Hair Analysis History: a brief history
Published in Praktisches Handbuch der Gerichtlichen Medizzin by Hoppe in 1858 (1) was the first case of determining arsenic in the human hair of a body that was exhumed after 11 years.
“That was the beginning of a story in which hair analysis was sometimes glorified, sometimes condemned, sometimes accepted, sometimes not accepted.”
(Amazingly, this has not changed 156 years later – no matter how unhealthy we are becoming!)
Hair analysis has been used more extensively for the past 60 years to study minerals for soil science, plant nutrition, animal nutrition, and human nutrition. Researchers used this early technology to gain a better understanding of how macro and especially trace minerals in the soil or a lack of these minerals in the soil affected the health of plants, animals, and humans.
An excellent book, Trace Elements in Human and Animal Nutrition (Fourth Edition) Eric J. Underwood, 1977, Academic Press, Inc. ISBN: 978-0-12-709065-8 (2) (3) provides tremendous insight into how hair analysis was an instrumental tool for the discovery of numerous trace elements (micro-elements) for soil, plant, animal, and human health.
Of course, blood and urine samples were also widely used as well.
However, as in many areas of science, technological advancements further advanced the usefulness of hair analysis.
(Sir) Alan Walsh (19 December 1916 – 3 August 1998) was a British/Australian physicist, originator and developer of a method of chemical analysis called Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy produced in the mid 1960’s which has been described as the most significant advance in chemical analysis’ in the twentieth century. (4)
Walsh claimed this breakthrough came about when he “managed to stop being stupid long enough to see something that should have been obvious all along”.
Atomic absorption provided a quick, easy, accurate, and highly sensitive method of determining the concentrations of more than sixty-five of the elements, rendering traditional wet-chemical methods obsolete.
The method has found important application worldwide in areas as diverse as medicine, agriculture, mineral exploration, metallurgy, food analysis, biochemistry, the wine industry, and environmental control.
Soil science is an international arena. As such, we are fortunate to have such integrous scientists throughout history and the world. This is also true in the early and mid-1900’s when technology propelled the sciences into unseen worlds such as trace nutrients in the soil and their effects on plant, animal, and human health.
In this paper, we succinctly summarise 11 millennia of human soil interactions focusing on the first sedentary agriculture and soil traditions in Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and other cultures across the globe. This is followed by the changes brought about in the renaissance and the birth and development of soil science. ~ Early soil knowledge and the birth and development of soil science Eric C. Brevik, Alfred E. Hartemink, (5)
This IS a must read!
Today, hair analysis or more formally Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) is used globally by various institutions, agencies, healthcare professionals, universities, and by individuals and practitioners in Complementary and Alternative Medicines.
As you can see in this short hair analysis history, hair analysis is not new and is a proven method of nutritional/toxic element investigation and assessment.
Additional hair analysis pages that may interest you:
- What is Hair Analysis: A drug test, DNA test, or Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis?
- Hair Analysis Controversy: Why is there so much controversy?
- Hair Analysis Laboratories: Choose your hair analysis lab wisely.
- Hair Analysis Provider: the 7 important questions you should ask your provider.
- Hair Analysis Consultations: Make certain you understand your hair analysis results.
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