Debunking Myths About Iridology and Hair Analysis

Iridology is the art and science of analyzing the structure and color of the iris, the area around the pupil in our eye, to gain information related to health and disease. Modern iridology was popul

Iridology is the art and science of analyzing the structure and color of the iris, the area around the pupil in our eye, to gain information related to health and disease. Modern iridology was popularized in 1848 by Ignatz von Peczely, a Hungarian physician, but most of the concepts related to this discipline are based on the work of Bernard Jensen, a chiropractor and naturopath.

Iridology is performed with a slitlamp or penlight, magnifying glass and photography.

Mechanistically, nerve fibers, blood vessels and muscle fibers in the iris are thought to herald changing medical conditions of associated body parts through signals to the optic nerve and spinal cord. Both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are present in the iris.

Proponents of iridology claim there are three constitutional types of iris color: blue-eyed (lymphatic) with inherent tendencies toward tonsil irritations and sinusitis; pure brown-eyed (hematogenic) with inherent tendencies toward anemia, arthritis, digestive disorders; and mixed or biliary with inherent tendencies toward diabetes, constipation, colitis.

It's important to note that training and iridology practice is unregulated in the U.S. Iridology testing is only as good as the practitioner and should not be solely relied upon for diagnosis of medical conditions by non-medical practitioners.

Iridologic studies might add value to the results of blood tests for high cholesterol or some metabolic problems, but no iris-related test can replace the importance of a physical exam by your physician.

Hair analysis might be ordered by your physician to screen for heavy metal exposure (lead, mercury, arsenic). This type of testing, however, is not diagnostic for disease or for evaluating nutritional status as a basis for recommending vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements.

There are few, if any, clinical correlations with the mineral content of hair and tissue mineral levels.

Hair mineral levels might be affected by the hair follicle's inconsistent diameter, which changes as we age. Hair grows slowly, so even hair closest to our scalp is several weeks old and might not reflect current health status.

Hair analysis yields highly variable results, and hair is an unreliable specimen for testing since traces of substances that we've eaten or breathed in can end up in our hair. The composition is affected by washing, color treatments and damage related to hair drying, bleach, sun exposure or pool water exposure. The American Medical Association opposes chemical analysis of hair as a determinant for medical therapy.

Blood testing is the most reliable testing method for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Your physician can order this type of blood work and will combine test results with your medical history and a physical exam for an accurate diagnosis.

DR. CATHY CREGER ROSENBAUM is a Holistic Clinical Pharmacist and the founder and CEO of Rx Integrative Solutions, Inc. Find out more online at Contact her at [email protected].

Scroll to read more News Feature articles
Join the CityBeat Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cincinnati CityBeat. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cincinnati CityBeat, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes.
No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email.
Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected]