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Episode 23: Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis

00:00:32 Glenn:    Welcome back to Natural Health for People and Pets. I'm co-host of the show, Glen Cooke, but I'm gonna introduce the host of the show, Narelle Cooke.  

00:00:39 Narelle:       Hello everyone. Great to be back.  

00:00:41 Glenn:        It's been a while.   

00:16:25 Narelle:        Today,  I'm gonna talk about hair tissue mineral analysis, and going forward I'm going to call that HTMA because it's easier. So HTMA is an analytical test that measures the mineral composition of hair. There's still a bit of controversy around the validity of the test and it does depend a lot on the quality of the hair sample and techniques used by the various labs to analyse it. I'll admit I used to be a major sceptic myself with hair tissue mineral analysis, but the more I've used it, the results, they just make sense in terms of the clinical picture that either my human or doggy clients are presenting with and what I'm seeing in the results on paper. A lot of integrative GPS and integrated vets incorporate HTMA as just another clinical screening tool.  

00:17:15 Narelle:        From what I've seen, it's particularly popular with use on horses. I do wanna stress though, at the outset that HTMA is a screening tool only, it doesn't diagnose disease. So, you know, I would never look at the results and say to someone, you know, whether it's a human or a dog client, oh you know, you've got liver disease or you've got thyroid disease or atopic dermatitis, or whatever it is. And if anyone is telling you that based on HTMA test results, then that is completely inappropriate. And for the most part, unless they're a vet or a medical doctor outside the scope of their practice. It Is really important that people understand that it's not a diagnostic tool, it's a screening tool that's just like another tool in your toolkit.  

00:17:56 Glenn:       A fair way to say that it could be indicating that you're heading in that direction and that you need further tests.  

00:18:01 Narelle:       Yeah. So that's the thing a properly interpreted HTMA can help to reveal. Because it's revealing, you know, various mineral imbalances. It may indicate a tendency for a various health condition, or help to explain symptoms that are being experienced by someone. So it's just shedding light on everything. 

00:18:17 Glenn:        Yeah, that makes sense.  

00:18:19 Narelle:        A lot of people know that minerals are good for them. Not everyone may understand that some minerals can be toxic. So even our so-called good minerals, you know, something like zinc or copper. I mean they can really cause problems if they're present in the body in the wrong amounts or even in the wrong ratios. And the reason for this is, our minerals, they all have this complex interaction with each other. So if you've got excess intake of one mineral, that can decrease the absorption of another mineral. A common example, if there's too high an intake of calcium that can decrease the body's ability to absorb zinc. If someone's consuming too much zinc, that can decrease copper absorption. And so it's this loss of what we call homeostatic equilibrium between these nutrients that then can lead to the adverse health effects. And we need to remember that minerals are, it sounds corny, but minerals are the spark plugs of life.  

00:19:10 Narelle:        So they're involved in almost all enzyme reactions going on in the body, and without enzyme activity, I think we touched on this when we're talking about digestive enzymes, life literally can't exist. They're just involved in thousands of biochemical reactions that control metabolism, digestion, the regeneration of body tissues. We need minerals for structural support in bones and teeth to maintain the body's pH, water balance, nerve activity, muscle contractions, energy productions. So minerals are fundamental, we need minerals. So HTMA is all about shedding some light on the mineral balance in the body when it comes to the foundations of health. Having adequate mineral intake and having the ideal mineral ratios to support all of those metabolic processes is really important. So when we're talking about, I've just said how important it is, that we have the right levels of minerals and the right ratios of minerals.  

00:20:03 Narelle:        So before we jump into how HTMA works, some common causes of mineral imbalances in the body, I thought we'd just touch on a few. So stress, stress is huge for depleting minerals from the body, particularly things like magnesium and zinc. And I know I have talked about this before and we'll talk about it a little bit further in the show. That when someone, a human or a dog is in that sympathetic dominant nervous system state and all of those biochemical processes in the body, particularly the catecholamine pathway, which is producing our dopamine and our adrenaline, when that's all upregulated because someone's stressed and running on adrenaline, those essential nutrient co-factors that are needed for that pathway to operate, they're getting depleted at a more rapid rate as well. So if someone's diet is lacking and not repleting those nutrients that are being lost at a faster rate, then that will over time lead to suboptimal levels in the body.  

00:20:59 Narelle:       Minerals have a certain shape and they fit into it, it's like a lock and key concept in the body. So you know, you might have a binding site on a cell worm where the mineral binds. So some of the toxic metals and chemicals actually look similar to our beneficial minerals, so they can then sneak in and bind to one of those receptors and get taken up into the body in place of the beneficial one. If someone's in an environment where there is a toxic burden that can lead to a depletion in the beneficial minerals. If someone has, you know, chronic viral and bacterial infections, they're just a subtle stress on the body that again can deplete minerals. Our food chain is pretty poor. I just downloaded the paper again the other day. Have we spoken about it on the show? Remember that paper? I think I was on the Canine Paradigm being interviewed when I was talking about nutrient depletions in food and over the last like 50 years.  

00:21:49 Glenn:       Yeah, I think that was The Canine Paradigm.  

00:21:51 Narelle:       It was started from the US and the percentage decrease in vitamins and minerals in the food that we're consuming now would just blow your mind. It was just crazy how depleted our foods are. And that's just because of intense agricultural practices and all the fertilisers and chemicals they're using on our food.  

00:22:09 Glenn:       Interesting you're talking about that, and just slightly off topic. But I was just watching a documentary the other day where they were talking about farmers, I think in the Midwest where the food bowl of the United States is. I might be outta whack there, so forgive me if I've got the area location wrong, but they were talking about how some of the farmers have, through multiple generations, literally just leached everything outta the soil. One of the farmers was showing how he does like a cross species to introduce worms and bugs back into the soil again. Because he went to his neighbour's place who refuses to do it, who works on the traditions of what they were doing with turning the soil and crop spraying everything. And he dug a shovel in, and he was digging down in several locations and saying, there's nothing in here.  

00:22:53 Glenn:        This is just depleted soil. And he goes, but when you come over to my place, which he did, he just walked over the fence and he put the shovel on the ground and he showed all of the worms and the species and how many different roots and everything. And he said, this is what the soil should look like. And he said, and it's easy to do, you've just gotta trust that you can break the practice of not having to spray and having to leach the soil of everything. So I know you've talked about that before and I think our old friend, Dean Mathers, who was a Naturopath, used to talk to me about that sort of thing as well. How soils have just been completely robbed of the nutrition and the minerals that they actually need. Same thing with water as well, you know, which is why we have a remineralising that we use for our water source. We've got a filter that takes out all the fluoride and rust out of it and we do a three stage filter and remineralisation of our water, and it's lovely to taste the water at the end. 

00:23:44 Narelle:        Yeah, that was actually my last point on what can cause mineral imbalances in the bodies, is drinking water. Because our tap water can often contain a lot of, you know, chlorine, aluminium fluoride, depending on where you live. 

00:23:57 Glenn: Rust, so much rust, 

00:23:58 Narelle: Copper and lead. It doesn't matter where you live. Technically in Sydney, Australia, we have one of the cleanest tap waters in the world, you know, Melbourne and Sydney that's what they say, which may be true. But then it depends on the quality of your pipes at your end as well. I mean, Sydney, every morning I have to run my kitchen tap for a good minute until it starts to run clear and that's because the property we're on has really old pipes that are just leaching lead by the looks of it into the water.  

00:24:28 Narelle:       So even though you might think, oh, we're in Sydney, and should be able to drink the water. It really depends on your individual property as well. But yeah, water is super important. So if we look at how HTMA works as a test, hair is basically a body tissue made up of mostly dead keratinised cells that have fused together. Everyone knows the shaft of the hair is that portion that projects from the skin surface. But the root of the hair, which is below the surface, it contains all these living, what they call matrix cells, and that's what the hair grows from. So it's these matrix cells that are exposed to the metabolic environment in the body that includes the circulating blood, lymph extracellular fluids. And because these cells depend on that blood supply for nourishment and growth, as they grow and divide they're taking up substances present in the body fluids during that process.  

00:25:23 Narelle:       And once they've broken through the surface and they harden, then all of those nutrients that were in the fluids that were supporting the growth, they get locked into the hair shaft. And that creates a permanent record of metabolic activity and exposure to whether it's beneficial minerals or toxic elements. And I guess the way I like to think of it is like trees, we all know you can count the age of a tree by the rings. But you know, there's so much more that a cross section of a tree can tell us other than age. It can inform about the weather at the time, any stresses that the tree was experiencing at the time. And that gets locked into that moment of growth. I find that's the easiest way to explain HTMA. It was whatever was happening in the body at that time, just gets locked into that hair shaft and then we can go back and get a snapshot of what was happening in the body at that time.  

00:26:12 Narelle:       So a lot of people will also say, well why don't you just get a blood test? And I say, why not both? The good thing about HTMA is it's not invasive. It's easy to take the sample, particularly, you know, when we're dealing with dogs and the amount of information you get, it is really cost-effective. I wouldn't not do bloods, I wouldn't do HTMA instead of blood tests. I think both are the perfect scenario, because blood test results are absolutely fundamentally important, and I don't think I've had a single human client that I haven't requested blood tests for them. And for dogs, if I can get blood tests, even better. But think about it like, blood is literally a snapshot of what is happening in the body.  

00:26:55 Narelle:       That one moment in time that the blood was drawn. That's really important. But it doesn't give us the bigger picture overview of what might be happening in the body. There are blood tests that can do that, so let me give you an example compared to HTMA. Let's say you went to get a blood test and your doctor just tested your blood glucose levels, but you happen to go there on a day where, or a time during the day where, your blood glucose level at that moment that the blood was drawn was lower than it normally was. Your doctor might see your results and go, ah, you're fine, everything's healthy. But there's another test called Haemoglobin A1C that actually measures the amount of blood glucose attached to haemoglobin. And because haemoglobin, which is part of our red blood cells lives, you know our red blood cells live on average let's say three months, by testing the Haemoglobin A1C, we can see what glucose has been doing in the body over a period of two to three months.  

00:27:48 Narelle:        So it's giving us that bigger picture look, and that's sort of the same thing that HTMA is doing. And it's why that if you have an elevated glucose level, they'll often automatically do the Haemoglobin A1C to see if you are pre-diabetic or diabetic because the blood glucose by itself is not giving the bigger picture overview. Because, with the HTMA, the way they want you to take the hair sample and the length of hair, it is giving us a snapshot of around three months on average of what was happening in the body during that window in time. So like I said earlier, HTMA is often an earlier indicator of a trend towards health problems. I guess the one thing where both blood tests and HTMA can sort of fall down a little bit is when it does come to toxic metals, because toxic metals are a danger to the body.  

00:28:36 Narelle:        The body's reaction is to try and get rid of them. If it can't get rid of them, it will sequester them or pull them into the tissues of the body. Whether that's the bone or the fat tissue, or organs as a protective mechanism to get it out of the blood and keep the body safe. So if you get a blood test, let's say you wanna test mercury, and I've had mercury tested when I went through a phase of eating salmon three times a day, just every day for a long time. And salmon, you know, is notorious for being high in mercury. A lot of the seafood is, so I had my blood mercury tested, it came back normal. But if you get a normal reading for toxic metals on a blood test or a HTMA test, it's not that you may not have a body burden of toxic metals.  

00:29:16 Narelle:        Does that make sense? Because the body's pulled it into the tissues. It's not in the blood at the time that the blood was drawn.  It's so what could happen, so someone might do a HTMA test for example, at the start of a health kick to get a baseline reading of what's going on in their body, and then they go on and start to lose a lot of weight because they're implementing all these new health strategies. And then they do another HTMA three months or six months down the track and suddenly their results are showing heavy metals  

00:29:42 Glenn:       Because it's starting to come outta the body.  

00:29:43 Narelle:        Yeah, because as the body's breaking down fat and it's getting metabolised, everything that was stored in the fat as a protective mechanism is now being released into the blood. And that can get picked up in the hair and the blood sample if it's taken. It's really important, it might be a bit off topic,  and this often happens with pregnancy. So if a female, let's say, isn't consuming enough calcium, the body, the foetus needs particularly towards the third trimester, like huge amounts of calcium. So if, if someone's not consuming adequate levels through their diet, the body will start to turn over or break down the maternal bone to release that calcium to the foetus. So if someone has heavy metal stored in their bones and they're pregnant, that's the last thing you want. You don't want your bones to be releasing lead into the circulation, which is then gonna go through to the foetus. That's why you should never go on a detox if you are trying to conceive. You should never do a detox if you are breastfeeding because a lot of toxic substances can be released into the blood that can go through either into the foetus or through the breast milk.  

00:30:43 Glenn:       I bet that's something that a lot of people didn't know 'cause I didn't, I wouldn't have thought of it.  

00:30:47 Narelle:       So anyone who's trying to conceive, do all your health kick detox in three to six months out from trying to conceive. So, I guess what I thought we would do today to make it a little bit more interesting is go through a couple of case studies. So I've chosen dog case studies, but we can also pull in some of our results as well. So Glen's actually had his done recently but I haven't gone through his results with him. 

00:31:10 Glenn:       No, we thought we'd guinea pig me on air.  

00:31:15 Narelle:       And what's fascinating before we get into the case studies is, I've done a HTMA 20 years ago, back when they actually tested gold and I had some gold come up in mine, so that was interesting. So I had mine retested this year, and just a lot more recently, Glen had his retested, he just needed to grow some hair first.  

00:31:31 Glenn:       Ouch.  

00:31:32 Narelle:        But what was fascinating, and I was surprised at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense, is that Glen and my results were completely opposite. So pretty much in every aspect and every part of the report, if Glen was low on something, I was high. If I was low, he was high on everything. We’re the opposite. And the more I thought about it, it makes sense because our sleep wake cycle is completely different. Glen's a complete night owl and I'm a crazy early bird. So there's aspects of the test that sort of highlight those patterns. I sleep really well, Glen less so well, and there's parts of the test that indicate that as well.  

00:32:09 Glenn:        I'm not gonna make a big thing of this 'cause it's a long topic and Pat and I spoke about it on The Canine Paradigm a little bit the other day, but there's a book called Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. I suggest anybody who doesn't sleep well or is intrigued about what's happening when you don't sleep well, it is revealing and terrifying what you actually do to yourself from not having proper sleep. And so now I'm trying to encourage myself to sleep better. I am a night owl, I'll never break that cycle and it's genetic. Matthew Walker talks about that as well. Night owls are disadvantaged in the world because you're encouraged to be up early, and the early bird gets the worm sort of thing. Except if you're a night owl and night owls aren't early birds and they're two different species. So Narelle is an early bird and I'm a night owl and that's just the way we're wired. We're hardwired genetically to be like that and there's no changing it. So for me, there's no point fighting it. If I get up in the morning, I'm groggy and my head is full of fog and that's not gonna change. That's always gonna be the way literally because the front of my brain is offline until later in the day.  

00:33:10 Narelle:       It's so true, because from a child I've always jumped outta bed at five o'clock in the morning, or earlier sometimes depending on life, but never later than six. If I'm ever in bed later than six, Glen needs to come in and see if I'm dead or not. But yeah, I've always been an early bed and I imagine you've always been a night owl. And it's fascinating when I was studying at Uni to become a naturopath, they would always say sleep is so fundamental, that that needs to be a priority. So it doesn't matter what someone's coming to see you with until their sleep is right, nothing else will fall into place and nothing else will heal and recover, and repair, until they get that sleep, because it affects all facets of wellbeing.  

00:33:48 Narelle:       There's some differences, I mean. Glen and I handle stress differently and that’s reflected in the results. Even though we live under the same roof, our diets are quite different, which may also be contributing to the results. So yeah, really fascinating. And I'll highlight some areas as we go through the case studies where Glen and I fall in relation to those. So two dog case studies, I picked two different ones, they're both really recent cases, so I haven't had the follow ups yet. So that'll be really interesting if we can do a follow up maybe in six months.   

00:34:17 Glenn:       Yeah, that'd be good.  

00:34:18 Narelle:       See where things have gone. So the first case study was an adult dog with chronic skin issues. Now this dog was a rescue dog and had only recently been obtained by its new owner. She didn't know a lot about its background so she came into the HTMA test just wanting to get as much insight as possible as to what might be underlying these chronic skin issues, because she had no history on the dog at all. It's gonna be a bit tricky because the HTMA, it's all about graphs, so it's very picture orientated. So hopefully you can follow along with what I'm saying. I might see if I can pop up even a mock example on the Facebook page so people can really get a grasp of how the results look. Although just go to my website, naturalhealthandnutrition.com.au, there is actually a download of an actual example report for dogs that you can easily access  

00:35:05 Glenn:        Or better still, get one done.  

00:35:07 Narelle:       All the details are on my website, which we'll go through at the end. With HTMA, you sort of go through the results in a logical order and you need to zone in, or zoom in, and then at times you really need to step back and look at the overall patterns that are there as well. So with this dog, he had very elevated, like quite high elevation of both calcium and magnesium and very low phosphorus. Now calcium and magnesium are what are referred to as sedating minerals. They indicate that a human or an animal is operating mainly on that parasympathetic dominant state. So when we're talking about nervous systems, that's a rest and digest position. Dogs that are very high in calcium, magnesium tend to be a lot more chilled, a little bit more easygoing, which was definitely the case with this dog.  

00:35:53 Narelle:        Even as a rescue he was quite balanced. But what can also happen if it goes too far, you might see a dog that's lethargic, or a dog that tires easily. And particularly like with this dog, the low phosphorus really does play in. So phosphorus is required in sufficient amounts for cellular energy production. I don't know if people remember their chemistry classes, but the process of oxidative phosphorylation is what we need to create ATP. Now what's ATP Glen? What does it stand for? 

00:36:27 Glenn ATP? 

00:36:28 Narelle: Yeah. For energy. The energy of the cell, just so you don't zone out on what I'm talking about.  

00:36:35 Glenn:       ‘Bleep, bleep, bleep’’  

00:36:37 Narelle:       Okay. So you definitely missed your chemistry lesson. 

00:36:41 Narelle:        Adenosine triphosphate. 

00:36:45 Glenn: How would I know that? 

00:36:49 Narelle: I thought that was common knowledge. So ATP, which is our unit of energy for cells stands for Adenosine Tri, tri being three, phosphate. So you know, there's three phosphate molecules attached to every adenosine molecule and that is what our cells need to create energy. So if there are suboptimal levels of phosphorus in the body, which is part of that ATP molecule, then naturally energy production is gonna be compromised and that may manifest as fatigue in people for example. So definitely not something you wanna see if you've got a working dog or a sporting dog that does need to be go, go, go all the time. High calcium can also indicate that it's not being utilised properly in the body. So this is where the skill of interpreting HTMA can come in, because something can be high because it's being consumed in excess.  

00:37:35 Narelle:        So the owner might be feeding way too much bone, and calcium level’s rising, although calcium is quite tightly regulated in the body. Or it could be an indication that what is being consumed, even in healthy normal amounts, isn't being taken up into the body. So if you think about calcium, if you don't have enough phosphorus, which we've just said this dog is quite low in phosphorus, if you don't have enough vitamin D, if you don't have enough manganese and vitamin K, calcium won't be as readily taken into the bone and it sort of remains in the blood a little bit longer, which can become a problem for people in terms of calcification of the artery. So that's why they generally say for people, if you have a calcium supplement, you need vitamin D and vitamin K with it to actually get it into the bone.  

00:38:19 Narelle:       Also interesting for this dog, if calcium stays too high for extended periods of time, not only can it result in fatigue, but also dry skin. Nothing's definite, but that might be part of what's going on with this dog with these chronic skin issues. And then when you zoom out, most of this dog's minerals, like beneficial minerals were at adequate levels, but his iron was low. When I think about why would a dog's iron be low? This is a rescue dog, he's actually been on kibble his whole life. We know that kibble is low in animal protein, and animal protein is what provides that natural source of highly bioavailable heme iron. Whereas plants have the non-heme version which isn't as bioavailable. And even for those kibble that are higher in animal protein, or which they've added like a synthetic iron supplement back into the food, we know that the anti-nutritional factors in grains and legumes, which most kibble are really high in, can actually bind to minerals such as iron and make them unavailable to the body.  

00:39:14 Narelle:        So, my recommendation for this dog in the first instance was to start transitioning to a raw food diet. Luckily the owner was really happy to do that. And then if we keep thinking about the low iron. The liver is the primary organ for regulating iron stores in the body, so low iron levels may also potentially indicate suboptimal liver functioning. Adding in liver supporting herbs, you know, dandelion roots really great, milk thistle, they would both be lovely additions for this dog. Another indicator from the results that his liver may need more support was because his molybdenum levels were quite low. So molybdenum is just another mineral that's really important in the body, but molybdenum, and I'm gonna struggle to say that word over and over, it's actually required to activate sulphur in the body. And sulphur's a really  essential component of a lot of important enzymes, particularly those that have a fundamental role in the liver detoxification pathway. So there's a pathway called the transsulfuration pathway and that's a key detox pathway for the body. So if you don't have enough molybdenum, you don't have enough activated sulphur, that pathway is gonna be compromised.  

00:40:21 Glenn:        And how do you get more of that molybdenum?  

00:40:23 Narelle:       I know it's a challenge, huh. Liver is a great source. Unfortunately, legumes are also a good source. Not that I promote legumes, but raw meat, organ meats, some dairy, surprisingly banana, has some molybdenum in it. Another problem with low iron is, I sort of touched on it earlier, is that it allows certain heavy metals to take hold in the body. So while all humans and animals, we're all exposed to toxic metals to some degree. And the retention of those toxic metals is really dependent on a person or an animal's susceptibility. So that balance between protective nutrient minerals in the body in relation to the toxic heavy metals, that's usually the determining factor of how susceptible someone is to heavy metals being like binding them. And I said that they can, they look similar sometimes to the beneficial minerals and they can bind to cell binding sites and be taken up by the body that way.  

00:41:16 Narelle:        So the more nutritionally replete your diet is, or your dog's diet is, it really does minimise the chance of toxic metals taking hold in the body. Not a fail safe, but it does help. So this dog, he actually had elevated levels of arsenic, lead and aluminium. Again, what's interesting is that arsenic has been associated with skin conditions, particularly dermatitis. The arsenic could be playing a role in his chronic skin issues. So I guess, you know, for this dog, my main recommendations were raw food diet for sure. But just to transition slowly onto that, I think raw food diets are important for all dogs. But for this dog I was recommending it to try and increase his iron levels. I also recommended Vitamin C rich foods, again to help boost that iron absorption. So that's your brightly coloured fruits and veg  which are perfectly fine in small amounts in a dog's diet.  

00:42:06 Narelle:       I did recommend some liver supportive herbs, and in this case I recommended my liver detox liquid herbal blend, 'cause that was really lovely, that covers digestion and liver all in the same bottle. And in terms of the heavy metal burden and that arsenic, what else did he have? Lead and aluminium, there's actually a red marine phytoplankton supplement that's sold for humans that has clinical evidence for being beneficial in reducing heavy metals from the body. So, I actually recommended that as the only supplement for this dog that in the liver detox, but mainly diet changes. That was that case. So it'd be really interesting to see how that's going when I follow up with them in a few months time. So with the next case study this time, it was a dog with chronic anxiety and fear-based behaviours with a little bit of aggression in there as well.  

00:42:56 Narelle:       Unlike the first dog who had very high levels of calcium magnesium, which indicated that parasympathetic dominant state, this dog had really low levels of calcium, magnesium, which you might guess indicates that it's operating in that sympathetic nervous system dominant state, which is that fight or flight response. What was interesting with Glen and I is that Glen had very low levels of calcium and magnesium, which again matches his presentation. Calcium, magnesium we said are our sedating minerals, which are really important for sleep. You know, your quality of sleep could be better. and just that stress response, I mean your work is so intense, that I was not surprised at all to see that those two minerals were low for you. And your phosphorus was low too, which, not as low as the dog that we spoke about, but it could just mean, you know, there is a challenge with energy there and you're more likely to feel fatigued because you're running on adrenaline so much.  

00:43:57 Narelle:        Whereas I, who sleep like a baby and have very high levels of calcium and magnesium, that made sense in terms of Glen and I. Back to the dog, and it made sense for this dog as well. So he has low calcium magnesium, he's got low levels of those calming minerals and this dog is stressed, it's anxious, it's hypervigilant about his surroundings. So that matched up well. Low calcium has also been associated in humans with increased levels of anxiety hypersensitivity and irritability. It's also associated with increased risk of allergies. Now this dog doesn't have an allergy issue, which is great, but if anyone has done HTMA, just know that very low calcium can be connected with allergies, and as I said, a really big impact on sleep. So if you've got a dog that just doesn't settle well at night you know it might be worth doing a HTMA to see if calcium is sort of playing a role in that by the sounds of it. 

00:44:53 Glenn:       And considering that we've done it both on ourselves, anybody who's got any concerns about their dog's behaviour, it would be something to rule out and help rule out, some of the underlying causes, which may be there. Ever since I've been a trainer and behaviourist, involved in working with a hell of a lot of dogs and still do, one of the things that has really changed the direction in where we go with training advice, is dietary advice. And that's largely based on the research and study that you've been doing, but you know, other professionals in the field who have…..  

00:45:23 Narelle:       It's really coming to the fore. 

00:45:25 Glenn:        Yeah, even that book that I was talking about before, Matthew Walker's book while we sleep, you know, like sleep and diet. And again, this comes back from a quote I was talking about Dean Mathers before. Dean told you and I way back in the day, there's three building blocks, which is the essence of life, which is good sleep, fresh water, and fresh air.  

00:45:44 Narelle:       Mm.  

00:45:45 Glenn:       So the air you breathe, the quality of water you're drinking and the amount of sleep you're getting are the pillars of good health. 

00:45:52 Narelle:       Yeah, it's certainly true. And continue with the importance of calcium and magnesium in the body. So when we think about ratios, if you've got a dog that's chronically constipated, or chronic diarrhoea, the HTMA can actually show what might be contributing to that. So you've gotta think calcium is a contracting mineral. Often when calcium balance is out in the body, that's where people get cramps. Whereas magnesium is very much a relaxing mineral, let's say, relative to each other. Whether they're both high or both low, but relative to each other. If calcium is a lot higher, then that might indicate a predisposition to constipation because there's tightness and contraction in the body. Whereas if magnesium is a lot higher than calcium, relatively speaking, that might be someone who's prone to loose stools because of that muscle relaxation effect that magnesium has. So just really little bits like that I just find really interesting and fascinating.  

00:46:48 Narelle:       Back to the case study, the low calcium, magnesium really matched this dog's anxiety and fear-based behaviours. And then when I took a step back and looked at all the minerals as a whole, this dog was pretty much low across the board, which indicates basically poor nutrient absorption. It makes sense. So if you've got a human, or a dog, that's constantly in that sympathetic dominant state, and I know I've spoken about this before in the podcast, digestion shuts down,not completely, but blood diverts away from the gut to the extremities so we can run, or fight and defend ourselves. We produce less gastric acid, we produce less digestive enzymes. It just made complete sense to me that this dog generally had low beneficial minerals across the board. It was interesting though, this dog was already on a raw food diet because his digestion appears to be quite compromised.  

00:47:42 Narelle:        I suggested in the short term at least, that they move onto a lightly cooked, even though raw might be the gold standard to work towards. Well I shouldn't say that. It's not about raw, it's about fresh whole foods. So whether that's raw or cooked. I definitely think there's a place for cooked food for different dogs, particularly older dogs or dogs with compromised digestive systems. In terms of toxic metals, this dog had quite high levels of mercury, arsenic, and aluminium. What's interesting about that is that mercury is notorious for reducing the absorption of beneficial nutrients. So that could be playing a role as well in those low levels across the board. Most often we get mercury, like higher levels of mercury from seafood, but you have to think with our dogs, and what's really interesting too is with my human HTMA tests, I actually generally see very low toxic metals.  

00:48:34 Narelle:        Again, like I've mentioned earlier, that's not to say that they're not there, but they're just not in the blood. What I see for dogs across the board is usually quite high levels of toxic metals and it makes sense. You think about it, when we're outside or even inside our homes can be just as toxic. You know, we are protected. We wear shoes, we wear clothes, we shower every day, most people. But for our dogs, everywhere you take them, every surface they're walking on, they're picking up what's on the ground onto the paws of their feet. Anything in the air or that particulate matter. So if you're walking your dog down busy roads and you know, there's particulate matter from exhaust fumes, or wherever it's coming from, and it's landing on their fur, that stays there and they might lick it off when they lick their feet, which is why I see a lot of paw dermatitis and you know, issues with paws. 

00:49:18 Narelle:       Their exposure, and their constant repeated exposure is just so much higher than us because if we walk down a busy road, like I said, we are clothed and we're gonna take our clothes off and wash them at the end of the day. We're gonna have a shower. So we are just constantly removing those sources of potential sources of heavy metals, whereas our animals, they just can't do that. And a study was done, oh, quite a while ago now in about 2003, where they actually measured the chemical burden in dogs and cats. And poor cats, because they're so pedantic about cleaning themselves, their chemical burden in their body was just through the roof. And a lot of the chemicals that they found were at levels that were far exceeded the levels found in humans. So if you think about an average cat might weigh four kilos and an average human, let's say 70 kilos, and yet that four kilo cat had a body burden, with levels that were much higher than that 70 kilo person. It's really confronting. And like I said, house dust can contain, if you're in an old home, lead paint, asbestos. They're not around as much anymore, but they can still be potential sources of toxicity for our animals.  

00:50:32 Glenn:       It was interesting you're talking about that before. Another documentary I was watching a while ago was talking about people who jog in the country versus people who jog in the city. And the people who jog in the city, because of all the pollutants in the air and the exhaust and so forth, their lung tissue was severe. Very, very fit people, but their blood analysis and their head mineral tissue analysis was returning really violent responses, based on the amount of contaminants that they were taking in. And they were horrified about it because they were eating well, doing everything well, but because they're jogging down a main road where diesel and benzene from fuels and so forth was getting thrown in throughout the air from heavy traffic and so forth. Yeah, it was quite an eye-opening experience for some of these people.  

00:51:17 Narelle:       And I think it's something for the most part overlooked. I mean when we lived in Melbourne, I went through a phase of bike riding. So I actually started riding from Bayswater to Hawthorne.  

00:51:27 Glenn:       Which is about an hour drive.  

00:51:29 Narelle:       Yeah. So I was push bike riding that, but I was on the main peak hour traffic, main roads the whole way, and it didn't even occur to me at the time. I was just like, I'm getting fit riding my bike all the way to work. And now I'm like, oh, that was before I knew better.  

00:51:44 Glenn:        Even as a motorcyclist, I know that when I travel in large groups of people, by the time I get home, if I've been, let's say riding between five and 10 bikes, you can smell the fumes of the petrol on your face. You are literally sitting behind bikes, which are jetting out fuel or exhaust fumes. But you can smell it in your helmet. I can smell it in my beard and when I get home, it's something that is always on my mind too.  

00:52:10 Narelle:       We'll keep moving through this case study. There's not much more to go. This dog was also low in iron even though it was on a raw food diet. So unlike the first case where the low iron was likely due to a low intake from the kibble, I think in this case it was more potentially the mercury negatively impacting the iron uptake. Suboptimal liver function because this dog's molybdenum levels were low as well. But other things that can contribute to low iron, and I'm not saying that this was the case for this dog, but, parasites, copper deficiency, Vitamin B6 deficiency. I've already said low dietary intake, there's a lot you need to think about for each dog that's presented. You know, like what's likely for this particular dog, so yeah, there's lots of things to think about because the calcium was so low for this dog.  

00:52:55 Narelle:       An important part of the treatment to increase calcium is B6, Vitamin B6, Pyridoxine is its other name. It's got other names as well, but that's the most commonly known. It's really important for hydrochloric acid production in the stomach. You know, we've already said hydrochloric acid is really important for breaking down food and absorbing the nutrients. So, you know, think about dogs eating raw, meaty bones. If they don't have enough gastric acid that whole process is gonna be compromised and they may not be getting all the calcium out of that bone. And then by promoting calcium absorption, that's already gonna have a calming effect on the dog. B6 is also necessary for adrenal functioning. So that metabolic pathway in the body that's creating adrenaline B6 is an essential nutrient cofactor in that pathway. So it helps to support that with the dog.  

00:53:43 Narelle:       B6 is also really important in neurotransmitter production. Most stress and anxiety formulas will, for humans, or even for dogs have vitamin B6 generally in it as well. Also really important for this dog is to increase zinc levels because again, zinc's fundamental for hydrochloric acid production. So we really need to maximize nutrient absorption as much as we can. I also recommended that for this dog, again, to increase foods rich in vitamin C to support iron absorption. So it may seem counterintuitive for this dog, but it wouldn't be a good idea to actually give an iron supplement. Some people might, their first reaction if you're low in something, oh just give him a supplement if he's low in iron. But iron actually antagonizes both calcium and magnesium. So what that means is that it partially blocks their uptake.  

00:54:29 Narelle:        So you know how I mentioned that some heavy metals can take up the binding sites of beneficial nutrients. It's the same with our beneficial minerals. So some can piggyback on their transporters and their bind insights in the body as well. So iron wouldn't be a good idea because it will actually inhibit the absorption of calcium and magnesium further, which is the last thing we want for this dog. Increasing zinc would also be really important because it plays a protective role against mercury, and this dog came back with particularly high levels of mercury. In the HTMA test, it also gives a metabolic type for dogs, so for this dog, he was a fast metabolic type. So generally speaking, an animal with a fast metabolic rate, you know, it's highly spirited, suited to athletic performance and sports, but you know, when things are just slightly out of balance, it can become excessive.  

00:55:15 Narelle:       So in this case it's like it's just gone that little bit too far and we're seeing more of a, rather than high energy in a positive way, we're seeing that nervousness and that highly strung nature. So Randy, I've done Randy's HTMA, and he comes back as a fast metabolic type, and that makes sense. Randy's switched on all the time. But he hasn't gone over into that nervousness and highly strong nature. He switched on, but it's not problematic in that sense. So again, to reduce that heavy metal burden with this dog, I recommended the red phytoplankton. And if anyone's interested in that, they can just message me. Because I only know how to get it through my practitioner only channels.  

00:55:59 Narelle:        And super greens for both dogs, I recommended super greens, like a blend of super greens that included chlorella, 'cause chlorella is great for binding toxic metals. Lightly cooked food, which I've already mentioned for this dog to just to help with nutrient absorption across the board. Liver support, I did recommend a Vitamin B6 supplement for this dog because I thought it was playing such a fundamental role in so many aspects. And yes, you can get B6 from food, but I just felt like in the short term this dog really needed a boost. in B6. And increasing, so rather than giving a supplement in magnesium or zinc, just increasing foods that are really naturally high. And I must say most home prepared raw food diets that I see are notoriously low in zinc, so oysters are the easiest whole food to add in,  

00:56:45 Narelle:       to a dog's diet to really boost those zinc levels. Ground pumpkin seeds, you know, sunflower seeds are also great sources of both zinc and magnesium. So I've sort of rushed through those, but that's a snapshot of HTMA and some of the information. There's a lot of information that I haven't touched on that's in the reports. It goes into a lot of depth about ratios and what they mean, but like I said, if you're interested in this for your dog, jump onto my website, naturalhealthandnutrition.com au. There's just pages of information explaining what it is. There's that report you can download to really see what you're gonna get at the end of it. Do be aware that at this time of the year, the lab's probably shut. So feel free to contact me because I then need to post you out a little envelope for the hair sample and some instructions, and then you need to take the sample, send it back to the lab. So that might take a week or two in itself to happen. And maybe by then the labs will be back up and running. But yeah, any questions, don't hesitate to reach out and just ask me about those. But I've just been fascinated with HTMA.  

00:57:53 Glenn:       Yeah, it really is fascinating and I think it's a good service that you're offering. That you can actually help navigate people through it and explain what it is all about as part of your service as well.  

00:58:02 Narelle:       Yeah and like I said, it really is just another tool in my toolkit to help shine light on what might be going on with an individual dog. You know, what's really underlying that we can't see, or that we're not aware of that could be contributing to the symptoms that are being shown.  

00:58:15 Glenn:        Just another helpful bit of information here as well, is that law enforcement actually uses this on people that have been taking drugs. They cut their hair and send that in to find out if they've been using illicit drugs. Substances, that's the word I was looking for. So yeah, they do a similar process for screening people for drug use as well. That's why sometimes people will cut all their hair off  

00:58:37 Narelle:        Oh, interesting, I didn't know that. It's been around for a long time. and it goes back quite a way in history where, I think it was mainly used for exposure to toxic metals originally. But yeah, it's certainly involved.

00:58:49 Glenn:       It's very revealing.

00:58:50 Narelle:       Look, I must say I don't have the human test kit advertised on my website, but for any humans who want it, shoot me an email and I can absolutely give you the pricing and all the information you need to make that happen.  

00:59:03 Glenn:        And speaking of which, how do they contact you?  

00:59:05 Narelle:        You can jump onto my website, naturalhealthandnutrition.com au. There's a contact page there, or you can email me directly on narelle@naturalhealthandnutrition.com au. And if you dunno how to spell Narelle, hello@natural healthandnutrition.com.au will also get to me. There's a Facebook page, Natural Health for People and Pets. If you've got any questions that you want answered about the podcast specifically, jump on there. As we said at the beginning of the show, stay tuned for CanineCeuticals 26th Jan ‘22, where all will be revealed.  

00:59:39 Glenn:        And the website for CanineCeuticals again is.  

00:59:42 Narelle:       canineceuticals.com.au.  

00:59:45 Glenn:       How do you spell Ceuticals?  

00:59:46 Narelle:       Just realised I should probably highlight that and Ceuticals is CEUTICALS. So CANINECEUTICALS, all one word .com.au But I'll be putting lots of information out on social media, so no doubt you will see it written and you'll know where to go. So thank you everyone, and if you've got any burning topics that you would like me to cover, just send me an email and I will try and make that happen.

01:00:21 Glenn:       Thanks everyone.  

01:00:22 Narelle:       Bye. 

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