Hi, I’m Dr. Nicole Cain and today I want to talk with you about something called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase deficiency, or otherwise known as MTHFR. MTHFR is a gene mutation that is associated with patients who suffer from things like depression, infertility, and a myriad of other symptoms. What happens with MTHFR is that a person cannot methylate properly. The methylation is a process that your body uses to make your neurotransmitters like serotonin, and so we find that people who don’t have adequate amounts of serotonin actually can develop things like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, insomnia, and more.
The treatment is really quite simple. I’ve had so many people come into my office where they’ve been on medications for year, after year, after year not seeing symptom remission, not seeing the results that they want or deserve. If you run the genetic test, you want to look for not just MTHFR, but you want to look at all the companion genes, like COMT’s, BH4’s, etcetera. What we do is we look at all of that data, and if we see a homozygous, or even a heterozygous MTHFR, we can treat that.
The number one treatment is actually giving the methylated B’s, so you might want to look for an herb or a supplement that has a combination of things that support mood but contains methyl folate. You want to avoid folic acid because your body doesn’t process that well if you have MTHFR.
The second thing that you want to do is to understand how your body actually processes things through the liver, and so doing liver function testing to make sure that your organs are functioning properly will help your body to heal itself.
The third most important thing is your gut functioning. Your immune system is made in your gut, and interestingly enough, 95% of your serotonin is made there as well, and that’s why antidepressant medications like Zoloft or Lexapro can actually cause digestive upset. We find that if we heal the gut, we’ll absorb our nutrients better, and it will actually change how our body stimulates something called the Vagus nerve. The Vagus nerve takes that information and it translates it into your brain or central nervous system, and then your brain will change how it makes your serotonin.
So to recap, we talked about MTHFR: is your body methylating well? If it isn’t, you might want to try a methyl folate instead of folic acid. We also talked about running the companion test, the BH4, the COMT, etcetera. We talked about how your immune system is made in your gut and how your serotonin is made in your gut and how healing the gut can actually help heal your mind.
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