S2E31: COMT Fast

The COMT fast picture, as you can imagine, is the flip-side of COMT slow. This enzyme works too well, eliminating crucial substances before they have the chance to act. The most well researched polymorphism that contributes to this picture is the COMT Val158Met Val/Val pattern, but again total COMT activity is additive across all the COMT polymorphisms and is best determined by symptoms and personality.

Signs and Symptoms of Fast COMT

In terms of neurotransmitters, low dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine looks like:

  • Lack of enthusiasm
  • Relaxed, laid-back personality
  • Low motivation
  • Difficulty remaining focused on one task
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Addictive tendencies.

These neurotransmitters do double-duty as stress hormones and so we also see:

  • Suddenly shine in stressful situations, like they are at their best under pressure.
  • Stimulation-seeking – want lots of noise, lights, chatter in the work environment, and chaos to get their neurotransmitters fired up.
  • Sleep easily
  • Tendency toward restless legs and constipaton
  • Typically better with caffeine or other stimulants.

COMT also affects estrogens – meaning it lowers them – and so people with fast COMT often have:

  • Dry skin
  • More prone to osteoporosis
  • Often started their menses later than their peers
  • Symptoms related to low estrogen such as .moodiness, irregular periods, absent periods,
  • Lower tendency toward hormonal cancers including breast and prostate. 
  • Potentially lower sex drive

Remember that other gene SNPs can affect these same neurotransmitters,  and hormones, but if you have this symptom pictures then addressing the situation is appropriate no matter what your gene report says.

The COMT fast genotype carries with it some superpowers as well. On a surface level, the COMT variants get divided into Warrior and Worrier pictures.  COMT fast, because of the lower level of stress hormones, falls into the warrior category.

We say warrior, because stressful situations truly do make people with the COMT fast genotype shine. While others are overwhelmed or overstimulated, these folks are in the zone, at peak performance, and completely on-point. COMT fast folks are well suited to working in emergency rooms, the trading floor on Wall Street, or possibly on the race track. They also have a gift in terms of shifting between topics or areas of focus quickly. None of us are good at multitasking, but COMT fast folks can switch between tasks and activities with ease. This remarkable skill is called cognitive flexibility.

Managing a Fast COMT

Step 1: Balance Your Methylation.

As we discussed, the COMT enzyme is dependent on healthy methylation, so the first thing you would do in this situation, just like in COMT slow, is to optimize your methylation. Get your basic B vitamins, find the best B12 for you, and add a methylation driver like 5-LMTHF or SAMe. Optimize your doses of those things based on how you actually feel and how your symptoms look on a symptom tracker. If you don’t have one yet, you can get a free symptom tracker by signing up for the newsletter at tohealthwiththat.com.

Keep in mind that with a fast COMT your neurotransmitters are naturally low and pushing methylation drivers in this case can make a huge and immediate difference to your mood and affect. Getting good methylation drivers into the works will help tremendously.

Step 2: Optimize Your Diet

Protein boosts dopamine, which is exactly what you want with fast COMT. In a fast COMT situation eating a high protein diet will keep those flagging neurotransmitters up for a good mood and focus. Focus on a higher protein meal at breakfast, and lunch, and have a moderate protein dinner so the neurotransmitters don’t interfere with sleep.

Adding in high magnesium foods helps as well because magnesium is one of the best nutrients for a fast COMT. Look for dark green leafy veggies, low-fat dairy, nuts, and legumes. The magnesium will also balance the tendency toward constipation, muscle cramps, and restless legs.

Step 3: Stimulate

Such a big part of this picture involves stress hormones, and so balancing the helps to optimize performance. This means:

  • Like the slow COMT counterparts, declutter your home and keep it tidy. A calm, chaos-free environment reduces stress hormones, which is not as crucial for COMT fast folks, but it also makes focus easier.
  • Interrupting work with activities that give your brain a dopamine boost, like video games or a quick burst of exercise. Just make sure you’re keeping it in check because these things can become addictive in low-dopamine brains.

Step 4: Balance the Hormones.

As I said last week, balancing hormones is an entire podcast series in itself. Still there are a few things you can do in low hormone states as well:

  • Seed cycling. It’s too much to get into right here, but here’s a link to a detailed article. It’s a lovely way to help balance and regulate hormones safely.
  • Herbal medicines. Shatavari, black cohosh, and red clover are all known to boost estrogens in a relatively safe way, but it is best to work with a knowledgeable practitioner.
  • Exercise to build muscle mass and reduce fat. Dropping estrogens can decrease lean muscle mass and gaining muscle mass helps to balance and regulate all of your hormones.

Thanks so much for listening today and next week we’ll review glutathione before we talk about some of the SNPs that can affect levels. Please subscribe so you don’t miss any episodes and if you like what we’re doing here, I’d really appreciate it if you’d leave a review. Thanks so much!

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