MTHFR and Lyme Disease
MTHFR Gene Mutation. Lower Levels of Glutathione. Inefficient Detoxification.
If you have chronic Lyme disease, it’s equally important to know if you have an MTHFR gene mutation, and the reason is simply detoxification. There are a lot of supplements, methods, and techniques for detoxifying the body, however, in the midst of all these detoxification methods, rarely do you hear about the body’s own natural master detoxification agent - glutathione.
To keep the subject of genes simple, the MTHFR is a gene that is directly responsible for producing glutathione for the body, and a mutation with the MTHFR gene results in lower levels of glutathione in the body. This translates into toxins, generated in the body by Lyme, co-infections, mold, etc, not being detoxified efficiently and keeping a person with chronic Lyme from getting better.
The MTHFR Gene and the 2 Types of Mutations
The MTHFR (Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase) gene is responsible for creating and giving directions to the MTHFR enzyme, but let’s back up a little bit and start with some slightly familiar territory - chromosomes. Each cell of the human body contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, or 46 total. Now, imagine a loose thread hanging from a chromosome similar to a thread hanging from your favorite shirt. If you began to pull that thread, you would be pulling a DNA molecule, the double helix structure we’re all familiar with, as a chromosome is really nothing more than tightly coiled DNA.
If you took the DNA thread you pulled from the chromosome and broke it up into sections, you would then have genes. One section of these genes is the MTHFR gene.
As mentioned before, the human body contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, or 46 total chromosomes. Half of the 46 chromosomes you receive from your mom, and the other half from your dad. The MTHFR gene is located on chromosome 1, with each chromosome consisting of half of your mom’s genes and half of your dad’s. If just one parent’s MTHFR gene on chromosome 1 is mutated, you’re considered heterozygous (i.e., a single MTHFR gene mutation). If both parent’s MTHFR genes on chromosome 1 are mutated, you’re considered homozygous (i.e., a double MTHFR gene mutation).
MTHFR and Chronic Lyme Disease
When it comes to treating chronic Lyme disease, the first mentality applied to healing is to kill the bacteria. While reducing the bacteria’s load within the body is important to an extent, detoxification is just as equally important. After all, a weakened immune system is a big contributor for Lyme disease going chronic in the first place and a toxic body will surely compromise the immune system and keep it that way. Toxins that hang around in the body of a person with chronic Lyme disease will not only keep a person from getting better from chronic Lyme disease, these toxins that hang around will continue to create cytokine cascades in the body - the symptoms a person with chronic Lyme disease experiences.
In order to reduce the bacteria’s load with an equally important and efficient detoxification protocol, the body’s own innate detoxification system must be supported first before additional and popular detoxification supplements, methods, and techniques are brought in to help; this is done with nutrition. Aside from nutritional support, diet, and adequate sleep and water consumption, glutathione levels must be optimal in order for the body’s basic detoxification system to meet the toxic demand of chronic Lyme disease.
Glutathione is the body’s master detoxification agent, a powerful antioxidant the body produces, and it’s used for processing toxins in the liver. Toxins that aren’t processed efficiently due to low levels of glutathione will hang around and help contribute to a person’s symptoms and their continued Lyme presence.
Testing for the MTHFR Gene Mutation
Testing for the MTHFR gene mutation can be done a number of ways which can be influenced by your need to know about other gene mutations. Here are the ways to get tested for the MTHFR gene mutation:
- 23andMe provides a spit test for $99 that will test for not just an MTHFR gene mutation, but other commonly associated mutations as well such as the CBS gene mutation. Results take about 3 weeks to get back because it’s also an ancestral origin test. Once 23andMe has your results ready, go to geneticgenie.org and upload your 23andMe results to see if you have an MTHFR gene mutation.
- Cell Science Systems provides a blood test for $169 that will test for just an MTHFR gene mutation. Once you receive your test kit in the mail, you'll need to have your blood withdrawn at a local lab or kindly ask your general practitioner to do so. Results take about 10 days to get back.
Addressing the MTHFR Gene Mutation
Treating a person’s MTHFR gene mutation is actually very simple, and in doing so, glutathione levels within the body will begin to restore and toxins will begin to now leave in an efficient manner.
The body creates glutathione when folate (vitamin B9), with the help of vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, is taken in through diet, where it is then converted to methyl-folate, methy-folate then converts the amino acid homocysteine to the amino acid cysteine, and finally the cells in the body use cysteine to produce glutathione. The MTHFR gene mutation comes into this process when the body isn’t adequately converting folate to methyl-folate. As you would expect, this dysfunction puts a damper on glutathione production.
The solution, or treatment for the MTHFR gene mutation, is to just provide the body with the methyl-folate so it can carry on with the glutathione production process -- completely bypass the folate to methyl-folate conversion all together. The supplement recommended by Dr. Marty Ross, M.D. of treatlyme.net for the MTHFR gene mutation is Methyl-Guard by Thorne. This product contains the correct dosage of methyl-folate with the addition of vitamin B6 and vitamin b12 for support. A product taken for an MTHFR gene mutation that contains additional ingredients may work, but because a certain dosage of methyl-folate is needed to treat the MTHFR gene mutation, increasing a supplement that contains additional ingredients would require an increase in those additional ingredients as well which may not be needed by the body and could be excessive. According to Dr. Marty Ross, M.D., the treatment protocol for the MTHFR gene mutation with Methyl-Guard is as follows:
- Week 1 - 1 capsule of Methyl-Guard 1x per day
- Week 2 - 2 capsules of Methyl-Guard 1x per day
- Week 3 - 3 capsules of Methyl-Guard 1x per day
After remaining stable and being able to tolerate 3 capsules of Methyl-Guard 1x per day for about a month, consider adding 5-MTHF 1mg by Thorne. This product essentially is just doubling the 3 capsule dosage of methyl-folate from Methyl-Guard with just 1 capsule.
What to Expect During MTHFR Treatment
Treating an MTHFR gene mutation will allow the body to produce more glutathione levels, which means toxins that have been hanging around that should have left long ago, will now be leaving the body. This process, depending on how toxic a person is, and whether they are heterozygous or homozygous for the MTHFR gene mutation, can bring about new symptoms such as fatigue and pain.
It can also have the complete opposite effect and a person can begin to feel pretty good physically and mentally with more energy. It’s important to drink a lot of water while treating an MTHFR gene mutation, but if 1 capsule of Methyl-Guard 1x per day is too much, then drop the dosage to 1 capsule every other day. Only increase to the next dosage when you can tolerate your current dosage well for 1 week.
Neurotransmitter Production and Other Gene Mutations
The MTHFR gene is responsible for the production of not just glutathione, but neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Low serotonin levels are common in people with chronic Lyme disease and treating an MTHFR gene mutation can help with production of neurotransmitters. Low serotonin levels have been linked to depersonalization and derealization, a symptom many with chronic Lyme disease experience.
Not to get too complex with the gene mutation scene, but if a person has an MTHFR gene mutation, they should check first for a CBS gene mutation. CBS gene mutations result in an excess of sulfites and ammonia in the body due to excessive taurine. It is recommended by Dr. Amy Yasko, MD that the CBS gene mutation be treated before the MTHFR gene mutation for at least 6 weeks.
Treating the MTHFR gene mutation before treating a CBS gene mutation will not allow glutathione to adequately be produced. It’s important to know that a chronic bacterial or viral presence within the body results in elevated, chronic levels of inflammation which places a greater demand on genes. This is where gene mutations make themselves known and why they need support now more than ever.
Additional Information and MTHFR Support
Dr. Ben Lynch says that a single mutated MTHFR gene (heterozygous or a mutation from just 1 parent) is working at about 70% efficiency, and a double mutated MTHFR gene (homozygous or a mutation from both parents) is working at about 30% efficiency.
Dr. Marty Ross, MD states that people with a single MTHFR gene mutation (heterozygous or a mutation from just 1 parent) should treat their gene mutation even though they only have a single MTHFR mutation. For more information about treating the MTHFR gene mutation, symptoms of an MTHFR gene mutation, and more, visit mthfr.net. For information on finding a practitioner who treats the MTHFR gene mutation, visit mthfrsupport.com.
Those with chronic Lyme disease who don't have an MTHFR gene mutation will still likely have depleted glutathione levels, but they won't be as low as those who have an MTHFR gene mutation. To make sure the body is producing adequate levels of glutathione for those with chronic Lyme disease who don't have an MTHFR gene mutation, it's important to make sure adequate levels of folate are obtained as well as supplementing with liposomal glutathione if need be as it can help with herxheimer reactions.
- Ross, Dr. Marty, MD. "MTHFR and Detox. A Lyme Byte." YouTube. N.p., 5 Oct. 2014. Web. 22 Sept. 2015.
- "Glutathione. Glutathione GSH Production, How to Make Glutathione."Prozac Truth. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2015.
- Yasko, Dr. Amy, MD. "Know Your Genetics." Your SIMPLIFIED Road Map to Health (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 22 Sept. 2015.
- "All Mutations | Genetic Genie." Genetic Genie. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2015.
- Lynch, Dr. Ben, MD. "MTHFR C677T Mutation: Basic Protocol - MTHFR.Net." MTHFR Net. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2015.
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