The Science Behind HHA

Hair tissue mineral analysis is considered a standard test used around the world for the biological monitoring of trace elements and toxic metals in humans and animals. Hair, like all other body tissues, contains minerals that are deposited as the hair grows.

Several factors combine to make Horse Hair Analysis® the best mineral test in the industry! Key to the success of the HHA program is the laboratory, which uses only the most advanced and sophisticated instrumentation available today. The hair samples are tested with the Perkin Elmer Elan 9000 ICP Mass Spectrometer to assess mineral levels in milligram percent (mg%).

This demonstrates the number of milligrams of the mineral/metal present in 100 milliliters of solution. The result is an extremely accurate reading of your horses’ biochemistry during the last 90 days.

The hair is not washed (chemically rinsed) at the lab. Studies have proven that laboratories who do not wash the hair showed superb reliability. Washing hair samples has been revealed to erratically leach the water-soluble elements, which creates much less accurate results.

The laboratory has stringent quality control procedures, including controls which are tested at the beginning, middle and end of every batch of hair samples to insure the accuracy of the results.  Also, any reading that is out of a normally expected range is retested before laboratory results are sent out.


Traditionally mineral levels have always been evaluated via blood tests. Using blood testing to evaluate mineral levels often leads to inaccurate results due to the horse’s tremendously variable food and water intake throughout the day. The level of mineral present in the blood stream is greatly dependent on what time of the day the blood is drawn, compared to what time you feed your horse his/her feed and supplements. Blood work is considered an immediate snapshot at that precise moment.

Also, a particular mineral may be found in the blood stream at the time of testing, but it may not go to the target tissue, to be uptaken and utilized as it is provided in a bio-unavailable form. It may simply be in the blood stream awaiting excretion via the liver or kidneys.

Horse Hair Analysis® testing, on the other hand, evaluates the last 90 day average of the vitamins and minerals that actually made it into the tissues. When vitamins, minerals and metals are found in the hair it means that these nutrients were not only digested, absorbed, metabolized and utilized, but it is also made it through to the hair. This provides you with an extremely accurate reading of your horses’ biochemistry.


Heavy metal toxicities are linked to colic, ulcers, neurologic problems, muscle tremors, body soreness, tying up, skin disorders, and endocrine disorders. They are known to interfere with normal biochemical function and are deadly to cells and tissues when allowed to accumulate in the body. Treated wood, contaminated drinking water and pesticides are common sources of heavy metal toxicity.

It is important to recognize that toxins can be transported for miles through water and air. The location of where your feed (hays and grains) is grown could be downstream from a mining, manufacturing or waste management facility and could thus be a source of toxicity.

The body’s protective response is to ‘hide’ toxic metals deep in organs and tissues. These metals persist in body for years following exposure. Without chelating toxicities from the body, the horse will never be healthy. Horse Hair Analysis testing will reveal chronic or historic levels of toxicity.

“Horse Hair Analysis® is the most useful problem solving approach in my practice. This program allows me to resolve health issues when conventional diagnostics fail to find an answer.” –Mark DePaolo, DVM


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