Crash Course on MTHFR

I’ve mentioned MTHFR a few times and I will be curious to see what if anything changes on the hair test this year since we’ve been addressing MTHFR for a year now. In light of that I don’t think anyone should get lost in treating methylation but I think it is part of the whole picture so I’ve decided to do a brief post on it.

What is MTHFR? A gene that is supposed to make an enzyme to convert folic acid into methylfolate. In people with MTHFR variants C667T or A1298C this process isn’t happening efficiently due to an improperly made enzyme. The gene is the instructions to make the enzyme but in this case it produces an inadequate enzyme. Basically the gene code isn’t set up to make a fully usable enzyme for this process. It works to a certain percent but this is not adequate enough and may lead to methylfolate deficiency.

So why is this a problem? The problem is you need methylfolate for your methylation cycle which is responsible for enzymes for all sorts of processes in the cells. We need it to make brain chemicals, immune cells, hormones, assist with detoxifying chemicals or metals, and to make energy in our cells. (ATP production) Methylation is also needed for RNA and DNA repair and production, It’s repairing genes and making sure they duplicate correctly. It seems this enzyme to convert folic acid to methylfolate is really important.

So where did things go wrong? We seem to have run into a problem when governments decided to add folic acid to all our processed flour in order to prevent neural tube defects. While it’s been helpful for preventing neural defects it may have become a problem for people with MTHFR variants since they aren’t efficient at processing synthetic folic acid.  This may lead to folate deficiency/ Without it the methylation cycle will slow down. This may increase risk to some people for health issues.  In autism it seems to create a susceptibility to heavy metals. While the methylation thing is actually more complex than this, I realize most of us are not biologists so I’m trying to keep it simple.

We have MTHFR, now what? There isn’t any reason to panic if you do have MTHFR variants because it’s easily treated with a few supplements in the right forms to get those methylation wheels spinning and to avoid folate or MB12 deficiency. The solution is to not rely on the enzyme your MTHFR gene is making because it’s not working at 100%. Skip the enzyme by giving the body already made folinic/folate and methylcobalmin.

Some people seem to benefit from P5P, TMG (methyl donors) or other forms of B12 but this is something that requires trial and error to figure out what works best for that individual. The key is start only ONE thing at a time, start a low dose and see how things go.

I do note that some people do have issues with methylfolate and may not need to take it every day. We ran into this issue after several months on it.

What about chelation? I have often heard it from others who were told that they could not chelate or detoxify until they addressed methylation. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to address methylation (it can’t really hurt) but the clarification that needs to happen here is when you chelate using Andy Cutler chelation, you are not relying on the body’s own detoxification system to remove metals.  You are going around that system using chelators to bind and take metals out. Many of us have chelated extensively and improved and later found out we had MTHFR. Having it is not a contraindicated to chelation on the Andy Cutler chelation protocol.  If you know your child has MTHFR, treat it and chelate. If you don’t know and they have autism, treating it anyway isn’t a bad idea. You could always test for it later on if you feel the need and the testing would not be affected by having already treated it.

Can we test for MB12 deficiency? Yes but not using the standard serum B12 testing that doctors normally run. This test will find a few cases of B12 anemia when the B12 comes up low. However, with MTHFR many of us come up high on serum B12 testing and there is a reason for that. It means many of us are actually MB12 deficient and it’s being missed because it’s mistakenly assumed we are high when we aren’t. Serum B12 measures synthetic B12, unusable B12 and it may pick up folic acid in the blood too. It tells you nothing about B12 status unless it’s actually low. B12 testing explained.

Since this is just a crash course, I’ve only touched on MTHFR very lightly with some basic information so you can decided what, if anything, you wish to do about it. The key is not to over focus on this as a cause of everything else. Treating it does not fix most issues in autism but it certainly doesn’t hurt to treat it and it in many cases it is very helpful.

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The results of our LDN and antivirals

We had our follow-up with the doctor today to go over labs and touch base on progress after changes made in March following his lab results. This time we checked his thyroid levels, CBC with Diff, DHEA, Ferritin, Insulin, Comp Metabolic 14 Panel, thyroid antibodies.

Just to refresh what’s been going on this past few months we have been treating him for a viral and low immune system issue, hypothyroidism, anemia and nutritional deficiencies.

We were very pleased with the results because he is making progress! So that long list of antivirals and immune support he’s been taking daily since March has worked. His CBC with Diff is normal for the first time since 2011. His thyroid antibodies have come down to a normal range. Would be nice to see them even lower but from a diagnostic standpoint he no longer has “Hashimoto’s autoimmune hypothyroid”.

He is however, still hypothyroid on 1/2 grain of NatureThroid so we will be working to increase his dose slowly and repeating labs in a few months.

Ferritin came up nicely to 53 so we can cut back and phase out his iron supplement. Hopefully, he holds the levels, but if not, we might need to start it again.

DHEA is normal for his age now and ironically we never supplemented this. It isn’t really safe to use in children prior to the completion of puberty. All we did do was support his adrenal glands with adrenal cortex glandular, and give him thyroid hormone…that alone reduces the stress on the adrenal glands so they can make more DHEA!

I’m excited that our remaining supplement list is much lower now.

I also wanted to share that we have seen a significant reduction in anxiety and have been

Compounded Troches (Gummies) Image Credit: http://www.betterlivingmedical.com

able to reduce his theanine to once a day since raising thyroid meds. It is so amazing how adrenal symptoms are so often driven by low thyroid hormones and so easily corrected with a little thyroid hormone. We do need to finish out his Low dose naltrexone therapy for another 2 months though but he has no symptoms from taking it and doesn’t mind the gummies. (compounding pharmacies are a blessing, not on my wallet but eh..I’ll pick my battles!

I still have him on Citicholine for other reasons and I will continue reading about MTHFR because it my next post I talk about the problem we ran into with methylfolate.

Now we just hope these improvements stick off of the antivirals.

Low Dose Naltrexone

We began at 1 mg of low dose naltrexone at bedtime as per the doctor’s instructions in March. Generally the starting dose is higher but she wants to eliminate/reduce any side effects if possible. From what I read there are usually few side effects and they usually subside in the first week.

The primary symptoms usually reported are sleep disturbances which can be insomnia or vivid dreams.

His first night at 1 mg, he did report bad dreams and he wasn’t too happy about it. The next night I only gave half of a milligram instead. That seemed to eliminate the bad dreams but he is having trouble getting to sleep. He either up late or waking up in the middle of the night.

After 2 weeks I increased the dose to 1 mg as per the doctor. So nightmares are back and he’s not happy at all about that. Who would be? I talked to the doctor again to clarify how long and if that will go away. She suggested we move dosing to daytime which would entirely eliminated the issue.

That did eliminate the issue thankfully. Today we moved up to 1.5 mg. Our target dose is 3.5mg. In three months blood work will be done to see if the viral issue is gone.

We are also using immune supporting herbs and antiviral herbs daily.

I am adding lysine now that I found one that dissolves in juice easily.  Ironically on all these antivirals and there is no yeast overgrowth so that’s a win I owe to chelation.

I was going to also add in olive leaf but I cannot gag down the olive leaf tincture I bought…so that’s not going to work. We have not started niacinamide yet but it’s on my radar because of its usefulness in autoimmunity but I do have him on selenium daily.

I will post when I have more conclusive results from doing the antiviral/immune regulation treatment. I suspect I won’t know more until summer when we see his blood work. To date, sensory is unchanged but hopefully this will help his immune system and thyroid function.

Viruses? Still?