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S2E8: The Preliminaries with MTHFR

This week you’re continuing to symptom track and continuing to have patience because right now you are laying the foundation for a good methylfolate start. This phase, what I like to call the preliminaries, is all about priming your system for the giant load of methylated goodness that is going to come in and without this, things can get really rough down the road.

The “Preliminary Phase,” is the first of three phases for that MTHFR folks go through when they start working on this. This phase lasts through a successful 5-LMTHF start and means your body is opening up the metabolic pathways that are dependent on methylfolate. Once these pathways start spinning reliably, then you will enter another phase, which I like to call “Burning Through The Backlog.” When your body has caught up with its mountain of backlog, which can take months or years, then we enter the “Maintenance Phase.”

three phases of MTHFR - preliminaries, burning through the backlog, and maintenance.

Each of these three stages is equally important, but the preliminaries are relatively undramatic and underrated next to something as exciting as backlog. Giving your body the luxury of a solid start will help the backlog phase go much more smoothly and hopefully allow it to be faster, although that is my own conjecture.

With MTHFR, our bodies often have a backlog of unfinished business that needed methylfolate, but your body didn’t have enough resources at the time the business got started. These items go onto the physiological equivalent of a to-do list. In some ways the backlog shows up on a day-to-day basis – these are the unmanufactured neurotransmitters, the deficiencies of nitric oxide and glutathione and the excess of homocysteine. Most of these, however, are largely silent.

Toxins that can’t be methylated and therefore get diverted to long-term storage, unmethylated bits of DNA, unmethylated proteins and fats, and generally tasks that need doing. These build up and build up and as they accumulate, your body gets more and more desperate to start doing something about it.

obstacles to healing in MTHFR - the bucket and the backlog

The “something” your body wants to be doing can start to happen once you have reliable methylfolate and the background of other B vitamins, and once your body is confident about that, you enter the second phase, the “Burning Through The Backlog” phase. This is the heavy-lifting of the MTHFR journey and we’re getting ready for it right now.

So for this week, the best thing you can do is to keep tracking your symptoms. If you notice weird energy changes, strange new symptoms, anxiety, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, or any kind of wound-up feeling, reassess the vitamin B12 you started last week or previously with the other Bs. Remember that even though the methyl form is the most biologically active form, it is also the one most likely to cause symptoms. Actually, it causes symptoms specifically because it is the most biologically active form.

At this point you should also be maintaining the good MTHFR lifestyle things that we’ve talked about in the past. This means keeping up those food sources of natural folate – the natural folate, even though it does have to go through the MTHFR enzyme, will begin to get the wheels turning. Especially if you’re getting it in the absence of folic acid, which is known to block up the works. Unfortunately, many people who have had high folic acid exposure for years will continue to have high blood levels of folate on lab tests that we can only assume are mostly unmetabolized folic acid. It seems clinically as though it is difficult for your body to get rid of and so hangs around, cluttering up the works for a while.

Don’t be discouraged – just taking the folic acid out of your diet and supplements is a huge step forward for your body and allows some off that natural folate to reach receptor sites.

Other things to focus on this week are simple steps like hydration. We will talk more about the importance not only of water, but of hydration in a few weeks, but for now, just make sure you’re getting a lot of water. Anything that allows your methylation cycle to begin to move more freely is also going to encourage some detoxification, and you can’t get anything clean without water.

Also, sleep. As your body is able to methylate more, it is going to want the time and rest to do so. Prioritize both sleep and rest this week and through the coming months as your body really digs into this work. Sleep is when a lot of your detox processes happen and you’re going to be doing a lot of that.

I know this week doesn’t feel like we’re doing much, but it really does matter to create a good environment for all of the methylation processes to start happening, and also to open up these pathways in a slow and controlled manner. This is basically building the frame of a house before you put in the tiles and hardwood. The tiles and hardwood are far more interesting and way prettier, but without the frame, they’re useless. The 5-LMTHF start can feel strange at the best of times, but it’s way stranger if you aren’t ready for it.

Next week, we’ll talk about the actual 5-LMTHF start, what you might expect to see, and what weird feelings are “normal” versus the weird feelings that indicate a problem.

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