When it comes to heavy metals toxicity, there is a lot of disagreement about which test is the most reliable…
On the one hand, some advocate urine analysis that comes after a chelator provocation (a.k.a. challenge test): it causes the metals to come out of the organs into the blood and with time evacuated into the urine. We can then analyse the degree of intoxication. But some claim that this method is dangerous.
On the other hand, hair analysis is safer, but does it really identify heavy metal poisoning?
The amount of heavy metals contained in the hair reflects only what the body is able to evacuate, not what is retained in the organs. It is also known that autistic people often have very low levels of mercury in the hair1: the organs (among which the brain) stores mercury because the body can’t evacuate it.
How can one claim that this test is reliable? Well, this is mostly based after the work of Andrew Hall Cutler, an American who has cured himself from his heavy metal poisoning. With advanced knowledge in physics and chemistry, he has studied extensively heavy metals (and specially mercury) to develop a famous protocol based on slow oral chelation. He also published a famous book (that I haven’t read, because it’s expensive and quite technical) on the analysis of hair minerals.
According to Andy Cutler:
- Either the mercury level is high and you are intoxicated (with a natural good detox ability)
- Or the mercury level is low but the mineral profile is very disturbed: you’re very likely to be intoxicated
- Or the mercury level is low and the mineral profile is mostly normal: you’re not intoxicated with mercury
Note that an isolated high value attests an intoxication to that mineral (or a bioavailability problem), but doesn’t affect the other values.
To find out whether the mineral profile is disturbed or not, he has therefore developed a counting rule (that I won’t discuss here).
Enough talking, let’s compare the 2 tests! I did the hair test about 1 month and 10 days after the provocation test, knowing that the hair analysis reflects what the body has evacuated during the last 2 or 3 months. The comparison is therefore relevant.
Some values are high on one side and low on the other. It’s very confusing… What shall I believe?
When doing the interpretation of my hair mineral analysis, I could see that the values were very similar to those of my girlfriend, meaning that the elements contained in the hair reflect only the recent exposure (At the time of the analysis, we had been living together for two and a half years, and in different countries before that).
I’m not yet able to fully figure out all the differences between these two tests. But I understand one thing: if a toxic element is present during the provocation test but absent from the hair test, there are two possible readings:
- either my body doesn’t know how to evacuate it at all
- or the exposure is old, so that the element is no longer in the blood but only contained in the organs (and my body doesn’t know how to evacuate it either)
I am thinking in particular of Thallium, which is very toxic to the brain and the nervous system (I have brain fog): in excess during the provocation test but completely absent from my hair… wow!
Chelators tend to increase the value of minerals, which masks any deficiencies. It can be seen for Molybdenum or Cobalt. In that case, the hair test is definitely more relevant.
Both tests show a lot of differences and we easily see here that it can lead to misinterpretation. The provocation/challenge test will reveal the heavy metals present in the body, but the hair analysis can reveal deficiencies or excesses among essential minerals.
Can you read other things in this test comparison? Feel free to leave a message in the comments!
- The association between mercury levels and autism spectrum disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis.