much safer and often more effective than the standard medical methods of removing excess iron from the body.

            The medical methods are bleeding the patient on a regular basis, or the use of an iron chelating drug such as deferoxamine or Depen.  Neither of these methods are totally satisfactory.  Bleeding removes many other vital nutrients and removes a lot of bioavailable iron, which is not desirable.   Deferoxamine has many toxic side effects, and for this reason, is rarely used.  The toxic effects may stem from the fact that chelating agents tend to remove plenty of desirable minerals such as zinc, along with the iron.  Medical doctors are sometimes amazed how easily iron can be reduced in the body using nutritional balancing science alone.




The amigos tend to have a valence of +2 and +3.  This is discussed more in the article entitled Valence Of Minerals And Nutritional Balancing on this site.


              Electron transport and the amigos.  The amigos tend to replace iron and copper in the electron transport system, and this always impairs biochemical energy production. This can cause fatigue, yeast and fungal problems, and may even play a role in the development of cancer.   

It also substitutes a more “stimulated” type of energy for the healthier natural energy a person should have.  This has a lot to do with moving from a healthy fast oxidation rate to a more unhealthy and stimulated fast oxidation rate or slow oxidation rate.  For more on electron transport, read Electron Transport And The Work Of WF Koch, MD on this site.



Home | Hair Analysis | Saunas | Books | Articles | Detox Protocols

Courses | About Dr. Wilson | The Free Basic Program