Why focusing on the MTHFR gene mutation alone won’t fix your health problems

Susan Hunter Children's Health, Mental Health Leave a Comment

Currently there is a lot of hype in the complementary health community about the MTHFR gene mutation and many of my patients have already researched their health problems and the role having this gene mutation could be playing in their health before they have come to see me. More people with chronic health problems are becoming aware of the MTHFR gene mutation and being tested for it.

So what is MTHFR?

MTHFR stands for methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase and it’s an enzyme that converts folic acid to an active form of folate your body can use. This enzyme works in the methylation cycle to help our bodies to do the following:

Healthy replication of DNA in cells

Turning genes on and off

Processing hormones

Producing energy

Building immune cells

Building and maintaining cell membranes

Producing protective coatings on our nerves

Producing and releasing neurotransmitters (serotonin, melatonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine & GABA)

Metabolising neurotransmitters (dopamine, histamine and epinephrine)

Detoxifying chemicals, endogenous and xenobiotic compounds

All of this is pretty important stuff. Yes, we want to replicate healthy DNA! You can see the significance of wanting to get that pathway working well. I routinely incorporate methylation support as part of my treatment approach for patients that need it in my clinic. Often I have a number of treatment goals i am trying to achieve with a patient and methylation support is just one of them.

The fixation on just this one genetic mutation by some people is something I commonly encounter. What many people fail to know is that there are many other enzymes involved in the methylation pathway that they carry mutations for. You can be having trouble with the methylation cycle working properly and not even have the MTHFR mutation. Instead there are other enzymes not working efficiently in other parts of the cycle due to (often) many other gene mutations.

Taking a broader view

The fixation on MTHFR can mean that other contributing causes of your ill health are overlooked because treating MTHFR takes centre stage. We need to put things in perspective. It’s one gene. Involved in one small part of one of many thousands of biochemical pathways in the body.

What is good to remember is that we are all individuals with our own unique experience of our health issues. The causes of our health issues are often due to a number of different causes that overlap. It’s important to look at the role our digestion, stress levels, hormones and immunity play in our current health picture too. It is important to not take a myopic approach to treatment.

The ideal approach

What we want is to understand the role the individual biochemical pathways and gene mutations play as well as being able to take a step back and draw the connections between the role of other systems in the body. If you know you have the MTHFR gene mutation and want to know more about it’s role in your health it’s important to never self prescribe and treat your MTHFR mutation.

Look into working with a health practitioner that is not just focusing on MTHFR. You want a practitioner that is able to understand and treat your health problems both micro and macroscopically. You are a person, a unique one at that and that’s how you should be treated.

Category – Mental health, Kids health  

Sub category – Depression, Anxiety, Insomnia, Stress Management, Histamine intolerance, Methylation

Susan Hunter
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Susan Hunter

B.Hsc (Naturopathy), B.A. (Psych) at Healthful Clinic - Founder and Director
Susan Hunter is a double-degree qualified naturopath, a published academic author and the founder of Healthful Clinic. She writes widely on mental health, digestive conditions and children's health.
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