Tag Archives: MTHFR

Do perinatal epigenetic changes affect child health?


The expression of the genetic code of our DNA is normally altered several times before conception, and during pregnancy, childbirth and later throughout life. This takes place through the natural switching on and off of genes in response to signals received from the child’s own cells and from the environment. This is called ‘epigenetics’. Although epigentic changes do not act by altering the sequence of the genome directly, if say a tumour suppressor gene is switched OFF, then the rate of mutations in cellular DNA can increase.

Hannah Dahlen, professor of midwifery University of Western Sydney, and founder of the group EPIIC (Epigenetic impact of Childbirth) talks about the research on epigenetic influences during the actual process of normal labour and childbirth in the movie we are screening on 20th Sep called Microbirth.

“In the EPIIC hypothesis, we propose that physiological labour and birth have evolved to exert eustress (a healthy, positive form of stress) on the fetus, and that this process has an epigenomic effect on particular genes, particularly those that program immune responses, genes responsible for weight regulation, and specific tumour-suppressor genes.

Reduced or elevated levels of the hormones cortisol, adrenalin, and oxytocin which are produced during labour may lead to fetal epigenomic remodelling anomalies which exert influence on abnormal gene expression. This reprogramming could manifest in a range of diseases and behavioural problems in the neonate and later on in the adult.”  http://theconversation.com/can-caesarean-sections-increase-susceptibility-to-disease-12334

more about epigenetics and health http://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/Epigenetic-Influences-and-Disease-895

The Popeye approach to hypothyroidism


Day 4 thyroid summit – MTHFR!

bens smoothieThe big surprise was that Dr Lynch didn’t reccomend any particular folate supplements, just the Popeye approach – green leafies and avoid synthetic folic acid. Very refreshing – given the panoply of potions on every internet doctor’s website. The girly looking pink prenatal smoothie is actually Dr Lynch’s webinar energy booster! He was a jackaroo in Australia in his youth so they have labelled it ‘cowboy smoothie’ but no drover would own that drink. Needs spinach.

Just one small possible snag – you can overdose on veggies if you juice as the idea is to be able to get more in than you could with just teeth. I’ve personally done it with buckwheat sprouts which have fagopyrins. Kale is goitrogenic  and so is spinach which are my favourite greens 😦 According to Dr Lynch my low dopamine levels contribute to taste addictions.

These are Non-Goitrogenic leafy greens:

red/green chard ( silverbeet)
swiss chard
red or green leaf lettuce
dandelion greens
arugala / rocket

from http://rawpregnancy.com/goitrogenic-vegetables-and-curing-hypothyroidism-with-raw-food-during-your-pregnancy/

Why is MTHFR and Folate so important for hypothyroid patients?

MTHFR = very long name of folate activating enzyme, not an F word! though I certainly felt like swearing when I found out from nerve damage that the vitamins in most supplements, and those added back to to refined food such as ‘enriched’ flours, are NOT ALWAYS ACTIVE. The term ‘vitamin’ doesn’t mean they are plug and play molecules, or even the same molecule – folate and B9 are umbrella terms for many structures. Bit like the term ‘fresh’ can actaully mean ‘stored for months’!

Some ‘vitamins’ like folic acid, do squat all except block cell receptors unless the body can convert them into active enzymes. Dr Lynch managed to simplify an incredibly complex scenario without any dizzying biochemical pathway diagrams. Folic acid needs little bundles of carbon and hydrogen (called methyl groups) created by the MTHFR enzyme in order for you to be able to make T3.  Genetic mutations that reduce the activity level of  MTHFR will reduce production of T3. They are relatively common, especially in ADHD children according to Dr Lynch. (Some people wonder if this is because the mutations may actually confer some other evolutionary benefit).

Why is Activated Riboflavin so important for hypothyroid patients?

Dr Lynch explained hypothyroid people are probably deficient in activated riboflavin (called FAD) since converting that vitamin requires T3. If you are FAD deficient the MTHFR enzyme cannot function properly even if your genetics are optimal. And then you will have less T3. Vicious cycle.  Result – your body is crippled because you can’t make SAM-e or recycle glutathione, two key components of the biological system. Glutathione is the body’s major antioxidant. Glutathione apparently neutralises hydrogen peroxide so perhaps testimonials I’ve read of people who have their hair colour restored are due to this; I’m looking forward to reversing my grey hair when my levels are optimised! 70% of SAM-e goes to produce phosphotidyl choline for cell membranes, and creatine, (that stuff body builders are so fond of.)

(You can buy activated riboflavin and any other MTHFR pathway supports easily from iherb.com who ship cheaply to Australia. I’ve never had any issues with customs as they use DHL. For some reason customs pounces on anything that comes in Fedex. They send it on anyway but it gets held up for weeks.)


I concentrated on Dr Ben Lynch and methylation defects because I have just done my 23andme DNA test which gives actionable information on the MTHFR methylation genes if you can do your own reporting. Smartdna in Melbourne and Pathway Genomics in USA through Nutripath, an australian pathology company, are some other labs that can test for this and provide reporting. MTHFRsupport.com.au is a good place to look for information for australians – look out for their folate, mthfr and pregnancy webinar on the 24th June. $25

If you want to get even deeper into genomics check out https://www.coursera.org/course/genomicmedicine Coursera provide free tertiary level instruction – amazing! I enrolled late but even though this finished, I can still access the course materials so I think you can just sign up anytime.


click to register for the free event or order the recordings to own for a reduced price of $67 before the end of the summit.

Here’s another hour with Dr Lynch and Dr Alan Christianson if you want the methylation cycle more fully explained complete with alphabet soup diagrams. http://seekinghealth.org/resource/mthfr-and-thyroid-disorders/ It was well worth patiently working through, and as he promises it gets easier after a few goes. Discussion of CBS pathway upregulation which Ben didn’t have time for, is on Day1 post

Of course there was so much more on day 4, anti aging hormones with Dr Pamela Smith, and Dr Tom O’Bryan talking on gluten. ( I think my blood literally ran cold when I saw his information thinking about a young lady I know who has worsening epilepsy on a background of a family tree riddled with autoimmune and GI tract issues. Are they missing the root cause? )


Iodine, Thyroid and Adrenal Health


Freebie Alert! Free thyroid health information 

lucy heronDay3Banner

click the picture to sign up for the summit

with THE original alternative thyroid health expert and a father of iodine therapy Dr David Brownstein MD   – very important as Tasmanian soils are the most iodine deficient in the nation and we have historical health problems because of this that have been resurfacing. Note the dates given are for USA so  June 4th is the 5th locally – there will be two presenters during the sessions who are practicing in Australia – Lucy Herron, i think she’s a kiwi originally and Dr. Greg Emerson, canadian by birth ( new members may also like to check out the astro pages on seaweed )

Here are some of my thoughts and notes from the shows so far –

Day One Dr Brownstein discussed basal body temp, ( basal means upon waking but before getting out of bed – 97.8-98.8 farenheit translates to 37 centigrade Lucy Herron went into more detail on day 2. Here’s how to test it and a handy metric basal temp chart http://www.essentialbaby.com.au/conception/trying-to-conceive/basal-temperature-chart-print-out-and-fill-in-20100907-14z6c.html Use a digital thermometer sold for ovulation monitoring which is more precise than a standard thermometer. You can find them at most chemist stores. (I’ve used a few ideas from a little ebook by Matt Stone called ‘eat for heat‘ to ramp up my own basal temp.)

For the well person the big news is cancer prevention with iodine sufficiency: Iodine is necessary for normal glandular architecture of the breasts, ovaries and prostate not just the thyroid; deficiency causes cysts and nodules and eventually cancer. I was flabbergasted to learn a couple of years ago from a commercial fruit grower how her own child developed a goitre from the home veggie garden. Before you start to think ‘pesticides’ their farm is organic “To nurture the soil, they use the clear clean water from the Derwent River and hundreds of tonnes of organic compost, seaweed fertilisers and nutrient-rich cover crops which they mulch back into tree rows.” So I think it’s safest to test your soil if you eat a lot of home grown vegetables and also test your urine iodine levels as these are simple to do and cost effective considering the implications. Since October 2009, iodised salt is used in all bread sold in Australia (except organic, or salt free bread) and also not home bread mixes, flour and not pizza. [1] In Tasmania the stat govt. has iodine monitoring and you can call the public health line for information  1800671738. Plants also grow better with extra iodine. Here’s a nifty article outlining the pros and cons of iodine fortification of plants as an alternative to iodised salt.

Day Two Tahoma Clinic Doctor Jonathan Wright MD  (whose excitable speech pattern reminds me of  Willy Wonka)  says testing free T3 and then reverse T3 if nothing else would suffice to check thyroid function in contrast to choosing a TSH level – the usual sole screening test run by physicians,.

TSH is a pituitary hormone and he pointed out that unfortunately the normal range was created from total population averages, not tests of optimal function.

Thyroid function tests—time for a reassessment

St John O’Reilly’s paper notes TSH has never even been correlated with physical symptoms. www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/320/7245/1332 This of course is true for other nutrients – Dr Bevin Hokin of the Sanitarium Hospital in Sydney has tried for years to point out that the reference ranges for serum B12 are too low – [2]

The usual method of deriving a reference range (Mean +/-2SD) results in a vitamin B12 reference range of around 130-850 pmol/L. This is an unsafe range as many in the population exhibit neurological symptoms of deficiency at much higher concentrations. The lowest concentration to be considered normal is 221 pmol/L. (Herbert 1996b)

Total T3 and T4 is stuck on binding proteins and is unavailable to the thyroid so measuring it is not helpful. TPO and TGA thyroid antibodies measurements can predict Hashimoto’s.

Dr Wright talked about chelating heavy metals out of the body in order to reduce inappropriate creation of reverse T3 when the body is not faced with starvation. If, when using DMPS to remove arsenic and mercury, an excess of sulphite is created from the sulfur not being metabolised efficiently due to molybdenum defficiency, the patient will have ‘foggy brain’ symptoms. I know this can also happen with common genetic mutations.

“People with mutations of CBS do not metabolise sulfur well and must limit sulfur containing foods as well as sulfur medicines. CBS is Cystathionine-β-synthase. CBS converts homocysteine into cystathionine. This pathway removes sulfur containing amino acids. When it is shut off there can be trouble.”

A simple sign you may be bad at detoxifying sulfur is a lot of burping or flatulence after eating onions and garlic – both high sulfur foods. [Ameer Rosic interview mp3]. If you have your 23andme genome test, CBS is tested. I use Amy Yasko’s website and http://geneticgenie.org/ to report on this (If that is all alphabet soup to you may email me if you would like help.)

The importance of testing adrenal function and providing the necessary support for these glands before supplementing thyroid was mentioned by both doctors. Vitamin C is at the top of Dr Wright’s helpful list – followed by simple salt. Also natural bioidentical cortisol in physiological doses (he reccomends  William Jeffries – ‘safe uses of cortisol’ ) cheap bulk Himalayan salt. is sometimes available at Astrotas meetings from Allan Wilton.

The toxic halides Bromine and flouride both interfere with iodine in the body.  In america the flour is brominated – but this is not an allowed in australia;  and we add iodised salt to our bread. Bread improvers may previously have contained bromine but this has been removed since the early 90’s. We do however use bromine instead of iodine now to sterilise milk vats, and some spa pools, and of course we continue to add flouride in many areas to our drinking water.

Here’s a link to the Harvard flouride review he mentioned  http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/fluoride-childrens-health-grandjean-choi/  “July 25, 2012 — In a meta-analysis, researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and China Medical University in Shenyang for the first time combined 27 studies and found strong indications that fluoride may adversely affect cognitive development in children. Some studies suggested that even slightly increased fluoride exposure could be toxic to the brain.  “Fluoride seems to fit in with lead, mercury, and other poisons that cause chemical brain drain,” Grandjean says. “The effect of each toxicant may seem small, but the combined damage on a population scale can be serious.”

Since both my parents have glaucoma I was really interested by other ideas from Dr Wright’s clinical experience which will be in his new book – 50% of glaucoma can be reversed with adrenal support. 70% of dry macular degeneration is due to a digestive problem leading to nutrient defficiency. His website is www.tahomaclinicblog.com/iodide