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Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA)

Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) is an analytical laboratory test that measures nutritional minerals and heavy metals that are incorporated into the hair shaft during its development. The analysis reflects accumulation of these metals within tissues of the body, providing a record of the long-term intake, retention and excretion of various metals. It also gives an indication of the inter-relationship among nutrient minerals as well as the effect of vitamins on nutritional minerals and the extent of heavy metal burdens. 


Without optimum mineral levels within the body, other nutrients are not effectively utilised. A hair mineral analysis can help pinpoint metabolic disturbances, such as blood sugar imbalance, as well as indicate the appropriate corrective clinical approach. Hair analysis can assist the practitioner in assessing health and nutritional status.

A Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) is a safe, non-invasive test which measures the levels and comparative ratios of nutrients, and toxic minerals and metals. It is a tissue sample and reflects the biochemistry of the hair.  Therefore, do not expect a hair mineral analysis to reflect the same information as a blood test.  Blood is a transporter, a courier, and hair tissue is a storage facility, a warehouse. 

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 “Trace Elements are the basic spark plugs in the chemistry of life”
-  Dr. Henry A Schroeder M.D, Ph.D.

Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) testing is a proven and effective way to assess the long-term metabolic function of the body as well as nutrient deficiencies and toxic metal levels.  The true value of the tests lies in gaining an understanding the metabolic and glandular patterns and dysfunction that underlie all health conditions.  

  "Biochemistry of the body occurs in the body, not the bloodstream" Dr Igor Tabrizia.

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A HTMA is not designed to be a ‘one off’ test, but the real value is with regular repeat tests which are recommended at a minimum of 6-8 month intervals (maybe more frequently in the start of Nutritional Therapy, in order to monitor the impact of nutritional and lifestyle changes and progress.  It is a cost-effective visual tool to keep track of your improvements and health in general.

You will receive a graph showing minerals, toxic metals and ratios and your current metabolic type, which I will interpret, based on your symptoms, which we will discuss in a consultation. 


A hair tissue mineral analysis is not a stand-alone test, it must be looked at in alignment with symptoms and history and is designed to be used as one tool within a broader nutritional approach to healthcare. It is not diagnostic for any medical condition, which can only be done by a medical practitioner.The test is safe, non-invasive and easy to administer.  It can also be a very useful guide to design a personalised diet and supplement regime specific to your individual needs.

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Hair Tissue Mineral Test (HTMA) v Blood Serum Tests

Compared to blood or urine testing, the concentration of elements in hair is higher and less prone to fluctuation in samples. That’s why the Environmental Protection Agency uses hair as opposed to blood or urine to test toxic metal exposure. Hair is also a more reliable indicator of tissue stores, and is more hygienic and easier to store than blood or urine. HTMA examines a completely different set of parameters to a blood test, you cannot compare their results. Blood levels of minerals (and other markers) will be kept optimal as much as possible by the body as narrow ranges of blood markers are vital for health.  Blood can therefore use minerals from bone or tissues, for example, in order to keep blood levels stable.   A hair mineral test can indicate the levels in the bone or tissues (the "warehouse"). 

HTMA looks at the tissue and cellular minerals, and blood tests look at the serum levels – they will be different.  Blood remains outside the cells and tissues.  Energy production happens inside the cells, and it is the imbalance of the minerals and toxic metals inside the cells and tissues that a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis looks at.  Blood tests are mainly used to confirm the presence of disease, pathology, and is not used as a preventative tool.  Health is much more than just the absence of disease.  A blood test can appear fine, despite you having symptoms, and within what doctors consider to be a normal range, whereas a HTMA can show up early mineral imbalances.

Blood is a transport medium, not a storage medium, that shows the current levels of serum minerals which fluctuates daily, with the blood working hard to keep minerals such as calcium and potassium very stable, at the expense of tissue stores and bone.  The blood takes priority, and it does not reflect what is going on in the tissues or the cells. Blood serum mineral levels can be altered by exercise, inflammation, infections, and different sampling techniques.  Generally, blood tests are a very late indicator of dysfunction or disease, whereas hair tissue mineral analysis gives a much earlier representation.  A hair mineral test looks at cellular mineral imbalances and heavy metal toxicity. 

Blood tests are ideal for showing pathological disease conditions, however a HTMA looks more at the underlying issues where things that have started to go off balance show much earlier than they appear on a blood test.  HTMAs are not a replacement for serology, or other pathology of course, but are an additional, very detailed look at the body's mineral stores and metabolic patterns which can help to guide Nutritional Therapy and help to see progress.  When used correctly, it is a great tool we can use to understand the full picture of your health, which can be hard to determine from a blood test.  The value of HTMA is in retesting alongside a Nutritional Therapy programme, or even annually when back on track to check in on health ratios. It is a very visual test and can be most rewarding and empowering for clients to see their improvements on a follow up tests.

A Hair Mineral Test Report will give indications of the following: -


  • Oxidation rate (slow, mixed or fast oxidiser)

  • Blood sugar balance (calcium: magnesium ratio)

  • Thyroid function (potassium: calcium ratio)

  • Adrenal status (sodium: magnesium ratio)

  • Vitality (sodium: potassium ratio)

  • Stage of stress (alarm, adaptation or exhaustion)

  • Ability to deal with stress

  • Metabolic trends

  • Mineral levels

  • Toxic metal levels - mercury, aluminium, lead, arsenic, uranium, tin, titanium etc

Elaine Stavert
Associate Naturopath, Nutritional Therapist, Kinesiologist, Iridologist, Hypnotherapist
HomeoBotanical Therapist, Reiki Master, Buteyko Breathing, Soma-Psych Alignment® Therapist,
OldPain2Go, Somasense® HypnoIBS®, SIRPA Trained, Sunder Process 

Stress and Mineral Balance


A feature of prolonged stress is the imbalance of the mineral electrolytes. Stress causes a loss of potassium and magnesium resulting in mismanaged calcium and sodium which can lead to cellular acidity and inflammation. Ultimately, a lack of magnesium affects the mitochondria within the cells, disturbing basic energy production. Bruce Lipton, in ‘The Biology of Belief’ says that the cell will put aside up to half of its energy to keep sodium out of the cell. The more sodium in the cell, the more energy is needed to correct the imbalance. Thus increased cellular sodium = increased fatigue as the body reserves its energy to keep balance of the electrolyte function.  Stress upsets the balance of calcium - it inhibits new bone growth and inhibits calcium supply to the bone.  It blocks the uptake of dietary calcium and increase excretion via the kidneys.

Please note that thyroid function needs to be backed up with blood tests.  Hair tissue mineral analysis indicates thyroid function but does not diagnose it.  I can arrange this for you if wished.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” - Hippocrates

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