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Hair analysis in alternative medicine is related to fields of environmental toxicology and forensics, and is often used to identify a contaminant to which exposure occurred longer in the past. Urine and blood analysis can usually only identify contaminant exposure that has occurred in the past few days or weeks.
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 toxics 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 health problems.
There appears to be genuine validity to the use of hair analysis in the measurement of life-long, or long-term heavy metal burden, if not the measurement of general elemental analysis. Several interesting studies including the analysis of Ludwig van Beethoven's hair have been conducted in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health, and CDC to name a few.
A 1999 study on hair concentrations of calcium, iron, and zinc in pregnant women and effects of supplementation, it was concluded that hair concentrations of calcium, iron, and zinc could reflect the effects of supplementation. This type of deficiency test can help doctors identify key nutrients to improve a patient's health.
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