*Updated on 5 Feb, 2014*
Gather together some MTHFR patients and start talking about what ails them. There’s a laundry list of associated illnesses for people with methylation defects and those illnesses do present among MTHFR patients. Autism, cancer, heart disease, fibromyalgia, infertility and recurrent miscarriages, Parkinson’s disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome and stroke are just a few of the chronic conditions where MTHFR gene mutations have been identified as a contributing factor. So any doctor who tells you that MTHFR isn’t a big deal either doesn’t know what he is talking about or is lying through his teeth. Because that inability to detoxify that I’ve been talking about doesn’t just apply to household chemicals, medications and foods that you’re allergic to. It also applies to toxins like viruses, bacteria, fungus and parasites, which we are literally plagued with. And this is where the health problems start to come into the picture. If you haven’t been tested for MTHFR it’s probably because you haven’t gotten sick (yet).
It is important to remember that a methylation defect does not usually cause health problems all by itself. As Dr. Kendal Stewart of NeuroSensory Centers of America explains in his methylation overview:
Most health conditions in society today are multifactorial in nature. In essence, there is an underlying genetically determined risk that requires a significant infectious or environmental “trigger” to initiate the process….if an individual has enough mutations or weaknesses in their methylation pathway, it may be sufficient to cause the multifactorial disease by itself, as methylation cycle mutations can lead to chronic infectious diseases, increased environmental toxin burdens and have secondary effects on genetic expression.
His linked paper is very interesting and I strongly encourage anyone dealing with methylation issues to read it for an explanation of how these issues all tie together. As he notes in his excellent series of podcasts about autism and contributing factors, we’ve all been exposed to toxins. Most human beings have some latent germy junk lying dormant in our systems just waiting for that moment of trauma or period of suppressed immunity to rear their ugly heads. Proper treatment of chronic health conditions cannot occur without exploring all possible causative factors. And I’m not sure how well-known this information is among your average doctors and patients.
I will be exploring the subject of methylation-related health conditions in this new series here on MTHFR Living. We will explore not just neuro-immune diseases but also other related illnesses and health conditions. If you feel overwhelmed by all of this and perhaps a little down on yourself for having these mutations, please don’t. Consider the fact that our environment has become increasingly more toxic since the Industrial Revolution. Children are exposed to dozens more vaccines at an earlier age today than they were in 1983. Our food sources are less clean and have fewer nutrients than they once did. Viruses and bacteria are pervasive, even if they exist simply as latent infections that act together to complicate things. I’ve recently updated the resources page on this site to include informational websites on some of these ‘root causes.’ If you’re having chronic health problems it is essential to get to the bottom of what is causing them. We cannot blame everything on MTHFR and other gene mutations.
Some recent pieces of media that I’ve come across in my research will be wonderful for allowing health practitioners to explain these factors to you. These people are either experts in this area and/or see this multifactorial causation with their patients or in their research on a regular basis. The first item is a great lecture by Dr. Randall Tent of Diverse Health Services in Novi, Michigan. The first hour of this lecture focuses on the story of how SV40 was introduced to millions of people with the polio vaccine. I have read quite a bit about SV40 and the most important thing I learned, especially after reading The Virus and The Vaccine: The True Story of a Cancer-Causing Monkey Virus, a Contaminated Vaccine, and the Millions of Americans Exposed (St. Martin’s Press 2004), is that we are not safe. This history proves that government health agencies cannot be completely trusted to protect the people and balance the interests of the human population with those of the pharmaceutical companies. The corruption and incompetence demonstrated in this book will astound readers.
So if viruses can cause cancer, what else can they cause? And what viruses are we talking about here? The cancer viruses discussed in the aforementioned studies include Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), human papillomavirus (HPV), human T-lymphotropic virus Type 1 (HTLV-1) and Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). If you’re short on time, jump to the second half of Dr. Tent’s lecture and listen to the case studies of patients and their symptoms and the root causes he discovers. He runs a viral panel on his patients that includes tests for EBV, cytomegalovirus (CMV), herpes 1 (HSV-1), herpes 2 (HSV-2), herpes 6 (HHV6), herpes antibodies (HSV), parvovirus B19 and thyroid antibodies. His patients have complained of conditions like lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS), fibromyalgia, arthritis, muscle aches, muscle spasms, night sweats, headaches, numbness, Bell’s Palsy, blurry vision, tinnitus, sinusitis, food allergies, digestive issues, hives, encephalomyelitis, chronic pain and swelling. Tent discovered viruses in most of his patients.
Dr. Stewart also talks about viruses as co-factors in his patients, who are being treated for conditions like autism spectrum disorders (ASD), headaches, ADD/ADHD, vertigo, Alzheimer’s, dementia, MS, fibromyalgia and chronic pain. So far I have listened to his first three podcasts, which mention sources of inflammation like viruses, fungus, parasites, spirochetes, vaccines, antibiotics, yeast and bacteria, which contribute to what he calls “Neuro-Sensory disorders.” Among these he mentions HHV6, streptococcus, parvovirus, varicella zoster virus (VZV) and other herpes simplex viruses (of which there are at least 24). I encourage a listen to the podcasts even if you aren’t dealing with autism; just as Dr. Amy Yasko’s methylation work can benefit everyone, so can Dr Stewart’s work on the causative factors of neuroimmune disease. Any work related to ASD is significant for people suffering from chronic neuroimmune diseases because of the work of Richard A. Van Konynenburg, Ph.D., who drew parallels between chronic fatigue syndrome and autism.
The causative effects of biological toxins like viruses and bacteria are also supported by other research in the scientific community. A 2010 study found that chronic bacterial and viral infections are involved in the progressive chronic diseases discussed in this post, along with others that I have not mentioned. EBV has been linked to systemic autoimmune diseases (SADs) like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic scleroderma (SSc) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Another study found the EBV, CMV, HHV6 and HHV7 viruses to be strong pathogenic triggers for MS. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis may be caused by the human herpes virus. Parvovirus B19 has been linked to miscarriages, rheumatoid arthritis and SLE. These are just a few samples pulled from the available literature.
So what does all this have to do with MTHFR? Dr. Stewart talks about a genetic predisposition to chronic health problems like ASD. Certainly a discussion about the relationship of MTHFR to each illness is outside of the scope of this blog post. But put very simply, pathogens like viruses and bacteria cannot be effectively killed and eliminated when methylation is impaired. Gut problems, which are common when people are not detoxifying properly (usually due to a decrease in glutathione levels), lead to a weakened immune system, which triggers the re-activation of latent viruses and bacteria. So in the same way a disease is caused by many factors, methylation defects contribute multiple causative factors to chronic health conditions.
I hope you will join me in this new series as we explore our various ailments. I will delve further into some of the autoimmune and neuroimmune disorders mentioned in this post in more detail as the series progresses. In the meantime, if you are suffering from chronic illness or unexplained symptoms, it may be a good idea to speak to a knowledgeable doctor about potential viral, bacterial and other biological causes and the appropriate testing.
Immunosciences Lab Comprehensive Viral Panel
Health EBest Autoimmune Panel information
Mayo Clinic Mayo Medical Laboratories Natural Killer (NK) Cytotoxicity Profile