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Well, THIS is interesting: Hair mineral analysis

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  • Well, THIS is interesting: Hair mineral analysis

    In my continuing quest to fix my horse, I contacted an "alternative" vet who suggested Blush might have Aluminum toxicity and thought it would be a good idea to run a hair mineral analysis through Uckele.

    It's only money, and god knows I've spent a small fortune on Blush over the last six months, so I suspended some disbelief, got the hair and sent it in. I got the results today.

    Most notable, there was a high level of aluminum. Blush is at 13.7 mg/100g. The upper range of normal is 1.5 mg/100g. Here is what the literature Uckele sent with results says about high Al:

    Aluminum is an abundant metal in the Earth’s crust. It may be found in contaminated drinking water, aluminum containers, and food & feed products (anti-caking agents and anti-acids). Aluminum may directly affect the brain and nervous system. It inhibits enzymes important for neurological function. It may cause memory loss, anxiety, confusion and disorientation. Other common symptoms associated with aluminum toxicity include; Ataxia, colic, gastroenteritis and ulcers, calcium displacement, and other inflammatory disorders. Aluminum directly antagonizes Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Manganese and Copper. The use malic acid has been a reliable chelator of aluminum.
    Blush was also high on lithium, iron, manganese and strontium.

    Lithium decreases manic symptoms (depression), may be an intermediary in the conversion of essential fatty acids, stabilizes hormone secretion and has anti-aggressive actions. Lithium supplementation has been shown to increase sodium levels in the cells. Its appearance resembles calcium and magnesium and in this may act as a stabilizing agent on the nerves.
    Deficiency symptoms include: aggression and depression.
    Excess symptoms include: tremors, confusion, excessive urination, thyroid disturbance, weight gain, increased thirst, and other metabolic disorders. Too much lithium may interfere with iodine uptake by the thyroid. This action could block the production of thyroid hormones.
    Hair levels of Lithium: Lithium appears to lower sodium. High or low levels may indicate metabolic stress.
    Iron is critical in oxygen transport and energy production. It is also important for many enzymes systems. The majority of the body’s iron is stored in red blood cells.
    Iron deficiency symptoms include: Anemia, fatigue and weakness. Low blood pressure and dizziness.
    Iron excess symptoms include: Inflammatory illness, mental distress, anemia and sugar instability.
    High Iron: A high level of iron in the hair may be a general indication of inflammation. It may be associated with high aluminum levels. Since iron is stored more in red blood cells than any other cell, a high hair level can be due to iron loss, which is in part as a result of destruction and breakdown of body tissues (inflammation).
    Manganese is a trace mineral essential for energy production, glucose tolerance, production of proteoglycans (tendons, ligaments and cartilage) and bone development. Manganese is important in synthesis of neurotransmitters, specific enzymes and required for normal adrenal and thyroid function.
    Manganese deficiency symptoms include: Bone weakness, glucose sensitivity, muscle and connective tissue weakness, ringing of ears.
    Manganese excess symptoms include: Mental disturbance and neurological symptoms, ataxia and iron deficiency.
    High Manganese: High hair manganese may be due to manganese toxicity. It may also be high due to a loss through the hair (e.g. Aluminum sensitivity).
    Strontium has been shown to have a correlation with strong bones and teeth. It appears to have an effect on calcium metabolism.
    Hair levels of Strontium: Ideally strontium levels are found below the high range on a hair analysis. High levels may indicate a toxicity (inflammatory trend).
    Blush also was low on sodium and copper:

    Sodium is a critical mineral involved in fluid balance, regulation of blood pressure and cell membrane permeability. Sodium’s roles include: Circulation, maintaining acid – base balance, production of hydrochloric acid, endocrine function and detoxification.
    Sodium deficiency symptoms include: Slow oxidation rate, fatigue and apathy, poor protein digestion (lack of hydrochloric acid), and allergies.
    Low Sodium: A Low hair sodium level may be a good indicator for depressed adrenal activity. When correlated with other specific minerals, low sodium may indicate anxiety, fatigue, and adrenal exhaustion.
    Copper is essential for energy production and blood formation. Its most functional roles include: Structure and function of connective and skeletal tissues, nervous system, reproduction, endocrine systems, pigmentation of skin, hair and nails, immune system function, and formation of hemoglobin.
    Copper deficiency symptoms include: Anemia, fatigue, inflammation, diarrhea, loss of hair and hair color, osteoporosis, impaired collagen formation, and low endocrine function.
    At the very least, this is really interesting. I received the results late today, so I haven't had a chance to get in touch with the vet. I'll try to get a hold of her tomorrow.

    Has anyone else run one of these things? What sort of results did you have? How did you treat your horse once you had the results?

  • #2
    I just had my horse's hair analysed too. Mine also came back with aluminum toxicity but my chart says that normal is 23 to 75 mg%, whatever that means. My horse was at 83.51.

    His electrolytes were almost nil, magnesium was low, calcium low and cobalt low. His phos level was normal so his Cal/Phos ratio is way out of wack.

    He is now on a custom made sup made by the vet that read the analysis and after just 5 days he was a new horse. He has now put on weight and looks great and has his energy back, I haven't ridden him yet but he plays like crazy in the field.

    I should get my hay analysis back tomorrow so that will help too.

    His symptoms were weight loss, despite eating massive quantities of food, lethargy, diarrhea, and stinky poop.

    What was going on with your horse?


    • #3
      Linus Pauling thought that all (human) health disorders had their roots in mineral deficiencies and imbalances.

      Dr. Eleanor Kellon (DVM) was on a campaign to combat iron-overload in horses a few years ago, and may still be. She also did diet recommendations based upon hay analysis, and I believe she still does that. She stressed mineral balancing as key to prevention/recovery from founder/laminitis if the cause is dietary. One of the facts I remember her mentioning was that hays grown in the western US are very high in iron, but low in copper. Another was that most commerical horse feeds are also very high in iron. There are other deficiencies and imbalances depending upon particular soils, of course. She was also in favor or hair analysis as a diagnostic tool.

      For a long time, I mixed mineral supplements for my horses to make up for the deficiencies in their hay. If I could have afforded it, I would have had Ukele do it for me, because it is relatively complicated and time consuming to mix your own, but not rocket science, either. As my herd increased, my enthusiasm for mixing decreased. Now, I do okay with a good hoof supplement (Foundation) which takes care of some of the mineral deficiencies, and mixing the varieties of hay that I feed.

      I wonder what the results would be if you submitted hair from several horses in the same herd. Would the results be more or less the same, or would they vary widely according to the particular needs of the individual horses?
      Barbaro Cultist, Metabolic Nazi


      • #4
        That is really interesting. It makes me want to have it done on my mare, who has been a bit off lately.

        EBO, what varieties of hay do you feed? I have been feeding coastal bermuda as the main staple, but they get a bit of timothy, and some alfalfa (my mare gets a decent amount, she has been picky with the other hay). I have been considering adding a bit of peanut hay as well. My colt and filly are doing wonderfully, but my mare has been having some horribly stinky poop for about a month, and she has been a bit lethargic and not interested in hay.


        • #5
          Some interesting articles on soy and a connection to aluminum toxicity. Lots of soy in most horse feeds.






          • #6
            Assessment of Commercial Laboratories Performing Hair Mineral Analysis

            Sharon Seidel, PhD; Richard Kreutzer, MD; Daniel Smith, DrPH; Sandra McNeel, DVM; Debra Gilliss, MD

            JAMA. 2001;285:67-72.

            Context Hair mineral analysis is being used by health care practitioners and promoted by laboratories as a clinical assessment tool and to identify toxic exposures, despite a 1985 study that found poor reliability for this test.

            Objective To assess whether the reliability of data from commercial laboratories advertising multimineral hair analyses for nutritional or toxicity assessment has improved since the 1985 study.

            Design, Setting, and Participants A split hair sample taken from near the scalp of a single healthy volunteer was submitted for analysis to 6 commercial US laboratories, which analyze 90% of samples submitted for mineral analysis in the United States.

            Main Outcome Measures Agreement of test results for each analyte, laboratory reference ranges, laboratory characteristics, and interpretation of health implications.

            Results Laboratory differences in highest and lowest reported mineral concentrations for the split sample exceeded 10-fold for 12 minerals, and statistically significant (P<.05) extreme values were reported for 14 of the 31 minerals that were analyzed by 3 or more laboratories. Variations also were found in laboratory sample preparation methods and calibration standards. Laboratory designations of normal reference ranges varied greatly, resulting in conflicting classifications (high, normal, or low) of nearly all analyzed minerals. Laboratories also provided conflicting dietary and nutritional supplement recommendations based on their results.

            Conclusions Hair mineral analysis from these laboratories was unreliable, and we recommend that health care practitioners refrain from using such analyses to assess individual nutritional status or suspected environmental exposures. Problems with the regulation and certification of these laboratories also should be addressed.

            Assessment of hair mineral analysis commercially offered in Germany
            Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology
            Volume 16, Issue 1, 2002, Pages 27-31

            To evaluate intra- and inter-laboratory agreement concerning hair mineral analysis and interpretation of results, hair samples from 2 volunteers were sent to seven laboratories, which commercially offer hair mineral analysis in Germany. 6 weeks later, another identical part from the hair sample of volunteer 1 was sent to all seven labs. Altogether, 50 elements were analyzed, 23 by all seven labs. For comparability, only the results for these 23 elements were assessed. The intra-laboratory reproducibility was evaluated by the 2 identical hair samples from volunteer 1. On the average, the reproducibility seems to be sufficient (median ± 9.48% to ± 20.59%), but for individual elements there were unacceptable out-rulers up to 100%. Only one lab classified all elements of the first and the second analysis of the identical hair sample in the same category (below, within, or above normal range). The others grouped 4 to 7 elements different. This is not tolerable. The inter-laboratory comparability was assessed by the results of the hair samples of both volunteers. For the sample of volunteer 1 at least the results of 6 (out of 23) elements were within an acceptable range of ± 30% from the consensus value (= mean of all seven labs). For volunteer 2 this was only the case for 2 (!) elements. Differences of more than 100% were found for most other elements. Moreover, in the vast majority of the tested elements there was no comparability of the classification to the respective reference ranges of the different laboratories. For example, for volunteer 1 only 3 elements (our of 23!) were identically classified by all seven labs. As neither the analytical results nor the classification to the individual reference ranges by the laboratories correspond in tolerable borders, conclusions, drawn from these results, cannot be valid. Hair mineral analysis from these laboratories is unreliable. Therefore we must recommend to refrain from using such analysis to assess individual nutritional status or suspected environmental exposure.
            Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org


            • #7
              Thank you, Katy. Biting really really hard on my tongue. Ow.
              Click here before you buy.


              • Original Poster

                Listen guys, I KNOW that hair mineral analysis is certainly not a proven method for analyzing deficiencies and excesses. I'm not an idiot.

                I have done EVERYTHING possible for this horse and she's still not quite right. As I said in my FIRST post, I am willing to suspend some disbelief here and quiet my eyerolling enough to speak with the voodoo vet about my horse and what to do next. I do think it's interested that she thought Blush had Al toxicity and the results came back with Al right off the chart.

                With a horse like Blush, this is just another tool in the box. If it gets me somewhere, great. If it doesn't, oh well.

                decorum, Blush has had some neurological issues stemming from bony change at C6/C7.


                • #9
                  That vet suggested Lead for my horse- I thought it was funny because I believe children with lead poisoning are known to "act out" and be "violent", which certaintly describes my horse on some days. As for the lithium, non horse people have suggested that he needs more of it... I might give it a try if the diet change doesn't work. Is there a more reliable method of finding these things out?


                  • #10
                    Hampton Bay--This link: http://www.dairyone.com/Forage/FeedComp/MainLibrary.asp will take you to the forage library of Dairy One, the hay analysis lab that I use.

                    They have compiled 8(?) years worth of analyses on all sorts of feed and list the averages of nutrients and minerals for each. I find this very useful without having to analyse every bite that goes into the horses' mouths.

                    You can use the data to get a broad idea of what is being fed to your horse--of course, an exact analysis of your hay would be better if you have time and money to do it.

                    In addition to hay and forage, they also list some hard feeds and unusual feeds (such as almond hulls).

                    You also can get internet access to the latest Nutrition Requirements of Horses from National Academy Press. http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11653
                    Barbaro Cultist, Metabolic Nazi


                    • #11
                      With my horse this is a last ditch effort, I have tried everything else and went against the advice of my vet to have this done. Well, he wasn't helping fixing him. Over nearly the last 2 years I have more than $4000 into this and this is the first thing that has really helped, the new supplement has made a world of difference.

                      Maybe it's a crock but it does seem to be working. My horse is a perfect weight and he plays like crazy now.


                      • #12
                        Thanks for posting. I only skimmed the whole thread, but will be back later to read indepth! It is very interesting (both sides). I had an alternative vet suggest this as well, but I had not done it yet. I will - if for no other reason, curiosity. No harm done in seeing what it says, right?

                        If you remember, I have been through so much with my guy. Tried the Gabapentin and it was not a good match for him. When ever I took him to New Bolton the adrenilin would make him look sound. I had a local vet out and he had looked at all of Lucky's xrays, bone scan, etc. from NBC. He felt that the kissing spines were his main problem. He compensated for his back and was showing lameness in his hind end, etc due to that. His words, "retire him! It's degenerative and not going to get better. Injections are a temp. band aid." Ugh! He's only 8 yrs. old. I have not ridden him for a year now.

                        I have been really curious about the hair analysis. Thanks for doing my homework

                        Sorry to hear that Blush is not fully better. It was looking so good there for awhile. Good luck with this. Please keep us/me posted.


                        • #13
                          I have come to the decision (kicking and screaming the entire way) that some horses are not right, broken, unfixable for what we want to do with them.

                          Some horses are meant to look FABULOUS while grazing in a pasture.

                          Hardest thing I have ever had to admit.


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by LMH View Post
                            I have come to the decision (kicking and screaming the entire way) that some horses are not right, broken, unfixable for what we want to do with them.

                            Some horses are meant to look FABULOUS while grazing in a pasture.

                            Hardest thing I have ever had to admit.
                            I think everyone here would say Blush looks absolutely awesome if they were to come out and see her. One of my vets saw her the other day and said she looked excellent. She's working daily, building symmetrical muscle and usually quite easy and happy to ride and work around. There is just one final piece that needs to be solved: her touchyness while grooming and her dislike of being touched, which most people would say is just her being a TB, or her just being a mare or just "xyz."

                            Regardless, I would never, ever allow a horse to live in unmanageable pain, in a field or in a stall. If I was not able to manage Blush, I would put her down. I think it's beyond cruel to have a horse that's in pain and NOT treat the horse.

                            LMH, did you ever try your horse on gabapentin, or did you just give up?


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Simkie View Post

                              LMH, did you ever try your horse on gabapentin, or did you just give up?
                              Gabapentin is really not a cure-all for pain issues. If you know much about how the drug actually works, you would know that it essentially shuts down the pain receptors in the brain. Which is an OK idea, until you think about what happens if the horse (or person, for that matter) goes off of the drug. I have been thru that, and it is absolute hell. I literally was in bed for a month with blankets over the windows. Even laying down on memory foam hurt. That was about 1.5 years ago, and my pain tolerance is still not normal.

                              If you've tried everything else, then sure. But its really not a drug to mess around with. It can have some pretty bad side effects as well, including anorexia (my issue with it).


                              • Original Poster

                                Originally posted by Hampton Bay View Post
                                If you've tried everything else, then sure. But its really not a drug to mess around with. It can have some pretty bad side effects as well, including anorexia (my issue with it).
                                Considering LMH says that she has tried everything, and her horse sounds like he's in CONSIDERABLE neuropathic pain from pinched/impinged nerve roots, I'd think it's sure worth a try. I know I would not allow a horse in that much pain to continue without even trying to treat. I was not the only one who recommended the drug, and I was curious if she'd tried it.

                                I did get in touch with the vet today, and she suggested some chinese herbs and some homeopathic stuff. It will be interesting to see what happens. At the very least, this is kind of a neat science experiment.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by I'm EBO View Post
                                  I wonder what the results would be if you submitted hair from several horses in the same herd.
                                  I'm wondering what the results would be if you submitted hair from the same horse, to the same lab...

                                  Glad the OP's horse is doing better, just not sure how much the hair mineral analysis had to do with it.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Originally posted by citydog View Post
                                    Glad the OP's horse is doing better, just not sure how much the hair mineral analysis had to do with it.
                                    We have not even begun to do anything with the hair mineral analysis results. My horse isn't better because of the analysis.

                                    She IS very much improved following injecting the facet joints at C6/C7 and daily gabapentin.

                                    I'm just hoping that this vet who has come highly recommended, and advised that we do a hair mineral analysis, can help Blush with her issues being groomed and being touched. She gets very upset if you touch her belly. I believe MY vet phrased it as "exquisitely protective of midline" or some such.

                                    Most people would just say Blush doesn't like her belly touched, and call her girthy. I'm not satisfied with that answer, and am continuing to try to figure out WHY she has become so sensitive.


                                    • #19
                                      For a long time, I mixed mineral supplements for my horses to make up for the deficiencies in their hay.
                                      Our hay guy used to do that- they would test the hay and have either a complete feed (designed to be the entire concentrate part of the diet) or a vitamin supplement (a handful of pellets for the fatties) made to match each of the hays they sold to provide complete nutrition. It was a pretty awesome set up.


                                      • #20
                                        Simkie, my Cushings mare used to be so girthy that you were risking life and limb to saddle her. This was before we knew she had cushings, and didn't stop until she was diagnosed. Serpenditiously, the chaste tree berries that I started her on for her Cushings, eased the girthiness completely. The overseeing vet thought that was probably that her tumor somehow had a prolactin component. She was always very touchy on the near side before the ct berries. She's retired now--not from the cushings, but from arthritic changes--and I haven't checked to see whether she's kept the "cure". She's on pergolide now. If all else fails, you might want to try that at a dosage level suitable for a cushings horse.

                                        Silver2, your hay guy was a prince! Why'd he stop?
                                        Barbaro Cultist, Metabolic Nazi