In today’s world, it is difficult to stay abreast of all (often conflicting) modern scientific developments, whilst at the same time retaining what has been tried and tested as valid and useful to apply within day to day healthcare practice.

Hair Analysis, as a clinical assessment tool, has been fraught with contention since its establishment in clinic over 40 years ago (including everything from how best to conduct it, to whether it is even valid at all).

Due to surprisingly wide variations in inter-laboratory processes as well as the manner in which the results are interpreted, much of the sound scientific evidence demonstrating the value of hair element analysis as a useful clinical screening tool is often obscured.

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References

(1) Bencze K. Determination of metals in human hair. In: Seiler H G, Sigel A, Sigel H, eds. Handbook on Metals in Clinical and Analytical Chemistry. New York, NY. Dekker, 1994: p. 214

(2) Heaven, R., Duncan, M., Vukelja, S. Arsenic intoxication presenting with macrocytosis and peripheral neuropathy, without anemia. Acta Haematol, 92(3):142-3, 1994.

(3) Rose, J.: Brain Biochemistry, Neurotoxicity, and Criminal Violence. In: Environmental Toxicology, ed. J. Rose. London and New York, Gordon and Breach Publishers, in press.

(4) LeClair, J.A. and Quig, D.W. Hair lead and cadmium levels and specific depressive and anxiety-related symptomotology in children. J. Orthomolec. Med. 18(2):97-106, 2003.

(5) Grandjean, P., Weihe, P., White, R.F., Debes, F. Cognitive performance of children prenatally exposed to “safe” levels of methylmercury. Environ Res, 77(2):165-72, 1998.

(6) Powell, J.J., Greenfield, S.M., Thompson, R.P., Cargnello, J.A., Kindall, M.D., Landsberg, J.P., Watt, F., Delves, H.T. Assessment of Toxic metal exposure following the Camelford water pollution incident; evidence of acute mobilization of lead into drinking water. Analyst, 120(3):793-8, 1995.

(7) Minder, B., Das-Smaal, E.A., Brand, E.F., Orlebeke, J.F. Exposure to lead and specific attentional problems in school children. J Learn Disabil, 27(6):393-9, 1994.

(8) LeClair, J.A. and Quig, D.W. Hair lead and cadmium levels and specific depressive and anxiety-related symptomotology in children. J. Orthomolec. Med. 18(2):97-106, 2003.

(9) Malm, O., Branches, F.J., Akagi, H., Castro, M.B., Pfeiffer, W.C., Harada, M., Bastos, W.R. and Kata, H. Mercury and methylmercury in fish and human hair from the Tapajos river basin, Brazil. Sci. Total Environ. 175(20):141-50, 1995.

(10) Holsbeek, L., Das, H.K. and Joiris, C.R. Mercury in human hair and relation to fish consumption in Bangladesh. Sci. Total Environ. 186(3):181-8, 1996.

(11) Salonen, J.T., Seppanen, K., Nyssonen, K., Korpela, H., Kauhanen, J., Kantola, M., Tuomilehto, J., Esterbauer, H., Tatzber, F. and Salonen, R. Intake of mercury from fish, lipid peroxidation, and the risk of myocardial infarction and coronary, cardiovascular, and any death in eastern Finnish men. Circulation 91(3):646-55, 1995.

(12) Maugh T, H 2nd. Hair: a diagnostic tool to complement blood serum and urine. Science 202(22):1271-1273, 1978.

(13) Holmes, A.S., Blaxill, M. F., Haley, B.E. Reduced levels of mercury in first babay haircuts of autistic children. Inter. J. Toxicol. 22:277-285, 2003.

(14) Ashraf, W., Jaffar, M., Mohammed, D., Iqbal, J. Utilization of scalp hair for evaluating epilepsy in male and female groups of the Pakistan population. Sci. Total Environ. 164(1):69-73, 1995.

(15) Contiero, E., Folin, M. Trace elements nutritional status. Use of hair as a diagnostic tool. Biol. Trace Elements. 40(2):151-60, 1994.

(16) Watt, F., Landsberg, J., Powell, J.J., Ede, R.J., Thompson, R.P. and Cargnello, J.A. Analysis of copper and lead in hair using the nuclear microscope; results from normal subjects and patients with Wilson’s disease and lead poisoning. Analyst 120(3):789-9, 1995.

(17) Seidel S, Kreutzer R, Smith D et al. Assessment of commercial laboratories performing hair mineral analysis. JAMA 2001; 285: 67-72

(18) Steindel S J, Howanitz P J. The uncertainty of hair analysis for trace metals. JAMA 2001; 285: 83-85

(19) Puchyr R F, Bass D A, Gajewski R. Preparation of hair for measurement of elements by inductively coupled mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Biol Trace Elem Res 1998; 62: 167-182

(20) Bass D A, Hickok D, Quig D et al. Trace element analysis in hair: factors determining accuracy, precision, and reliability. Altern Med Rev 2001; 6: 472-481

(21) Druyan M E, Bass D A, Puchyr R et al. Determination of reference ranges for elements in human scalp hair. Biol Trace Elem Res 1998; 62: 183-197

(20) Bass DA, Hickock D, Quig D, Urek K.. Trace element analysis in hair: factors determining accuracy, precision, and reliability. Altern Med Rev. Oct;6(5):472-81, 2001.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Warren Maginn
BHSc. Nutr. Med. GradCert. Hum. Nutr. —Practitioner and Educator

Warren Maginn is a Clinical Nutritionist, College Lecturer and Public Educator specialising in the optimisation of health through the principles of Functional Medicine and a highly individualised approach to personal care. As an active National Association member and Chief Scientific Advisor to RN Labs, Warren is passionate about assisting practitioners and students to gain greater technical insights from current functional medicine understanding and how to apply this knowledge in clinical practice.