Panic Attacks

When patients sit in my La Mesa Naturopathic Medical Clinic and describe panic attacks, I hear all sorts of things. Sometimes they tell me they get hot or can’t take a deep breath. Patients also say their heart beats fast, or they may faint or they get tunnel vision.

       Sometimes they say they are not anxious at all but they can feel it closing in on them. They try all sorts of tricks to calm down- some find things that work in overcoming panic attacks and nothing seems to work for others.
       If others have not had a panic attack or felt anxiety symptoms, it’s hard for them to understand what the experience is like. No matter how your panic attacks are specifically played out- they aren’t pleasant and patients want to know how to stop panic attacks. It is often a pleasant surprise to patients and to me as a Naturopathic doctor to see panic attacks fade off and not return when we focus on general health, improving overall health. But there are times when patients are desperate for options.
       Panic attacks can indeed be caused by stress and emotions but there are several other causes that can increase the body’s tendency to panic attacks. Stress hormones are a crucial part of these. Panic attacks are a sign that you need help regulating those stress hormones. It may also be a sign that your adrenals are crying out for support. Helping your body break down stress hormones can help too. Bacteria in our gut, as we have heard on NPR, are crucial to our mood.
       Don’t panic. There are options for those pesky, not well timed panic attacks. Find the time to get into our Journey of Health Medical Clinic and get solutions. I, personally, love to see my patients find answers so they can do the things they love.

Pain in the ???

Muscle pain can be challenging and limiting. There is nothing like being held back by painful, uncooperative muscles.

First thing to try is magnesium. Those muscle fibers use calcium to contract and magnesium to relax. Many patients are deficient in magnesium, leading to cramps of all sorts, heart palpitations and myriad other muscle related symptoms. There are several types of magnesium and patients react differently to the different forms. Heat can often relax the intermittent pain that comes with injuries and again magnesium in the form of epsom salt baths. Our goal with heat and magnesium is to relax the muscles so they can release toxins. In general, diarrhea is a sign of too much magnesium supplementation. Magnesium alone has the potential to resolve muscle pain or growing pains, menstrual cramps, as well as anxiety.

Next in our tool box is anti-inflammatories in the form of herbs. Curcumin is probably the most common used. It does seem to work at the right dose, particularly for knee pain. Many patients have tried curcumin on their own and are disenchanted with it since low quality products don’t work. We use high doses in our La Mesa Naturopathic Medical Clinic and forms that have the same standardized amount for each dose so patients get the same results every time. Another favorite anti-inflammatory for me is Shea Butter – yeah, that stuff you put on your skin, but internally it can do wonders for certain kinds of pain. There are many more herbal options and we choose them based on what else is going on in the body. For example, adequate doses of Boswelia is great for patients with pain and unstable bowel symptoms.

Preventing inflammation in the muscles can be even more powerful than anti-inflammatories. Getting foods that are nourishing rather than inflammatory can take some time to work into your lifestyle. The big inflammatory food groups that wreck havoc in your muscles are sugar. Then there are those oils that are processed and changed beyond anything recognizable in nature. Processed foods in general just make it harder for those muscle fibers to relax and let go. Nourish your muscles with healthy meats, lots of veggies (which work well in stir-fries and soups) nuts, fruits, olive oil, coconut oil, and whole grains like quinoa and wild rice.

Another way to nourish those muscles is by doing a series of B12 shots. Whether these help you detox excess toxins or supply needed B12 to your nerves, B12 shots seem to work when muscle pain is stubborn.

The ultimate goal is to find the cause of the muscle pain – autoimmune, chronic viral infections, hormonal issues can cause stubborn, aggravating muscle pain. There are some temporary help options for these ailments but until you get to the bottom (turn off the spicket) of whatever’s feeding the inflammation in the muscles, the relief is temporary.

Cheers to healthy, functioning muscles! If you need help with your muscle pain, we the team at Journey of Health are here to help you find your answers.

Is there hope for MTFHR polymorphs?

Is there hope for MTFHR polymorphs?

These conditions are associated with MTHFR genetic mutation in research: Several can be considered a genetic disorder since treating the mutation will resolve the illness. There continues to be correlations of health problems with MTHFR that are not mentioned here.

Atrial Fibrillation ALS
Alzheimers Anemia
Anxiety Arthritis
Autism Bipolar disorder
Blood clot Breast Cancer
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Colorectal Cancer
Connective Tissue Disease Diabetes
Down Syndrome DVT
Epstein Barr Virus Fibromyalgia
Gluten intolerence Heart attack
Heart Murmurs Heavy metal toxicity
Hemolytic anemia High homocysteine
Homocystinuria Hunnington’s
Infertility in both men and women Insulin resistant diabetes
Leukemia Lupus
Meniere’s Disease Migraine
Miscarriages MMA
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Multiple Sclerosis
Myalgic encephalomyelitis Neural tube defects
Neuralgia Non Hodgkin Lymphoma
Panic Attacks Parkinson’s
Post eclampsia Pre eclampsia
Pulmonary Embolism Retinal Vascular Occlusive Disease
Schizophrenia Spina bifida
Stroke Thyroid disease
Tongue Tie Vaccine Injury

What is gene mutation, MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase)?

Explanations for MTHFR can get very complex so let’s try to keep it simple.

The –ase tells us that it is an enzyme.  This enzyme is at the center of the activity of so much of your biochemistry, from turning homocysteine into methionine, making the most important antioxidant in your body, glutathione and converting neurotransmitters like dopamine that will affect your mood.  The enzyme also makes the active form of folate, called methylfolate.  The active form of folate is able to get around the body better and is the only form that is absorbed in the gut properly and can adequately be used in the brain.  As you can see, being able to make methyl-folate is very important for nervous system function, growing babies and much, much more.

The two little sections that code for the enzyme are known as MTHFR C677T and MTHFR A1298C.  If we remember back to biology class, there are two letters that determine outcome of a particular trait in the Punnett square.  Capital letters general indicate the wild type or normal variant of a gene.  Little letters indicate a mutation.  Two of the same letters indication homozygous and one of each indicates heterozygous.

AA Homozygous

Aa  Heterzygous

aa  Homozygous

The MTHFR section of the chromosome in a gene test with normal variants of amino acids should looks like this:

C677C   A1298A

It is possible to have 1 or 2 gene mutations between these 4 amino acids.  We will use DNA below.  Some tests done by saliva use RNA so the amino acids are different.

One gene mutations or Heterozygous MTHFR:

677: CT   1298: AA   This is heterozygous 677.

(One cytosine amino acid has been changed to tyrosine and reduces the ability to make the enzyme by 30%.)

677: CC  1298: AC  This is heterozygous 1298.

(One adenosine amino acid has been changed out for a cytosine reducing the enzyme being made by 30%.)

Two gene mutations or Homozygous MTHFR:

677: TT   1298: AA   This is homozygous 677.

(Both cytosine amino acids have been changed to tyrosine which means this is only 30% chance or so of making the correct coding for making the enzyme.)

677: CC   1298: CC   This is homozygous 1298.

(Both adenosine amino acids have been changed to cytosine which means this is only 30% chance or so of making the correct coding for making the enzyme.)

677: CT   1298: AC   This is compound heterozygous.

(One cytosine has been switched and one adenosine has been switched in each gene.)

What does it mean?

Simply, this genetic mutation decreases the ability for your biochemistry wheels to spin.  Throughout our bodies we have ferris wheels that are used to turn one molecule into another.  The enzyme is like the worker who loads the ferris wheel.  Without adequate enzymes the ferris wheel doesn’t turn or gets clogged up and you can end up with a crowd of people in one section of the ferris wheel or a crowd of metabolites who cannot go the next step.  This crowd of metabolites can cause symptoms- a myriad of symptoms that are endless.

MTHFR is at the center of your biochemistry wheels and interact in so many wheels.  If you are positive for a MTHFR mutation or polymorphism, it means that your body has less enzyme to help those biochemistry wheels turn and less active folate or methylfolate being made.  If you are not able make active folate, it can clog up the gears causing many of the common symptoms of MTHFR.

MTHFR disorders are treatable.  I find 80% of patients improve immediately with the right treatment.  MTHFR is one of the most satisfying conditions that I treat because patients get so well when their treatment is focused.  There are a number of other mutations, such as COMT, CBS, MAO that can complicate treatment.  Some patients are so sick that we have to address other health problems before they are able to tolerate treatment.

How is it treated?

Many people believe only homozygous MTHFR needs to be treated.  I beg to differ and find that even heterozygous MTHFR will find that their health problems can be resolved by treating MTHFR.  Treatment of MTFHR is often very hopeful.

In general, treatment is nutritional.  The goal is to work toward lifestyle changes and a maintenance dose of a multi-vitamin with methyl-folate in it and avoidance of synthetic forms of folate.  It can take some stepping stones to get to the maintenance dose as we tweak your body’s ability to spin biochemistry wheels and make the gears more efficient.  We want to spin them at the right speed, not too slow and not too fast causing detox.  Some patients see immediate life changing results while others see results consistently but more slowly especially if things have been going on for a very long time.

Any medications that involve folate pathways are generally contraindicated with a decrease in your enzyme.

Who should be screened?

If there is a family history of MTHFR or methylation defects in your family, you should be screened.  It is estimated that 30-40% of the population has this mutation depending on ethnicity, therefore it is wise to screen for it whenever there is chronic disease, infertility, or in pregnancy.  Growing a baby involves adequate active folic acid so screening in pregnancy MTHFR is essential.

There is a very long list of chronic diseases that are linked to MTHFR but in short, I often screen for it in my La Mesa Naturopathic Medical Clinic if there is some family history of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, any clots, depression and/or addiction.  I also screen in more unusual conditions such as sensitivity to caffeine, a feeling of something creeping up such as a panic attack, estrogen dominance such as fibroids and autoimmune conditions.  In the first patient visit, we are creating a painting of the person’s well being and if the picture fits MTHFR, a screening is well worth it.

Screening can be done in our La Mesa Naturopathic Medical Clinic by blood test. There are kits offered online for blood and saliva testing.  I do counsel patients on the best option for them depending on their finances, health goals and concern for genetic testing and data mining of the information.