A hTMA lab test uses hair tissue for analysis. The reason hair is used is because (unlike blood or urine) it is stable over time and provides several months of biochemical activity in a single sample. Obtaining a sample is non-invasive and inexpensive, and can be done without the need of veterinary intervention.
A Canine hTMA lab test is a comprehensive assay method that provides detailed information about your dog's health. It includes nutritional elements, siginificant mineral ratios, endrocine function and performance ability. hTMA is an effective toxicity screen, indicating toxic elements and toxic ratios.
Physical, biochemical and emotional stressors deplete the body of essential nutrients. Chronic illness develops in stages over time, and environmental illness is result of exposure to environmental toxicity. These combined health assaults result in the accumulation of toxins in tissue and disrupt normal body chemistry.
The hTMA lab test quantifies deficiences or excesses in essential mineral levels and ratios, and identifies toxic heavy metals of concern. A comprehensive lab report uses charts, graphs and supportive documentation to show metabolic status, and provides corrective recommendations to address mineral imbalances, reverse physical degeneration and revitalize cellular metabolism (energy).
A hair tissue mineral analysis (hTMA) is considered a standard test used around the world for the biological monitoring of trace elements and toxic metals in human and animal species. hTMA uses the same analytical technology as is used for soil testing and testing of rock samples to detect mineral levels. Hair is one of the defining characteristics of mammals. Like other body tissues, it contains minerals that are deposited as the hair grows. Hair growth begins inside the hair follicle. The only ‘living’ portion of the hair is found in the follicle. The hair that is visible is the hair shaft, which exhibits no biochemical activity and is considered ‘dead.’ The mineral composition within the cortex remain intact (indefinitely) as the hair continues to grow out. A one to 1-½" long sample of hair cut close to the skin provides information about the mineral activity in the hair that took place over the past three to four months, depending on the rate of hair growth.
Soil scientists have understood the importance trace minerals play in plant health for 100 years. Forensic anthropologists use hair analysis extensively in understanding the diet and environmental conditions of animals dating back to prehistoric times. Although the DNA analysis of animal hair dates from the early 1990s2, the monitoring of rare North American carnivores via non-invasively collected samples began more recently with the analysis of mitochondrial DNA to identify different species. For example, several studies done in 19973 discussed reliable and inexpensive methods for identifying many species based on universal DNA primers4 from scats5 and hair6. The use of non-invasive hair collection methods to survey wildlife has expanded rapidly since the mid-1990s. Studies of high-profile, rare, and elusive species such as grizzly bears7, American black bears8, Canada lynx9, and American martens10 were among the first to exploit DNA-based hairsnaring techniques in North America, and have generated the bulk of literature available in this field. Hair sampling is now common and has expanded to include numerous other species.11
The toxic elements section displays the results for each of the reported toxic elements. These elements can enter the body through inhalation, intestinal absorption and even be absorbed through the skin, depending upon their chemical form. Since it is acknowledged that there are no safe levels of the toxic heavy metals tested, it is preferable that all levels be as low as possible and within the white reference section. Any test result that falls within the upper colored area should be considered as statistically significant, but not necessarily clinically significant. Further investigation may then be warranted to determine the possibility of actual clinical significance and steps can be taken to mitigate exposures. These toxic elements are well-known for their interference upon normal biochemical function and are commonly found in the environment and therefore are present to some degree in all biological systems. However, these metals clearly pose a concern for toxicity when tissue accumulation occurs to excess.
Toxic Elements: This chart shows a measurable level of mercury, high tissue lead and aluminum levels, and a significantly high arsenic level. Arsenic is number one on the ATSDR's 2011 Priority List of Hazardous Substances. (Lead is #2 and mercury is #3.) Arsenic is a known carcinogen and affects the skin, digestive system, liver, nervous system and respiratory system. Arsenic compounds can create reactions in the body that disrupt enzymes that are involved in respiration of cells, fat and carbohydrate breakdown and their metabolism. The accumulation of toxic levels of arsenic can result in paralysis, coma, cardiovascular collapse and death. Aluminum is the most common toxic element found at high levels in hTMA assessments of dogs. Aluminum has been described as a protoplasmic poison and a pernicious and persistent neurotoxin. While the body is able to excrete aluminum in its natural form, the element, like mercury, is toxic to all life forms when concentrated in their tissues. It has a tendency to accumulate in the brain and nerve tissues and in the bones and teeth. Followup hTMA retests revealed that the mitigation, dietary and supplement changes made continued to bring tissue toxin levels down, along with health improvements in the dog.
All animals are exposed to toxic metals to some degree. The retention of these toxic metals, however, is dependent upon the animal's susceptibility. The balance of the protective nutrient minerals within the body in relation to the heavy metals can frequently be the determining factor to this susceptibility. By examining the toxic metal levels in relation to the protective minerals, the extent to which the heavy metals may be involved in abnormal chemistry can frequently be seen. This is done by examining the toxic ratios.
Each toxic metal ratio result should be in the upper white area of the graph, and the higher the better. Toxic ratios that fall within the darker red area may indicate an interference of that toxic metal upon the utilization of the nutritional element.
The concentration of lead in polluted air varies inversely with altitude. Because lead is a heavy element, it settles out of the air onto the ground. Consequently, lead poisoning occurs frequently in dogs who spend their lives close to the ground. Epilepsy can result from lead toxicity in dogs. In young children, hyperactivity may be the first presenting symptom, so if you have a hyperactive dog you can suspect high tissue lead levels. Other emotional symptoms of a lead body burden include aggression, violent behavior, antisocial behavior, poor concentration or learning capacity.
Toxic Ratios: This chart indicates inadequate levels of calcium (Ca), iron (Fe) and sulfur (S) relative to lead (Pb). This means that the dog does not have enough of these nutrient minerals to protect against tissue accumulation of lead. Lead can be found in all parts of our environment. Much of it comes from human activities including burning fossil fuels, mining, and manufacturing.
Extensively studied, the nutrient minerals have been well defined and are considered essential for many biological functions. They play key roles in such metabolic processes as muscular activity, endocrine function, reproduction, skeletal integrity and overall development. This section of the report shows nutritional mineral levels that may reveal moderate or significant deviations from normal. The light blue area of the graph's mineral levels represent the established reference ranges as determined from statistical analysis of healthy canines. A mineral level that is outside the reference range can be identified.
Nutritional Elements: This chart shows excess copper (Cu). Copper is classified as a sedative mineral. In excess, copper may decrease optimum performance, due to its suppressing effect upon endocrine activity, especially the thyroid gland which is responsible for sustained energy production. Since copper water pipes are used in most modern buildings, one of the most common sources of excessive copper intake is from water.
If the synergistic relationship (or ratio) between certain minerals is disturbed, studies show that normal biological functions and metabolic activity can be adversely affected. The light blue area of the graph's mineral ratios represent the established reference ranges as determined from statistical analysis of healthy canines. A mineral ratio that is outside the reference range can be identified. Even at extremely low concentrations, the synergistic and/or antagonistic relationships between minerals still exist, which can indirectly affect metabolism, cellular energy and the stress response.
Significant Ratios: This example shows several ratios near or just outside of the established reference range. A healthy dog will have all ratios near the center (white area) of the graph reference range. The Ca/K and CA/Mg ratios on this graph would be considered healthy. Each ratio represents different metabolic functions and can identify trends toward health problems. The report will identify and explain any ratios that are outside of the reference range, and provide recommendations for correcting the imbalance.
Endocrine Index: The thyroid gland is responsible for cellular energy production and release. The graph reflects thyroid activity within the normal range and low adrenal activity. The adrenal gland produces a number of vital hormones, many of which have an effect upon energy production.
The endocrine index is a graphic presentation of the pituitary-adrenal-thyroid relationship, or P.A.T. axis. These endocrine glands influence energy production on a cellular level and ultimately the health and performance of the dog. Ideally, there should be a balance within the P.A.T. The levels need not be at the ideal range as this range is used only as a reference point. However, they should be balanced above, below or at the ‘ideal’ point. A major deviation between the P.A.T. axis can be indicative of a tendency or trend toward an adverse health condition. In the performance animal, a major deviation of the P.A.T. axis is reflective of an adverse affect upon speed and/or stamina.
A balanced P.A.T. would appear on the following index with all three bar graphs extending the same length to the right. Ideally, all three would extend to the mid-way point, but as mentioned previously, a balance anywhere within the box is acceptable.
The performance index graphically displays the relationship of the energy producing glands (thyroid and adrenal) on speed and endurance.
Performance Index: This example reflects the domination of the thyroid gland over the adrenal glands. This indicates endurance over long distances or for longer periods of time. However, speed, quickness and power over short time periods or distances are affected negatively.
Essential nutrient minerals are required for proper growth, development and physiological functions. Your dog's body cannot synthesize these minerals, so they must be obtained from their diet. Supplement recommendations are provided to help correct and improve mineral levels and ratios. The purpose of the recommendations are to re-establish a normal balance of body chemistry through individually designed diet and supplement suggestions. By improving your dog's mineral levels and ratios, you will enhance its ability to utilize the nutrients efficiently and resulting in improved energy production and health.
As a bonus, we include general species appropriate dietary recommendations with instructions for preparing your dog's food at home.