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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Cell phones and the ick factor (cootie facts + cleaning tips)

April 1, 2013

We read an article last week about a thief in Uganda who contracted the deadly Ebola virus from a cell phone. It turns out he stole several phones from patients at a hospital and one belonged to a man with hemorrhagic fever (which recently killed 16 people in the African nation). The thief was caught when he returned to the hospital for treatment.

Photo: NIAID (MRSA)The story was a good reminder about how nasty cell phones are.

Think about all the places you use and place your phone every day.

Then remember … germs thrive in warm environments and smartphones generate heat .. plus your hands, face, mouth and body heat (if you carry your phone in a pocket) all add to the cootie cocktail.

Did you know… cellphones carry 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats..?!

Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, explains while toilets tend to get cleaned frequently, because people associate the bathroom with germs, cellphones are often left out of the cleaning routine.

Tests of eight random mobile phones from a Chicago office found “abnormally high numbers of coliforms, a bacteria indicating fecal contamination,” reports the Journal, with about 2,700 to 4,200 units of the bacteria on each phone. (Drinking water is supposed to have less than one unit of the bacteria per half-cup.)

Scientists say the sort of bacteria found in the study can result in flu, pinkeye or diarrhea. “People are just as likely to get sick from their phones as from handles of the bathroom,” Jeffrey Cain, the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, told the Journal.

While the above test sample is small, a 2011 study in Britain showed one in six mobile phones were contaminated with fecal matter … and a 2009 study involving the phones of 200 hospital staff members found that 94.5 percent of the phones were contaminated with some kind of bacteria, many of which were resistant to multiple antibiotics.

So how do you clean a phone?

Phone companies caution against using most household cleaners since they are too harsh and may damage the coating on touchscreens. Apple’s manual specifically says “Don’t use window cleaners, household cleaners, compressed air, aerosol sprays, solvents, alcohol, ammonia, or abrasives to clean iPhone.” BlackBerry’s manual states: “Do not use liquid, aerosol cleaners, or solvents on or near your BlackBerry device.” It’s best to use a very soft, nonabrasive cloth that is slightly damp or a cleaner specifically designed for touchscreens, like Monster’s iClean.

Another great product called GermBloc offers a Smartphone Cleaning Kit that works on smartphones, tablets and devices. (And check out their full line of alcohol free sanitizers, travel kits and more at www.germbloc.com).

TLC’s How Stuff Works explains the most important tip for cleaning your cell phone is to be gentle. Swabs and cloths should be soft and lint-free. Cleansers should be pure and mild. And unless it’s absolutely necessary, don’t open up the case. Not only will you void your warranty on some models, but you’re likely to cause more problems than you solve.

As far as the touchscreen, TLC has a list of “don’ts”…

  • Don’t use Windex or any other glass cleaner with ammonia. The harsh chemicals will damage an LCD display over time.
  • Don’t use a paper towel – not even a wet one — because the rough fibers can scratch the display surface. Use a microfiber cloth like the one that came with your glasses.
  • Don’t spray anything directly on your device. Water and electronics don’t mix. Lightly moisten a cloth and wipe it down

TLC explains there are plenty of disposable wipes on the market designed to both clean and disinfect cell phone surfaces. But if you want to save money, simply moisten a cloth with a prepared mix of 60 percent water and 40 percent isopropyl alcohol, available at any drug store. Isopropyl alcohol evaporates quickly as it disinfects, ensuring that no moisture seeps into your phone’s circuitry.

cyberclean goo helps clean smartphone keypadsTo clean out crumbs or debris in crevices, a moistened microfiber cloth or Q-tip might do the trick, but again, check your phone manual first so you don’t void your warranty.

Another cool product to clean and disinfect your phone (and other items) is Cyber Clean® – a gloopy substance that is safe to use on many electronic devices. Cyber Clean Home & Office is a natural, biodegradable cleaning compound that is proven to eliminate more than 99 percent of germs commonly found on different surfaces.  Thanks to its unique membrane system, dirt and bacteria are locked inside the compound. It’s easy to use and leaves no residues, which makes it perfect for cleaning electronics such as phones and intercoms, stereo equipment, computers and keyboards, as well as gaming equipment and controls.

And one of the safest and coolest tools is a UV disinfectant wand because its light rays kill germs without touching the phone. The UV-C light wand says it kills up to 99.9% of germs and comes in handy for all types of handheld devices, ear buds, keyboards, remotes and many other gadgets and household items where germs can thrive.

uv wand sanitizes cell phones and other devices

UV wands can range in price from $30 – $100 or more and come in all shapes and sizes – even travel size (although we’re not sure what TSA would think about it..?!)

Bottom line … there are many different ways to clean the cooties off your handheld devices and please feel free to share your tips or tricks in the comments.

p.s. If you are an frequent user of Apple store devices, just think about how many nasty things are thriving on their touchscreens. Ick.

Stay safe and have a great week! j & B


12 Deadliest Garden Plants (descriptions, photos and symptoms of poisoning)

January 31, 2013

We wanted to share a great post from ThisOldHouse.com about 12 deadly plants that parents and pet parents need to be aware of. Danielle Blundell provides photos, descriptions of the plant including the deadly parts of each, and the toxic toll it can take on small children and critters.

12 deadliest garden plants

Your garden may be a relaxing retreat, but it’s not a place to let your guard down, especially when it comes to small children and the family pet. Some popular plants you prize for their ornamental beauty can turn into toxic killers within minutes if ingested, whether consumed out of curiosity or by mistake. With this list you’ll know what flowers, shrubs, and berries to warn young, inquisitive minds about and which bushes and flowers to keep out of paw’s reach. You’ll also learn the symptoms of poisoning because—after prevention—rapid treatment is the only defense against death.

Continue reading on ThisOldHouse.com


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