What if something about your genes is making you sick, making you react differently to foods or to medicines? What if you have become used to and accept feeling poorly because you know it is just how you’ve always felt, but you also know it isn’t the way others feel? What if you’ve been prescribed medicines over and over again and you never respond quite the way the doctor has anticipated or the medicine doesn’t quite achieve the goal that was intended? If any of these sound familiar, you may be experiencing the symptoms of improper methylation, or more specifically, a problem with your MTHFR gene.
What is MTHFR and why do I care?
Researchers and doctors have long known that our genes influence the visible traits we can see, including eye color and body shape, and that they also influence things we can’t see including risks for certain diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
In recent years, attention has been turned to a specific gene called Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTFHR) and the medical community is now discovering how variations in this gene can impact the way our bodies function, and how they handle toxins and other chemicals.
Doctors are discovering that variations in MTHFR can help explain why some people are more susceptible to chronic health conditions, why some people don’t react as expected to common medicines and treatments, and why some people have been living with undiagnosed conditions for years.
Some symptoms and health disorders that have been connected to MTFHR variations include but are not limited to:
- sensitivity, reactivity or immunity to medications
- lack of energy
- fertility issues
- anxiety and depression
- developmental disorders such as ADHD and Asperger’s
- sensitivity to food chemicals
- developmental delays
- chronic headaches
- frequent miscarriages
- heart disease
- certain cancers
How do I find out for sure?
A genetic test (blood sample) can tell your doctor whether you have a variation in your MTHFR. With the expanding research and growing library of knowledge available about the sometimes subtle impact of genetic variations, these tests are actually becoming more routine with some doctors.
Even where medical insurance plans will not cover the costs, the expense is not unreasonable in most cases and, given the potential to help you actually understand the what and why of how you are feeling, may be worth it.
If your doctor is unfamiliar with or unwilling to tackle diagnosis or treatment of MTHFR, and you wonder if this might be the cause of your health concerns, it may be worth seeking other opinions and private testing may be available.
If it’s genetic though, what can be done?
Understanding that the MTFHR gene impacts the way our bodies’ process toxins, and the way they function, finding a variation in the gene can help a doctor more accurately decode the underlying causes of an illness or set of symptoms. This knowledge will then help in tailoring therapies to better suit the individual.
Some treatment options for improper methylation may include the addition of certain B vitamins, which are closely related to supporting the MTFHR gene processes. It may also include the addition of other co-factors which can help the body’s enzymes work at their optimal potential.
Because we are what we eat and a reflection of the environment in which we live, other recommendations may include changes in diet, the removal of toxins in the home, and lifestyle changes including exercise, outdoor time and more social activities which can also boost enzymes to function more efficiently.
Should I get tested?
The process of methylation is responsible for both the breaking down and the building up of many compounds and enzymes that impact the very core of our bodies. Sound important?
The MTHFR gene is responsible for creating methylfolate, a compound that helps make neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters impact our ability to think, to sleep, to learn, and to deal with and express emotion. We need that.
Without the ability to properly breakdown toxins in our bodies and the toxins we are exposed to in the environment, we may experience greater histamine responses (think allergies). There do seem to be more issues with allergies today than ever before in our history.
MTHFR also allows our bodies to create a compound called SAMe (s-adenosylmethionine), which is responsible for regulating more than 200 enzymes in the body. MTHFR is also responsible for protecting our core DNA from viruses, bacteria, chemicals and other toxins. That’s important.
Sound like MTHFR is important to overall health and well-being?
Research now is suggesting that one in two people have an altered shape to their MTHFR gene and therefore, altered function. Should you get tested?
Treatments can include taking certain B vitamins, which support the MTFHR gene processes.
Find out more about MTFHR variations at the following link: http://mthfr.net/
Additional information about getting your genetic code tested that can help a naturopathic doctor prescribe a more effective treatment plan for you can be found at: https://www.23andme.com/ and https://www.pathway.com/
Richmond Natural Medicine Practitioners with Methylation and MTHFR Gene Mutation:
Dr. Leah Hollon, Naturopathic Doctor and Co-Owner or Richmond Natural Medicine has attended intensive training on MTHFR Gene Mutations. She continues to perform extensive research and study in this area. She is one of only several doctors in Virginia with training.
Dr. Katie Lundberg, Naturopathic Doctor and Licensed Acupuncturist at Richmond Natural Medicine and has also attended training on MTHFR Gene Mutations.
For more information on having an appointment with Dr. Hollon or Dr. Lundberg to discuss your concerns about Gene Mutations please visit our book an appointment page.