It’s more than what’s in your head….
Anxiety can be more than what is in your head…
A recent case study for a young lady with anxiety. In this blog post I want to focus on the role of nutritional genetics on mood and cognition and how we have found some possible reasons as to why this patient has had a hard time with anxiety. To protect my client’s privacy, I will name the patient in this study as Meg. I have permission from my patient to share part of her DNA story.
Anxiety can have many different causes- some may be learned behaviour from our upbringing, some may be because of trauma, some may be diet and lifestyle, some may be because of nutritional deficiencies, the health of the gut (yes the gut brain connection- I hope to write more about this in the future) and as you will read further some may be because of our DNA .
Meg is amazing. She is so determined to be well. She is already doing some positive things to help herself- including eating a healthy, clean diet with limited gluten and processed food, regular walking and taking a prescribed herbal supplement and magnesium to help her symptoms. She does still battle.
We ruled out Pyrrole Disorder for Meg as to one of reasons as why her anxiety was hard to manage. This was negative. So I suggested to do a mood and cognition nutritional DNA profile for Meg to see if there were some underlying reasons for her anxiety, especially given that other members of her family suffered.
The results were very helpful. Meg has several genes that make it harder for her body to break down catecholamines. Catecholamines include the neurotransmitters adrenalin, noradrenalin and dopamine. We make these from the amino acid tyrosine. Because Meg has some genes which make it harder for her body to break down catecholamines, it puts her body into a “hyped up” state more easily.
One of the genes Meg has is TH rs10770141 TT gene. The T allele is associated with increased enzyme activity and increased levels of catecholamines. Increased catecholamines may increase the risk for stress and anxiety.
Meg also has a COMT AG gene (also known as Val/Met). This also interferes with methylation and the breakdown of catecholamines and oestrogens, which may result in higher levels of catecholamines. These higher levels of catecholamines, such as adrenalin, may influence stress and anxiety, as well as pain sensitivity.
Another gene Meg has is MTHFR C677T homozygous. This means Meg has two copies of this gene. This means that she may have up to 65% reduced enzyme activity compared to someone without this gene, on her folate metabolism cycle. Reduced MTHFR enzyme may increase homocysteine, alter methylation and may affect our ability to make happy brain chemistry and detox the body.
One more fascinating gene that was found was the GAD1 AG gene. This gene is associated with lower enzyme activity over the GABA pathway. GABA is another neurotransmitter that calms the brain and also aids sleep. This was why Meg was doing so well on her herbal supplement, which works on the GABA pathway.
There were a few other genes that were found in the mood and cognition profile, but these were the most prevalent.
What do we do about it?
Well we cannot change our genes. But we may be able to assist the genes to do their jobs better using nutrition and herbs to help downregulate or increase expression of the different pathways, to create positive outcomes for these patients. Information is power.
For Meg, we are going to continue to work on her anxiety with her herbs and lifestyle changes. But we can also help her methylation cycles work better with activated B group vitamins, magnesium, omega 3 and ensuring iron levels are optimal.
If you are concerned about anxiety for yourself or your loved one please ensure that you seek help. As you have read, there are many factors that play a role in anxiety and nutrition, and nutritional DNA testing may be one option you have to make anxiety more manageable. I am more than happy to sit down with you in a consultation and talk about areas where our anxiety may be managed with nutrition/herbs/DNA testing/pyrrole disorder/gut health. Please give us a call on 025713 5585 if you would like more information or would like an appointment.
A DNA sample is taken using a mouth swab, so it is non-invasive and results take approximately 10 days to come back. DNA profiles are available for:
- mood and cognition
- wellness profile
- detoxification profile
The information in this blog post is intended to be general advice and not specific health advice or treatment. Always seek the advice of your registered health care provider with any questions regarding any medical condition. If you or someone you know needs help for any mental/emotional concerns please call lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue 1300224636 or your local GP.
We do also have Denise, our counsellor, available for appointments at the clinic on Mondays and Tuesdays. Denise can be contacted on 0490 858 061 for bookings.
References: BioCeuticals Clinical Services https://www.bioceuticals.com.au/