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Tissue Mineral Analysis Education & Resources

The purpose of this page is to offer education about the value, uses and interpretation of tissue mineral analysis.

Health professionals who opened an account with the preferred lab, Analytical Research Laboratories (ARL), using our referral form are eligible to receive a complete hair analysis training program on a separate webpage, in addition to the foundational material below.

To see if you are on this list, please email [email protected] and ask. If you do not yet have a lab account, please send in that referral form with your license. We will receive notification from the lab within a few weeks. You can always email us to confirm that you are on our ARL practitioner list.

If you are not a licensed health professional, click here to order your tissue mineral analysis and complete report. Then click here to schedule an evaluation and care plan, or a simple 30-minute consult to review your findings and make recommendations.

To see a sample graph from one of my patients, click here.

What is Tissue Mineral (Hair) Analysis?


ARL Tissue Mineral Analysis, or TMA, is a scientifically-validated laboratory measurement of nutritional and toxic elements in hair. It is a non-invasive biopsy, which gives a cellular reading of the hair as a representative tissue for the body. It can provide useful information about your metabolic rate, carbohydrate handling, stage of stress, immune function and endocrine activity. It can also provide a baseline and follow-up comparison to track progress, and help you create or modify a patient's supplementation program with greater specificity.


Hair Basics

  • Diameter of hair: 0.1 mm
  • Lifespan of hair: 2 to 7 years
  • Annual growth: 12 cm (almost 5 inches)
  • Average number of hairs on the head: 100,000
  • Next to bone marrow, the fastest growing body tissue
  • Hair is composed of about 50% carbon, 20% oxygen,17% nitrogen, 6% hydrogen, and 5% sulfur.
  • Hair is shed on a daily basis, normally between 75-150 per day.
  • There is an average of 1,000 hairs per square inch.



Hair analysis first began in France in 1857. In 1883, Alfred Swaine Taylor and Thomas Stevenson discussed hair in a forensic science text. In 1910, Victor Balthazard and Marcelle Lambert published a comprehensive study of hair. Hair has been used since the 1900s in forensic toxicology, to discover drug use, and in forensics, for crime scene analysis. In 1931, Dr John Glaister published an authoritative early work, "Hairs of Mammalia from the Medico-legal Aspect."

Use then expanded to environmental toxicology, to assess an individual's exposure to harmful chemicals and poisons in their environment, some of which have been correlated to behavioral problems. In 1977, John Hick published "Microscopy of Hairs: A Practical Guide and Manual" for using hair evidence in forensics. For over a century, hair analysis has been validated, court-recognized evidence used to convict criminals, overturn convictions, and prove the innocence of those accused of a crime.

Since the 1970s, health professionals have used hair analysis for nutritional mineral and toxic element assessment. Naprapath Dr Paul Eck, founder of ARL and considered by some to be the "Father of clinical hair analysis," analyzed and reviewed the results of two million hair samples from 1974 until his passing in 1994. He discovered consistent patterns in clinical assessment that are used to this day. He found ideal ranges for mineral ratios, and found that patients outside of these ranges had a tendency towards specific health problems in the endocrine and other systems. He also discovered that oxidation rate and organ patterns of disharmony also revealed themselves in hair mineral results.


Current Relevance to the Health Professional

  • ARL Hair analysis provides a unique cellular reading
  • Cells / tissues, not blood or urine, are the major site of metabolic activity
  • Hair is a very stable material
  • Analysis is inexpensive and done at home
  • Controversy around hair analysis reliability is about lab procedures and hair preparation, not the basic validity of testing hair minerals


Clinical Significance of Hair Analysis

Tissue Mineral Analysis is not diagnostic. It can indicate cellular mineral deficiencies and excesses, and the presence of tissue accumulation of toxic elements. The ratios and oxidation rate indicate trends, propensities or tendencies based on this cellular reading. Therefore, ARL hair analysis can indicate tendencies that can predict what’s coming if the person doesn’t change course.


Importance of Mineral Assessment

“Vitamins are important in the body, but without minerals, vitamins are useless.”

- Linus Pauling, PhD (1901-1994)


Areas of Measurement

1. Macro Minerals: calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium

- correcting these levels helps restore trace mineral balance

2. Trace Minerals: iron, copper, manganese, zinc, chromium, selenium, phosphorous,

nickel, cobalt, molybdenum, lithium, boron

3. Toxic Elements: lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, aluminum

4. Key Mineral Ratios & one related function

- Ca/Mg - Calcium:Magnesium (optimal 6.67:1) - blood sugar handling

- Ca/K - Calcium:Potassium (optimal 4:1) - thyroid function

- Na/Mg - Sodium:Magnesium (optimal 4.17:1) - overall adrenal function

- Na/K - Sodium:Potassium - (optimal 2.5:1) - adrenal cortex function; inflammation

- Zn/Cu - Zinc:Copper (optimal 8:1) - kidneys/bladder & sex hormone function

- Ca/P - Calcium:Phosphorous (optimal 2.5:1) - protein intake & assimilation


Ratios Reveal Physiology: Relevance of Hair / Tissue Mineral Ratios

A mineral ratio is a simple mathematical computation between two minerals. Eck had discovered that patients with diagnosed disease entities consistently demonstrated changes in certain mineral ratios. Ratios between the nutritional minerals are virtually countless. Dr. Eck had determined six ratios that he found consistent in their apparent effect in human or animal physiology.


Blood vs Hair Analysis

  • Hair mineral analysis reflects tissue status
  • The body prioritizes blood over tissues & organs
  • Blood reveals late stage imbalance
  • Tissue/hair reveals early stage imbalance
  • Blood reveals relatively more biochemistry
  • Tissue/hair reveals relatively more physiology band toxicity well in the blood (e.g. thyroid hormones, sugar)
  • Many markers, but not minerals, are measured
  • Mostly minerals are measured well in hair
  • The best approach is to use both


Serum vs Hair Testing for Toxic Elements

Serum the liquid part of the blood, the fluid remaining after blood has clotted. Serum is sometimes used to measure for toxic elements, e.g. serum mercury. Toxic elements in serum measure the extracellular (outside the cell) elements, and acute or recent exposure, e.g. ongoing occupational or lifestyle exposure.

"Because inflammation responses affect serum micronutrient concentrations, serum levels are limited in reflecting body nutrient status in acute and chronic illness."


...analysis measures intracellular (inside the cell) toxic elements, and chronic exposure and bioaccumulation.

"Following hair analysis for mineral and trace elements, iron (p = 0.033), selenium (p = 0.017), and manganese (p = 0.009) differed significantly between the groups." Pediatric patients newly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease (49 patients) and ulcerative colitis (16 patients) and controls (29 patients).


Scientific Validation

"A 1999 study on hair concentrations of calcium, iron, and zinc in pregnant women and effects of supplementation, concluded that “From the analyses, it was clear that hair concentrations of Ca, Fe, and Zn could reflect the effects of supplementation...Finally, it could be concluded that mineral element deficiencies might be convalesced by adequate compensations of mineral element nutrients.”

  • Hair concentrations of calcium, iron, and zinc in pregnant women and effects of supplementation. Leung PL, Huang HM, Sun DZ, Zhu MG. Biol Trace Elem Res. 1999 Sep;69(3):269-82. PMID: 10468164


“Analysis of hair samples has many advantages as a preliminary screening method for the presence of toxic substances deleterious to health after exposures in air, dust, sediment, soil and water, food and toxins in the environment. The advantages of hair analysis include the non-invasiveness, low cost and the ability to measure a large number of, potentially interacting, toxic and biologically essential elements. Hence, head hair analysis is now increasingly being used as a preliminary test to see whether individuals have absorbed poisons linked to behavioral or health problems.”

  • Masters RD. Validity of Head Hair Analysis and Methods of
    Assessing Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.
    Dartmouth College.


In a 300-page review completed in August, 1979, the EPA reviewed over 400 studies of hair mineral analysis. The authors concluded that hair is a “meaningful and representative tissue for biological monitoring for most of the toxic metals.”


“The presence of a substance in hair may indicate exposure (both internal and external)…”

- CDC Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Report


Using Hair Analysis for Evaluating Toxic Elements

"Hair analyses appear to be a useful biological monitor for detecting toxic effects from ambient air cadmium levels in subsets of the population at risk for heavy metal toxicity."