Pioneers in the field of Nutrient Therapy, such as Carl Pfeiffer, MD, PhD and William J. Walsh, PhD, President of the Walsh Research Institute, have found abnormalities in methylation and elevated or reduced levels of histamines in the body to be central to many different behavioral or mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, panic disorders, and even classical paranoid schizophrenia. The effects of being over or under methylated or of having abnormalities in histamine levels are vast and often debilitating… but the good news is that there exists completely safe and natural remedies for these imbalances! And the power, speed, and efficacy of these natural remedies can be a source of great hope and relief for sufferers of mood disorders, including depression, anxiety, and other upsetting conditions that are not uncommon in an increasingly toxic and often stressful modern way-of-life.
BIOTYPE 1 – Undermethylators (38% of depression population):
Some of the common characteristics of this depressive group are: OCD tendencies, calm exterior but high inner tension, competitive, perfectionistic, addictive tendencies, and high libido. Undermethylators may be benefited by SSRI medications, but often with side-effects. The Nutrient Therapy approach would most likely include the addition of methionine or SAMe. These amino acids contribute a methyl compound and increase total serotonin production. Other important supplements include inositol, B6, calcium, magnesium and vitamin C.
Folic acid is absolutely not recommended for these types.
BIOTYPE 2 – Overmethylators (or “Low-Folate Depressives”) (20% of depressed population):
Some of the commonly recurring characteristics within this population are: high anxiety, panic, noncompetitive in sports or games, food/chemical sensitivities, high musical or artistic ability, underachievement, sleep disorders, and low libido. This subtype tends to do poorly with methylation and in fact do very poorly with SSRI antidepressants. This is because they have plenty of serotonin, but they lack B12 and Folic Acid. Likewise, SAMe and methionine are not recommended. An effective nutrient therapy would seek to enhance acetylation and suppress methylation for these patients, folate and niacinamide being excellent supplements for this.
Excellent Podcast Below Featuring William Walsh PhD on Bulletproof Radio Discussing Methylation
One-carbon (methyl) groups are integral to the synthesis of neurotransmitters, genetic expression, metabolism, and other crucial biochemical reactions. Methylation, also referred to as the methyl/folate ratio, turns cells on and off through histone bodies which are connected to the dna. DNA is responsible for the production of proteins which can express in the form of enzymes, hormones, inflammatory cells, neurotransmitters, and more. Methylation affects anything that is produced by the differentiated cells of the body. As far as brain function is concerned, methylation is a major player in the synthesis of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, three neurotransmitters whose proper balancing and healthy levels are essential for the maximized functioning of our brains and for the maintenance of a healthy emotional life.
In overmethylated patients there tends to be an abundance of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine whereas undermethylated patients tend to be depleted in these essential neurotransmitters. Within the realm of behavioral disorders, what is crucial is the enzyme which is responsible for returning serotonin to the originally releasing neurotransmitter (a process referred to as reuptake).
- When methylation is high (“overmethylation”), the enzyme levels that return serotonin back to the releasing neuron are low and there is increased serotonin activity. When methylation is low (“undermethylation”), the enzyme levels will be in excess and the serotonin activity will be low.
- Additionally, overmethylation inhibits expression of the genes, of each cell in the body. It does this by causing a folding of the DNA structures. Undermethylation will cause DNA to unfold, making it more expressive. Folding of the DNA diminishes the activity of that DNA which are responsible for the daily producing of critical hormones, enzymes and other types of proteins etc. All of these factors contribute to conditions ranging from autism to alzheimers, depression and anxiety. Understanding this new science gives us an opportunity to more successfully utilize natural remedies for mood disorders and healthy brain activity in general.
More than two decades ago, Dr. Pfeiffer studied the metabolism of over 20,000 patients suffering from schizophrenia and kept running into the phenomenon of severely deficient levels of histamine in these patients, later referring to this low histamine syndrome as “histapenia”. Histapenia was found to be common in his classical paranoid schizophrenic patients, as well as those suffering from anxiety and panic disorders. The histamine deficiency also coincided with nutrient deficiencies, specifically folic and and/or B12, and with an overload of copper. Based on these findings, Dr. Pfeiffer enacted an aggressive therapy regime using B12, B3, and folic acid for these patients… and had tremendous success! The patients experienced dramatic improvements, and Dr. Pfeiffer attributed the success to the elevation of histamine levels. Ensuing studies have pointed to the role of the methyl/folate ratio and its normalization as being critical to these favorable outcomes.
- Elevated histamine indicates undermethylation, and there are symptoms which may point to this being the case for an individual, for example: seasonal allergies, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, being strong-willed, perfectionism, and high-libido, just to name a few.
- Some conditions associated with undermethylation are OCD obsessive compulsive disorder, trichotillomania, oppositional-defiant disorder, competitiveness, bulimia, anorexia, impulsivity (gambling/shopping disorders, etc), depression, schizoaffective disorder, and delusions.
On the other hand, overmethylated persons typically suffer from food/chemical sensitivities, dry eyes, and a severe intolerance to SSRI medications (such as Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, Luvox, Paxil, Zoloft, etc), and have strong association with anxiety and panic disorders, low motivation, paranoid schizophrenia, hyperactivity, anxious depression, learning disabilities, and even hallucinations.
At Second Opinion Physician we request labs to be done for all patients (appropriate to the information gathered at initial consultation) in order to assess nutrient levels, and which includes testing for methylation levels, so that we might then effectively prescribe natural remedies for mood disorders.
- If a patient is found to be overmethylated we typically treat with folic acid and B12, plus a focus on dietary considerations (for example, perhaps recommending an increase in animal skin, cartilage, and gelatin consumption in order to provide B vitamins and proteins which naturally counter excess methylation). B12 and folic acid therapies can noticeably slow down methylation symptoms within 2 weeks to 2 months.
- If methylation is low, we strive to increase serotonin production naturally, with supplements/nutrients such as B6 and Zinc and may recommend adding methionine to the patient’s diet, which comes naturally from muscle meats. We may also recommend the addition of SAMe, which is a fast-acting and more readily available methylator. Patients may see major effects with methionine in about 1-3 months, and even more quickly with SAMe treatment.
Methylation and histamine-level balancing is just one example of the nutrient-based approach to health taken by Second Opinion Physician. By using natural remedies to balance brain chemistry and improve methylation status we can tackle even the most tenacious mood disorders, behavioral disorders, combat anxiety, and treat depression naturally to create more overall health and emotional balance for otherwise suffering individuals.
Listen to William Walsh PhD Podcast with Bulletproof Radio: