The results of hair analysis are usually complete within 3 weeks. You or your doctor will receive a report listing the levels of minerals and heavy metals in your hair. Several things need to be considered before testing for heavy metal exposure.
There is no standard procedure for cutting, washing, and analyzing hair. Different labs may report different results from the same hair sample. In fact, the same lab may report different results for separate hairs from a common sample. Standards for testing do not exist. Any hair analysis to detect the presence or absence of minerals, nutrients, or toxic metals in the body should be confirmed by testing blood and urine samples.
What the hair sample contains is determined not only by nutrition and internal metabolism but also by external substances. Air pollution, mineral content of the water supply, exposure to industrial waste, shampoos, hair dyes, hair sprays, permanents, and bleaches may raise or lower the levels of certain minerals in the hair. Also, the use of medicines such as birth control pills can change the mineral concentration of hair.
What Affects the Test
Things that can interfere with your test and the accuracy of the results include:
- The area of the body from which the hair sample was taken.
- Your age.
- Your hair color.
- Your race.
- The rate of your hair growth.
- Your use of hair products, such as hair colors and sprays.
- External environmental factors, such as where you live and work.
What To Think About
- Hair analysis has become more reliable and acceptable over the past 20 years. But there are still issues that raise legal and ethical questions about its use, including possible false positives and different results for people with different hair colors or ethnic backgrounds.
- Some natural health and homeopathic companies offer hair analysis by mail order. But hair analysis is not a accurate way of determining your need for vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients.
- The importance of most of the findings from hair analysis is unclear. It is hard to interpret a hair analysis for the presence of heavy metals without other testing. For most trace minerals, what really means normal or significant deviations from normal is not known.
- Although hair analysis is being done more frequently to test for illegal drug use (such as the use of cocaine or marijuana), it is not widely available. Drug screening is more commonly done on blood or urine samples. To learn more, see the topic Toxicology Tests.