The recent advances in genetic research have finally reached a point where we can begin to look at specific genes and what their functions are. With the recent completion of the genome project, research is mounting as studies are being conducted and associations being made as to the relevance of genetic variants to disease causation. One such area of research has led to a major breakthrough in our understanding of the origins of cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue syndrome and so much more. This connection between our genetic variants or SNiP’s (Single Nucleotide Plolymorphisms) and disease has revealed the importance of a metabolic pathway in the body that is critical to maintaining health, the methylation cycle. The methylation cycle, it turns out, is involved in many regulatory processes and genetic defects that can be particularly damaging. The good news is that we now have ways to bypass these defects with specific targeted nutrients and restore normal functioning to the body.
Methylation is the process of a transfer of a methyl group (one carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms) onto amino acids, proteins, enzymes, and DNA in every cell and tissue of the body to regulate healing, cell energy, genetic expression of DNA, neurological function, liver detoxification, immunity, etc. This process is one of the most essential metabolic functions of the body as catalyzed by a variety of enzymes. The methylation process is responsive to environmental conditions and degrades with age, a process associated with a large variety of age related disorders. Thus, with respect to the effect of methylation, it is a continuous struggle in life to adapt to the ever-changing environment. Health and quality of life are highly dependent on the methylation process.
This is such a new and emerging science but one that holds great promise in the natural health care realm. The results that are being seen in the preliminary stages are astounding. Understanding the cycle does take some time and study, but for health care practitioners and patients alike the rewards are tremendous. Prevention of those conditions that we consider “inherited” is well within our grasp.
The Importance of Methyl Donors in the Body
The methylation cycle performs many vital roles in the body. First, by means of SAMe, it supplies methyl (CHE3) groups to many different biochemical reactions. Some of them produce substances such as coenzyme Q-10 and carnitine, which have been found to be depleted in many chronic fatigue patients. Methylation also plays an important role in “silencing” certain DNA to prevent its expression, and in producing myelin for the brain and nervous system. Some key areas that methylation plays a role in are:
- Nervous System Function: When the methylation cycle is interrupted, as it is during vitamin B12 deficiency, the clinical consequence is the demyelination of nerve cells resulting in a neuropathy which may lead to loss of control of bodily function, paralysis, and if untreated, ultimately death. Not only can nerves not myelinate without proper methylation, but they also cannot re-myelinate after any environmental damage or viral infection. Regeneration of nerves is also disrupted due to the lack of methylation of myelin sheath.
- Hormone Balance: Methylation regulates hormone function such as estrogen and testosterone. When one considers that high estrogen levels may lead to breast cancer whereas low testosterone levels may lead to prostate cancer, this turns out to be a critical pathway to balance rather than simply useful for mood stability.
- Allergies: Methylation also regulates histamine levels, a critical hormone often over-expressed in allergic reactions as well as in those with seasonal allergies, eczema, asthma, hives and/or anaphylactic reactions. Outcomes may range from mild symptoms of sneezing and congestion from animal dander or pollen to life-threatening and even fatal reactions from bee stings or eating simple foods such as peanuts or shellfish.
- Emotional and Mental Health: In the methylation pathway, one crucial component for neurotransmitter balance is the component, S-adenosyl methione, or SAMe (pronounced “sammy”) . SAMe is the most active methyl donor in your body, bringing methyl groups to numerous chemical compounds in your body, bringing methyl groups to numerous chemical compounds in your body. It also acts upon the neurotransmitters by changing them into other needed compounds. If we don’t have sufficient SAMe – or if SAMe can’t be recycled due to weaknesses in the methylation cycle, this can result in imbalances in our neurotransmitters, which in turn can impact mood, focus, sleep patterns, and a range of behaviors.
- Pain and Inflammation: DNA methylation is also involved in chronic pain. Specifically, DNA methylation of the SPARC promoter is increased with age and intervertebral disc degeneration, resulting in the silencing of a gene that is proactive against accelerated disc degeneration. This can lead to chronic low back pain and inflammation. The SPARC gene is likely to be just one example of many pain-relevant genes that are similarly regulated by DNA methylation in both peripheral tissues and in the central nervous system.
Methylation is also central to such critical reactions in the body as:
- Repairing and building RNA and DNA
- Immune function (how your body responds to and fights infection)
- Digestive Issues
- DNA silencing
- Neurotransmitter balance (mood stabilization)
- Toxic Metal Detoxification
- Cell Membrane fluidity and function
- Energy production
- Protein activity
- Cancer prevention
When the methylation cycle is blocked these important roles are not carried out properly. In addition, a methylation cycle block causes a block in folate metabolism, to which it is intimately linked, and this interferes with synthesis of new DNA and RNA, among other important effects and can be seen associated with birth defects and cancer.
Two of the most significant effects of a methylation cycle block are that neither the immune system nor the detox system can operate properly. If the methylation cycle remains blocked for an extended period of time, infections and toxins will build up in the body.
Because it’s involved in so many processes, inefficient function or mutations along the methylation pathway can result in a wide range of conditions, including but not limited to the following:
- Aging, Allergic Reactions, Alzheimer’s, Anxiety, Arthritis Autism
- Bipolar disorder, Bowel dysfunction
- Cancer, CFS/FM, Chronic bacterial infections, Chronic viral infections, Cytoskeletal breakdown
- Diabetes, Down’s Syndrome
- Heart Disease, Huntington’s disease
- Language and cognition impairment, Leaky gut
- Metal Toxicity, Miscarriage, Mitochondrial disease
- Neural tube defects
- Pneumonia, Psoriasis
- Renal failure, Rett’s Syndrome
- Schizophrenia, Seizures, Sleep Disorders, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
- Thyroid Dysfunction
MODIFYING OUR GENETIC EXPRESSION (EPIGENETICS)
The bottom line is that through focused genetic and kinesiological testing and the application of Nutrigenomics we can:
- Identify the presence of SNPs in key places in the methylation cycle.
- Use the right supplements to control how these genes act, in effect bypassing the genetic mutations to optimize methylation cycle function.
- Benefit from all of the necessary tasks performed by a functioning methylation cycle.
- Reduce (and repair the effects of) neurological inflammation.
- Over time, correct imbalances, relieve symptoms, and optimize a person’s potential for good health.
We will be evaluating your individual methylation patterns through genetic (DNA) testing and muscle testing to determine approximately where these genetic glitches are and recommending supplementation to achieve a “genetic bypass” of your particular DNA mutations.