Whilst eternally integral for human function, the topic of methylation has, of late, taken on a cult status in the health field and all the cool kids are talking about it.

So what is it, what do you need to know about it and do you need to fix it?

Methylation: Let’s start at the beginning

Methylation is an essential biochemical process of the body. Without it, we couldn’t survive.

Think of it like a relay race with a methyl group (a simple carbon atom attached to three hydrogen atoms) as the baton. Methyl groups are passed from one molecule to the next (i.e., to your DNA or proteins). The addition of a methyl group then allows that molecule to function as intended.

Methylation is responsible for every process in your body, from breaking down neurotransmitters and clearing hormones to regulating your DNA and manufacturing your body’s master antioxidant, glutathione.

So what does that mean for me?

Well it means there’s a direct correlation between your body’s ability to methylate and disease. Diseases like allergies, cancer, bipolar, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity, addictions, oestrogen dominant conditions like endometriosis and fibroids, or infertility and miscarriage. Diseases that we feel are beyond our control and for which we are often over-medicated. Diseases that could be addressed with an understanding of the methylation process and at very least assisted with highly targeted nutrients, minerals and vitamin protocols.

Big call.

Dr Ben Lynch (for the foodies out there, he’s like the Pete Evans of biochemistry) posted a recent FB update this week which stated:

…defects in methionine metabolism [aka methylation probs involving that amino acid] may be related to breast cancer risk in BRCA carriers…If you are low in choline, you are more susceptible to breast cancer. You have to change the PROCESS of how the cancer got there in the first place. Choline deficiency is a big one. (28 Sept 2014)

Now I’m not suggesting supplementing with choline is the cure for breast cancer. But by supporting the methylation cycle of methionine and addressing a simple choline deficiency in those at-risk groups, could we not be lowering their potential for disease?

How do I know if I need to fix it?

So, if you’re suffering ill health, fatigue, whacky hormones, have a family history of chronic disease or simply are considering shares in Merck Sharp & Dohme to support your Claratyne habit, you could probably do worse than to think about how your methylation processes may be crying out for some attention.

Not only could it help your current health problems, but also go some way toward supporting you if you’re wanting to take preventative health measures (especially if, for example, you know grandpa, grandma and great aunt Georgina all had high blood pressure and a dodgy ticker.)

We can go a certain way by listening to your immediate symptoms and concerns, your health history and your family’s history in gauging potential problematic areas, and making some small dietary and supplemental changes may be all that’s required to make a big impact.

Or if you really want to find out the root of the problem, we move into the arena of genetic testing.

Genetic Testing

I’ll walk you through the what, whys and how’s of having your genetic profile generated and analysed in a later post, but if you want to get a start, you can take a look at 23andme (though I now use a different company – ask me for details)

The “Mother” of all genes, well the one that’s creating the biggest fuss at the moment anyway, is the gene controlling folate metabolism, MTHFR. True to its name, it can be … t r i c k y … to treat correctly. If you’d like to read a bit more about it (to get in with all the cool kids) click on the links: MTHFR and Folate/Folic Acid metabolism.

But methylation is not just about issues with MTHFR and the folate cycle. It’s about your entire body. It’s huge. It expresses not only in disease, but also in a bunch of symptoms that may be difficult to pull together. Things like brain fog, unexplained fatigue, aching joints, headaches, insomnia, depression and anxiety, food intolerances (despite your best efforts in mastering both kefir and bone-broth) … even a hatred of eggs (who could hate eggs?? ops, except for my vegan friends 🙂

Which is why it’s important to understand the bigger picture and how methylation, or maybe lack of, is expressing its unique signs and symptoms via what’s showing up for you in your mental, emotional and physical body.

If the multi you bought at the chemist is doing nothing for you or your moods are crashing or swinging wildly despite your daily intake of green smoothies, green tea and green sandwiches (kale between 2 slices of kale. OK I made that up, but I bet there’s someone out there doing it) then it may be time to consider how an impaired methylation cycle could be impacting your health.

Kate is a qualified naturopath who is passionate about helping women heal from hormonal havoc and inspiring women to know their own power, worth and wisdom.

Kate offers one-on-one Skype consults for irregular cycles, PMS and period pain, endometriosis, PCOS, peri-menopause, mood swings, fatigue and mental and emotional stress.

Simply drop me an email to see how I can help you!

18 thoughts on “Methylation and You”

  1. Such an big, important topic. Thanks for doing such a great job at simplifying it Kate! Would be awesome if you held a talk on the topic ….

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment Bobby-Jo! And yes, a talk is definitely a possibility … thanks for the feedback 🙂 x

  2. Thanks Kate, I now understand this better! Just been and read your earlier posts of folic acid and MFHTR, really interesting. Love your work!

  3. thanks for making this topic so much easier to understand.
    i think i’ll be saving up for some genetic profiling 😉
    love your work!

  4. Hi Kate. I have the MTHR gene. Just wondering does everyone who has the gene need to go on supplements. I have had chronic fatigue and other health problems for years. THis gene has only been discovered recently in my tests. It seems alot of health practitioners dont know alot about how to or whether to deal with it. I actually purchased some of Ben Lynchs supplements but some made me feel worse. DO you feel confident in treating it?

    1. Hi Barb,

      Thanks for your comments and in my experience, it’s rarely just to do with MTHFR. There are a multitude of SNPs involved with other genes which can impact your overall health. MTHFR is only part of the picture. So there are 2 ways we can go about it:
      1. Work on your presenting symptoms and treating via your regular pathology tests which still may give us a clue as to your other methylation issues; or
      2. Have your genetic profile done via 23andMe which gives us a better understanding of the genes which are, in fact, expressing.

      No. 2 is a much more costly exercise so it really depends on which approach you take (and actually which variant of MTHFR you have).

      And yes, without knowing the right supplements and how much, you can in fact, feel much worse on methylated/activated supplements so you’re right in not trying to do this on your own.

      And supplements may be indicated depending on your symptoms, but it can always start at a dietary level regardless.

      If you’d like to discuss further feel free to give me a call.

      Cheers Kate

  5. Hi Kate,

    I really enjoyed this post on MTHFR issues. I’ve been hesitant for some time in opening up this can of worms due to possibly feeling worse from treatment as so many people do. I’ve had very chronic health issues for some time and cannot afford to go even further backwards in health.

    I have seen other people having success with treating MTHFR mutations with Kinesiology without having negative reactions. Your name came up in my research as a practitioner who is trained in the genetic side of things but also qualified in Kinesiology. What are your thoughts on treating MTHFR mutations using Kinesiology rather than large amounts of supplements?

    1. Hi Scarlett,

      Thanks for your comments and what a great question!

      I have a great deal of respect for kinesiology in the right hands. What I mean by that is, in my opinion, there are far too many people who have done a weekend course in a different modality like Touch for Health that call themselves kinesiologists and without regulation, it can be hard to discern a trusted practitioner.

      I have a very select group of practitioners I trust in the area and as you cleverly noticed, having studied it myself, I’m pretty stringent on my criteria! 🙂 (Just for the record, I never completed my studies in kinesiology, am not qualified as a kinesiologist nor practice it myself as the call to Naturopathy was stronger and it was the path I followed.)

      So as a Naturopath who has done a lot of research in the area of genetic polymorphisms, my first reaction to your question is I think you have to look at diet, herbs and supplements to help balance the SNPs that are problematic for you. But sitting with it for a while, you may be right. Whilst I see great success with targeted supplements and herbs, the fact is, this whole area is based around not just genetics, but epigenetics and most of that is driven not only by lifestyle, but by our own thought patterns, beliefs and emotional pain. And this is precisely what kinesiology addresses, as do many other energetic modalities.

      So, great question and in truth, my answer really is a bit mixed:
      a) I think kinesiology is a perfect partner in dealing with genetic polymorphisms
      b) Whether we’re at a point in consciousness to truly allow healing and shifts in genetic mutations purely via energetic means? I guess that’s up to the individual
      c) I believe we do still need physical support at a cellular level which is the genius of the energetics of plant medicine and very specific supplements and find them quick and effective treatments
      d) I don’t believe you need large amounts of supplements to treat MTHFR or any other genetic SNP. Less is always more. And in some cases, the right advice with minimal but targeted intervention could work out more cost effective than numerous energetic sessions.
      e) Finally, I’m a strong believer in gathering a team. No man is an island and we all need different approaches and support at different times. I really wouldn’t use ‘one or the other’ or think one is better than another. I truly believe working on a mental, emotional and physical level are key to really restoring health, especially on a genetic blueprint level. I actually think it’s healthy to have multiple modalities for different stages of your journey, and as a Naturopath, I also have to vouch for the impact I see on my clients in this area via natural medicine.

      Thanks for the great question Scarlett,

  6. Thanks so much for your reply Kate, I think a combined approach is a great idea and like you said there doesn’t seem to be one treatment to suit all but more of a combination and using different treatments at different stages of healing as well. Thanks again 🙂

Comments are closed.



6 Tips to Love-up Your Lungs

How often do we even think about lung health? I mean, you’re here because you’re interested in hormones right? (Me too. Lucky that!) And typically ...
Read More →

Taurine – The “LBD” of Women’s Health

Taurine has appeared in my periphery everywhere this month and after stopping to take a deeper look, it really has become my new favourite “Little ...
Read More →
perimenopause mayhem woman on bed

Perimenopause Mayhem | Stress, Mood, Sleep

Back in my student days, I recall only two seminars that have really stuck with me to this day. One was seeing the genius women’s ...
Read More →
Scroll to Top