MTHFR: A Dirty Gene?!
What does this all mean?
MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) is a gene that sometimes seems to have a defect that can deactivate the MTHFR enzyme which when working properly should convert Folate and Folic Acid into active forms that the body can use. The current theory is that a so called defective gene can reduce the effectiveness of that important conversion.
What are the symptoms of MTHFR?
It is important to recognise that many symptom pictures can be associated with many medical conditions, and so it requires an experienced holistic clinician to make an accurate diagnosis and determine if the symptoms are primarily related to MTHFR. Here is small sampling of some of the possible symptoms:
- Anxiety and depression.
- Miscarriage and pregnancies with neural tube defects.
- Chronic pain and inflammation.
- Chronic fatigue.
- Chemical sensitivity syndrome.
- Inability of your body to detoxify efficiently.
- Inability to make a full complement of neurotransmitters, (dopamine, serotonin, melatonin.)
An MTHFR mutation can be diagnosed through a simple test
I recommend that you do get tested first for MTHFR and perhaps for any other genetic issues using “23 and Me” if your holistic/functional medicine doctor thinks it appropriate and necessary. The “23 and Me” test evaluates a wider spectrum of possible genetic defects. Other tests that I would recommend should include the following:
- Hair analysis.
- Viral blood panel.
- Micronutrient blood test.
When an MTHFR mutation comes back positive for an MTHFR gene mutation, most frequently it is either C6777T, A1298C or both. This ultimately implies the presence of significant inflammation, and these are markers for an inflammatory process, often along with a high homocysteine level . It does not tell you what the actual cause is.
What causes MTHFR?
The causes can be numerous and diverse, and usually correlate with an overburdened and possibly toxic liver and lack of key nutrients like Vit B12. There’s an interesting and helpful book written on methylation defect and MTHFR called “Dirty Genes” by Dr. Ben Lynch. Perhaps a more accurate title could have been “Dirty Blood”. This is because when the liver is overwhelmed with toxic sludge and clogged with poisonous chemical debris and viral neurotoxins, it gives the impression that the genes are mutated. These tests then show elevated inflammation markers like high homocysteine and the presence of unacceptably high levels of toxins both chemical and viral. It’s a mistake in my opinion to jump to the conclusion that your genes and DNA are irretrievably damaged.
What can I do to help my condition when I have been diagnosed with MTHFR?
The return to health should include the indicated detox protocols (e.g. heavy metals, liver cleanse, colon cleanse, blood and lymph purification methodologies etc. As well as the avoidance of all or most food and environmental toxins).
If you do have a genetic “mutation”, help is available, and a plan can be made to correct the true underlying cause of any mutation you may have. Meanwhile, some health and lifestyle changes that you may consider are:
- Avoid Folic Acid, gluten, wheat and sugar.
- Consume dark, leafy green vegetables.
- Exercise regularly 3 – 5 times a week.
- Optimize your diet with organic foods, fermented food and unprocessed foods.
- Use environmentally friendly cleaning products.
- Detox your liver and bloodstream and lymphatic channels.
Supplementation and specific detox regimens are helpful and should be started and supervised while under the care of a holistic/functional medical professional; ideally, one who is familiar with MTHFR defects and has a background that includes a deep understanding of nutritional biochemistry and genetics. All detox and supplement regimens should be started slowly and at a low dosage to minimise the overload of kill off and/or toxin release on the detox organs, for your safety and optimal wellness.