Many of my clients are quite knowledgeable in the area of natural health. Some of them ask me, “Should I get tested for MTHFR?” My answer is usually no, which surprises a lot of people.
Since my reasoning for that answer is a bit in-depth and involves information that is not easily found, I figured I’d put it all into one post. Whether you’re familiar with MTFHR or not, this information is something I encourage you to consider.
But before we get into that, let’s briefly explain what this curse-word-looking abbreviation is.
MTHFR (or 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase for long) is an enzyme that, according to the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics “catalyzes the conversion of 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate to 5-5-methyltetrahydrofolate, the primary circulatory form of folate, and a cosubstrate for homocysteine remethylation to methionine.”
MTHFR is an enzyme. An enzyme is a substance that speeds up chemical reactions. Enzymes help almost every chemical reaction in our body. The efficiency of an enzyme can be sped up or slowed down by many different factors. MTHFR matters because the last product in its pathway, methionine, is converted to another product that can donate something called methyl groups. Methyl groups can be donated to many different parts of the cell and play an important role in the function of DNA and proteins.
Layman’s Terms: It’s a genetic methylation variance that many in the natural health world say causes many health issues and requires the supplementation of folate, along with some other things.
But there are some dire misconceptions about this topic that I’ve noticed are negatively affecting my clients and others, so the following are things to contemplate on this topic:
MTHFR is not a diagnosis; it’s a predisposition.
We live in a diagnosis-driven society. The entire conventional mindset is set upon achieving a diagnosis. “If I can just get a diagnosis…” We are brainwashed to label and categorize everything according to human standards.
Because of this inherent thought pattern in our society, it’s a natural byproduct for someone to take something like the discovery of MTHFR gene variances and wear them like a diagnostic badge. It becomes a part of one’s identity like those who wear the identity of depression or autoimmune disease.
When we use it as a diagnosis, we run the risk of worsening our health by:
Standardizing care (which is ironic considering it’s a more common health topic in the holistic arena which promotes that there is no one-size-fits-all); see more on this below.
Taking on the label as part of our identity (which is dangerous for any health issue or concern; Scripture says “As a man thinks, so is he.”)
Using it as a scapegoat and potentially ignoring other important factors
It’s important to remember that any MTHFR variance is really a predisposition. A predisposition like lifestyle factors such as having a family history of diabetes or having a history of use of prescription drug use.
The presence of the defective gene does not necessarily translate into a functional defect.
~Judy Tsafrir, M.D., holistic adult and child psychiatrist and psychoanalyst
It is all part of the pharmaceutical companies’ plans.
Genetic testing is big business.
I mean really big business.
And not just in the human health industry. It’s big business in the animal/veterinary industry as well. In speaking to a veterinarian who has been in the field for decades, he attested to the presence of this big business in that industry.
Genetic testing is expensive, and the only companies that are going to spend time and money researching it are ones that can profit from it by the development of drugs.
I don’t even have to make a case for this, because the company used for testing for MTHFR variations, 23andme, started [officially] partnering with drug giants in 2015, beginning with Genetech and then GlaxoSmithKline in 2018 for the development of drugs.
So the personal genetic information from 5 million 23andme customers seeking to test for MTHFR variances is now being used in the production of pharmaceuticals.
“By working with GSK, we believe we will accelerate the development of breakthroughs,” 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki
I don’t have any evidence to show that this was part of the plan all along, but it isn’t too farfetched to think that could have been the case when we see how this all works in the industry.
MTHFR is only one of dozens, if not hundreds, of methylation variances currently being researched.
Why aren’t we talking this much about MTR, MTRR, Cbl mutations, Carbamoyl phosphate synthetase I deficiency, or any of the dozens, if not hundreds, of other methylation variations/mutations currently being researched?
For one reason: Big Pharma hasn’t found a way to profit off of them yet.
MTHFR got hyped up because it was all part of the plan.
Mark my word. We will see others come into the picture that will be the next huge thing. And then drugs will be developed for them too.
Could knowing all these variations be a good thing? In some ways, I believe it could.
In other ways, I foresee it becoming incredibly overwhelming and like chasing a dead end.
This leads to my final point:
The things that should be done for it are the same things everyone should be doing anyway.
Everything that I’ve ever recommended for my clients with any MTHFR polymorphisms are the same things I recommend for everyone. They include:
Avoiding folic acid (synthetic folate found in many multivitamins, fortified foods like breads and boxed cereals, etc.)
Supplement with good-quality B vitamins
Make sure they contain folate (or methylfolate) and not folic acid. (Click here for the supplements I use/recommend.)
Regular heavy metal cleansing
Don’t eat junk
Address emotions and stored feelings that cause disease and weaken the liver
A couple of other important things to keep in mind:
Histamine and methyl are inversely related. High histamines almost always have one or more of the following root causes: 1. Low progesterone 2. Low Vitamin C 3. Insufficient stomach acid . Optimizing progesterone is crucial since MTHFR is blamed for a lot of miscarriages that are easily avoided by optimizing progesterone levels. Optimizing stomach acid is a crucial part of restoring levels of B vitamins (and all the other nutrients) in the body.
There is never a one-size fits all with these variants. According to Dr. Tsafrir, there are some of the healthiest foods promoted currently that are not beneficial for those with low serotonin and undermethylation, including avocados and leafy greens. Those with undermethylation also tend to do poorly on vegan/vegetarian diets. And much of these factors and the amount of supplemental nutrition needed depends on blood type as well.
Too much methylfolate can make low serotonin people who are undermethylated feel much worse and it can even increase their risk of developing cancer. Balance is key. Dumping a bunch of supplemental methylfolate is an example of standardizing care that should not be done.
In conclusion, MTHFR variances matter. I’ve seen benefits from confirming these variances in some of my clients.
But dozens of other genetic polymorphisms and factors matter too.
What matters most is that we are faithful to honor our body as God’s temple by making good choices, turning from food addictions, and prioritizing the care of our body. And not focusing solely on physical health but also on emotional and spiritual health as well, and how these contribute to physical health symptoms.
I am definitely not saying that no one should get tested for this and I’m not saying everyone should either. I have seen value both ways in my clients. There is never a one-size fits all. Everything must be individualized and all the factors weighed out. That’s the heart of HOLISTIC health.