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Overmethylator or Undermethylator… What Is Your Basic State?

Different Opinions of Methylation

There are several different versions of this conversation floating out there on the web, and this is a point that matters very much in terms of finding the right MTHFR solutions for you.

Typically, people with MTHFR mutations have one of three basic states – overmethylation, undermethylation, and neutral methylation. Knowing your basic state can help you to track your progress on your MTHFR journey, and know when you’re headed in the right direction.

overmethylation and undermethylation - which one is you?
Which way do you lean on the methylation spectrum?

Undermethylation, according to the Walsch Research Institute, is the most common human state at around 45% of the population. Neutral methylation makes up another 40% of the population and Overmethylation constitutes the remaining 15% of the population, solidly holding the black-sheep positions in most families. Most people will have symptoms and personality traits on both sides of the spectrum, but you might notice more of a trend in one direction or the other.

Overmethylation (15%)Undermethylation (45%)
Marches to the beat of their own drumTypically  mentally healthy, but overly driven
Depression – mixed neurotransmitter issuesDepression (low serotonin)
Paranoia or anxietyPerfectionism (this can also look like anxiety)
Head and neck painObsessive or compulsive tendencies
Highly creative and often gifted artists or musiciansRitualistic behavior
Low motivation or hyper-motivated but only in what is interesting to them (not globally).High motivation
Self-mutilation or heavy on the tattoos, piercings, and other body enhancementsAddictive personality
Non-competitiveCompetitive
Food or chemical sensitivitiesSeasonal/inhalant allergies
Sleep often disorderedStrong-willed
Diminished tears or saliva (low fluidity)Excessive tears or saliva (high fluidity)
Highly empathic and sensitiveFrequent headaches
Pacing or constant movementPoor concentration/mental endurance
High pain thresholdLow tolerance for pain
Ruminating – mind has a hard time shutting offSelf-motivated
Tend toward more hair (head and body)Tend toward sparser hair (head and body)
Often reacts badly to SSRI medications – better with benzodiazepinesOften good reaction to SSRI medications
Often reacts badly to antihistaminesOften good reaction to antihistamines
Often reacts badly to estrogen therapy (or birth control pills)Can have delusions or thought disorders
Passionate and self-sacrificingHistory of high accomplishment
Do you lean toward one of these?

This is One Place Where I Don’t Agree With Ben Lynch

Some people, with the notable MTHFR expert Ben Lynch being one of them (if I’m interpreting his work correctly – feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, Ben!) seem to use the term “overmethylated” as synonymous with either “over-supplemented” or “pushing methylation pathways too hard.” (I”m getting this idea from this post on MTHFR.net).

Others, like myself and Dr. Walsh of the Walsh Research Institute, use the term more to describe a person’s basic natural tendency based on their genes and also the ways their genes are influenced by the environment (epigenetics). Of course someone in this view who is overmethylated can also over supplement, but their basic state, personality traits, and natural tendencies are still those of an overmethylator. Truly, how often do you see the overachiever (undermethylator) of the family turn into the black sheep (overmethylator) because of a supplement, and then stop it and turn back into the overachiever?

are you an overmethylator or an undermethylator? You might be able to guess just based on these images.
Can you tell your basic state just by comparing yourself to these two pictures?

Using Your Basic State As A Guide

Understanding and using both your basic state and your symptom profile can help you to understand when you’re moving toward health and more balance, or in the opposite direction toward imbalance and disease. I like to think of it as pushing my own pathology.

This is a great way to help you understand when you’re on track because some of these symptoms are easy to track and might change before more serious physical issues shift. For example, it’s easy to tell if you’re having a good or bad day for ruminating, when your concentration is clearer or when you’re not quite as perfectionist as you usually are. These are easy for most people to rate on a symptom tracker, but might not be things they would have put onto the symptom tracker if they didn’t know their basic state. More long-term issues like inflammation or blood pressure respond more slowly. This can be a very immediate tool to help you assess your symptoms today.

overmethylator or undermethylator? Either way, balancing your methylation will help you.
Whether you’re an overmethylator or an undermethylator, balancing your basic state can only help.

So, Will I Suddenly Have A Different Personality?

Absolutely not. The passionate artist or activist is still going to be a passionate artist or activist, but they will be more balanced and more able to keep themselves healthy while being a passionate activist. Likewise, the highly competitive overachiever will still be a highly competitive overachiever, but they’ll take better care of themselves, take breaks for sleep, not push themselves so far into damage in order to overachieve. Balancing your methylation doesn’t change who you are. It unlocks the best of you.

Thanks so much for tuning in and if you can, give me a shout and let me know if you’re an overmethylator, undermethylator, or a neutral methylator.

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4 Comments

  1. JRolli JRolli

    As overmethylator, C667T, finally diagnosed 25 years later with akathesia from antidepressants with pharmacogenetic testing, current local pharmacologist still denies “nutrient” mthfr connection with genetic polymorphisms as current significance prior to surgery for total knee replacement, ortho MD clueless about my history of akathesia from NSAIDS (despite neutral CYP2C9) and troubled by deviation from standard pain medication protocols, your article hallmarks all this–hurrah!. How to proceed with beginning consultations with you? Have consulted with Functional MD and Naturopath who were disappointedly unable to do more than “protocols”.

    • I”m so sorry to hear about your struggles – it really is hard to find someone who has any ideas on how to work with overmethylation, and its related issues at all, especially when you have a medication history. I’ll shoot you an email and we can start there, or you can schedule something here, or here. I look forward to talking with you, and if you’re not sure yet if you want to schedule the full hour and a half first visit, we can schedule a free 15 minute consult to see if it feels like a good fit.

  2. Paula Moreshead Paula Moreshead

    Dr. Amy,
    I am really appreciating your podcasts and learning more about methylation issues. I am trying to encourage one of my daughters to set up an appointment with you. She is lost when it comes to supplementation, and of course, what is working for me is not necessarily going to work for her. I will definitely keep trying! And, you will hear from me/her. Keep up the good work!
    Paula

    • Thanks so much, Paula! I love to hear that it’s helpful for you. Maybe sending your daughter a link to the Start Here page would help her get begin to sort things out? I hope this helps!

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