Thanks to internet genomic services such as 23andme and genetic genie many of you have not only heard of the various methylation mutations, you know you have the dreaded MTHFR and you’re heterozygous for C677T! The big question that is facing us, as our personal health information pool continues to grow, is what do we do with this data? If you haven’t already, before you run out and perform these tests or begin supplementing with methylated folate, understand there are some risks and there are alternatives available.
If one knows they carry a risk of increased clotting, miscarriage, or Alzheimer’s, can this type of information influence our health outcomes? Anxiety itself is a “dis” ease state. Also, once we know we carry a defect are we inadvertently gathering kindling, fueling the fires of self-fulfilling prophecy of health mishaps? Or on the brighter side, is it possible that this information will allow us to heal or prevent disease in more meaningful ways? When I discovered I was under-methylating, I started making real changes in my diet and most importantly, my relationship with stress. I had known intuitively it was at the heart of my illness but there was more urgency for change when I saw my off the chart histamines come back from the lab. The physical realm began to ground the more ethereal wisdom I had gained in my own healing process. With my methylation status, I was immediately gifted insight into the physical pathways that stress was using to cause my disabling disease. Yin yoga was given medicinal status and I could suddenly justify the time and the expense consistently. Since that time of discovery and understanding of my methylation status, I have taken exponential strides in my own healing. As an intuitive, I do not feel the need to confirm my exact mutations. Simply identifying myself as an under-methylator has been enough to create incredible change. After 6 years of disabling bladder disease, I am truly healing and my genome has remained secret.
At this time insurance companies cannot use genetic information to calculate the cost of your health care. Nor can they deny you access to coverage. However, in the future, as we understand genetic disease susceptibility and methylation better, it is possible that this data will be released to insurance companies. Remember these billion dollar industries have been known to influence Congress. It is not impossible that in the future the laws that currently protect your family from genetic discrimination will be null and void. There is no going back once your genomic data is collected.
Importantly, you should know there exists another way of understanding your methylation status without releasing your genome. It is simply done using whole blood histamines. This practice was developed for clinical use by Dr. William Walsh, PhD. In addition to Dr. Walsh’s work, functional psychiatrist, Judy Tsaffir, MD wrote a beautiful and approachable article summarizing much of his work. Also, both of these authors responsibly discuss the complexity of supplement use. Methylation pathways are vast, and in reality incredibly complicated. Simply adding methylated folate to one’s diet can sometimes be disastrous. I highly recommend if you are going to supplement that you are followed closely by a functional practitioner who understands the complexity of methylation issues. Also be aware that supplements serve as an income for many practices. Get clarity around this conflict of interest with your chosen provider before you buy something that your body may not agree to.
My own healing has come completely through herbs, food sources and lifestyle changes. Much damage is reversible in this way. However do know there are extreme cases where the systems are so irrevocably damaged, that supplements are the only viable way they can begin to heal. Also, in these complex cases, the benefit of revealing the genome may be worth the risk.
As you learn about methylation, you will see much of the exciting current research is in neuropsychiatry. As a pediatrician, the most interesting data has been the relationship between methylation defects and the rise of autism. Methylation is an enormous subject matter with discoveries being made currently! As you read you will see that authors conflict with one another. Like anything, ultimately healing is intuitive. However, sometimes the right information from the physical realm can better point the intuitive beam.
Local Provider Resource:
Barry Smeltzer, MPAS, PAC