NUTRITIONAL BALANCING AND
HAIR TISSUE MINERAL ANALYSIS
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
(originally published in Explore, For the Professional, Vol. 12, #2, 2003 and updated December 2009. © L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.)
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.
A synthesis of concepts. Nutritional balancing science is a unique synthesis of concepts forming a powerful healing method for a toxic and depleted humanity. It incorporates the stress theory of disease, metabolic typing, trace mineral research and natural healing principles. For 14 years, the author was privileged to work with its developer, Dr. Paul C. Eck.
Nutritional balancing different from most symptomatic approaches to healing. It is to be distinguished from symptomatic nutrition. This, like all symptomatic therapy, is fine as far as it goes. However, it often misses, suppresses or masks systemic dysfunctions, allowing them to worsen until a more serious condition develops. Symptomatic nutrition will always have a role, especially in acute illness. However, when it is the main focus one misses the larger picture and shortchanges the patient.
Most nutrition practiced is symptomatic, including chelating heavy metals, eliminating candida infections, killing parasites, treating leaky gut syndrome and most use of herbal remedies. Nutritional balancing is concerned less with specific conditions while placing more emphasis on patterns of system response. Correct these and many problems improve at the same time. Most important, many undetected imbalances and latent conditions improve as well.
ELEMENTS OF NUTRITIONAL BALANCING SCIENCE
General Systems Theory. Life is basically about systems theory, although this is a very advanced way to view it. Systems theory describes how living systems are organized to maintain their functioning in the face of continuous stress. A law of systems theory is the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. One cannot understand the whole by understanding its parts. However, understanding behaviors of the whole system and some of its parts, one can determine the behavior of other parts.
Conventional medicine and other symptomatic approaches deal mainly with parts. Nutritional balancing focuses on behaviors of the whole human system.
Cybernetics. The human body is a prime example of a self-regulating system (1). Its communication and control mechanisms include homeostatic states, adaptations and feedback loops. Self-regulating systems consist of unstable elements maintained in equilibrium or homeostatic states. The body optimizes its performance by altering thousands of delicate balances second by second in response to internal and external conditions.
Balances in the body include muscle contraction and relaxation, organ hyperfunction and hypofunction and nervous excitation and relaxation. Information-processing networks including the nervous system, hormonal and other regulatory mechanisms control the balances. Survival depends on accurate information and adaptability.
Self-regulating systems have goals or teleology. The most basic goals of human organisms are to survive and to produce energy used for all other functions and activities. Helping the human system achieve its goals is the purpose of all healing work.
From this perspective, symptoms are behaviors of the whole system doing its best to optimize its performance under varying conditions. For example, if excessive sympathetic tone restricts blood flow, blood pressure may increase to force more blood through the arteries. Hypertension can be viewed as a dynamic adaptation to stress, not a static "disease".
Autonomic Balance. An important behavior of the human system was researched by Melvin Page, DDS (2). He found that some people are what he called sympathetic dominant while others are parasympathetic dominant. Each have their own health challenges. Often the same illness can occur in both types, but for different reasons.
For example, thyroid hormone lowers calcium, particularly in relation to phosphorus. Dr. Page used the serum calcium level to assess the autonomic balance and noted the effects of foods such as sugar on the mineral balance.
The sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system is the emergency fight-or-flight response. It activates the thyroid and adrenal glands, shuts down digestion and the immune system, and is catabolic. Sympathetic dominance means the emergency system operates excessively. This eventually leads to tissue and organ breakdown and death.
The parasympathetic branch is anabolic, activating digestion, the immune system and the eliminative organs. The parasympathetic system is nourishing, nurturing and life-restoring.
Sympathetic dominant people live in the past or future, with guilt, fear and anxiety. Parasympathetic dominant people live in the present, and are more content. Stress from fatigue, poor diet, toxic metals and chemicals, unresolved emotional issues or other sources sends the body into a sympathetic response. Once there, the pattern is often self-reinforcing. One feels ill and blames oneself or others, which places further stress on the system.
Breaking the pattern and becoming parasympathetic is essential for healing. In addition to reducing physical, chemical and emotional stress, counseling, meditation, warm baths, saunas, music and many other relaxing therapies may be helpful.
The Stress Theory Of Disease. Hans Selye, MD made an incredible contribution to medical science with the stress theory of disease (3). It is systems theory combined with modern biochemistry. Its value is unappreciated because conventional medicine and many holistic physicians view the body in less than a total system fashion.
The theory describes how all organisms respond to stress. Dr. Selye shocked rats and wrote about the changes in tissues, organs and glandular activity as animals responded to ever-increasing amounts of stress. He discovered total-system responses that occur regardless of the type of stress. He divided them into alarm, resistance and exhaustion stages.
Essentially Dr. Selye forced animals into a sympathetic response and observed the changes in their biochemistry. He discovered that each stage of stress has its own biochemical parameters, qualities and health conditions. Ideally, one remains in an early stage of stress most of one’s life to enjoy excellent health.
Oxidation Types. Dr. George Watson, a researcher at UCLA, stumbled on another behavior of the human system related to diet and nutritional supplements. He discovered that people could be divided into what he called oxidation types. He based this on blood and odor tests. He experimented with foods and nutrients to find which were beneficial for each type. This was a brilliant contribution, a biochemical exploration of the ancient concept of metabolic types. Oxidation types are in fact homeostatic states or adaptations to stress. Dr. Watson, however, did not connect his discoveries to Dr. Selye’s stages of stress or to general systems theory.
Dr. Watson found that fast oxidizers need more fats and oils in their diets, and are adversely affected by carbohydrates, particularly simple carbohydrates. They also require more calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamins A and D. Equally important for these individuals are to avoid excessive B-complex vitamins or vitamin C, which lowers copper and speeds up the oxidation rate.
Slow oxidizers tolerate less fats and oils, but need more protein in their diets. They also require more B-complex vitamins and vitamins C and E. Excessive amounts of vitamins A and D, for example, are detrimental for this type. Dr. Watson discovered this empirically and explained his findings in terms of the relative efficiency of the citric acid and glycolysis cycles in each person. Although there is much more to metabolic types, Dr. Watson’s contribution is valuable. He wrote two very readable books, Nutrition and Your Mind (4) and Personality Strength and Psychochemical Energy (5).
Babies have very fast oxidation rates. Ideally, the rate should slowly decrease until in adulthood it is slightly fast and remains so for most of life. At the end of one’s life, the rate slows as the body goes into exhaustion. Most people, however, go into slow oxidation and exhaustion much sooner, at times while still in childhood.
Entire nations are in an exhaustion state. Western Europe, for example, is more exhausted than America. This may be due to traditions that inhibit free expression. Exhausted people do not want to take risks and want their government to take care of them, as in the socialist nations of Western Europe.
The Mineral Wheel. Another fascinating systems concept is the interaction of minerals within living organisms. The original mineral wheel was a diagram showing how the levels of minerals affect each other in plants. Dr. William Albrecht, Chairman of the Department of Soils at the University of Missouri, developed the mineral wheel (6). He could change sick crops into healthy ones by varying the levels of minerals in the soil. His research contributed heavily to modern organic farming.
Biounavailability. Another key systems principle that arose from agricultural science is that an element may be present, but not usable by a plant or animal. One may need to supplement a mineral or other substance in order to make another mineral biologically available. This principle has great application in human health, as even those with the best diets may develop deficiencies if minerals are biounavailable. It is also a key to hair analysis interpretation, as otherwise test results create confusion.
Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis. Dr. Paul C. Eck was a mineral researcher who synthesized Dr. Selye’s stages of stress, Dr. Watson’s oxidation types, the parasympathetic and sympathetic concepts of Dr. Melvin Page and Dr. Albrecht’s mineral wheel, adapting it for use in human beings (7).
Dr. Eck added another element, a way of assessing the human system by analyzing the balance of minerals in a body tissue. He used the new research tool of hair mineral testing. He founded Analytical Research Laboratories in 1975. Sampling hair is easy and non-invasive and the biopsy material easy to store and transport. The technology for mineral analysis is also well-established.
With minerals permanently locked inside, hair leaves a clear record of mineral metabolism at the time the hair was formed. Excess minerals and other chemicals are eliminated through the hair. If a mineral is deficient, less is allowed to be deposited in the hair. Testing is inexpensive, accurate and reliable when samples are not washed at the laboratory.
Detecting deficient minerals and replacing them is called replacement therapy. Dr. Eck found early on this is not effective. Instead, he learned to use the test to develop a metabolic blueprint of how the body is responding to stress. One assesses the metabolic type, stage of stress and other system characteristics. One applies the biochemistry of the metabolic type and stage of stress to recommend foods, nutrients and lifestyle to move the body to a healthier state.
One is not interested in the "total body load" of a mineral. In fact, one may supplement a mineral such as manganese when the hair level is high. Manganese may be biounavailable, meaning present but not usable. A supplement in available form may be required to activate an enzyme system. A mineral that reads low may not be supplemented. It may be present in excess, but hidden in an organ or tissue and not revealed in the hair.
Dr. Eck also incorporated natural healing concepts such as retracing reactions, layers of pathology, effects of toxic metals and others. Together these elements are the basis for nutritional balancing science. I was fortunate to spend 14 years apprenticing with Dr. Eck.
COMBINING THE ELEMENTS
The following is Dr. Eck’s basic synthesis of biological systems concepts. One begins nutritional balancing by sampling the hair and sending it to a laboratory that does not wash it. One assesses the stage of stress and oxidation type from the ratios of calcium to potassium and sodium to magnesium. Mineral ratios, he found, are more accurate for this than levels (8).
A calcium/potassium ratio less than 4:1 and a sodium/magnesium ratio greater than 4.17:1 indicate a fast oxidation rate. This corresponds to an alarm stage of stress. The pattern is shown in figure 1. Unless the oxidation rate is extremely fast, these individuals’ autonomic nervous systems are usually fairly balanced, as they are in an early stage of stress.
If, however, the sodium/potassium ratio is less than 2.5:1, the pattern is termed a fast oxidizer with an inversion (inverted ratio). This is not true fast oxidation and is associated with a resistance or exhaustion stage of stress. This is shown in figure 2.
A calcium/potassium ratio greater than 4:1 but less than 10:1 and a sodium/magnesium ratio less than 4.17:1 but greater than 1:1 defines a slow oxidation rate. This roughly corresponds to a resistance stage of stress. An example is shown in figure 3.
A calcium/potassium ratio greater than 10:1 and a sodium/magnesium ratio less than 1:1 indicates a very slow oxidation rate. This corresponds to Dr. Selye’s exhaustion stage of stress as shown in figure 4. The determinations are not identical to those of Dr. Watson, who used blood and odor tests. However, hair assessment is most useful and often more so.
Most of the time, both ratios indicate fast or slow oxidation. However, if one ratio indicates fast oxidation and the other indicates slow, the pattern is called a mixed oxidizer. This temporary and unstable pattern is shown in figure 5. With corrective therapy, mixed oxidation resolves into fast or slow often within three months. A mixed oxidation pattern that is closer to fast is called a fast-mixed oxidizer. A mixed pattern closer to slow is called slow-mixed oxidation.
When calcium is less than 40 mg%, magnesium less than 6 mg%, sodium less than 25 mg% and potassium less than 10 mg%, the pattern is called four low electrolytes. This is shown in figure 6. It corresponds to Dr. Watson’s sub-oxidizer and is a special type of exhaustion stage of stress.
Assessing the electrolyte patterns is a major part of nutritional balancing. Mastering how to read the electrolyte ratios, one can more clearly understand symptoms, trace element levels and toxic metals from a biological systems perspective.
Washing hair samples at a laboratory unpredictably removes water-soluble elements. This alters the electrolyte readings and prevents accurate assessment of key mineral ratios. Only two commercial laboratories, Trace Elements, Inc. and Accutrace or Analytical Research Labs do not wash the hair. The others wash it between three and ten minutes with solvents such as acetone or alcohol, detergents such as Triton X, or both. Do not use Trace Elements, Inc., however, because they are not as careful, their products are not as good, and their corrective programs are terrible.
Laboratories that wash the hair claim it is needed to remove contaminants. Laboratories that do not wash maintain it is usually unnecessary and creates more problems than it solves. Whether to wash hair at the laboratory is not a new issue. It was explored in a study published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine (9) and other studies. Washing erratically removed water-soluble minerals from hair samples.
In a study published in the Journal of the AMA in 2001 (10) , the authors concluded hair analysis was a fraud because hair samples from the same person sent to six laboratories yielded varying results. The JAMA study was poor because it only involved one person. Much more importantly, a critical finding was overlooked. Readings from the two labs that did not wash the hair were identical for six of nine elements tested and extremely close for all others. This is excellent reliability and supports the exact opposite of the authors’ conclusion. It also brings to light the problem of hair washing.
The laboratories whose readings varied
are among the best-known in the industry. I was disappointed that several of
them rebutted the JAMA study by basically stating their procedure is best and
everyone else is
ENDOGENOUS AND EXOGENOUS MINERALS
Laboratories that wash the hair claim it only removes ‘exogenous’ mineral. However, hair is 10-15% porous. Thus, solvents and detergents penetrate the hair and must wash out a percentage of the soluble elements. Since porosity varies among individuals, the amount washed out will also vary randomly. Removing an unknown percentage of the total mineral content shifts the relative percentages of all the minerals, skewing many readings. Electrolytes and trace elements are most affected.
Hair washing is based on a study of antelope hair that was soaked in radioactive sodium. Ninety minutes of washing were required to remove all the sodium (11). However, no hair analysis lab washes the hair even close to 90 minutes, meaning they partially wash out an unknown percentage of the ‘exogenous’ mineral.
For the metabolic assessment we use and recommend, be sure to use a laboratory that does not wash the hair. Sodium and potassium readings are critical for test interpretation and are most affected by washing. Having reviewed over 15,000 mineral tests, experience also confirms unwashed samples are most accurate for metabolic assessment. If a sample comes in dirty, I ask for a new sample.
Some people ask how laboratory washing differs from washing the hair while bathing. Most people spend only 10-30 seconds with the hair under a shower. Also, shampoos are much milder than the solvents and detergents used by the laboratories. While on the head, some re-equilibration also occurs after bathing. This cannot occur at a laboratory.
REFERENCE RANGES OR IDEALS
Another important laboratory issue is whether to use reference ranges or ideal levels and ratios. Reference ranges are a statistical method used in the allopathic paradigm that asserts that health is the absence of a diagnosable disease. This definition produces a ‘range of normal’. It occurs because people who are about to develop cancer or a heart attack, but with no definable disease, tend to have different ‘normals’ than those in superb health. In the allopathic model, all are averaged together to form the common bell curve of laboratory normals.
Ideal values are based on the wellness paradigm. Health is defined not as the absence of disease, but as a set of specific criteria, like the specifications of an engine. If a body is ‘out of spec’, it is in poorer health and more likely to develop illness.
In this paradigm, reference ranges are often worse than useless. One needs much clearer standards. I often review hair tests from ill and frustrated patients whose doctor said they are fine as all their numbers fall within the reference range. The problem is the reference range.
Only one lab I am aware of, Analytical Research Labs, provides ideal hair mineral levels and ratios. The other labs offer reference ranges and perhaps mean or median levels. These, however, are not ideals. One cannot average readings from people in mediocre health to arrive at an ideal.
The issue of reference ranges versus ideals is philosophical as well as clinical. Will hair analysis conform to the allopathic notion that health is just the absence of disease, or will it embrace the wellness paradigm? I believe health care costs will continue out of control until we switch to the wellness model. Waiting for diseases to develop is costly and quite insane.
DERIVING IDEALS AND REFERENCE RANGES
Most laboratories derive their reference ranges from their clients. Some cross-check to see if their clients have diagnosed diseases, but others do not. Thus reference ranges may represent averages of people in poor to terrible health.
To derive ideal values, the problem is finding healthy individuals. Dr. Eck used athletes in the peak of conditioning to establish his ideal values. However, even some athletes are not well, as evidenced by sudden deaths and other health problems among this group.
Varied washing procedures and different methods used to establish normals produce differing reference ranges among laboratories. The JAMA hair analysis study mentioned that one laboratory considered a reading elevated, while another laboratory called the same reading low. Dr. Eck’s ideal values work well except that some toxic metal ideals should be lower. This is an important research subject.
A case history can demonstrate common mineral patterns and how to interpret them. Martha, a 43-year old school teacher, suffered from fatigue, anxiety, anger, mood swings, depression and premenstrual tension. She also had low blood pressure, hypogycemia, joint pain, hair loss and difficulty sleeping. She is a recovering alcoholic, and runs or bicycles four times a week. If she skips a few days, she feels depressed and achy. She took B-complex vitamins, liquid calcium, a multiple vitamin, acidophilus and glucosamine and chrondroitin. She also took 50 mg of Zoloft for depression.
Slow Metabolism. Martha’s initial hair mineral analysis revealed extremely elevated calcium and magnesium with low sodium and potassium. This indicates a very slow oxidation rate and an exhaustion stage of stress. It is associated with adrenal depletion and impaired thyroid activity. Adrenal hypoactivity is associated with a low tissue sodium level. Aldosterone produced by the adrenals raises the sodium level. About 90% of the adult population are slow oxidizers. Weak adrenals are associated with fatigue, allergies, joint pain, depression, low blood pressure and low blood sugar.
Thyroid Complexity. Thyroid activity lowers calcium in the tissues. Elevated tissue calcium, as was shown on Martha’s hair analysis, is associated with impaired thyroid activity and sympathetic nervous system exhaustion.
However, the picture is more complex. Elevated calcium and magnesium stabilize cell membranes, impairing cell permeability. This can reduce hormone transport into cells, decreasing cellular thyroid effects, even when serum levels are normal or high. In addition, the entire slow oxidation pattern can be an adaptation to fatigue, as Martha exceeded her physical exercise capability. The body may slow the thyroid to force her to rest.
Even with tighter TSH ranges, assessing thyroid difficulties can be tricky. Toxic metals such as mercury can stimulate hormone production. Excess copper, synthetic chlorides and fluorides decrease thyroid activity. Most people have some of each. This is why a whole systems approach to healing is almost always best, except perhaps with diseases like cancer that need a more targeted approach at first. For this reason, I do not recommend nutritional balancing science for cancer, or for any very fast moving condition such as a heart attack or stroke, for example. Here are more symptomatic approach is needed until the person is stabilized and can then undertake a deeper healing program in a relaxed way.
Inflammation. Martha had an extremely high sodium/potassium ratio. Her ratio was 14:1 while the ideal is 2.5:1. This is associated with pain, anger and a predominance of pro-inflammatory hormones in relation to anti-inflammatory hormones. Sodium is associated with aldosterone, a pro-inflammatory hormone. Potassium is associated with cortisol, an anti-inflammatory hormone. A high sodium/potassium ratio is also an indicator of sympathetic dominance.
Glucose Tolerance. Martha’s very low potassium level was associated with low cortisol production and chronic low blood sugar. Common symptoms are cravings for sweets and inability to skip meals. Cortisol raises blood sugar by converting protein to glucose (gluconeogenesis).
A reactive type of hypoglycemia occurs more commonly in fast oxidizers. They burn their food rapidly. If they eat excessive carbohydrates, especially sugars, large fluctuations in blood sugar occur quickly. Fats help stabilize their blood sugar.
Hair test numbers also relate to diabetes. Zinc is required to produce, release and extend the action of insulin. Calcium inhibits insulin release while magnesium enhances it. Chromium enables insulin to attach to cell walls to facilitate transport of glucose into the cells. Insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes is a chromium deficiency aggravated by a high-carbohydrate diet and other factors. Manganese is required in the mitochondria for ATP production.
Toxic metals such as cadmium, mercury, lead and others interfere with carbohydrate metabolism. Excess copper and cadmium interfere with zinc. This contributes to pancreatic diabetes (Type 1). A high tissue sodium is associated with adrenal diabetes. Mercury can contribute to pituitary diabetes.
Deficiencies of trace minerals are extremely common. Hair analysis allows one to replenish them effectively without unbalancing the mineral system. For example, iron and other metals replace chromium in enzyme binding sites. A chromium supplement alone usually will not reverse insulin resistance. One must address the entire system and raise the energy level to enable the body to replace unwanted minerals with chromium.
When the sodium/potassium ratio is less than 2:1, glucose cannot be burned efficiently, causing the body to consume some of its own proteins for energy. A calcium/magnesium ratio greater than 9:1 or a phosphorus level less than 14 mg% often indicate excessive consumption of carbohydrate foods.
Osteoporosis. When calcium and magnesium are very high, calcium is being lost into the tissues. If this continues for years, osteoporosis can result. Also, women who exercise heavily have more bone loss. Correction of this pattern can prevent or even reverse bone loss.
A Calcium Shell. Martha’s calcium level of 245 mg% far exceeds the ideal of 40 mg%. A calcium level over about 170-200 mg% is called a calcium shell. It is associated with psychological withdrawal and depression. Calcium depresses the central nervous system by raising the voltage at which nerve cells fire and by stabilizing cell membranes. This can be a psychological defense mechanism to protect one from overwhelming stress.
Trace Minerals. Martha’s trace element levels were somewhat low. Zinc was notably low at 13 mg%. Zinc is required for over 50 functions and lowers the sodium/potassium ratio. Phosphorus was 11 mg%. Phosphorus levels, according to Dr. Eck’s research, reflects protein synthesis and should be at least 14. When lower, protein intake is inadequate, the type of protein is improper, or protein digestion or synthesis are impaired. When phosphorus is low, one does not rebuild tissue rapidly enough. A catabolic state ensues with chronic health problems and retarded healing.
Hidden Copper Toxicity. Although Martha’s copper level was within a normal range, when calcium is high and potassium low, excess copper is present in the body. This is common. Excess copper accumulates in the brain, liver, female organs and elsewhere, but often not in the hair.
Copper imbalance can contribute to joint pain, hair loss, easy bruising and canker sores. Copper stimulates the biogenic amines, epinephrine and dopamine and is associated with racing thoughts and insomnia. Copper stimulates the diencephalon or ’emotional brain’ and excess is associated with intensification of anxiety, depression and mood swings. Estrogen levels correlate with copper levels. Copper imbalance is associated with premenstrual tension and symptoms are almost identical.
Copper and Candida Albicans. Copper kills fungus and yeast infections. Fruits and vegetables are commonly sprayed with copper sulfate to kill fungal infections. When copper is unavailable in the body, yeast overgrowth often occurs. Medication can keep it under control, but it will not go away until copper balance improves. Candida overgrowth may contribute to sweet cravings, fatigue, indigestion and other symptoms.
Other Toxic Metals. Martha’s mercury level was 0.05 mg%. I consider this excessive, although the laboratory may report it within normal range (12). Mercury should ideally not be higher than about 0.01 or 0.02 mg%.
Other toxic metals are likely present as well, but are hidden at this time. In the exhaustion stage of stress one’s energy level is low and removing toxic metals is difficult. They remain sequestered in body tissues. Retest mineral analyses may reveal them as energy improves and they are eliminated through the hair. Slow oxidizers accumulate more toxic substances due to sluggish organs of elimination and impaired circulation, digestion and oxygenation.
Correction in nutritional balancing science always involves several elements used together in combination:
1) Diet. Martha required a slow oxidizer diet, which includes protein with every meal, or at least twice daily. Cooked vegetables must also be eaten in large quantities several times daily to supply many nutrients. 10-12 ounces of carrot juice is also excellent, but no more and no other juices or raw foods are needed or helpful.
Martha was eating a fair amount of raisins, a cup of coffee, fruit smoothies and snacks of pretzels, fruit and cookies. These are not acceptable. Dried fruit, juices, coffee and excessive snacking upset the blood sugar which further stresses the adrenals. Wheat in any form such as Pretzels is an irritating food today. Vegetarian diets, though attractive for slow oxidizers, are harmful. They are high in copper, low in zinc and the proteins are deficient in important sulfur amino acids.
The Fast Oxidizer Diet. If Martha had been a fast oxidizer, her diet would include fats and oils with every meal and very few carbohydrates. Fast oxidizers burn food rapidly and generally handle fats well. Fats digest and burn slowly, helping to reduce the oxidation rate. Carbohydrates burn too quickly and further speed up fast oxidation. Simple carbohydrates are among the worst foods for these individuals as they burn very quickly. Eating them greatly increases the insulin level and can lead to Syndrome X, now called Metabolic Syndrome. More information about fast and slow oxidizer diets is contained in Nutritional Balancing and Hair Mineral Analysis.(13)
2) Drinking water. Most everyone seems to do best on 3 quarts or more of steam distilled water for about 3-6 months. Then everyone should drink spring water as the primary beverage. More information about drinking water is available at Water For Drinking.
3) Supplementary Nutrients. Supplements recommended for Martha included 50 mg/day of B-complex to enhance the oxidation rate and 100 mg of zinc daily for two months to lower the sodium/potassium ratio. This is more zinc than most people receive. I suggested it due to the extremely high sodium/potassium ratio. In the mineral system, zinc lowers sodium. Three tablets per meal of pancreatin and ox bile were recommended to assist protein digestion and liver detoxification.
I also suggested 600 mg of pantothenic acid to assist the adrenals. Normally, one would also recommend adrenal glandular and more B-complex for the adrenals. In this case, however, enhancing Martha’s energy might have lead her to exercise even more, which I wanted to discourage. When she had clearly decided to rest, then more adrenal-enhancing supplements were given.
Selenium and Renamide, kidney glandular product and kidney support formula can help greatly to reduce mercury, cadmium, lead and nickel toxicity. In nutritional balancing science, Dr. Eck never recommended EDTA, DMSA or DMPS or even NDF, Metal-free or other “natural” metal removal products, however. They can be toxic, can redistribute toxic metals in the body and appear to be unnecessary in almost all cases.
Supplementary calcium and magnesium are very important with this mineral pattern. Martha’s elevated calcium is a loss into the soft tissues such as the hair. Her body is unable to maintain calcium in an ionized state in the blood. This is due to low tissue sodium and potassium needed to solubilize calcium. The situation is somewhat like hard water. Calcium precipitates, eventually depositing in joints, arteries and elsewhere. Dr. Selye described this phenomenon in his book, Calciphylaxis.
Supplementing about 1200 mg of calcium and 800 mg of magnesium daily does not stop the problem of calcium precipitation. It compensates, however, to help prevent osteoporotic changes. It also helps relax muscles and the nervous system, and the patients often sleep better. Correction of the problem requires restoring adequate adrenal and thyroid activity which raises the tissue sodium and potassium levels.
3) Lifestyle. Lifestyle changes were critical for Martha. She used exercise as a drug. It pumped up her adrenals for a day or two, providing a ‘cortisone high’. This stopped her joint pain and depression for a short time. The high was also caused by the release of chemicals during cell death. Since exercise was stimulating rather than nourishing her glands, the effect wore off and soon she needed another exercise ‘fix’. Exercise addiction is very common among exhausted, sympathetic dominant slow oxidizers.
Martha also used coffee and anger to stimulate her exhausted adrenal glands. I discussed how this occurs and the need to rest and nourish the glands rather than use exercise, emotions or stress to stimulate them. It required a significant lifestyle change, but one well worth the effort for her to reduce her exercise, stop drinking coffee and use a meditation exercise suggested by Mr. Roy Masters of the Foundation of Human Understanding (www.fhu.com) to reduce anger.
Hectic schedules, excessive fear, worry, anger and resentments prevent many people from getting well.
Other ways to inhibit the sympathetic nervous system include meditation, becoming more gentle with oneself, slowing one’s eating, talking and other activities and focusing more on being rather than doing.
4) Detoxification procedures were also recommended for Martha. Near infrared sauna therapy powerfully moves the body into a more parasympathetic or relaxed state required for all healing. Sauna therapy also activates the skin, disables microbes, decongests the organs of elimination and enhances oxygenation of the tissues. Infrared energy acts as an anti-oxidant and can decouple toxins from water molecules.
To obtain these benefits, an electric light near infrared sauna is most powerful, although other types of saunas could be used as well. Slow oxidizers need sauna sessions daily, if at all possible, but at least three times per week or even twice daily for 30 to 40 minutes. Those who are debilitated, heat sensitive or have a heart condition should start with less time and fewer sessions per week. Fast oxidizers require a little less time in a sauna as they sweat more easily and their basal body temperature is higher.
Those who have used LSD or other psychedelic drugs should have someone present during sauna sessions in case a flashback occurs as stored drugs are released. Pregnant women and children under five should avoid saunas. For complete information about saunas, see the book, Sauna Therapy (14).
I also recommended coffee enemas for Martha, although she did not want to do these. They can clear hundreds of toxic chemicals and two dozen toxic metals from her body faster than any other detoxification procedure I am aware of, especially when combined with the intense daily sauna therapy.
OTHER INFORMATION AVAILABLE FROM A HAIR ANALYSIS
Assessing Toxicity. In my experience, everyone has excess toxic metals and chemicals, including young children who are born with them. More important than identifying toxic metals, hair analysis can assess the ability to eliminate all toxins and one’s overall toxicity level.
Slow oxidizers are more toxic and less able to eliminate toxins than fast oxidizers. Slow oxidizers require more time to detoxify and a more intense program. Fast oxidizers often show higher toxic metals levels on hair tests. They are not more toxic. However, they eliminate metals better. Extremely slow or extremely fast oxidizers eliminate worse as their energy is lower.
A sodium/potassium ratio less than 2:1 indicates an impaired ability to eliminate toxins. It also indicates a tendency for chronic infections that contribute toxins to the body. A phosphorus level less than 14 mg% indicates impaired protein synthesis, often due to poor digestion. Imperfectly digested food results in internally-generated toxicity. Elevated hair calcium or a low sodium/potassium ratio are associated with copper toxicity. This is true regardless of the copper reading. Excess mercury usually accompanies copper toxicity whether or not mercury is elevated.
Excess copper, manganese, iron, aluminum, lead, beryllium and cadmium accumulate in the liver, impairing its detoxification ability. Cadmium, mercury, nickel, barium and arsenic accumulate in the kidneys, impairing their detoxification capacity. All can impair the skin’s ability to eliminate. The sympathetic response causes blood to stagnate in the internal organs. A high sodium/potassium ratio is associated with sympathetic dominance, congestion of internal organs and impaired skin elimination.
I consider lead elevated if the level is over 0.09 mg%. Cadmium over 0.01 mg% is too high. Arsenic over 0.01 mg% may be considered elevated. Aluminum greater than 0.2 mg% and manganese over 0.04 mg% may be excessive. Iron greater than 1.9 mg% may also be excessive. Normal values used by the laboratories tend to be a little high on some toxic metals.
Balancing Glandular Activity. Hair analysis can be extremely helpful to assess glandular tissue effects. This may differ significantly from serum hormone tests, as mentioned earlier in relation to thyroid activity. Hair analysis can often reveal causes for hormone disturbances, such as copper or mercury toxicity, trace element deficiencies or low cellular energy production. Nutritional balancing is excellent for assessing and guiding correction of adrenal activity.
Enhancing The Energy Level. A high vitality level, or high adaptive energy level is essential for health. Increasing energy production alleviates many conditions. Tissue mineral testing allows one to assess the energy pathway. This is the steps involved in converting food to ATP. Calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, chromium, iron and copper are needed in the energy cycles and electron transport system. Toxic metals interfere with energy production. One can also assess energy efficiency. This is somewhat akin to the tune of an engine. A sluggish or excessive oxidation rate decreases energy efficiency, like pedaling a bicycle too fast or too slow. Other hair analysis indicators also assess the energy system. Glandular balance, carbohydrate tolerance and the levels of zinc, lead and cadmium affect energy production.
Improving Emotions and Behavior. Minerals control neurotransmitters and other neuroactive chemicals. Heavy metals are neurotoxic and powerfully affect behavior (15). Low energy, an imbalanced oxidation rate and carbohydrate intolerance can contribute to emotional disorders.
Nutritional balancing science can identify biochemical factors in about 20 emotional and behavioral conditions. It builds upon and expands the techniques of orthomolecular psychiatry. Conditions that may respond include depression, anxiety, anger, mood swings, phobias, schizophrenia and insomnia. Fatigue, panic attacks, irritability, autism, seizures, attention deficit and other learning disorders may also respond.
Prediction and Prevention. A properly interpreted mineral test can reveal trends for over fifty important conditions. Often tendencies are revealed long before abnormalities show up on standard blood tests or x-rays. This makes mineral analysis a wonderful preventive technique. Once a trend is identified, nutritional correction can begin at once. Prediction and prevention are keys to reducing the epidemic of degenerative diseases and controlling health care costs.
Today one hears a lot about genetics for disease prevention. While interesting, I believe it is a false promise. The focus on genetics supports the old paradigm that illness is "out there", unrelated to how one lives and over which one has no control. Most important is genetic expression. Nutrients activate genes. Deficiencies and toxic metals block transferase and transcriptase enzymes needed for genetic expression.
Reducing Guesswork. Excessive vitamin C and zinc lower copper and can worsens a person’s condition. Excessive B-complex vitamins enhance the oxidation rate making a fast oxidizer more anxious. Nutritional balancing science reduces guesswork, helping avoid important prescribing errors.
Monitoring Progress. Symptoms are not a reliable guide for monitoring progress on a health program. One may feel more tired at times as body chemistry improves. Old infections may flare up as they heal. Aches and pains may return as tissues rebuild.
Repeat mineral analyses can monitor metabolic changes regardless of which therapeutic modalities one employs. This makes it an excellent research tool. Understanding the meaning of symptoms to avoid improper treatment and guide further correction are important reasons for periodic mineral retesting.
Cost Effectiveness. Nutritional balancing offers advanced biochemical assessment and powerful correction of body chemistry at a very affordable price. Hair analysis is less expensive than most standard blood tests.
HAIR VERSUS BLOOD TESTS
Blood tests are excellent for many types of measurements. A properly interpreted hair analysis, however, provides different information. Blood serum has about one tenth the concentration of minerals as hair. In addition, hair mineral levels vary up to 100 times as much as serum levels. For these reasons, hair minerals are easier to measure and patterns easier to detect.
Serum mineral levels are maintained at the expense of the tissues, even in serious illnesses. Excess minerals are deposited in tissues like hair. When deficiencies occur, tissues are robbed of minerals to maintain serum levels. Thus, tissue mineral readings are far more revealing. I do not believe it possible to assess the mineral system as well from blood tests.
Toxic metals are quickly removed from blood and deposited in tissues including hair. Measurement in the blood is not considered reliable. Blood tests provide up-to-the-minute readings. This is important in some instances but may be affected by recent meals, exercise or current emotional stress. Hair provides long-term readings unaffected by daily events. Hair offers cellular measurement while blood is the body’s transport medium. Blood and tissue testing are different with each providing valuable information.
HOW ACCURATE IS HAIR TESTING?
When performed correctly, which includes not washing at the laboratory, mineral analysis is as accurate or more so than many other tests. Spectroscopic analysis is a proven technology in use for over 100 years. Computer-controlled instruments measure accurately in parts per million or per billion. Laboratories use either mass spectrometers or inductively-coupled plasma instruments. Both are excellent.
As with any test, artifacts and sample contamination occasionally occur. Swimming in pools can raise hair sodium and copper. Bathing in softened water can raise sodium. However, the main problem with accuracy arises when laboratories wash the hair.
Commercial laboratories are inspected and licensed by the government, and must adhere to strict standards. Often they are under greater scrutiny than blood laboratories because hair testing is less conventional.
WHY DON’T ALL TOXIC METALS SHOW UP IN THE HAIR?
Hair analysis only measures minerals in the hair. Biopsies of every organ and tissue would be necessary to reveal all toxic metals. EDTA challenge tests can detect more toxic metals, but still miss many of them. Sequestered in internal organs or incorporated into enzymes or body structures, dislodging them is difficult.
After three to six months on a nutritional balancing program, a retest may reveal higher levels of toxic metals. The program enhances one’s ability to remove unwanted minerals. Like rebuilding a house, it cannot be done overnight. I have client records showing detoxification continuing for over 20 years. Infrared sauna therapy speeds up the process.
KEYS TO INTERPRETING A HAIR TEST
Consider a mineral analysis as a whole system, not as individual numbers. Ratios and patterns are more important than mineral levels. Ratios represent relationships and balances in the body. Always to do an energetic assessment when reviewing a hair analysis. Enhancing the patient’s energy permits more rapid healing. All readings are adaptations to stress and occur in layers. Correction involves undoing layers of adaptation. These and other principles are discussed in Nutritional Balancing and Hair Mineral Analysis.
Interpreting hair analyses takes some time to understand. When learning, many practitioners focus on a single mineral such as mercury. Instead, focus on the electrolytes and their ratios, as described earlier. Results will be much better when the test is viewed as reflecting the condition of the entire mind-body system. I hope this brief introduction helps one see the potential of mineral analysis when used to assess system response to stress. Many articles on this website discuss the various aspects of interpreting hair analysis patterns.
1. Weiner, N., The
Human Use of Human Beings, Cybernetics and Society, Avon Books, NY, 1954.
2. Page, M., Degeneration-Regeneration, Nutritional Development, FL, 1949,1980.
3.Selye, H., The Stress of Life, Stress Without Distress and other titles.
4. Watson, G., Nutrition and Your Mind, Bantam Books, NY, 1972.
5.Watson, G., Personality Strength and Psychochemical Energy, Harper and Row, NY, 1979.
6. Walters, C., ed, The Albrecht Papers, Acres, USA, Raytown, MO, 1975.
7. See "Interview with Dr. Paul Eck," Healthview Newsletter, #27-29, Eck Institute For Applied Nutrition and Bioenergetics, Ltd., Phoenix, AZ 1-800-528-4067. See also Energy by Colin and Lorin Chatsworth, 1985.
8. Wilson, L., 1986, Determination of Oxidation Type by Means of Tissue Electrolyte Ratios, J Orthomol Med., 1(2):126-131.
9. Leroy, R., 1986, Effects of Washing on Trace Mineral Content of Human Hair, J Orthomol Med., 1(2):120-125.
10. Seidel, S. et al., 2001, Assessment of Commerical Laboratories Performing Hair Mineral Analysis, JAMA, 285(1)Jan3:67-72.
11. Kennington, G.S., 1967, Activation Analysis of Soluble and Fixed Sodium in Mammalian Hair, Science, 4(3)Feb:588-9.
12. See Casdorph, H. and Walker, M., Toxic Metal Syndrome, Avery Publishing, 1995 and Eck, P. and Wilson, L, Toxic Metals in Human Health and Disease, Eck Institute for Applied Nutrition and Bioenergetics, Ltd., AZ, 1989.
13. Wilson, L., Nutritional Balancing and Hair Mineral Analysis, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc., AZ, 1991, 1998.
14. Wilson, L., Sauna Therapy, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc., AZ, 2003.
15. Schauss, A., Diet, Crime and Delinquency, Parker House Books, Berkeley, CA, 1981.
The Eck Institute of Applied Nutrition and Bioenergetics, Ltd. offers about 40 articles, seminar tapes and bulletins about nutritional balancing science. Also see www.arltma.com.
Hall, R.H., Food For Naught, The Decline in Nutrition, Vintage Books, NY 1976.
Anderson, M., Empty Harvest: Understanding the Link Between Our Food, Our Immunity and Our Planet, Avery Publishing.
This website (www.drlwilson.com) also has updated articles on a variety of topics related to hair mineral analysis, which I continue to update annually or so.