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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hair testing

When metabolic body odors and metabolic halitosis finally get attention from the health system, stage one will be trying to define what the problem is through testing. The technology is probably readily available in labs across the countries (say, at metabolism units in hospitals), it's a case of getting them to test for the metabolites (in the way that a very few test for trimethylamine).

"Drug and drug metabolite(s) are incorporated into the hair matrix from the bloodstream following drug use. Hair drug testing detects drugs that are embedded in the hair"

Labcorp site
Once that stage is reached, it's a question of how to test the patient. There are a few various ways. The most obvious would be testing for volatile organic compounds in urine, blood or breath. Another new(ish) way of testing is from hair samples.

This post is about hair testing. Currently drug and alcohol detection labs seem to use the various ways to detect drug/alcohol and are the most obvious labs on google searches of "hair testing". It's unclear if the health-system 'advisors' back their claims.

Taking the labs claims as accurate without question, the advantage of hair testing seems to be that it can detect compounds accumulated over days/weeks. Unfortunately no-one tests for likely 'smelly' compounds currently. A 'metabolic body odor' profiling test. Some check mineral status. Hair testing would be no use as 'spot tests'. For trimethylaminuria, first thoughts are that it would maybe be able to detect trimethylamine, but not trimethylamine-oxide.

Overall, the concept sounds useful but it's unknown how accurate the method of testing is currently regarded.


random links :
wikipedia : hair testing
Labcorp hair-testing lab for drug/alcohol detection
Pubmed 2001 paper on hair testing
Letter of reply from a lab re the Pubmed paper
Society of Hair Testing

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