What is methylation? In simple terms it is a process in which certain chemicals called methyl groups or methyl donors are added to various constituents of proteins, DNA and other molecules. These are needed to keep them in good ‘working’ condition.
For example, if the brain chemical serotonin is not methylated it will become inactive which in turns leads to depression. This is just one of the many ‘chemicals’ in the body that need to be methylated and if they are not can lead to serious health consequences.
Another important chemical that requires the methylation process is homocysteine. Homocysteine is a by product of an important amino acid – methionine – and is what remains when methionine is used to methylate your proteins and DNA. Homocysteine needs to be methylated to convert it back to methionine. If methyl donors are not available, the conversion back to methionine is hampered, producing elevated homocysteine. Both undermethylation and overmethylation can cause distressing symptoms. If either of these conditions are present, there are nutritional therapies to help correct the imbalance.
Overmethylation is the biochemical opposite of undermethylation. It is characterized by elevated levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, low whole blood histamine, and low absolute basophils.
Typical symptoms include:
Chemical or food sensitivities
Low sex drive (libido)
Obsessions but not compulsions
Tendency for paranoia and auditory hallucinations
Underachievement as a child
Heavy body hair
They usually respond well to B-12, niacinamide, DMAE, choline, manganese, zinc, omega-3 essential oils (DHA and EPA) and vitamins C and E, but should avoid supplements of methionine, SAMe, inositol, TMG and DMG.
Signs, symptoms & indicators of Methylation, Excess
Worse by SSRI use
Helped by benzodiazapines
(High) chemical sensitivity
The generalization that perfume and other chemical sensitivities are associated with overmethylation, low blood histamine, and elevated norepinephaine… is exactly that…a general rule with many exceptions.
However, the correlation seems to be above 90% in the case of perfume sensitivity. Whenever a patient enters our clinic wearing a mask to filter out inhalant chemicals, we immediately suspect the overmethylation syndrome. The chemical testing usually confirms this diagnosis, but there definitely are a few persons who have severe perfume sensitivity for other reasons.
We’ve evaluated about 19,000 persons, including about 1500 with anxiety disorder or panic disorder. Hundreds of these patients reported sensitivity to perfumes. Nearly 90% of the perfume-sensitive group were overmethylated, and reported multiple chemical and food sensitivities. Usually in the absence of seasonal inhalant allergies. Perfume sensitivity is a classic symptom of these high nonepinephaine persons, who usually respond beautifully to folate/B-12 therapy [1 Dec -03] [Willam Walsh, Ph.D., past senior scientist, Pfeiffer Treatment Center www.hriptc.org]
Good pain tolerance
High body hair quantity
A 'foggy' mind
Being a sociable person
Difficulty achieving orgasm
Conditions that suggest Methylation, Excess
More than 40% of all clinically depressed men are undermethylated and benefit from therapies which enhance methylation. Another 15% or so are overmethylated and need to head for the other goal line…… namely avoidance of methylating supplements and use of folate therapy. [Willam Walsh, Ph.D., past senior scientist, Pfeiffer Treatment Center www.hriptc.org]
Risk factors for Methylation, Excess
Worse by SAMe use
Feel worse with antihistamine
Recommendations for Methylation, Excess
Omega 3 type fatty acids, such as from fish oil, flax seed oil or the supplements EPA and DHA.
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Compounds composed of hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen present in the body and in foods that form complex combinations of amino acids. Protein is essential for life and is used for growth and repair. Foods that supply the body with protein include animal products, grains, legumes, and vegetables. Proteins from animal sources contain the essential amino acids. Proteins are changed to amino acids in the body.
Deoxyribonucleic acid, the large molecule that is the main carrier of genetic information in cells. DNA is found mainly in the chromosomes of cells.
A phenolic amine neurotransmitter (C10H12N2O) that is a powerful vasoconstrictor and is found especially in the brain, blood serum and gastric membranes of mammals. Considered essential for relaxation, sleep, and concentration.
An organic acid containing nitrogen chemical building blocks that aid in the production of protein in the body. Eight of the twenty-two known amino acids are considered "essential," and must be obtained from dietary sources because the body can not synthesize them.
Essential amino acid. Dietary source of sulfur and methyl groups. Important for proper growth in infants, nitrogen balance in adults, healthy nails and skin and the synthesis of taurine, cysteine, phosphatidylcholine (lecithin), bile, carnitine and endorphins. It is an antioxidant nutrient and lipotropic agent which promotes the physiological utilization of fat.
A neurohormone; precursor to norepinephrine which acts as a stimulant to the nervous system.
(Norepinephrine): A catecholamine hormone secreted from the adrenal medulla and post-ganglionic adrenergic fibers in response to hypotension or emotional stress.
A chemical in the body tissues, produced by the breakdown of histidine. It is released in allergic reactions and causes widening of capillaries, decreased blood pressure, increased release of gastric juice, fluid leakage forming itchy skin and hives, and tightening of smooth muscles of the bronchial tube and uterus.
The basophils account for about 1% of the granulocyte count (60 to 75% of the white blood cells). They release chemicals such as histamine and play a role in the inflammatory response to infection.
Hypersensitivity caused by exposure to a particular antigen (allergen), resulting in an increased reactivity to that antigen on subsequent exposure, sometimes with harmful immunologic consequences.
Also known as hay fever, this is an inflammation of the nasal mucous membranes that is caused by specific allergen(s). It is an allergy characterized by sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, a runny or stuffy nose, coughing and a burning/scratchy sensation of the palate and throat.
Apprehension of danger, or dread, accompanied by nervous restlessness, tension, increased heart rate, and shortness of breath unrelated to a clearly identifiable stimulus.
A false or distorted perception of objects or events, including sensations of sight, sound, taste, smell or touch, typically accompanied by a powerful belief in their reality.
Vitamin B-12. Essential for normal growth and functioning of all body cells, especially those of bone marrow (red blood cell formation), gastrointestinal tract and nervous system, it prevents pernicious anemia and plays a crucial part in the reproduction of every cell of the body i.e. synthesis of genetic material (DNA).
(Vitamin B-3): A coenzyme B-complex vitamin that assists in the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Essential for the health of the skin, nerves, tongue and digestive system. It is found in every cell of the body and is necessary for energy production. Niacin is also needed for DNA formation.
A lipotropic substance sometimes included in the vitamin B complex as essential for the metabolism of fats in the body. Precursor to acetylcholine, a major neurotransmitter in the brain. Choline prevents the deposition of fats in the liver and facilitates the movement of fats into the cells. Deficiency leads to cirrhosis of the liver.
An essential mineral found in trace amounts in tissues of the body. Adults normally contain an average of 10 to 20mg of manganese in their bodies, most of which is contained in bone, the liver and the kidneys. Manganese is essential to several critical enzymes necessary for energy production, bone and blood formation, nerve function and protein metabolism. It is involved in the metabolism of fats and glucose, the production of cholesterol and it allows the body to use thiamine and Vitamin E. It is also involved in the building and degrading of proteins and nucleic acid, biogenic amine metabolism, which involves the transmitting of nerve impulses.
An essential trace mineral. The functions of zinc are enzymatic. There are over 70 metalloenzymes known to require zinc for their functions. The main biochemicals in which zinc has been found to be necessary include: enzymes and enzymatic function, protein synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism. Zinc is a constituent of insulin and male reproductive fluid. Zinc is necessary for the proper metabolism of alcohol, to get rid of the lactic acid that builds up in working muscles and to transfer it to the lungs. Zinc is involved in the health of the immune system, assists vitamin A utilization and is involved in the formation of bone and teeth.
Volatile terpene derivative responsible for the odor or taste of a plant.
Docosahexanoic Acid. A metabolite of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid.
Environmental Protection Agency. Also: Eicosapentanoic Acid. A metabolite of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid.
Usually considered part of the vitamin B complex. It is thought that along with choline, inositol is necessary for the formation of lecithin within the body. Involved in calcium mobilization.
Tri-methyl-glycine. After supplying a methyl group, TMG becomes di-methyl-glycine. DMG, a natural component of animal and plant metabolism, positively influences the immune response in laboratory animals and humans and boosts physical and mental performance.
A condition whereby an affected individual has recurrent and unexpected panic attacks and worries a great deal of the time about having another. The individual may also have persistent concern or fear that a panic attack might cause unrelated health problems or a demonstrable change in usual behavior. The symptoms of panic disorder must be present for at least one month to confirm the diagnosis.
A measure of an environment's acidity or alkalinity. The more acidic the solution, the lower the pH. For example, a pH of 1 is very acidic; a pH of 7 is neutral; a pH of 14 is very alkaline.