Major Hair Analysis Patterns

All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.

Please note that hair analysis patterns represent trends and tendencies only, and are not diagnostic in nature.

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The Metabolic Types

Slow Oxidation

The slow oxidizer has higher than normal calcium and magnesium levels, and lower than normal sodium and potassium levels. A slow oxidizer has underactive thyroid and adrenal glands.

Symptoms of Slow Oxidation. Those with a slow oxidation rate tend to be tired, apathetic, depressed and even despairing and suicidal if their oxidation rate is very slow.  Some are emotional as their copper level rises.  Some are also anxious, although fatigue and depression are more common.  Many use stimulant foods, drugs or other methods to keep going.

Their blood sugar and blood pressure tend to be low, at least until later in life when they can develop arteriosclerosis and diabetes, which raise these levels.  They are often cold and do not sweat easily.  Their brains often work slowly, and many have brain fog, spacey thinking, and slower thinking.

They usually have dry skin and dry hair, and many complain of constipation.  They often gain weight on the hips and legs, while the upper body may be smaller.  Most have underactive thyroid glands, especially the women.  They are prone to osteoporosis, cancer, infections, skin problems, and many other health conditions.

Healthy Slow Oxidation. A mildly slow oxidation rate is associated with a more quieter, gentler, more introverted and less energetic personality.  Mild slow oxidizers are often pleasant to be around and can function quite well in society and at home.  They also tend to be somewhat more emotionally mature and spiritually aware than fast oxidizers.  They make good scientists, accountants, doctors, lawyers, housewives and can be good at any task that requires patience, tedium or plodding for sustained periods of time. Think of a long-distance runner, as opposed to a sprinter, who is more often a fast oxidizer.

Unhealthy slow oxidizers are those in whom either the oxidation rate is very slow, other ratios are imbalanced, or toxic metals or other nutrient deficiencies are pronounced. Very slow oxidizers are definitely in the exhaustion stage of stress and many are obviously or not so obviously ‘burned out’. Their energy level is much lower, even if they run around a lot. This impacts their personality in subtle ways. They are often spacey, copper toxic, ‘not all there’ and can be rather apathetic, out of touch, depressed and even despairing and suicidal as the oxidation rate slows further. Mentally, they are not as sharp and may become confused in their thinking.

Slow oxidizers can become severely depressed and negative. This is very common today. It may contribute to a common negative view of humanity in many of them, that “people are the problem on planet earth”. This is a refrain heard often among environmentalists and socialists, for example. Negativity and depression can give rise to unhealthy habits such as drug or alcohol use, but it is more to get rid of depression than to just get a thrill, as fast oxidizers may use them for. Some become very emotional due to copper imbalance, while others quietly endure, like battered women. They may lash out suddenly when the pressure is too much, like a cornered animal that prefers not to fight as its energy level is too low. Excessive copper makes many slow oxidizers extremely analytical. Some become scholars and perpetual students, but they are often ‘up in the head’. Others are creative and artistic, but still often quite depressed underneath.

Very extreme slow oxidation. When the oxidation rate becomes very sluggish, a person may become sad, weepy, depressed and even despairing. Suicidal thoughts may occur due to very low energy levels and the buildup of copper and other toxic metals in the brain. This pattern is associated with total exhaustion, apathy and lack of motivation. Just getting up in the morning becomes a chore and life is not enjoyable at all. This situation is quite common, especially among groups such as teenage girls and young women. It helps account for higher suicide rates and self-destructive or odd behaviors.

What is the Ideal Oxidation Rate?

An ideal oxidation rate is flexible. This means the body can increase it or decrease it as needed. Like a car engine, it should be able to run very fast or very slow, as needed.            

Assessing flexible oxidation is not possible with current mineral testing technology. A hair analysis only provides an average reading over a three-month period of time. Therefore, we cannot read the oxidation rate from moment to moment or even day to day, as the test is now performed. The best one can do is to check the test for a fairly balanced oxidation rate, as this gives a clue that the person may be able to speed up and slow down. In contrast, an extremely fast or extremely slow oxidation rate usually means the person is more stuck in either fast, slow, mixed, four lows or some other pattern.

Fast Oxidation

The fast oxidizer has higher than normal sodium and potassium levels, and lower than normal calcium and potassium levels. Fast oxidation is generally characterized by excessive activity of the thyroid and adrenal glands.

Symptoms of Fast Oxidation. Those with a fast oxidation rate tend to be anxious, irritable, in a hurry, and aggressive if their oxidation rate is very fast.  They are usually somewhat emotional, short-tempered and high-strung.  They easily become anxious and wound up, and may need sedative drugs to slow down.

Their blood sugar can be on the high side due to higher cortisol levels.  Their blood pressure tends to be on the high side because of salt and water retention.  For the same reason, their tissues often have a watery appearance (low muscle definition).  They are often warm and sweat easily.  Their brains often work well, with fast thinking.

They usually have oily skin, and some tendency for frequent or loose bowel movements.  They may gain weight in the area of the abdomen due to high levels of cortisol and cortisone. 

They are in a fight-or-flight mode too much of the time.  This uses up certain nutrients and eventually can result in symptoms and illnesses associated with this metabolic type.  These include high blood pressure, fatal heart attacks, anxiety, panic attacks, arthritis, and others.

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Fast Oxidation. The healthy fast oxidizer tends to be forward-looking, positive, and energetic, active, outgoing, and extroverted. They tend to have few health concerns.

When the oxidation rate becomes too fast or the sodium/potassium ratio decreases, symptoms may include irritability, anxiety, nervousness, fearfulness, anger, aggressiveness and belligerence. Very fast oxidizers are also often high-strung, or ‘uptight’ and literally have extreme muscle tightness and muscle cramps.

Temporary fast oxidizers or slow oxidizers under stress.  These are fast oxidizers that have other imbalances on the hair chart that indicate their condition is not a true fast oxidizer state, but rather a temporary one due to the presence of toxic metals or some other physical, emotional or spiritual stress condition. A hair mineral test will usually reveal a:

  • Sodium/potassium ratio less than about 2.5. This is the main indicator.
  • Calcium level perhaps greater than about 40 mg%.
  • Magnesium level perhaps greater than about 6 mg%.
  • Three lows or four lows pattern may be present.
  • Zinc level perhaps greater than about 16 mg%. True fast oxidizers usually have lower zinc levels.

Rarely, a person has none of these indicators, so that the hair analysis would appear to indicate a true fast oxidizer. In fact, however, the person is a temporary fast oxidizer. Signs of this include 1) the person’s age is greater than about 10, and/or 2) the person has significant health problems, usually including some slow oxidizer symptoms.

Symptoms of temporary fast oxidizers. Symptoms of both fast and slow oxidation may be present because this is a stalled transition state between fast and slow oxidation. For example, one may be anxious at times, yet depressed and tired at other times. Another combinations is high blood pressure (a fast oxidizer tendency) and hypothyroidism (a slow oxidizer tendency).

What is the Ideal Oxidation Rate?

An ideal oxidation rate is flexible. This means the body can increase it or decrease it as needed. Like a car engine, it should be able to run very fast or very slow, as needed.            

Assessing flexible oxidation is not possible with current mineral testing technology. A hair analysis only provides an average reading over a three-month period of time. Therefore, we cannot read the oxidation rate from moment to moment or even day to day, as the test is now performed. The best one can do is to check the test for a fairly balanced oxidation rate, as this gives a clue that the person may be able to speed up and slow down. In contrast, an extremely fast or extremely slow oxidation rate usually means the person is more stuck in either fast, slow, mixed, four lows or some other pattern.

A mixed oxidizer is an individual who metabolizes food at a rate that fluctuates between slow and fast oxidation. There are two types of mixed oxidation—slow/mixed oxidation and fast/mixed oxidation. Mixed oxidation is normally a transitory state of oxidation and is moving toward a state of slow or fast oxidation. Mixed oxidizers often experience a combination of symptoms associated with both fast and slow oxidation (see above under "Fast Oxidizer" and "Slow Oxidizer").

Major Hair Analysis Patterns

Four Low Electrolytes or "Four Lows"—A Separate Metabolic Type

Four lows is present when the four major electrolytes—calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium—are all below their ideal levels.

This pattern is considered a collapse and exhaustion pattern. It is a chronic pattern that tends to indicate more serious health issues, especially if the pattern has been present for some time. It is also considered a metabolic dysregulation that requires a special approach to restoring health.

Symptoms. If the pattern is recent, there may be no symptoms. However, the four-low-electrolyte pattern is often associated with chronic fatigue and sometimes allergies. Other common symptoms are anxiety, irritability, insomnia, muscle tightness, muscle cramps, and other symptoms associated with low calcium and low magnesium levels.

Personality Tendencies. Those with this pattern tend to feel stuck, frustrated, and may have negative attitudes such as hidden anger or cynicism.

Separate Metabolic Type. Four Lows is considered a separate metabolic type and is more important than whether you are a fast or slow oxidizer.

Three Low Electrolytes or “Three Lows”

In this pattern, three of the four macro minerals (calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium) are below their ideal values.  This is also called Almost Four Lows, One Foot In The Tunnel or Skidding pattern.  It means you are close to a Four Lows pattern (see “Four Lows” above).

On an initial hair analysis, and in some cases on a retest, this pattern tends to signify overwhelming stress, usually lifestyle related.

Four High Electrolytes or “Four Highs”

In this pattern, the four macro minerals (calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium) are above their ideal level.

This pattern typically occurs in slow oxidizers who are under a lot of stress. A fast, slow, or mixed oxidation rate may be present, and symptoms may vary, but the underlying situation is often slow oxidation.

For example, a person may have a combination of anxiety and depression, or other symptoms related to both oxidation types. The cause of this pattern is often biochemical stress such as toxic metals – even if they are not showing up on the test. Lifestyle stress and a tendency to push oneself can also cause this pattern.

Three High Electrolytes or “Three Highs”. This pattern is also present, to a large degree, when three of the four macrominerals are above the ideal value.

See "Four High Electrolytes" above.

Iron, Manganese, Aluminum Imbalance—“The Amigos”

The amigos are toxic forms of iron, manganese, and aluminum. Other minerals can form these toxic compounds, as well. They are called the “amigos” because they are often found together in the body and eliminated at the same time. This can be seen on a retest hair analysis.

When at least one of the amigos is elevated or is extremely low, there is often toxicity involving the others, even if they are hidden from the hair test.

The amigos are always oxides that are highly irritating and do oxidant damage. They cause inflammation, which can result in hundreds of symptoms and diseases, such as arthritis and headaches, PMS, high blood pressure, cataracts, kidney disease, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, arteriosclerosis, and cancer. Iron, manganese, and aluminum toxicity are extremely common medical problems that the medical and holistic healing professions have great difficulty getting rid of. A development program takes care of them easily, in most cases.

Bowl Pattern

The Bowl Pattern is a combination of a high calcium/magnesium ratio (defensiveness) and a low sodium/potassium ratio (frustration, resentment, hostility). Those with this pattern tend to feel burned out, stuck with no way out, and exhausted.  The cause is nutrient depletion and toxic metal excess, but with an important lifestyle component as well. This pattern is associated with a diabetic tendency.

Step Down Pattern

This pattern appears as steps descending from the left to the right on the hair chart (when looking at the first four minerals). The step down pattern is a strong efforting or willful pattern.

Those with this pattern are often very determined to move ahead in their lives, in spite of some fatigue or exhaustion. The person is often moving ahead slowly, with this pattern, and doing well, even though the energy level is low.  It is thus a pattern of overcoming odds against oneself, and slowly pushing forward in one’s life.  One can call it “digging in one’s heels” and moving ahead in spite of obstacles. 

Developing the will.  One may say that the step down pattern is associated with developing the quality of focused and concentrated will in one’s life.  This is in contrast to a step up pattern, which is associated with a need to develop the quality of love and surrender, and to move past the lower will of the ego.  I know this may sound vague, but it indicates how the hair tissue mineral patterns can relate to developmental states of a human being.

Mineral Levels

Calcium Shell or Very High Calcium

On an initial hair test, a calcium shell usually indicates psychological withdrawal, the presence of trauma, and perhaps overwhelming stress, inability to handle stress well, or a very sensitive body. 

Definition. This pattern is present when the calcium level is above 165 mg% in a woman or 155 mg% in a man.  The higher the calcium levels, the more severe the pattern.  

Physiology. Reduced solubility of calcium, usually along with magnesium, causes precipitation of some calcium and magnesium out of the blood. They deposit in the soft tissues such as the hair. Calcium may also deposit in the joints, arteries, kidneys, brain and elsewhere.

Common symptoms include low calcium symptoms such as irritability, insomnia, muscle tightness, muscle cramps, and others. These are mixed with symptoms of high calcium such as aches and pains, arthritis, bone spurs, fatigue, depression, and flaccid tissues.

Psychological Aspects. Those with a calcium shell are often sensitive people who are withdrawing psychologically. At times, this is due to excessive stress or difficulty handling stress. The pattern can also just be a response to adrenal exhaustion and the need to protect oneself from further stress. Defensiveness, guilt and depression feelings are often present, and the person is often slightly out of touch with reality and living “behind a wall of calcium”. This pattern is often one of retreat into oneself, with suppression or repression of feelings and even thoughts. It can also be a defense mechanism to protect against the ravages of copper imbalance or a high-copper personality type. People with this pattern are often spiritually-minded individuals who are struggling to survive and thrive and in a world that is not of their making and not really to their liking. Most of them are lovely people who are more intelligent and sensitive than average and need assistance to cope with this world.

(Adapted from Development and Development Science by Dr. Lawrence Wilson, 2019)

Sympathetic Dominance

This is a very important autonomic nervous system imbalance.  It indicates excessive sympathetic nervous system activity (fight or flight response). This prevents adequate rest and rejuvenation. The cause is from severe efforting, too much worrying, or continuing to push oneself even though the body is exhausted.  The mind is usually very active, but the body is exhausted.  It is very common today, especially among urban dwellers.  This pattern often occurs in more intelligent, sensitive, and spiritually-minded individuals who are trying to fit in with friends, family, work or other life aspects.

Sympathetic dominance is present when potassium is 4 mg% or less OR a Three or Four Highs Pattern is combined with a sodium/potassium ratio greater than about 4.  A four lows pattern is also considered a sympathetic dominance pattern.


  • When sympathetic dominance is combined with a Calcium Shell, it is called “trying too hard”.
  • When sympathetic dominance is combined with a low sodium-potassium ratio, it is called “burned out sympathetic dominance”.

Low Sodium – Basic Burnout

The sodium level on a hair analysis is correlated with the adrenal hormone aldosterone. A low sodium level indicates adrenal insufficiency or burnout. The cause is usually prolonged and chronic stress, nutritional deficiencies, and toxic metal accumulation.

Common symptoms associated with adrenal insufficiency are fatigue, depression, allergies, low blood sugar, low blood pressure, dry skin and hair, low body temperature, cravings for sweets or salt, joint pain, and chronic illnesses.

Elevated Copper

Copper toxicity (excess tissue copper), is one of the most commonly encountered imbalances that we find on tissue mineral tests today. Many of the most prevalent metabolic dysfunctions of our time are related in some way to a copper imbalance.

Copper toxicity is a much-overlooked cause of many important health conditions today, including fatigue, PMS, anorexia, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, migraine headaches, allergies (food and environmental allergies), acne and other skin issues, emotional sensitivity, mood swings, and more.

Copper directly or indirectly affects virtually every body system. Copper also interferes with adrenal and thyroid gland activity, creating another set of symptoms relating to hypothyroidism and adrenal insufficiency.

Hidden Copper Toxicity

Your test results show several indicators of excess copper, although copper itself is not showing up in the hair. Copper is likely “biounavailable” or unable to be utilized in the body due to weak adrenal glands, deficiency of copper binding-proteins, and perhaps other factors. This can cause symptoms of excess copper as well as symptoms of copper deficiency. Copper toxicity is associated with anxiety, panic attacks, depression, fatigue, emotional sensitivity, mood swings, migraine headaches, insomnia, PMS, acne and other skin issues, brain fog, a tendency for yeast infections, and more.

Low Zinc (Less than 14 mg%)

A low zinc level tends to indicate hidden copper toxicity, impaired protein synthesis, and zinc deficiency. Replenishing zinc will help restore mental/emotional stability, protein synthesis, immunity, and more.

Zinc is needed for appetite, growth and digestion and has a calming effect upon the nervous system.

Adrenal Stress (High Sodium)

Adrenal stress pattern is an extreme adrenal gland reaction or fight-or-flight reaction. This pattern is defined as a sodium level above 100 mg%. It tends to indicate that the body is secreting more adrenal hormones than is ideal, especially aldosterone.

A high sodium level from high aldosterone output can cause water retention, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and inflammation. Other symptoms include anxiety, irritability, nervousness, and a short temper and aggression.  

An elevated sodium tends to drive down the calcium and magnesium levels, which may cause additional symptoms. Excessive adrenal activity (indicated by high sodium) will eventually wear out the body’s ability to respond to stress and lead to exhaustion.

Low Phosphorus

A phosphorus level less than 12 mg% often indicates impaired protein synthesis or intestinal issues, such as candida infection, leaky gut, and weak digestion. Click here to read more about the meaning of a low phosphorus on a hair analysis.

Low Magnesium or Belligerence Pattern

A magnesium level less than 3 mg% is associated with anxiety, irritability, nervousness, anger, and a fesity, confrontational, or “warlike” quality. Physical symptoms include high blood pressure, muscle tension, muscle cramps, and more. Magnesium is needed for thousands of enzymes in our bodies.

Low Calcium or Aggressiveness Pattern

This pattern is called aggressiveness because when the hair tissue calcium level becomes very low, a person is usually in a fight-or-flight reaction, and one of the symptoms of this is aggressiveness. This is because calcium has a calming, buffering, and relaxing effect on the nervous system.

Other symptoms associated with this pattern are irritability, nervousness, muscle tightness, muscle cramps, and other symptoms of calcium deficiency. If the pattern has gone on a long time, other symptoms may include demineralization of the body, osteopenia, osteoporosis, tetany and others.

Mineral Ratios

High Sodium-Potassium (Na/K) Ratio

An elevated sodium-potassium ratio is associated with acute stress, inflammation, and anger. An Na/K ratio greater than 8 is associated with a tendency for more severe inflammation, pain, kidney stress, anger, and possibly “autoimmune” conditions.

As a positive aspect, those with a high Na/K ratio are often more forward-looking. A high Na/K ratio also indicates higher vitality, compared to a low Na/K Ratio.

Sodium-Potassium Inversion (Low Na/K Ratio)

The balance between sodium and potassium in the body is critical for health. It is so important that the ratio between sodium and potassium has been referred to as the “life-death” ratio. It is also a major vitality indicator.

Symptoms of a low sodium-potassium ratio. Those with a low sodium-potassium ratio tend to be burned out and experience negative emotions such as frustration, resentment and hostility.

On an initial hair analysis, a ratio between 2-2.5 is a mild low ratio and indicates some tendency for adrenal fatigue, glucose intolerance, and mild liver, kidney and cardiovascular stress.

On an initial hair analysis, a ratio between 1-2 is associated with trends for diabetes, hypoglycemia, adrenal weakness, fatigue, ulcers, allergies, reduced immune response, digestive weakness, low digestive enzymes, kidney and liver stress.

On an initial hair analysis, a ratio less than 1.0 is extremely low and associated with trends for adrenal exhaustion, chronic infections, hypoglycemia or diabetes, stroke, heart attack, cancer, and excessive protein breakdown

High Calcium-Magnesium (Ca/Mg) Ratio

The Calcium/Magnesium Ratio is referred to as the Sugar Tolerance or Lifestyle Ratio.

When the ratio is greater than 9.5, it tends to indicate sugar sensitivity and too many carbohydrates in the diet.

When the ratio is greater than 13.5, it is called “spiritual defensiveness”. This is a lifestyle imbalance that signifies a “need for “change”. This imbalance often indicates that a person is defending a lifestyle factor, such as a job, relationship, or an attitude that one needs to move away from to move ahead at full speed in one’s life. Negative attitudes may include anger, fear, cynicism, rigidity, or others.

Double Inversion or Double Low Ratio Pattern

This pattern consists of a sodium/potassium ratio less than 2.5 and a calcium/magnesium ratio less than about 4. The lower the ratios, the more severe the pattern.

This pattern emphasizes or worsens all the qualities, attitudes, and symptoms associated with a low sodium/potassium ratio (see above)—a chronic stress pattern. Those with a double low ratio may feel shattered and often feel like giving up.

Double High Ratio or "Double Inflammation"

This pattern consists of a sodium/potassium ratio greater than about 6 and a calcium/magnesium ratio greater than about 9.5. The higher the ratios, the more severe the pattern.

This pattern emphasizes or worsens all the qualities, attitudes, and symptoms associated with a high sodium/potassium ratio. These include inflammation and pain, anger, and perhaps a stubborn, rigid personality.

 A person with this pattern is often defensive and determined. “Willfullness” or a determined effort is a way to understand this pattern.

Toxic Metals

Poor Elimination (Impaired Elimination of Toxins) 

This pattern indicates severe difficulty eliminating toxic metals and perhaps toxic chemicals. Impaired elimination causes retention of toxic metals deep in the body, and results in very low hair levels.

Below are the elevated value for each toxic metal.

Toxic Metals and Hair Testing
Toxic Metals – Hidden
Toxic Metals – Sources

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