Frequently asked questions.
What is a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA)?
Your hair contains all of the minerals present in your body. Both nutritional as well as toxic “heavy” metals. Hair analysis is a laboratory test that measures the mineral content of the hair. In most cases, the test results reflect how much of these elements are in your tissues and provide a vivid picture of your internal environment and biochemistry. With this information, a world of metabolic events can be interpreted. not only can your nutritional status be viewed, but we can also learn much about how efficiently your body is working.
The sampled hair, obtained by cutting the first inch and one-half of growth closest to the scalp at the nape of the neck. This sample is sent to a licensed clinical laboratory where it goes through a series of chemical and high temperature digestive procedures. Testing is then performed using highly sophisticated detection equipment and methods to achieve the most accurate and precise results.
How can hair analysis help me achieve better health?
If you consider that the nutrition that you retain is a direct result of the diet you consume, then with a hair tissue mineral analysis we can help you discover what your body needs, when it needs it and which nutrients to avoid.
This is a valuable tool for helping you reach a state of vibrant health. After 50 years, HTMA has emerged as the most practical method for testing your body’s mineral balance.
Why test for minerals?
race minerals are essential in countless metabolic functions in all phases of the life process.
Zinc is involved in the production, storage and secretion of insulin and is necessary for growth hormones.
Magnesium is essential for normal muscular function, especially the heart. A deficiency has been associated with an increased incidence of abnormal heart conditions, anxiety and nervousness.
Potassium is critical for normal nutrient transport into the cell. A deficiency can result in muscular weakness, mild depression and lethargy.
Excess sodium is associated with hypertension, but adequate amounts are required for normal health.
In the words of the late author and noted researcher, Dr Henry Schroeder, trace elements (minerals) are "...more important factors in human nutrition than vitamins. The body can manufacture many vitamins, but it cannot produce necessary trace minerals or get rid of many possible excesses."
Why use hair and not blood or urine?
Hair is an ideal tissue for sampling and testing. Firstly, it can be cut easily and painlessly, and can be sent to the lab without special handling requirements. Secondly, clinical results have shown that a properly obtained sample can give an indication of mineral status and toxic metal accumulation following long term or even acute exposure.
The hair is a storage organ, and to some degree an excretory tissue. Measuring the mineral content of blood gives a good indication of the minerals being transported around the body, however it can not accurately measure the minerals stored in the tissues. This is because mineral levels are kept at a relatively constant level in the blood, even when an imbalance is present. As a result, the hair will change first, sometimes years before the blood.
Blood tests give information about your mineral levels at the time of the test only. They can be affected if you have just eaten a banana, your test can indicate a high potassium level, even though you may actually need potassium supplementation. On the other hand, hair analysis results indicate your overall potassium level - your actual storage levels over a period of time, not just what you ate that day or week. But the average over the period of the sample. A blood test will only accurately indicate what is circulating and being transported in your blood during the time of the test.
Testing for minerals in the urine measures the minerals that are being excreted from your body, and not necessarily what has been absorbed for fuel for your body. It is akin to checking out ones rubbish bin to see what is in the fridge. What is in the bin may or may not be in the fridge.
Toxic metals are also easier to detect in the hair, rather than in the blood. They are not found in high concentrations in the blood except right after acute exposure. However, most tend to accumulate in the soft tissues such as the hair, as the body tries to move them to locations where they will do less damage.
30 to 40 days following an acute exposure, elevated serum (blood) levels of lead may be undetectable. This is due to the body removing the lead from the serum (blood) as a protective measure and depositing the metal into such tissues as the liver, bones, teeth and hair.
Hair is used as one of the tissues of choice by the Environmental Protection Agency in determining toxic metal exposure. A 1980 report from the E.P.A. stated that human hair can be effectively used for biological monitoring of the highest priority toxic metals. This report confirmed the findings of other studies in the U.S. and abroad, which concluded that human hair may be a more appropriate tissue than blood or urine for studying community exposure to some trace elements. HTMA is best used in conjunction with other appropriate pathology tests for the most comprehensive picture of a person’s health.
Where do I obtain the hair and how much is required?
Proper collection of the hair sample is extremely important and cannot be over-emphasised. The hair to be collected should be clean and you should not use permed, dyed or bleached hair. The hair should come from several areas of your scalp on the back portion of your head. You simply par the hair and cut it as close to the scalp as possible. Cut away excess hair from the sample leaving about 1 to 1 1.2 inches of the root end for testing.
The total amount of hair needed is about a tablespoon. If you can’t send scalp hair, beard, nails and pubic samples can be sent as a last resort. But keep in mind that the results may not reflect your most recent mineral patterns because these tissues grow more slowly and sporadic than scalp hair.
The exact procedure for obtaining a proper hair specimen for analysis can be found on the hair kit John sends you in the mail.
Can I read my own hair test?
The Short answer - No.
Balancing minerals and interpreting a HTMA takes years of study and personal experience to really understand how it works. It is tempting to assume that you "just supplement with the minerals that you appear to be deficient in" however this is not the case. Every mineral interacts with every other mineral, raising one mineral will in turn deplete another and so on. It really is a balancing act! Doctors and Scientists have been studying this form of interpretation for over 50 years, and a qualified HTMA interpreter knows how to "read between the lines" and can recognise patterns of hidden minerals and toxic elements.
Can I get all the minerals I need from diet alone?
Due to modern farming techniques, synthetic fertilisers, and depleted soils from centuries of agriculture; our food rarely contains the mineral content that it once did. Consequently, we need to test and monitor our Mineral levels and ratios more than ever before. HTMA enables the individual to determine how to truly supplement, and re-nourish our body with the preferred minerals that our cells crave, without the need for “shotgunning” supplements.
How is the hair sample taken?
The hair should be clean, well rinsed, untreated and uncoloured. Using clean, stainless steel scissors cut small amounts of hair from the back of the head. Cut the hair as close to the scalp as possible. If the hair is less than 4 cm in length, keep all of it for testing. If it is longer, cut off and keep the 4 cm that was growing closest to the scalp. Place hair in the hair sample envelope provided.
The laboratory requires approximately one tablespoon of hair for testing (0.5 gm).
Do I have to use the hair kit John provides?
It is not essential, however, we do prefer that you use the envelope we provide as it is of a specific weight for the laboratory and also guarantees a clean and untainted environment for the hair sample. Mediums such as plastic or foil are unsuitable and can contaminate the sample, leading to potentially inaccurate results. Additionally, by using the envelope provided, the sample is not required to be transferred once it reaches the lab thus minimising the potential of external contamination. If you do choose to use your own envelope, place the hair sample in a plain clean unused paper envelope, making sure to write your name, gender, age, sample location (eg. scalp) and phone number on the envelope before placing the sample inside.
If I can’t use head hair, can I use pubic hair?
Yes, should head hair not be available, you can use pubic or armpit hair as an alternative to head hair.
However please note that the lab's reference ranges are based on scalp hair, thus, a scalp sample is preferable; however, we can accept pubic hair, head hair or armpit hair. These samples can provide reliable data for toxic minerals, but some of the results for the nutritional minerals may be misrepresented e.g. potassium and sodium, due to contamination by soap and cosmetic makeup residue. Please ensure the hair is thoroughly rinsed with clean water and dried before taking the sample to avoid the presence of soap, deodorants and cosmetic products.
It is essential that you don't mix different types of hair e.g. do not mix head hair with pubic hair. If body hair is unavailable, fingernail clippings may be sent. The same amount of sample is required, approximately 0.5 gm. Please ensure nails are scrubbed and cleaned before submitting the sample to the laboratory for analysis. Please only use nail clippings as an extreme last resort, mineral testing is primarily based on hair samples.
What about contamination? Can I send my hair if it is dyed?
If hair is treated and coloured, please wait six to eight weeks and take the sample from the freshly grown (i.e. untreated) hair that does not have dye. Any hair treatment or colour, natural or otherwise, can potentially lead to less accurate results for some elements tested. This includes henna treatments.
Bleaching ones hair can artifically affect calcium.
Medicated shampoo’s such Selsum blue Grecian formula or head and shoulders can contaminate the sample with selenium, lead and zinc.
How long is the hair sample good for once it has been cut?
As long as the hair is stored in the paper envelope and in a clean dry area, the hair sample will maintain its integrity indefinitely. Please do not store the hair sample in plastic or foil as these are potential contaminants. The longer it is between cutting the sample and the sample being processed by our laboratory, the less relevant the results become to your current status of mineral and toxic element storage.
How many and which minerals are tested?
The lab analyses 20 core nutritional and toxic elements ,and provides a graph showing these levels. We can test for an additional 16 minerals for an extra charge.
They are: Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, Copper, Zinc, Phosphorus, Iron, Manganese, Chromium, Selenium, Lithium, Arsenic, Mercury, Cadmium, Lead, Aluminum, Nickel, Cobalt, Molybdenum.
(Optional) Germanium, Barium, Bismuth, Rubidium, Platinum, Thallium, Vanadium, Strontium, Tin, Titanium, Tungsten, Beryllium, Uranium, Boron, Sulfur, and Zirconium. Please contact us for pricing details.
How do I pay for the hair test?
Please notify John Bumpus through the contact page on this website and he will send an invoice via PayPal.
Can I claim HTMA on Medicare or with private health funds?
At present, you cannot claim the hair tissue mineral analysis on Medicare. It may be possible to claim from private health funds, please check with your fund for more information. Some health funds offer rebates on non-specific health care items when recommended by a health care professional.
How long will it take to receive my results?
Upon sampling the tissue, it will take approximately 14 working days to receive your results at the lab. The lab will email John your results and they will be forwarded to you to print if necessary.
Do you test for chemicals, bacteria or drugs in the hair?
No. We test the hair for over 20 different minerals (i.e. nutritional and toxic minerals), We do not test the hair for chemicals, bacteria or drugs.
Do you test the hair for allergies?
We test the hair to show the internal storage of nutritional and toxic minerals; we do not test the hair for allergies. However, due to our understanding of mineral balances, the interpretation report may indicate certain mineral patterns that are known to influence particular allergy types. We believe that many people cannot tolerate certain foods due to their biochemical status and not necessarily due to an immune response.
With a hair analysis, can you tell me what supplements to take?
John Bumpus is a nutritional consultant and certified herbalist. When you sign up for an Integrative Mineral Balancing Program he give you some recommendations for supplements to help balance your hair analysis results and enhance the natural detoxification of heavy elements.
Why can’t I just take a high quality multivitamin and mineral supplement?
We now know more than ever about the interactions of bitamins and minerals. Updating your own knowledge is essential to your future health. You may know that vitamins and minerals are essential for good health, but did you know that they may not always be helpful?
Too much zinc for example can antagonise vitamin D. Therefore taking zinc indiscriminately may cause an imbalance in vitamin D. Too little vitamin D, in turn antagonises calcium creating poor conditions for calcium absorption. So now you have a shortage of calcium. Too much vitamin C can cause a copper deficiency and allow too much iron to build up in the body. A domino effect occurs. While you may be aware of that vitamins and minerals are needed, too much of something can be just as bad as too little. In the years to come you’ll be hearing a lot more about “over nutrition” (too much of a nutrient) being more of a problem than undernutrition (too little of a nutrient). This is because if they are not taken in balance with each other they can cause relative deficiencies.
Do you see why it’s not wise to simply take a multiple vitamin or to increase vitamin C or other nutrients without knowing your particular mineral balance? You risk creating additional imbalances.
Can vitamin requirements be determined from a HTMA?
Minerals interact not only with each other but also with vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Minerals influence each of these factors, and they, in turn, influence mineral status. Minerals act as enzyme activators, and vitamins are synergistic to minerals as coenzymes. It is extremely rare that a mineral disturbance develops without a corresponding disturbance in the synergistic vitamin(s).
It is also rare for a disturbance in the utilization or activity of a vitamin to occur without affecting a synergistic mineral(s). For example, vitamin C affects iron absorption and reduces copper retention. Boron and iron influence the status of vitamin B2. Vitamin B2 affects the relationship between calcium and magnesium. Vitamin B1 enhances sodium retention and lowers calcium, B12 enhances iron and cobalt absorption, and vitamin A enhances the utilization of zinc while antagonizing vitamins D and E. Protein intake will affect zinc status, etc.
Therefore, evaluating mineral status provides good clues of vitamin status and requirements. Continuing mineral balancing research involves the recognition of many synergistic and antagonistic interrelationships between minerals and vitamins.
What if I am already taking nutritional supplements. Are these taken into consideration?
John Bumpus will consider your current supplement program and if there are products that are not conducive to balancing your mineral levels he will tell you. However, the decision to continue or stop taking these products, is up to the individual. It should be noted that some products may interfere with future HTMA results.
An example is when one has high sodium levels, John will often not recommend much B vitamins as they raise sodium levels. If you decide you want to continue taking this product, it can negatively effect your levels. If you insist that it is necessary to take for you, please tell him an he can do his best to account for this.
Which product brands do you recommend?
John Bumpus currently has two preferred product ranges; Endo-met Laboratories and Trace Nutrients. These are chosen specifically because they are designed to balance minerals on a hair test, and to work with the metabolic rate of an individual. Clients on his Integrative Mineral Balancing Program receive 30% off these products.
If clients would like to work with other products, an additional $35 fee will be applied, due to the extra time and research for products involved in formulating different recommendations. Please be aware that results may vary using other products.
Is HTMA supported by scientific research?
HTMA is supported by an impressive body of literature in a variety of respected national and international scientific publications. Over the past fifty years, hair mineral testing has been extensive. Each year, in the United States alone, federally licensed clinical laboratories perform over 150,000 hair mineral tests for health care professionals, who are interested in an additional screening aid for a comprehensive patient evaluation. This does not take into consideration the thousands of subjects used in numerous continuing research studies conducted by private and government research agencies. For a list of some of the research involving hair tissue mineral analysis click here.
Why do you only recommend getting a HTMA from TEI or ARL?
TEI (Trace Elements) and ARL (Analytical Research Labs) are the only two labs that we recommend using as they do not wash the hair sample. Washing the hair sample in harsh chemicals and detergents, removes large amounts of water-soluble elements (specifically sodium and potassium).
Hair is very porous, so washing can also damage the inside of the hair tissue, skewing the results. If you have obtained a HTMA from another lab, please take this into consideration. John can do an interpretation using other HTMAs, However additional fees will be charged due to the extra time that needs to be taken to convert the values and to interpret these tests.
Can I order products from overseas?
Yes, it is possible to order our products from overseas. The postage will be quoted on a "per order basis" as freight is charged based on weight and size.
How do I know that my hair tissue mineral analysis results are reliable?
When the hair sample is properly obtained, hair analysis is extremely reliable and accurate. Highly sophisticated instruments and software programs allow for extensive quality control. The labs we use specialise in hair testing exclusively analyzing over 50,000 samples per year. Most labs that provide hair testing do other lab testing as well. The labs we use have a full attention on assuring accuracy of your results.
Are you products vegan-friendly?
Our two ranges of nutritional products, Endo-met Laboratories and Trace Nutrients, have some vegan-friendly options, but some may contain glandulars.
For vegan support, please ask John for this option and pricing.