When we don’t consider pathways, cofactors, and precursors, it can be extremely discouraging. As I’ve related, I (Joe) have experienced first-hand the cycle of supplementing in an attempt to fill a deficiency and feeling better for a while, just to have hopes come crashing down again as discomfort and symptoms return. This is both a physical and an emotional roller-coaster ride that comes from being unable to pinpoint the deficiency what cofactors or precursors help absorption. Sometimes it takes persistence and further investigation to get to the heart of the issue; we must know our deficiencies as well as the influencing assistance of other factors that aid the intake of these elements. Additionally, before supplementation can be successful, we must make sure that pathways aren’t blockaded in order for the body to even be able to accept the nutrients. You may be wondering how your pathways can be cleaned. One powerful method of opening up the body’s pathways is to implement a systematic approach to detoxification (the removal of heavy metals, pesticides, toxic chemicals, and other environmental pollutants that disrupt the body’s regulatory and communication systems; more on detox in a bit). Beyond this, none of these measures will be completely successful until the principles in this book have been implemented and followed as a lifestyle.
In addition, I (Joe) often recommend a strategic detox for most individuals long before I suggest they start consuming a new supplement or nutrient. Detox is a regimen that actually begins by cleaning up our diet and adding lifestyle changes such as increased sun exposure and quality sleep. Detoxing the body’s communication pathways prepares the body to receive nutrition, and can help minimize nutrient-overload.
No Cookie-Cutter Regimen
Often, we view natural healthcare practitioners as experts at dealing with each case of MTHFR or methylation impediment. However, the fact that this issue can be impacted by everything from genetic makeup to what we eat and put on our skin makes it far too ambiguous for these professionals to effectively trace and pinpoint. They have a limited amount of knowledge about us (the extent of that knowledge is literally confined to the information exchanged during office visits), while they’re being asked to share with us their expertise regarding the most complicated, vague, and anomalous questions concerning our health. Likewise, the seeker is often looking for that “magic, silver bullet” supplement or that “cookie-cutter” regimen that has been proven to reverse symptoms and “solve the problem.” While many devoted individuals in this field are qualified and capable, the personalized nature of MTHFR variants and other methylation issues and their need for exclusively tailored treatments can mean that the path to relief requires open communication, patience, persistence, and the understanding that there’s no one-size-fits-all method for treatment.
Please know that I truly understand that putting all of this together and allowing time for the body to respond—while searching out cofactors and precursors in conjunction with trying to unblock pathways—can seem overwhelming. At times, when you experience a downward tick (such as my descent from methyl mountain), you may feel defeated and financially deflated, having put many resources into the wrong (often costly) supplements. I urge you to keep an open mind, and try not to become discouraged. During moments like this, those who become frustrated may be tempted to believe that the natural path is both expensive and ineffective. This isn’t’ the case, but you need to fully understand that successful treatment may take time, persistence, patience, and even some trial and error until you can dial in on the right strategy.
Natural Life: The First Step
It bears repeating that the wellness techniques presented in this book are the first step you can take toward good health, and this is true for proper methylation as well. These principles have secured a more consistent and sustainable health for me (Joe) than any other methodology available. I get my vitamin D from sunshine, my choline and vitamin B-12 from farm-fresh eggs, and my riboflavin (B-2) from dark, leafy greens. I’ve never enjoyed long-lasting wellness that compares to the quality of life I currently maintain, and it’s because the way God created our bodies to interact with His creation was done with purpose, intention, and abundant provision. However, it was intended to be followed as a lifestyle. Supplements are wonderful, but we can’t “supplement” our way out of a sedentary way of life, a reckless diet, or sleep deprivation. We have to prioritize our health, then follow the protocol each day—regardless of whether it is convenient (this is especially true for those with MTHFR variant or other methylation issue). We simply must commit to guard our wellness and see it through.
If You Really Want to Know
If you feel that information on your genetics may give you insight on your health, and you want to obtain a genetic test for MTHFR deviations or other genetic variables, they are available through medical doctors, many natural healthcare practitioners, and even online. If you find that you have one of these mutations, we cannot stress to you enough the importance of understanding that this does not equate to a future diagnosis of disease. Remember that environmental culprits can impact methylation as well as genetics, and genetics can adapt to operate differently, depending on your decisions. Thus, you’re not limited to, nor are you equivalent to, the numbers that show in your genetic code. After all, a those diagnosed with an MTHFR variant may develop a heightened vigilance with which they guard their health with every precaution, ultimately resulting in better overall health than others who may have had no genetic predisposition to poor methylation, but who took no precautions regarding their health. Thus, our proactive lifestyle choices can contribute more to our overall well-being than our genetic code.
However, a diagnosis of an issue such as an MTHFR variant can alert us to the fact that we, potentially more than most people, need to be very careful about following the principles outlined in this book. Knowing about a condition such as MTHFR variant will also let us know that our body (if left unaided) may have more trouble absorbing vitamin and mineral supplements than the average person, and merely adding deficient nutrients may not solve the problem. For those with methylation issues, it is extra-important to take in vitamins and minerals in conjunction with precursors and cofactors, and to take in these elements through diet as often as possible. Also, because the detox process may present additional challenges, it is imperative to be extremely cautious regarding what we put into our bodies in the first place, especially for those with a diagnosed methylation disorder. Healthy, organic food, free of chemicals, dyes, flavor enhancers, or other toxins are vital for future health. Make a resolution to avoid simple carbs, toxic ingredients, and processed or prepackaged foods. Additionally, avoid harsh household or commercial chemicals, paint fumes, heavy perfumes, or topical hygienic products such as deodorant containing aluminum, which the body has a difficult time ridding itself of. We can’t emphasize enough how important it is, in today’s world (filled with pollutants, toxic food ingredients, and other exposing elements), for everyone to take intentional strides toward detoxing their systems, but this is particularly true for people who are struggling with methylation difficulties.
MTHFR: Not The Cause or the Illness
While MTHFR isn’t considered the underlying cause of chronic illness, it is gaining recognition by many doctors as contributing to the body’s inability to overcome certain difficulties. Also, 50 percent of the American population and 95 percent of autistic or spectrum disorder patients show evidence of MTHFR variation.[i] It is possible that you’ve been on a vague, ill-defined quest for answers to ambiguous health issues. If this is the case, it could be that poor methylation (such as MTHFR or similar condition) has contributed to your anomalous health issues. For many, uncovering this key ingredient in their own cycle toward wellness has opened doors for treatment and healing that would have otherwise been closed. However, many struggle with methylation unaware and fail to realize that the correlating symptoms can be as subtle as folate and B deficiency, fatigue, shortness of breath, constipation, loss of appetite or unintentional weight loss, muscle weakness, numbness, tingling, or pain in the hands or feet, dizziness or loss of balance, mouth sores, mood changes, or anemia (which may manifest signs of fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, or irregular heartbeat, and for which a person should consult a doctor).
It has been well emphasized at this point that the principles in this book will help you develop a healthy lifestyle which, on its own, will likely improve your methylation and natural well-being. However, there are additional steps you can take to alleviate the physical challenges that come along with MTHFR and other methylation problems. Here are a few suggestions:
- Remove all grains, alcohol, sugar, and processed foods from your diet immediately.
- Avoid environmental toxins such as artificially scented air fresheners and non-natural cleaning chemicals.
- Switch to natural skin and hair products (this includes lotions, toothpaste, and deodorant).
- Exercise to detox—if you are physically able. Make sure you work up a good sweat! (Infrared saunas can help as well.)
- Get more sleep, and better-quality sleep.
- Increase greens and cruciferous veggies—an important source of B vitamins!
- Talk to your natural healthcare practitioner about taking methylated folate (vitamin B-9), methylcobalamin (B-12), betaine in the form of TMG, NAC, glutathione, pyridoxal-5-phosphate (vitamin B-6), riboflavin, (vitamin B-2), and curcumin.
- Decrease stress, and spend time in prayer and meditation regarding the good things God has done for you.
- Eat fermented foods (as mentioned previously).
- Take regular detox baths (discussed in upcoming pages).
- Limit exposure to wi-fi technology and avoid activities that require prolonged digital screen time.
- PLEASE NOTE: A small number of people with MTHFR (if you can imagine) actually over-methylate! They are unable to tolerate methylated products well, if at all. Therefore, folic acid and methylfolate, methylcobalamine, etc. (often presumed to be the go-to regimen for those starting treatment for MTHFR), will make their symptoms worse. (I [Joe] believe, at least in part, this is one of the reasons for the challenges I’ve experienced.)
Because of the burden placed on the body’s sensory and communication pathways by today’s environmental pollutants, toxic food ingredients, topical chemical compounds, and other elements we’re exposed to daily, detoxification is one of the most important things we can do for our health. Detox is not a one-time event, it’s part of a lifestyle that we must discover and follow faithfully, each and every day. When considering detox, keep the following three points in mind:
- There is no one-size-fits-all method for detoxing; everyone’s body is different.
- As mentioned previously, when we live by the principles endorsed in this book, we organically dwell in a detoxifying lifestyle. Thus, before subscribing to any detox regimen, implement these habits and allow your body time to adapt to them before adding an actual detox method or any additional supplements/protocols. (In this way, this book is the guide for a healthy, safe, long-term detoxification plan for your body.)
- Possibly most importantly: Understand that any additional measure you take to attempt detox should be done with the help of a natural healthcare practitioner. Detoxing can be dangerous if the method you choose is too fast or too severe, because it demands a lot from the body. I (Joe) once did a detox procedure too quickly and used measures that were too extreme, and because terribly nauseous for six weeks. I later learned that when we do this, the body can go into mild shock, and the symptoms can include bowel disruption, stomach cramps, gas and bloating, headaches, skin irritation, fatigue, mood swings, cravings, restlessness, insomnia, sinus congestion, low-grade fever, cold or flu-like symptoms, and anxiety. Additionally, we may have secondary elements inhibiting the body’s ability to detox—such as the possibility of a parasite—which may require the help of a natural healthcare practitioner for identification and treatment. (Parasites, while outside the scope of this book, can be the culprits or contributing factors to anomalous and recurring health issues. For those suffering with persistent health troubles, it may be beneficial to address this possibility with the assistance of a natural healthcare practitioner.)
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The liver plays a vital role in detox by processing and packaging unwanted toxins (pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, etc.) for removal from the body. However, once prepared, they still need to be physically expelled from your body—either through defecation, urination, breathing, or sweating. As discussed earlier, the gut also plays an enormous part in the daily detox processes. This, in part, is why we have placed so much emphasis on gut health throughout this book. Our gut flora must be healthy and balanced with the correct bacterial makeup, and it’s vital that it be able to mobilize the hefty number of toxic waste products that the liver is preparing for removal. So, if the digestive system isn’t balanced during the detox process, many harsh toxins can accumulate in the bloodstream, as well as tissues placing the brain and body under unsustainable toxic loads. Excess toxicity such as this becomes difficult to secrete through normal detox pathways (urination, defecation, sweat, etc.). Thus, they begin looking for another escape route—via the skin, the lungs, and/or the kidneys. The result can include a number of detrimental detox symptoms, such as acne; bumpy, itchy or sensitive skin; rashes; eczema (atopic dermatitis); hives; pronounced body odor; strong-smelling sweat; bad breath; headaches; brain fog; or darkly colored urine.
Ask Your Natural Healthcare Practitioner Before Taking These Natural Detox Aids
We’ve already stated that you should consider the principles in this book to be a great way to begin the detox process (getting daily doses of sunlight, regular exercise, sweating, getting quality sleep, eating “clean,” taking in fresh air, etc.). We’ve likewise emphasized that we believe it’s ill-advised to consult the Internet for radical methods regarding extreme detox pertaining to heavy metals, pesticides, and other environmental toxins, and then immediately jump into such programs on the first day. Advanced detox should be undertaken slowly, carefully, and after enlisting the help of a trained professional. However, for the sake of information, we want to share a list of additional points to consider using at the advice of a natural healthcare practitioner. Many products on the market claim to cleanse, detox, purify, or otherwise remove unwanted substances from the body, but many are either ineffective or are made of harsh chemicals. To educate the reader on the matter of understanding what is available to them and to render a quick understanding of terminology, we offer here a list of all-natural substances that will likely be suggested by your natural healthcare practitioner. Once you’ve been given the green light from a professional regarding what’s listed here, you’ll likely find many of these are useful.
Milk Thistle: Often referred to as the “King Herb” for liver detox, this contains the active ingredient silymarin, which acts as an antioxidant by reducing free radical production and creates a detoxifying effect. This is why milk thistle has been linked to a multitude of benefits regarding liver support and overall detox.
Glutathione: Known as the “Mother of all Antioxidants,” this is one of the most powerful endogenous antioxidants in the entire body. It’s extremely powerful anti-inflammatory, detoxification, and neuroprotective abilities help prevent aging, cancer, heart disease, dementia, and more. Doctors have used glutathione to treat everything from autism to Alzheimer’s disease.
L-glutamine: Glutamine is an α-amino acid used in the biosynthesis of proteins. Its side chain is similar to that of glutamic acid, except the carboxylic acid group is replaced by an amide. It is known to help heal leaky-gut syndrome as well as enhance liver detoxification.
B-Complex: B vitamins play a major role in running the first phase of liver detoxification, especially vitamins B2, B3, B6, folate, and B12.
Alginate from seaweed: Sodium alginate is enormously effective at binding with heavy metals in the gut and bloodstream for safe elimination from the body. It also provides great support to your body’s detoxification processes.
Selenium: (Se) This has been shown to counteract the dangerous toxicity of heavy metals including cadmium, methylmercury, inorganic mercury, thallium, and to a limited extent, silver.
Zinc: Zinc is a strong antioxidant that helps destroy and eliminate free radicals, as well as assists in removing heavy metals from the body.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C flushes (ascorbate cleanses) are prescribed by many doctors to help rid the body of innumerable toxins. The typical method is to introduce high dietary amounts of vitamin C until a watery stool is produced. Vitamin C helps eliminate dangerous free radicals from the body as well.
N-acetylcysteine: NAC is a potent amino acid that helps increase glutathione levels, which helps protect the liver and kidneys from toxic injury. It is also known to aid in maintaining good pulmonary health due to its mucolytic activity.
Alpha-lipoic acid: Supports liver detoxification and has powerful antioxidant effects that greatly support nerve health and mental sharpness.
In addition to lifestyle changes and professionally guided detox supplementation, many teas can be beneficial in ridding the body of toxins. Some of the benefits associated with the detoxifying herbal teas listed below include reducing belly bloat, relieving stress and anxiety, improving immunity, relieving constipation, cleansing the liver and colon, lowering inflammation, facilitating weight loss, relieving cramps, stimulating brain function, treating indigestion, regulating blood-sugar levels, soothing intestinal walls, helping to treat infections, eliminating toxins, and even improving the health of the skin.
Indian sarsaparilla root: Traditionally known for its use in flavoring root beer, people have also used sarsaparilla for centuries as a tonic because of its detoxifying properties.
Ginger rot: In ayurvedic (alternative medicine, often referring to ancient Eastern) medicine, ginger is incredibly useful, and is also used to treat a variety of conditions, including discomfort related to the digestive tract.
Burdock root: This is a member of the daisy family, and can be a phenomenal way to help cleanse the liver.
Black pepper: Pepper contains piperine, which helps prevent fat cell differentiation, increases the bio-availability (absorbtion) of nutrients, and is full of antioxidants.
Dandelion root: The dandelion plant (both the root and leaf) is, as mentioned previously, known as a “bitter” and holds all the health benefits associated with this category of herbs. These offer assistance priming the digestive system for optimal function, and are an effective detoxifying agent for the kidneys and liver.
Juniper berry extract: This might be best known for its use as a flavoring in European cuisine, but it also helps support kidney function, cleanses the urinary tract, and relieves intestinal gas.
As stated previously, we should always try to eat healthy, organic food free of toxic ingredients, but certain foods foster detoxification. Making the intentional effort to add the following foods the the diet yields vast detoxification advantages: cilantro, garlic, wild blueberries, lemon water, spirulina, chlorella, barley grass juice powder, atlantic dulse, and garlic (just to name a few).
One additional method of cleansing the body of toxins is detox baths, for which there are many techniques and recipes. We’ve stressed the importance of good exercise, which gives the body the opportunity to expel toxins from the body via sweat. Similarly, it has been mentioned that the skin is the body’s largest organ, so a hot bath can be a relaxing way to reward yourself for putting in a good workout. Detox baths, filled with the correct balance of natural, safe ingredients—such as Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate), ginger, and essentials oils such as lavender and lemon—soothe muscles and joints, draw out toxins, and fortify the body with vital minerals and nutrients.
As we’ve done so often in the book to this point, we want to take a moment to reassure you that if you’ve experienced symptoms discussed in this chapter, be encouraged. Many people who have made mistakes with their bodies have continued, after adopting health-fostering habits, to live long and happy, healthy lives.
Most who acquire health problems from eating toxic food or being exposed to dangerous chemical compounds made those unwise decisions in ignorance. However, just as God showed me (Daniel) the need to wade into fresh water even when I didn’t understand the scientific reason for why it would help my body, abiding in God’s laws teaches us what we need to know when we submit to His will and commit to live in the ways He directs.
We’ve already stated that the choices we make literally have the power to change our bodies on a genetic level. But recall the first and most important thing about us as human beings, as told to us in Genesis 1:27: We’re made in the image of God.
This means that our Creator loves us and wants to restore us. No power on earth can keep us from His love (Romans 8:38–39). Ultimately, the God who loves us will bless the efforts we make when we surrender to His will.
Does this mean all will experience miraculous healing in this lifetime? We wish we could say the answer is yes, but that simply wouldn’t be true. However, we’ve discussed what true healing has been provided by Jesus’ stripes, and nothing can take this from His children. God is always extending help to those who ask for it, and as we continue our journey toward pursuing what is good, He will extend us grace.
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[i] Grimm, Jana. “MTHF-R Gene Mutation: 50% of Americans & 95% of Autistic people.” Dr. Jana Joshu Grimm, DC Wellness Blog Online. May 17, 2017. Retrieved April 24, 2020. https://www.drjanajoshugrimm.com/wellness-blog/mthfr-gene-mutation-50-of-americans-95-of-autistic-people.