Updated: Feb 23, 2020
If a child is not meeting her or his developmental milestones or been diagnosed with a disorder such as ADHD, or seizures the Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) is a valuable tool for getting a handle on the possible root causes and then guiding supportive nutrition-based management.
(Note: this is an essay by Gary Moller, reflecting upon what he has observed when applying the HTMA in the Clinic, including the unique patterns on the HTMA that are often common to a specific health condition. This is not to diagnose a health problem, nor are there any treatment recommendations. The intention here is to help guide nutrition and lifestyle support).
The HTMA above is for a delightful toddler who began suffering multiple daily seizures for which medication was only partially effective. Her HTMA is a goldmine of information about some of the nutrient deficiencies, excesses, imbalances and toxicities that may be driving her health issues, all of which might impact on her nervous system.
Please refer to Dr David Watt's book, "Trace Elements and Other Minerals" and our "Periodic Table of Elements and Nutritional Relationships" to understand fully the significance of elements such as calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc and iron for conditions such as seizures and ADHD.
Main points to note about her HTMA
Very low calcium and magnesium
High potassium to sodium ratio
High copper to zinc Ratio
Very low zinc
Elevated iron to copper ratio
Presence of toxic burdens - arsenic, mercury, cadmium lead and aluminium
Suspicious levels of rubidium, nickel, vanadium, tin and titanium.
Handy Tip: To get a better visual impression of her total burden of these potent neurotoxins, place the lead on top of the aluminium, the tiny bit of cadmium on the lead, the arsenic goes on next. You can see that the total burden is almost at the top of the chart.
It is important to determine if the exposure to a toxin is historic or ongoing. If it is ongoing then any interventions are likely to be compromised. Her father is a builder and has a workshop at home where he works with materials such as arsenic-treated timber and sanding paint that may contain lead and other toxins. The children often play there while Dad is on childcare duties. Toddlers crawl and stick dirty fingers in their mouths.
The children are no longer spending time in the workshop.
The HTMA above is for a 13-year-old male who has been diagnosed as being hyperactive and is being treated with Ritalin.
It was interesting to note that he has very stretchy skin on his hands and hypermobile finger and elbow joints (lead interferes with copper and zinc which influence the cross-linking of collagen fibres).
Main points to note about his HTMA
Low magnesium to calcium ratio
High sodium and potassium
High iron to copper ratio
Presence of neurotoxins: arsenic, mercury, cadmium, lead and aluminium. Large combined toxic burden.
Suspicious levels of rubidium, nickel, tin, titanium and zirconium (rubidium, tin and zirconium are often associated with heavy metals such as lead, so these can be a clue that there may be such metals deep in the body, especially if symptoms point in that direction.)
This boy's father is a plumber by trade, so we asked him to be tested. His HTMA is reproduced below. Take careful note of the similarities, including the "Additional Elements". The father was been complaining of unusual fatigue, forgetfulness and "brain fog".
Handy Tip: when there is a hint or more of aluminium on the HTMA, plus an elevation of zirconium, check the patient's deodorant use and scrutinise the ingredients. Look for even trace amounts of these minerals in the "Ingredients List". Go back several years. Is the aluminium and zirconium from a deodorant getting from their armpits to be deep into their bodies, including their brains, then turning up in their scalp hair?
The above HTMA is for a three-year-old boy who has been missing his developmental milestones. Gait is similar to what may be associated with a mild case of cerebral palsy.
Main points to note about his HTMA
Extremely low levels of calcium, magnesium and zinc and low in several other key minerals.
Presence of toxic elements, arsenic, mercury, cadmium, lead and aluminium.
Unusual levels of rubidium, nickel, vanadium, tin, titanium and zirconium.
Where might these toxins have come from? Could it be "placental transfer" from mother to child while in utero? We tested his mother (refer to the HTMA below). Did the zirconium and aluminium (deodorant use) and the rest come from the mother while in utero?
Picking up "hidden toxicities"
Mineral patterns may be more important than whether a mineral is high, low or within the reference range on the HTMA.
When there is a pattern such as seen in the mother's HTMA above, this may be an indication of "deranged mineral transport" across the cell walls. One must suspect hidden toxicities or more than can be seen on the HTMA. The mother has spent significant time living and working in a sweaty, polluted part of the world and was a big user of deodorants that were presumably aluminium and zirconium-based.
When there are low levels of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and zinc, suspect there are hidden toxicities, especially lead and/or cadmium. Toxins such as lead, mercury and cadmium interfere with minerals such as magnesium and zinc, rendering these unusually low on the HTMA.
Partners of toxins such as lead and cadmium are seen in the "Additional Minerals" section on the HTMA. If elements such as bismuth, rubidium, nickel and tin are elevated, suspect that there are toxins present such as lead, even if they are barely showing on the HTMA.
Medications may interfere with liver function. If a person is on one or more medications, these may mean that there is poor elimination of toxins such as lead which may then be sequestered in organs, fat and bone. Measures to improve liver function and nutrients to shift toxins from storage tissues may result in the spiking of toxins and other minerals as measured on followup HTMA. Refer to the HTMA of our three-year-old boy one year later. The numbers under the charts show what minerals have gone up or down between tests. What is indicated is this boy is doing a gentle "detoxification" but there is presumably a long way to go.
Carefully, relate what you see on the HTMA to the person sitting in front of you
In all of the above cases, what we can see on their HTMA fits nicely with the health issues that we were approached for help with. We can see commonalities within the families and relate these to their occupations and/or environments. The laboratory does provide some commentary, nutritional and supplement guidelines. These are invaluable, but we do rely on you to look for the tiniest of clues that only you can be aware of through detailed health history-taking and careful observation.
Each HTMA, especially the repeat tests, indicates where to concentrate attention. For the boy above, we can see that he needs more calcium, magnesium and zinc than ever. These children are literal bottomless pits for these and other nutrients. Despite the temptation to increase dosages, bear in mind that you may trigger too strong a detoxification. It is always best to start low and go slow, all the while carefully monitoring symptoms and progress.
Elements such as calcium, magnesium and zinc may actually decline on the repeat HTMA, despite consistent supplementation. If there has been a significant improvement in symptoms, you can rest assured that the nutrients are getting in and working their subtle magic. The decline may be due to the minerals being put to good use within cells, into rapidly growing bones and into tissue storage. The challenge is usually how to get these nutrients consistently into them. Most children can not take pills and the taste when they are ground up may be unpleasant.
Teenagers can be the most difficult when it comes to consistency with diet and supplementation. Do the best you can knowing that things will eventually click into place as their brains mature. This may take some years. They will then be more consistent.
A zinc deficiency may cause anosmia and hypogeusia and drive "picky eating" habits. Bear this in mind if many nutritious foods such as eggs, meat and fish are being rejected by the child.
Cleaning toxins out of the body and restoring mineral balance is best measured in months and years - not days or weeks.
The good news is that even getting halfway to what you may consider desirable with regards to consistency and dose, can result in pleasing improvements. Unlike adults, children respond quickly and delightfully to the right nutrients as guided by the HTMA. With children, even a little can go a long way.
To finish on a positive note!
The toddler suffering multiple daily seizures is an excellent example of the great outcomes that can happen with even the smallest of improvements in nutrition, plus removing suspected sources of ongoing contamination.
we repeated her HTMA repeated at three years of age (refer HTMA chart below). Note the decline in some minerals. Note the increases and declines in some toxic elements. Seizures had become minimal, barely noticeable, and she was carefully withdrawn off all medications under medical supervision with no increase in seizure activity.