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.
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 drum||Typically mentally healthy, but overly driven|
|Depression – mixed neurotransmitter issues||Depression (low serotonin)|
|Paranoia or anxiety||Perfectionism (this can also look like anxiety)|
|Head and neck pain||Obsessive or compulsive tendencies|
|Highly creative and often gifted artists or musicians||Ritualistic 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 enhancements||Addictive personality|
|Food or chemical sensitivities||Seasonal/inhalant allergies|
|Sleep often disordered||Strong-willed|
|Diminished tears or saliva (low fluidity)||Excessive tears or saliva (high fluidity)|
|Highly empathic and sensitive||Frequent headaches|
|Pacing or constant movement||Poor concentration/mental endurance|
|High pain threshold||Low tolerance for pain|
|Ruminating – mind has a hard time shutting off||Self-motivated|
|Tend toward more hair (head and body)||Tend toward sparser hair (head and body)|
|Often reacts badly to SSRI medications – better with benzodiazepines||Often good reaction to SSRI medications|
|Often reacts badly to antihistamines||Often good reaction to antihistamines|
|Often reacts badly to estrogen therapy (or birth control pills)||Can have delusions or thought disorders|
|Passionate and self-sacrificing||History of high accomplishment|
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?
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.
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.