How I discovered Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis
When I was going through the beginning of my natural health journey, it really changed my life. As I realized that all of the pain and suffering I had dealt with for years could actually be reversed and not just managed, I really wanted to work on helping others to heal as well. A friend at the time asked me, “Why don’t you go into nutrition?” And that was the first step I took to figure out what I wanted to do.
I quickly found some programs for Nutrition and Holistic Nutrition that I completed, but I found them lacking when it came to actually knowing how to heal people. They went over popular diets, conventional information for nutrition (our horrible food pyramid!), and just many things that weren’t really that helpful. At the time I finished those programs, I was pregnant with my son and I decided to just take a break on figuring out what I wanted to do until after he was born.
Not long after my son arrived, I found information about HTMA and mineral balancing, and finally I felt like I hit the gold mine! A test that showed our personal deficiencies, that could be used to determine how strong a person was, and a way to heal them?! It sounded like fate that I came across this test. I quickly signed up for Dr. Malter’s HTMA course, and about a year later I ended up taking Dr. Wilson’s through my college. I LOVED the information about minerals and how they related to health.
My Approach with HTMA
As I experimented with some of the common ways to balance minerals, I realized that I didn’t tolerate a lot of the usual recommendations- synthetic nutrients, sometimes in higher amounts than the RDA. I started having worsening of some symptoms, and I also developed new ones. Being in a lot of groups about health online, I started seeing this pattern with many others as well. I realized that many of these popular suggestions might have been great 5-10+ years ago, but a LOT has changed in our world since then and people are much more sensitive these days. These weren’t even healing reactions- they were just straight up intolerance of everything we were trying to do
I started working at figuring out how to truly BALANCE nutrients, and not just supplement with them. I researched foods, herbs, and even topical methods of raising mineral levels. I got further into what “holistic” truly means: whole body approach, using nutrients in their NATURAL state (not lab made), and truly healing the body instead of getting dependent on supplements forever. The more HTMAs I saw, the more I realized that synthetic supplements often would never actually fix levels- either they stayed super low or they were incredibly high (because the body could not utilize them!).
The more I read about minerals, the more I realized that hyper-focusing on any one nutrient makes no sense. They can all create a cascade of changes in the body that can take months to fix. Balance is crucial, and the easiest way to find the perfect balance of these nutrients is through nutrient dense foods, herbs, and whole food supplements. We can no longer ignore that we need to heal the gut and liver as well- and I mean truly heal, not just throw band-aids like HCl and ox bile at it to take forever. Healing the entire body can take time- but that is what we should be aiming for in the long: to actually heal the body, not just cover up symptoms or pop pills all day long for the rest of your life.
Why Food is Medicine
Food isn’t important just for vitamins and minerals. There are SO many other components to food that you will never find in synthetic supplements: phytochemicals, fiber, fat, protein, carbs, bioflavonoids, carotenoids, plant pigments, amino acids, fatty acids, isothicyanates. indoles, coumarins, antioxidants, enzymes, and more! Some of these components (like bioflavoinoids) used to be considered vitamins all on their own because of their importance to our health.
Many of these components have been studied in their roles to help to protect against cancer and other serious illnesses. However, most of these studies show that they work best when in a WHOLE FOOD and not as an isolated substance, and especially not in very high doses. However, we shouldn’t need studies to prove that food is healthy (hello! how far have we verged from common sense and holistic health that I need to say that?!).
These days, we work on healing the gut first more than anything to help with nutrient assimilation. As we work on detox pathways and calm stress down internally, it is easier to utilize and hold onto nutrients better as well. Many HTMAs have 5+ imbalances or deficiencies- this shouldn’t mean that we need 5+ isolated synthetic nutrients to “fix” the levels. I have seen people given upwards of 30 supplements based on an HTMA report- it’s absolutely insane to me, and proves that some people are not using HTMA the way it should be used. We fix the gut and work on the terrain, and food becomes easier to utilize correctly again.
Why I love HTMA
HTMA is gaining popularity in the natural health world, but using it in a “holistic” manner isn’t as common as you’d think. Many are still stuck with the synthetic supplements and allopathic thinking, and many more don’t even get proper training with HTMA- they just use the printout they get from the lab with the generic recommendations on there. I got SO much hate and disrespect from other practitioners when I started to question things too, but I just knew that there needed to be a different way of doing things that made more sense.
Reading an HTMA is not like a blood test. Meaning, high levels don’t always mean high, and low levels don’t always mean you need to add more of that nutrient in. It is meant to be viewed as a whole- the levels, the ratios, and the person that is being tested. The value is in the interpretation you get from a qualified practitioner.
HTMA shows a longer stretch of time than other tests:
Blood, saliva, urine, and stool samples are only able to show that exact moment in time that they were tested. They are a snapshot of what is going on, and they can change significantly within minutes or hours. A hair sample shows us about 3-4 months of time so it gives a MUCH better view on how you are using your minerals.
Because of this time frame, it is easier to manage plans and protocols. Testing every 3-4 months is a long enough time to start seeing changes in symptoms, and when we’re retesting we’re able to adjust the plan when needed so healing becomes more streamlined. HTMA is not a test for 1 time use- things can change quickly when you are starting a plan, and external factors can start to change results too (especially stress!).
HTMA tests for a LOT with just a small amount of hair:
Minerals that HTMA tests for:
- and 14 trace minerals including lithium and germanium
With all of these mineral levels, we can get an idea on these issues based on the ratios between the minerals:
- Metabolic Rate/ Nervous system health: Calcium/Phosphorus
- Vitality, Adrenals, and Life/Death Ratio: Sodium/Potassium
- Thyroid : Calcium/Potassium
- Hormone (Estrogen/testosterone/progesterone): Zinc/Copper
- Adrenals: Sodium/Magnesium
- Blood Sugar/Cardiovascular Health: Calcium/Magnesium
- Underlying infection ratio: Iron/Copper
Minerals are ESSENTIAL for our health:
Minerals are needed for millions of enzymes as co-factors, inhibitors or even as the enzyme themselves. Enzymes are what keeps our bodies running. When we are low on minerals or if they are imbalanced, our bodies cannot physically function correctly. We look at the whole picture with HTMA- levels, ratios, and the person’s individual symptoms.
I wrote this entire post for resources that show the importance of minerals. They are need for hormones, energy levels, adrenals, thyroid, colon, brain, muscles, joints, and literally every part of our bodies. Mineral deficiencies are at the root of nearly all major chronic illnesses these days, and they are essential to work on for every single person.
There are a few tests that I think can be helpful at times, but when you start to realize the important of basic foundational care (gut, liver, minerals, etc), you realize that HTMA is a great start for everyone. Most people will need other modalities of healing along with HTMA, but that nutritional support is essential for healing from anything.
I personally offer a few other tests that complement HTMA: GI Map, Mycotoxin Testing, and Glyphosate testing. Some blood tests can be helpful as well (usually copper and iron panels). I know some great practitioners that love OAT and DUTCH testing, and they can be used in a more holistic way as well if read correctly.
All in all, HTMA has been my passion for years now. It has been one of the most valuable tests that anyone can do for their health. I love it so much that I created my OWN course on how to read them and apply holistic modalities to healing!