How Blood Tests Can Solve the Mystery of Detoxification
by Paul D. Rothwell, M.D.
With the Internet, it’s easier than ever to research information pertaining to contemporary health issues and personal wellness. From a clinician’s standpoint, this can create difficulty since there are more “snake oil” remedies and treatments available today than any time in modern history. The Internet can be full of questionable advertising tactics as well as suspicious information poorly supported by actual science.
Despite some of the misinformation circulating online, the availability of so much data brings the opportunity for more discussion between patients and their physicians. People are becoming more curious about their health. Today, it is not usual for patients to come into their doctors’ offices for appointments and request various tests that are not commonly ordered in the typical medical doctor’s office, particularly when it comes to detoxification and mind-body-spirit well-being.
Elevation of homocysteine in the blood is a cardiovascular risk factor, and it can also point to other things going on within the body. The methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene is necessary to convert homocysteine—one of the 20 amino acids—to methionine, one of the nine essential amino acids required for growth and tissue repair. There are two recognized genetic mutations of MTHFR, known as C677T and A1298C. If this mutation is inherited from one parent, it is called heterozygous. If it is inherited from both parents, it is called homozygous. The individual with the homozygous mutation is more at risk than the individual with the heterozygous mutation. A measurement of the homocysteine level is advised for patients that demonstrate this mutation. More importantly, the above mutation may signal a problem with an important step in the body’s detoxification pathway, known as methylation.
The good news is that the “fix” for this abnormality is simple once it is recognized. Supplementation with vitamins, such as methyl B12 and methyl folate, and sometimes B6, can help restore the methylation pathway and help control levels of elevated homocysteine. Other natural remedies that may help, include supplements such as SAMe and trimethylglycine.
The effectiveness of this approach should be monitored by a healthcare professional that has training and expertise in integrative medicine, since the warning of an impending cardiovascular event may not be overt. Some medical insurance companies have been open to the measurement of MTHFR, particularly if there is a personal or family history of cardiovascular disease.
Paul D. Rothwell, M.D., is a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians. He has been dual board certified in both family medicine and functional and regenerative medicine. For more information, email Info@WellnessOK.com or visit WellnessOK.com. See ad on page