Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How Genes Can Influence Our Mood-And How They Can Be By-Passed For Better Mental Health-Huffpost

Here is an article by Dr. Michael Stanclift ND in Huffpost Healthy Living on how adding gene studies to assess MTHFR status can be used to help people with mood issues, as part of a systemized approach. I've spoken a little bit about how these genes influence enzymes by the same name, MTHFR, that are important in the production of neurochemicals among other things, and can be by-passed with B12, folate and other supplements. As you know, when I first work with someone with mood issues, I do comprehensive testing for gluten sensitivity, serum vitamin D status, nutritional status, infections, hormone and thyroid status.

Thanks to Dr. Stanclift for sharing.
Here is an excerpt, but I suggest you read the whole thing.

Michael Stanclift, N.D. Naturopathic Doctor

How Genes Can Influence Our Mood
Posted: 07/06/2014 2:24 pm EDT Updated: 07/06/2014 2:59 pm EDT Print Article

When Susan* first came to see me, she was feeling pretty low. She had debilitating fatigue, and her body ached all over. Susan had been prescribed an antidepressant, and it helped with her depression a little, but she was still constantly anxious and had difficulty concentrating. Everything seemed "life or death," her performance at work was declining, and she was afraid she would lose her job if things didn't change soon.

..... I agreed and ordered comprehensive thyroid testing, a test to rule out anemia, and some "functional genetic" testing. Her thyroid and anemia tests came back right away: Everything looked normal. The genetic testing came back about two weeks later with some significant findings. Susan had variations in both copies (one from her mother and one from her father) of a gene that converts folate/folic acid into its active form. The gene, called "MTHFR" (think "Mon. THur. FRi.") helps an important biochemical reaction in our body called "methylation." Because of her variations, her body couldn't use folate very efficiently. So how did this factor into her condition?

Folate, in its activated form (5 MTHF), is needed for many important processes in our bodies. In Susan's case it was particularly important with relation to her neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals our brains make to communicate messages to each other, and they have to be available in high enough amounts for us to successfully communicate those messages. Many of us have heard of serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline (epinephrine), and may even be familiar with their effects on our emotions and mood. In order to make these neurotransmitters, that crucial step called "methylation" must occur. This step can be particularly difficult for someone with MTHFR variations like Susan had................

A few weeks into her treatment she came back reporting her coworkers had noticed a change. In my office I immediately saw the change in her mood, and even our front desk staff reported Susan sounded happier when she called. I know moods can change periodically, so I asked about something that had been consistent with her: exercise. She had exercised at least 50 percent more per week, and wasn't exhausted from it like before. Her sleep had improved, she reported her concentration was no longer an issue, and her libido was starting to return.We're now many months into her treatment and Susan has continued to do well.

Finding the variations in Susan's MTHFR gene was not the end-all be-all of her symptoms and treatment, but it was a significant factor. It opened up a window into why her depression and fatigue were so significant and why her medications weren't giving her satisfactory results. New and inexpensive "functional genetic" tests like this have opened up whole new areas of medicine and offer patients interventions that are personalized and nutritionally based. These tests have taken a significant amount of guess work into what interventions might work and explain why some people require drastically different dosages of nutrients to achieve the same outcomes. To find out if functional genetic testing could be important to you and your health, ask your doctor if these tests could be relevant for you.

In Health,

Michael Stanclift, N.D.Naturopathic Doctor in Practice in Carlsbad, California

"Functional genetic" testing is done in a number of laboratories in Canada, USA, Europe and Asia. Most require a requisition from your doctor. A normal homocysteine can not be used to assess your MTHFR status (because the "short route" may be working overtime). A high homocysteine level means you probably have a MTHFR issue (lower function of the MTHFR enzymes) and a requirement for more B12, folate,zinc, magnesium, vitamin C and other supplements. If you should decide to add genetic testing, it is best to be guided by a doctor who has some experience with MTHFR issues, as there is the rare person who, to avoid unpleasant effects, needs an individualized programme before starting folate in higher doses.

To Your Health
Dr. Barbara