MTHFR Pain and Inflammation
Are You Suffering From Pain and Inflammation?
Pain and inflammation may be associated with symptoms ranging from gut inflammation, sore joints, achy muscles, and migraines. Some may never experience those severe problems and may only have occasional discomfort, but for others it can be much worse. What is important to know, however, is that pain and inflammation is treatable and manageable.
Is There an Association Between MTHFR and Inflammation?
Inflammation is unavoidable during anyone’s lifetime because it is a common symptom of many conditions. Any time your body’s immune system responds to stimuli, inflammation is a result of that response. Medical conditions, including thyroid disorders, as well as many viruses and bacteria can lead to inflammation. So, if you are struck with an illness that would normally lead to inflammation, that inflammation can be intensified due to MTHFR polymorphisms. Normally, to reduce inflammation, folate is produced by the body to counteract it. If you have a genetic MTHFR polymorphism (mutation) and you reduce less folate then that inflammation and associated pain may be further aggravated by the condition since methylation does not properly occur. We also know that MTHFR mutations may be associated with elevated levels of homocysteine and this aggravates inflammation.
Causes of Inflammation
Many complaints from those with inflammation involve digestive health. The gut as we know is incredibly important when it comes to overall health. Gut bugs can create more folate and histamine than we can handle causing pain and inflammation and may be associated with gut conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, etc. Some suggest that maintaining gall bladder health is the key to combating gut inflammation. You may have seen my presentation on Gall bladder health which is often an issue with those with MTHFR enzyme deficiencies because we need methylation to product phosphatidylcholine and its this special fat that helps our gallbladder work better.
Combating Inflammation With Diet
Aspects of your diet can aggravate your intestines, leading to inflammation. Certain adjustments to your diet can reduce inflammation and manage your symptoms . A diet rich in probiotic foods and healthy fats (like meat, fish, and nuts) can help combat inflammatory issues. Other dietary supplements like omega-3 fatty acid and vitamin B12 can help reduce bowel inflammation by supporting methylation. Avoid inflammatory foods and drugs such as:
- Gluten (nearly 40% of people with MTHFR are gluten sensitive)
- Processed Grains
- Preservatives and Synthetic Chemicals
- Vegetable Oils
- Trans Fats
- Heavy metals, like mercury and aluminum
If you are taking a multivitamin you should also check the ingredients. Many multivitamins contain folic acid that can further aggravate inflammation, instead of folate. Additionally, heavy metals are known to collect in fish, so be sure you are getting your fish from a trusted source.
MTHFR Treatments May Worsen Inflammation
The medications you may be taking can also be a source of inflammation. Methylfolate may initially make you feel better, but if the body is overloaded with methylfolate and you are not utilizing it, your condition may worsen. A sudden influx of methylfolate can overwhelm the other delicate processes of your body. Those with MTHFR taking methylfolate can experience many severe side effects, including gut inflammation and other types of pain and discomfort such as achy joints, sore muscles, and migraines. Severe side effects including mood changes and even heart palpitations are known to occur. The side effects caused by methylfolate may be treated with:
- Liposomal glutathione
- Hydroxo B12
- An electrolyte formula
You can also combat the side effects of methylfolate by starting out with low doses that slowly increase over time or pulsing the dose by only taking it on certain days. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any supplements that may further aggravate inflammation or cause more severe side effects.
Other Natural Remedies for Inflammation
Outside of dietary changes, there are other ways you can manage your pain and inflammation. Eliminating smoking, avoiding known allergens, and maintaining a healthy weight can have a significant impact on your overall health and reduce inflammation. Exercise frequently and sleep well to keep your body in balance.
Managing stress levels can have a significant impact on your gut health, as well as your overall immune system. Among many other possible symptoms, stress has been linked to an increase in inflammatory responses by the body’s immune system. This can not only increase bowel inflammation, but expose the body to other pathogens that can also aggravate inflammation.
Take Home Message
There are many reasons why someone may get pain. Here’s my list of top things we need to do:
- Check the gut first – are there any bugs that are affecting your inflammation and pain? What is your immune system like in the gut?
- Address any viruses/infections. These can severely affect methylation making you more susceptible to pain and inflammation.
- Do you have the COMT ++ gene? Many people with this particular COMT variation seem to have less tolerance to pain. Helping you get rid of excess dopamine and making this gene work better can help pain levels.
- Eat as organic as you can
- Avoid toxins where you can
- Allow the body to reduce inflammatory cytokines (your practitioner can help you do this).
Finally, never hesitate to consult your health practitioner if pain and inflammation become unmanageable or if you are not sure what steps to take to manage your specific symptoms.
- Cattaneo, A., Macchi, H., Plazzotta, G., Veronica, B., Bocchio-Chiavetto, L., Riva, M.A., Pariante, C.M. (2015). Inflammation and neuronal plasticity: a link between childhood trauma and depression pathogenesis.
- Mahmud, N., Malloy, A., McPartlin, J., Corbally, R., Whitehead, A.S., Scott, J.M., Weir, D.G. (1999). Increased prevalence of methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase C677T variant in patients with inflammatory bowel disease, and its clinical implications.