by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© January 2010, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
Replacement therapy is a method of treatment that many physicians unfortunately use when they obtain a hair mineral analysis on a patient, or perhaps with other tests as well. The method is essentially to supplement minerals that appear deficient on the hair test, and to avoid recommending minerals that are elevated on the test.
This approach does not work well at all, at least with hair analysis, and this article explains why. This is an important topic having to do with hair analysis interpretation and the differences between nutritional balancing science and other methods of using hair mineral analysis.
The failure of replacement therapy is also a major reason hair analysis is misunderstood and attacked by some people, including some in the holistic healing field. For instance, researchers often attempt to alter the level of one mineral in the hair by supplementing that mineral. When this approach fails, they often condemn the entire validity of hair analysis.
ASSUMPTIONS OF REPLACEMENT THERAPY
Replacement therapy is based on at least five incorrect ideas about our bodies and about hair mineral analysis. These false principles are:
1. Mineral levels in the hair are a reflection of the levels in the body.
2. If a mineral is low in the hair, it must be deficient in the body.
3. If a mineral is high on the test, then it must be present in excess.
4. By giving a mineral that is low, the level will increase in the hair, and thus presumably in the body.
5. By reducing the intake of a mineral that is high in the hair, the level will decrease in the hair and presumably in the body as well.
Here is why each of the above are false.
1. Hair levels reflect mineral levels in the entire body. To some extent this may be true of the toxic metals, but often only the toxic metals. However, it is most certainly not true of the nutrient minerals.
Forty years ago Dr. Paul Eck discovered that hair levels of the nutrient minerals often reflect how the body is responding to stress, rather than representing the total body load of the mineral. The only true way to understand a hair analysis is by analyzing the levels and ratios as responses to stress, using the stress theory of disease and metabolic typing. This is explained in several other articles on this website.
Each mineral concentrates in specific tissues and organs. This may come as a shock to some people. However, it is easily understood. Hair is a tissue of the body. Some minerals concentrate in the hair, while other minerals concentrate in other organs and tissues of the body.
This is a common concept in medicine, in fact. Copper, for example, accumulates in the brain, the liver and in women, in the female organs. Lead accumulates in the bones. Mercury and cadmium accumulate in the kidneys and liver, and so forth.
This is why the hair level of cadmium may not represent all the cadmium in the body. Some is probably stored in the kidneys, bones and liver.
Other reasons why replacement therapy principles are wrong. At times, an elevated level of a mineral in the hair represents an excretion or loss of that mineral from the body.
For example, a high hair calcium level is often found in cases of osteoporosis. Calcium is leaving the bones, often, and depositing in the soft tissues. This situation definitely does not mean that the person has too much calcium in the body. It means the calcium is in the wrong places and cannot be used correctly. We call this biounavailable calcium or, in medicine, it is called metastatic calcification.
At times, a low or even a high level of a mineral in the hair can occur in order to raise the level of another mineral or ratio. This concept is called a defender.
For example, the body may lower the zinc level to help raise the sodium level. In any case, the first assumption that hair levels reflect total body load of a mineral is utterly false.
Since this principle is incorrect, the second and third assumptions above are also incorrect.
Assumptions 3 & 4. Giving a mineral that is low will raise the hair level and presumably the level in the entire body. Avoiding a mineral that is high in the hair will lower the level in the hair and in the body.
While there is a grain of truth to these, often they are not true at all.
This is a little complex, though the answer is explained, in part, in the paragraphs above. For example, since the body may keep a mineral level low in order to defend another level or ratio, giving more of that mineral will not raise the hair level as this could cause more health problems. We call this supplementing a defender, a practice that does not work and can make a client worse.
If there is too much calcium in the hair, it does not mean too much in the body. Avoiding calcium if a person has osteoporosis is not a wise idea and will not lower the hair calcium level much, if any.
RESEARCH ON REPLACEMENT THERAPY
Dr. Eck experimented with replacement therapy on many clients when he first began researching hair analysis. He recommended zinc to an individual whose hair zinc level was low. But often, the more zinc that was given, the zinc level would go down on a retest!
He recommended calcium to those with a low calcium level and the calcium level would not budge! He found that some individuals who never salted their food had a high sodium level. Others, who put salt on all their food, had a low sodium level that would not go up, no matter how much salt or sodium-rich foods they ate!
The failure of replacement therapy was very puzzling and made little sense to Dr. Eck at first. However, he persisted in his research. He noticed other unusual phenomena.
if he recommended copper to an individual with low calcium, the copper might
not go up, but the calcium level went up.
He also noticed that if he recommended potassium to a person with a low
sodium level, the sodium level would often rise. For several years, the results
of Dr. Eck's research were both inconclusive and puzzling.
The turning point came when Dr. Eck learned about mineral interactions, or as he called it, the ‘intimate relationships’ between minerals. He first found this in a book about minerals by Davies and in the work of Dr. William Albrecht at the University of Missouri on the minerals in soil.
These men taught that there exists a "mineral system" in the body. The body keeps all the minerals in a delicate balance, in order to maintain homeostasis or equilibrium. Only a systems approach can explain why one mineral remains high while another remains low, and so forth.
The truth is the levels on a hair analysis represent a blueprint of how the body is responding to stress. The purpose of the mineral balance and mineral system is to keep the blood and to some degree the tissue mineral levels relatively constant.
if replacement therapy were valid and one ate a very high calcium meal, the calcium
level in the body might rise so high it would be fatal. The same would be true
if one ate too much potassium, or too much sodium. Our bodies have powerful buffering systems to avoid such a
calamity. The minerals are maintained in balance, even if one ingests a large
amount of one mineral.
Dr. Eck discovered that in order to change the balance of the minerals, one had to work with, not against, the mineral system of the body. It is a complex system, in which the minerals not only interact with each other, but also with vitamins, with the glands and with other body systems.
A rough summary of the major mineral interactions is found in the mineral wheel on the cover of the hair analysis reports written by Analytical Research Labs.
A simpler and more precise explanation is found in the text, Nutritional Balancing and Hair Mineral Analysis. This book explains much of Dr. Eck’s research. Only by paying heed to the principles of nutritional balancing can one reliably and precisely change the levels of the minerals.
The development of the science of nutritional balancing took twenty years and thousands of trial and error experiments. Slowly, Dr. Eck found that the mineral system could be simplified by identifying the oxidation types according to Dr. Watson and the stages of stress according to Dr. Hans Selye, MD, founder of the stress theory of disease.
He also found that mineral ratios are more important for assessing the mineral system than mineral levels. Over the years, more pieces of the puzzle fell into place.
Unfortunately, the years of research are hard to appreciate just from reading a hair analysis report. It is like trying to appreciate the years of research that went into designing the car you buy.
To obtain excellent results with hair analysis, we strongly suggest following the recommendations that come with the hair analysis report from Analytical Research Labs, with a few modifications that are discussed in the article entitled Program Modifications. Other laboratories, unfortunately, have not so far adopted many of these principles of interpretation, to my knowledge. That is one reason I do not recommend using these labs.
Try to avoid the temptation to engage in replacement therapy. If you wish to understand the recommendations more thoroughly, read the books and articles I offer and listen to the seminar tapes and the compact discs we offer that are available on the subject.
Replacement therapy is simple. The design of the human body, however, is not. Hair analysis reflects the complexity of the human body and demands a more complex interpretation for best results.