I married a mutant (recognizing and understanding MTHFR)

February 10, 2019

Bill and I rarely do personal posts here but, since we work with so many first responders across North America, we wanted to share this data in case it can help those dealing with toxins day in and day out.

As we explained in our May 2013 Celiac Disease post, Bill has been battling major health issues since 2000. (In hindsight he’s had issues his entire life.)

Over the past 19 years he’s beat leukemia / T-cell disease and a massive parasite infestation, moved out some major heavy metals and other toxins, and continues to heal his digestive tract due to Celiac Disease — among other things.

But he continued to struggle with extreme fatigue / lack of energy, pain, chemical sensitivities, migraines and other issues. He was still living on adrenaline, sugar and caffeine (as he has most of his life), so our naturopath, Dr. Garrett Smith, ran more tests in 2013 and discovered Bill had some strange imbalances of certain vitamins and minerals.

A key thing that stood out was Bill had high levels of folic acid (folate) and B-12 (among other things) meaning his body was not absorbing those properly causing him to be anemic at the cellular level. Dr. Smith suggested he get a “MTHFR Genotype Test” done at our local lab and the results explained why Bill has imbalances and trouble absorbing certain things — he’s got a defective (mutated) MTHFR gene. So basically … I married a mutant.

What the heck is the MTHFR gene?

At first glance MTHFR looks like an acronym for a cuss phrase. However, the MTHFR gene is responsible for making a functional MTHFR enzyme called “methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase”. According to NIH.gov, this enzyme plays a role in processing amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. MTHFR is important for a chemical reaction involving forms of the vitamin folate (also called vitamin B9). Specifically, this enzyme converts a molecule called 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate to a molecule called 5-methyltetrahydrofolate. This reaction is required for the multistep process that converts the amino acid homocysteine to another amino acid, methionine. The body uses methionine to make proteins, utilize antioxidants and other important compounds that support your immune system, cell regeneration and more per StopTheThyroidMadness.com.

In other words — as Dr. Ben Lynch explains — “MTHFR plays a key role in a process called methylation. If you have an MTHFR gene mutation, your methylation cycles may not be working optimally.

Methylation is the MAIN factor that affects epigenetics–the body’s response to our environment. Epigenetics determines which parts of the human blueprint, our genetic code, are turned off or on.

If the MTHFR gene is slightly altered (mutated), the MTHFR enzyme’s shape becomes distorted. Enzyme function depends a lot on shape. It is similar to the grooves on a key. If the grooves on a key are slightly different than the lock, the key may fit and turn the lock a little but it does not unlock the door. The genetic code of the MTHFR enzyme must be perfect in order for it to function properly.”

So what does all this mean?

As Wellness Mama writes — “Those with a defective MTHFR gene have an impaired ability to produce the MTHFR enzyme (estimates range from 20%-70% or more). This can make it more difficult to break down and eliminate not only synthetic folic acid but other substances like heavy metals.

Since folic acid can’t be converted into the usable form, it can build up in the body, which can raise levels of homocysteine. High homocysteine levels are associated with a higher risk in cardiovascular disease. This also affects the conversion to glutathione, which the body needs to remove waste and which is a potent antioxidant.”

Bottom line, a defective MTHFR enzyme may lead to a variety of health problems like autism, birth defects, anxiety, depression, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke, chemical sensitivities, and more.

It also means if you take supplements there are certain methylated ones (e.g. folic, B-12, riboflavin, glutathione, etc.) that someone with a mutated MTHFR gene should take so the body can absorb them properly.

And since someone with a mutated MTHFR gene may need massive methylation due to toxicity or excess of some sort (be it chemicals, stress, anxiety, overwork, etc.), then their body demands extra methylfolate – and they cannot produce it, explains Dr. Ben.

Bill’s lab results show his MTHFR enzyme activity is 50%-60% of normal activity meaning his body only produces 40%-50% of what is needed to function normally ~ and, when stressed like he has been with so many health problems, he has no extra output or reserve enzymes thus causing tremendous fatigue, depression, pain, etc.

Balancing the cellular signaling is critical for not only helping my sweet mutant to continue to detox, but it will increase energy levels and help improve other health issues since his body will be able to absorb its needed nutrients. He’s still not quite 100% yet, but since he’s been taking specific methylated B vitamins, L-glutathione, a thyroid med, D-Ribose, etc., he’s getting more energy, his body core temperatures are almost normal, and he’s not having to supplement quite as much as before.

First Responders please pay attention to your bodies

As mentioned above, one main reason we are sharing this is because we work with responders across the country and some (or most) may want to look into MTHFR stuff further – esp. if you…

  • Deal with toxic fumes or other chemicals on a regular basis;
  • Live on adrenaline, caffeine or other stimulants;
  • Have bouts of extreme tiredness or fatigue;
  • Have low body temperatures at wake-up and/or have cold hands / feet;
  • Struggle with migraines, depression, digestive issues, joint pain, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac problems, etc.

An easy way to start is use 23andme.com to get your Health + Ancestry genetic testing kit (about $200) that you can do at home. You just spit in a tube and send it in to get your unique DNA genetics.

Then you can access and send your raw data for analysis using Strategene to determine if you have MTHFR and/or other genetic issues. You also may want to consider discussing the findings with a health professional trained in MTHFR and methylation.

Learn more about MTHFR at NIH.gov or MTHFR.net to see if you too are a mutant.

Stay safe and healthy, j & B

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SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline (counseling and support before, during, and after disasters)

September 9, 2017

SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline puts people in need of counseling on the path to recovery. Their staff members provide counseling and support before, during, and after disasters and refer people to local disaster-related resources for follow-up care and support.

Since its launch in February 2012, the Disaster Distress Helpline has provided counseling and support in response to disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the Ebola outbreak. SAMHSA also has an interpretation service that connects callers with counselors in more than 150 languages.

The Disaster Distress Helpline is staffed by trained counselors from a network of crisis call centers located across the United States. These counselors provide:

  • Crisis counseling for people in emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster
  • Information on how to recognize distress and its effects on individuals and families
  • Tips for healthy coping
  • Referrals to local crisis call centers for additional follow-up care and support

When you call or text, crisis counselors will listen to what’s on your mind with patience and without judgment. There is no need to give any identifying information when you contact the Disaster Distress Helpline. The counselor may ask you for some basic information at the end of the call, but these questions are optional and are intended to help SAMHSA keep track of the types of calls it receives.

SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.

Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster. If you or someone you know is struggling, please contact the Disaster Distress Helpline.

  • In the U.S. call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
  • For all hard of hearing and deaf people use 1-800-846-8517.
  • Spanish speakers call 1-800-985-5990 and press “2” or text Hablanos to 66746.

Learn more at disasterdistress.samhsa.gov ~ and please share this with others.

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“Know Your Lemons” campaign (breast cancer warning signs)

January 21, 2017

As I posted on USFRA.org recently, Corrine Beaumont, a young designer and founder of Worldwide Breast Cancer, has created a great breast cancer warning signs graphic as part of WBC’s “Know Your Lemons” campaign.

Beaumont lost both her grandmothers to breast cancer at the ages of 40 and 62 and found limited pictorial data about breast cancer warning signs, so she felt compelled to come up with a solution.

Her designs provide a simple, visual way of showing what breast cancer symptoms can look and feel like using lemons. She has also developed great graphic below explaining what to feel for during a breast exam.

Learn more on WBC’s “Know Your LemonsFacebook page or visit www.worldwidebreastcancer.org and share these resources with others.


Holiday food safety tips (Fight Bac!, food intolerance + pet safety)

November 23, 2016

food-safety-fight-bacFood is a huge part of the holiday season so we wanted to share some resources and tips about food safety for your public education campaigns, as well as for you personally.

The Partnership for Food Safety Education develops and promotes effective education programs to reduce foodborne illness risk for consumers. The Partnership states the US food supply is among the safest in the world, but organisms that you can’t see, smell, or taste – bacteria, viruses, and tiny parasites – are everywhere in the environment.

Each year 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths in the U.S. can be traced to foodborne pathogens, according to the CDC.

The Partnership’s Fightbac.org site explains foodborne illness is much more than the “stomach flu”, and it is a serious health issue and economic burden for consumers. The Economic Research Service (ERS) of the USDA says each year $6.9 billion in costs are associated with five bacterial pathogens, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and 2 forms of E. coli. These costs are associated with medical expenses, lost productivity, and even death.

Food Safety tips from Fightbac.org

  • Throw away all perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles, left at room temperature longer than two hours; one hour in air temperatures above 90°F. This also includes leftovers taken home from a restaurant. Some exceptions are foods such as cookies, crackers, bread and whole fruits.
  • Whole roasts, hams and turkeys should be sliced or cut into smaller pieces or portions before storing them in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftovers in shallow containers. Wrap or cover the food. Leftovers stored in the refrigerator should be consumed within 3-4 days, and leftovers should be heated to 165°F prior to consumption.
  • Foods stored longer may become unsafe to eat and cause foodborne illness. Do not taste leftovers that appear to be safe, bacteria that cause illness does not affect the taste, smell, or appearance of food.
  • Frozen storage times are much longer, but some items such as salads made with mayonnaise do not freeze well. Foods kept frozen longer than recommended storage times are safe to eat, but may be drier and not taste as good.
  • WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!

Find more safety data, kids games and activities, videos, brochures and other resources at www.fightbac.org

Food intolerance

Be aware some guests may have dietary issues and/or food allergies so please don’t be offended if they decline meals or drinks or if they bring their own food and beverages.

food-safety-label-spinach-cropFor example, Bill has celiac disease so he must avoid all gluten, plus we both have issues with carrageenan, various gums (e.g. xanthan, guar, carob bean, etc.), MSG, yeast extract and more so we are very cautious about eating anything we don’t prepare ourselves.

If you purchase special foods and snacks for guests with allergy issues read product packages and ingredient labels carefully and watch for statements that say if items are processed on shared equipment. Sometimes you’ll be amazed just simple things like packaged fruits and vegetables can be cross-contaminated as shown in this photo from Oh Mah Deehness’ blog.

Many companies are getting better about including allergen information on labels and websites, plus some even offer special toll-free numbers and email ids so you can reach out to them direct.

Don’t forget about pets

food-safety-k9We all love sharing people food with our furbabies, but remember to keep toxic foods like chocolate, nuts, onions, mushrooms, grapes, raisins and xylitol (a sugar substitute) away from pets. Also limit rich, fatty foods like ham, turkey or goose and dairy products since they can cause digestive issues.

For more information on foods that could be unsafe for pets, visit the HumanSociety.org and ASPCA.org , and check out 2 great infographics on “Thanksgiving food safety: Do’s and Don’ts” and “Toxic Foods for Dogs” .

Also keep in mind holiday plants like poinsettia, holly, mistletoe and amaryllis can be toxic to pets.

If you suspect your pet has eaten something toxic, take note the amount ingested and contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

Find more holiday tips in our “Winter Safety Tips for Pets and Livestock” blog post … and we hope everyone has a nice, safe Thanksgiving and Christmas season! Stay safe, j & B


Anatomy of a Hangover (how a body typically reacts to large doses of alcohol)

December 31, 2014

Most of us have probably been there … puking or “praying to the porcelain god”, massive pounding headache, queasy stomach, extreme thirst and more … after partying too hard the night before.

So before you imbibe at holiday celebrations and social functions, consider reading the below graphic to learn how a body typically reacts to large doses of alcohol. (And keep in mind it doesn’t necessarily have to be large amounts since a few sips might set off one’s chemistry into motion too.)

We also included some tips from GMA’s Dr. Savard on how to make the morning after a bit more tolerable.

MCT: Hangover anatomy

If you want to avoid a hangover, obviously the easy answer is … don’t drink. But according to GMA contributor Dr. Marie Savard, there are some things drinkers can do to help make the morning after more tolerable…

  • Sip slowly (so your stomach can absorb the drink slowly rather than getting pounded).
  • Eat chips or foods with fat in it to help slow the absorption of alcohol.
  • Drink water throughout the day / evening (or a glass between each drink) and avoid carbonated drinks since they can increase alcohol absorption.
  • Consider taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen or Alka Seltzer before drinking to decrease inflammation. Also … Dr. Joel Saper, founder and director of the Michigan Head-Pain and Neurological Institute, says “never take acetaminophen for a hangover. The combination of Tylenol plus alcohol equals death in some people.” That’s because acetaminophen stimulates an enzyme that can damage the liver. The combination can overwhelm the liver’s capacity to remove toxins from the body.1

Happy and safe holidays to all … and to our military, first responders and volunteers who work day in and day out to help keep us safe — thank you for your continued service and sacrifices. Take care, j & B


Ticks suck (things to watch for and do + what to avoid)

May 31, 2014

Photo: André Karwath aka Aka via Wikimedia CommonsYou may think ticks are insects but they’re actually bloodsucking arachnids. Adult ticks have eight legs and two body segments just like spiders, mites and chiggers.

According to the CDC, most ticks go through four life stages: egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph, and adult. After hatching from the eggs, ticks must eat blood at every stage to survive.

Ticks that require this many hosts can take up to 3 years to complete their full life cycle, and most will die because they don’t find a host for their next feeding. And ticks aren’t choosy about their host – they can feed on mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

tick_sizes

Did you know…

  • tick watchers – from foresters to disease ecologists – are reporting a population explosion among black-legged ticks, formerly known as deer ticks, this year?! The cause isn’t clear but it could be due to a bumper crop of acorns that caused an increase of vermin (mice, squirrels, etc.) combined with the mild winter, but ticks are out there … and they’re hungry.
  • white-footed mice and other small mammals, not deer, are now known by scientists to be major carriers of Lyme disease?! Birds are major carriers too.
  • University of Virginia researchers claim a bite from the lone star tick, so-called for the white spot on its back, may trigger an allergic reaction … to meat?!

Nasty suckers

Ticks grab onto a host (animals or people walking through brush) and sink their harpoon-like barbed mouth and head into the host’s skin to dine until they’re full of blood. Then they drop off and wait for the next meal to pass by. Since ticks feast on one spot for days, they can spread bacteria and diseases from host to host (like from animals to humans) – even by touching them.

The main threat of ticks is the risk of illness or disease (like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever or tick paralysis) so the best defense is reducing exposure to ticks or finding and removing them as quickly as possible.

Things to watch for…

  • Bite or sting mark or ticks
  • Pain or burning feeling
  • Redness or Swelling or Rash
  • Stomach pain or puking
  • Flu-like symptoms – fever, dizziness, weakness, headache, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, etc.
  • Change in skin color or bruising or rash (may look kind of like a bulls-eye)

What to do for ticks…

Key things are to find a tick before it feasts for days and to remove a tick slowly with head intact so it doesn’t spew bacteria into the blood stream.

  • DO NOT use petroleum jelly, liquid soap, nail polish or heat – they don’t work!
  • Use tweezers or commercial tick remover (or at least cover fingers with a tissue).
  • Grasp tick close to skin where head is buried – don’t squeeze it!
  • Slowly pull tick straight up until skin puckers — it may take several seconds but tick will loosen its barbs and let go.

                                        tick-removal         tick-removal2

  • DO NOT throw tick away since it may need to be tested! Put it in zippered baggie with moist paper towel, date it, and put in refrigerator.
  • Wash bite wound and tweezers with soap and water.
  • Call local health department or vet to ask if tick needs to be identified or tested. If not, throw away baggie.
  • Watch for rash, infection or symptoms for a week or so.

Things to do to avoid ticks…

  • Wear light-colored pants and long-sleeve shirt (to see ticks), a hat (to keep out of hair) and tuck in (pants in socks and shirt in pants).
  • When hiking, walk in the center of trails and try to avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Use tick repellent with DEET and make sure you spray shoes and socks too.
  • Do full body checks at least a few times a day during tick season and don’t forget to check your pets!
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
  • Inspect and rinse off gear and shoes.
  • The CDC suggests tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks. (Some research suggests that shorter drying times may also be effective, particularly if the clothing is not wet.)

TickApp

A handy tick tool is by Dr. Pete Teel, Texas AgriLife Research entomologist at College Station and hero tick stalker extraordinaire. Dr. Teel has created a one-place-for-all info-tool called the TickApp, a central cyber point that can be accessed any time/any day for all the tick information you need whether you are a dog owner, hunter, farmer or rancher, hiker, soldier, or medical professional.

Teel says the mobile smartphone app is available at no charge and is easy to use with little searching required. “Whether you are a healthcare professional needing fast tick identification information, an urban pet owner slogging through the bewildering arsenal of control alternatives or a South Texas cattleman facing financial hardship due to ticks, the app is meant for you,” Teel said in a recent AgriLife update. “It’s all very user-friendly and opens with just six easy-to-follow tabs that are quick to navigate. There’s a brief introduction, then a tick ID tab followed by tabs on tick biology, prevention and protection, removal and finally control and management practices.”

The TickApp can be downloaded at http://tickapp.tamu.edu.

 

Helpful Resources & Sources:

CDC’s Ticks site www.cdc.gov/ticks/

CDC’s Lyme Disease page www.cdc.gov/lyme/

CDC NCID’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases site at www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd/

Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station’s Tick Management Handbook (71-page PDF)

Outwitting the tick boom of 2012 – Philly.com

Allergic to Meat: Lone Star Tick May Make Vegetarians of Some – ABCnews.com

Predators, Prey and Lyme Disease – NYTimes.com 

Novel Animal Reservoir for Group of Tick-Borne Diseases Discovered — And It Lives in Your Backyard – ScienceDaily.com

Smartphone app battles tick problem – Southwest Farm Press

Above appeared in our July 2012 enews – and find more first aid and preparedness tips in our IT’S A DISASTER! book


Cold Weather Health Emergencies (frostbite versus hypothermia)

January 6, 2014

cold weather health emergencies frostbite versus hypothermiaStaying warm and safe may become a challenge when the mercury drops significantly below normal, especially if you have to deal with power outages.

Exposure to cold temperatures, whether indoors or outdoors, can cause other serious or life-threatening health emergencies. Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk, but anyone can be affected by the most common cold-related problems: frostbite and hypothermia.

FROSTBITE

Frostbite (or frostnip which is the early stages of frostbite) is when certain parts of your body are exposed to severe or extreme cold – mainly your fingers, toes, ears, cheeks and nose. Freezing temperatures can form ice crystals in the fluids in and around cells in your body. This damages and dries out cell tissues and membranes, and extreme cases can impact deep nerves, muscles or even bones… or even lead to the loss of a limb.

frostbite, blister, handThings to watch for…

  • Skin appears white and waxy
  • Numbness or no feeling in that area
  • Possible blisters

What to do…

  • Handle area gently; DO NOT rub it!
  • Remove tight or constrictive clothing (gloves, boots, socks, etc.) and any jewelry.
  • Warm gently using body heat or soaking area in warm water (between 100-105 degrees Fahrenheit / 38-41 degrees Celsius) until area is red and feels warm. (Victim may feel a burning sensation or pain as the area warms back up.)
  • Loosely bandage area with dry, sterile dressing or cloth.
  • If fingers or toes are frostbitten, separate them with sterile gauze or clean cloth.
  • Try not to break any blisters.

Things you should NOT do…

  • DO NOT rub or massage the area since this may cause damage to cells!
  • DO NOT rub snow on the area!
  • DO NOT try to warm with dry radiant heat (meaning don’t warm with a blow-dryer or hold in front of fire or hot stove). Using warm water is best.
  • DO NOT try to thaw a frostbitten body part if it has a chance of re-freezing (if you are stuck in the wilderness) since this could cause more damage.

 

HYPOTHERMIA

Hypothermia starts setting in when your body core (the vital organs – heart, lungs, and kidneys) drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius). When exposed to extreme cold for a long time, your brain begins to shut down certain bodily functions to save internal heat for the core.

Things to watch for…

  • Shivering and numbness
  • Confusion or dizziness
  • Stumbling and weakness
  • Slow or slurred speech
  • Shock (pale, cold or clammy, weak or rapid pulse, etc.)

What to do…

  • Gently move victim to a warm place.
  • Check breathing and pulse (ABCs… Airway, Breathing, & Circulation).
  • Handle victim gently and DO NOT rub body or limbs.
  • Remove any wet clothing and replace with dry clothing and/or blankets.
  • If possible, place victim in a sleeping bag or wrap in a blanket, especially if in the wilderness. (Note: Your body heat can help heat victim… so cuddle up – if victim says it’s okay!)
  • Cover the head and neck with a hat or part of a blanket (75% of the body’s heat is lost through top of the head).
  • DO NOT WARM VICTIM TOO QUICKLY, such as putting them in warm water! (If the body warms too fast, it can dump cold blood into the heart and body core causing a possible heart attack or drop in body temperature.)
  • If hot water bottles or hot packs are used, wrap them in a towel or blanket first then place on side of the chest and/or on groin area. (If heat is put on arms or legs then blood could be drawn away from body core – keep heat on the core!) Also the below graphic from Princeton.edu demonstrates placement of heat packs and how to do a wrap on a victim.

hypothermia wrap

  • Let victim sip a warm, sweet, nonalcoholic drink.
  • Keep watching victim’s ABCs.
  • Keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck, even after their temperature has increased.
  • Get medical attention as soon as possible.

Things you should NOT do…

  • DO NOT rub or massage the victims’ limbs!
  • DO NOT put victim in a hot bath! It will warm him/her TOO quickly.
  • DO NOT put hot packs on arms or legs… put them against the body (chest or groin area).

Disclaimer: These procedures are not substitutes for proper medical care. Frostbite should be evaluated by a health care provider and hypothermia is a medical emergency. Above data extracted from IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? by Bill and Janet Liebsch also appeared in PREPARE Magazine.

See also:

Preparing for winter storms (tips to winterize home, prevent ice dams and more)

Winter Safety tips for Pets and Livestock

Winter driving tips

And visit our Look inside the book page for more preparedness topics.

Stay safe (and warm) out there. j & B


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