Is the Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Inside or Outside the Cell?

by Morley Robbins on November 8, 2013

Recently one of the MAG-pies (Louise from Ireland…) posed a question about what the HTMA reveals, particularly in contrast to a Red Blood Cell test of the mineral.  The starting point is to know what the HTMA test is showing in the way of  minerals: specifically, are they intracellular elements, or are they extracellular elements?  The standard answer is that
the HTMA is a tissue biopsy and therefore, the mineral results are actually total tissue concentrations. However, I realize that this needed further explanation as many other practitioners may have the same question and I sought the input
of David L. Watts, DC, PhD, the founder and CEO of Trace Elements, Inc. Here’s his response to that critical question:

Formation of the Hair Shaft
“The development of the hair follicle begins at about the twentieth week of
gestation. Hair growth and location of hair formation is influenced by sex,
age, race, and hormones.  It is also affected by illness, medications and
even the immune system. Hair formation begins at the base of the hair
follicle in the area known as the papilla.  There is a blood supply to the
papilla that provides nutrients to the matrix cells surrounding the papilla.
The matrix is derived from stem cells, contains several types of cells and
are the most dynamic and active cells in the body and is responsible for the
formation and growth of hair. Via the papilla the cells that make up the
matrix receive a blood supply that provide nutrients to these cells and
carry waste products away. These continually dividing cells form the
medulla, cortex and cuticle of the hair shaft.  As production continues
ultimately, the hair shaft formed from the matrix cells is pushed upward
from below the skin and grows above the dermis. Constituents that were
present in the circulating blood, during development of the hair are
contained and preserved in the hair shaft itself, providing a record of
those events.
“Therefore, the answer to the question, Does the concentrations of
minerals in the hair shaft represent intracellular or extracellular
minerals? We can say that in the strictest sense that it does represent
intracellular minerals incorporated into the constantly dividing matrix
cells that form the hair shaft.

“However, in a broader sense the hair shaft itself is also exposed to lymph,
extracellular fluids, sebaceous glands, sweat gland and surrounding tissue
of the dermis and epidermis. The hair shaft may contain constituents or
minerals from these sources as well.  So in the broadest sense the minerals
incorporated into and on the hair shaft in total contain both intracellular
and extracellular minerals. Therefore, the answer to the question would be
that the hair represents not only intracellular constituents but
extracellular constituents as well.  Thereby, the hair test could be
considered a representation of the tissue mineral levels that are present
from these sources.  Presence of minerals in the hair shaft cannot be devoid
of contact from these sources nor eliminated in any practical manner.”

So the mineral and heavy metal information from the HTMA is, in actuality, both inside and outside the cell. In contrast, as the name would imply,the RBC is purely an intracellular assessment. In that sense, it is more “pure,” but that doesn’t necessarily tip the scales completely to the RBC, despite its focus. It is a far more expensive test and beyond that, what I don’t know is how to properly interpret the RBC results to gain the same level of insight from the HTMA re the mineral ratios, which is the true value of any form of mineral/heavy metal testing.

If I had a choice, I’d do both which would be cost prohibitive. But in effect, that’s exactly what we do that when we order both an HTMA and a Mag RBC — we’re getting the best of both worlds at a far more reasonable cost.

So, Louise, I hope that answers your question, maybe not as decisively as you were hoping, but this is the best that is available at the present time… And thank you for being so patient so that I could incorporate the input of Dr. Watts, as well…

A votre sante!


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