The Importance of Methylation and Folates in Mental Health
In his interview with Dr Mercola, Dr Walsh, who pioneered the role of methylation in mental health and autism. discusses methylation. According to Walsh, the No. 1 causes of undermethylation are single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) or mutations in the enzymes for the one-carbon cycle (the methylation cycle).
“The No. 1 factor is the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR), which is one of the enzymes. That’s the rate-limiting step for that whole cycle, for most people,” Walsh explains. “Genetic testing services such as 23andMe can provide this kind of information.
However, most human beings have enormous numbers of SNPs. They’ve already found 10 million snips (or mutations) in the human genome. Every human being has thousands of these SNPs. A really high percentage of people have even the more serious MTHFR SNPs — the C677T, the A1298C that people are always talking about.
The thing that is often mistaken by nutritional scientists is that if a person has the homozygous, the double copies of the C677T, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re undermethylated. It certainly doesn’t mean that they will benefit if you give them methylfolate. That’s one of the problems that we’re finding.
The reason is epigenetics. You have to consider the epigenetics and the methylation at the same time. There are three nutrient factors that affect epigenetics more than anything else: folates, methionine and S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe). These have a really powerful impact on epigenetics.”
How Folates Affect Epigenetics
Folates are serotonin reuptake promoters. However, even if an individual is undermethylated and has a problem related to low serotonin activity, such as depression or anxiety, folates should not be given, Walsh warns. The reason? If you give folate, their methylation will improve and the patient will actually get worse.
The reason for this worsening is because, epigenetically, folates act as deacetylase inhibitors and sharply lower serotonin activity. Most autistic individuals will not have a serotonin problem and will thrive on methyl folate. However, an estimated 10 percent of autistic children and adults do have a serotonin issue and will severely regress if given methyl folate.
“We’ve had thousands of patients who were undermethylated depressives. I’ve seen more than 3,000 cases of clinical depression. I’ve got this huge database. The largest phenotype … is undermethylation.
But if you gave them any form of folate, they would get worse. Their methylation would improve, they would get worse, because it has a dramatic impact on serotonin reuptake. In contrast, methionine and SAMe are natural serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
They do essentially the same thing that Prozac and Paxil do. Folates have the opposite effect. Folates are wonderful if you want to knock dopamine level down in schizophrenics or people who have high anxiety — overmethylated people. It’s counterintuitive because folates are excellent methylating agents..”
To reiterate, some undermethylated people are intolerant to folates, and some overmethylated people thrive on folates even though folates improve methylation. As you can see, there are epigenetic complexities involved here, making self-diagnosis and self-treatment highly inadvisable.
It could be quite risky to take these bits and pieces of information and try to apply them on your own. There are simply too many variables. So, the bottom line here is to make sure you’re being treated by a certified walsh practitioner.
Why SSRIs Induce Violence
One major problem with SSRI antidepressants is the risk of self-harm and aggression as a side effect. Overmethylated, low-folate depressors are intolerant so SSRIs, and evidence suggests this genetic intolerance may have been a factor in many school shootings. Walsh, who has studied this phenomenon, notes 42 of the 50 major school shootings in the U.S. since 1990 were done by teens or young adults taking an SSRI.
“I discussed this … before the APA … I tried to explain to them that they … can do a blood test; they can find out which children or which adults are more likely to become violent if they get an SSRI. I’ve written about this several times; published it in magazines …
If you buy Prozac or Paxil, the insert inside warns that some people … are prone to suicidal or homicidal behavior. We now know which ones they are!”