The realm of genetics is a fascinating field, teeming with potential discoveries that could significantly improve our understanding of human health and disease. One such area of interest is the Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene.
This gene plays a crucial role in the regulation of several critical bodily functions, and mutations in this gene can have profound implications for a person’s health and wellbeing. This article will explore COMT mutations, their impact on our health, and how to manage them effectively.
What Is the COMT Gene?
The COMT gene provides the blueprint for an enzyme also known as Catechol-O-methyltransferase. This enzyme deactivates certain neurotransmitters, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine.
These neurotransmitters are crucial for various bodily functions such as inflammation regulation, energy production, and DNA expression. Hence, the COMT gene plays a significant role in maintaining the body’s overall health and functioning.
COMT Mutation: An Overview
Like any other gene, the COMT gene is susceptible to mutations. This mutation affects the production of the COMT enzyme, thereby impacting the body’s ability to degrade neurotransmitters. Consequently, individuals with a COMT mutation may experience higher levels of these chemicals and their metabolites in their bodies, which can lead to a range of health issues.
One of the most common mutations of the COMT gene is the Val158Met mutation. This mutation can slow down the enzyme’s activity by three to four times, leading to an accumulation of neurotransmitters in the body. This mutation is relatively common, with 20 to 30 percent of Caucasians of European descent carrying this mutation.
Implications of COMT Mutations
COMT mutations can impact an individual’s health in various ways. It can influence stress levels, emotional responses, and stress resilience. Individuals with this mutation typically experience more stress for more prolonged periods. They also tend to react more intensely to both positive and negative emotions. Furthermore, COMT mutations have been linked to higher cortisol levels and dysfunction of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which plays a crucial role in the body’s stress response.
Symptoms of COMT Mutations
The symptoms of COMT mutation can differ significantly between individuals. Some commonly observed symptoms include:
Both estrogen dominance and imbalances are commonly observed in individuals with COMT mutations. This can lead to various symptoms, including psychological issues like anxiety and depression, fatigue, early menopause symptoms, hormonal imbalances, and neurological disorders.
COMT mutations can also lead to imbalances in dopamine levels. High dopamine levels can result in aggressive behavior, impulsivity, or schizophrenia. Conversely, low dopamine levels are associated with depression, tremors, and mental and physical fatigue.
Individuals with COMT mutations often struggle with detoxification. This mutation slows down the processing and expulsion of neurotransmitters and related chemicals, exacerbating issues related to these chemicals’ processing. This can lead to long-term health problems like Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).
The COMT Mutation and MTHFR
There is a close relationship between COMT and MTHFR (Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase), another common gene mutation. Both COMT and MTHFR genes are involved in the methylation pathway, and MTHFR may affect how COMT functions.
For instance, if MTHFR activity is lower than normal, it will also lower COMT processes. And if the activity is lowered because of mutations, it could have serious health consequences.
The COMT Mutation and Adrenal Fatigue
The COMT mutation can significantly impact adrenal fatigue by altering the body’s stress response. The body’s NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response helps cope with stress and shuts down when stress levels decrease. However, in the modern world, chronic stress due to lifestyle and environmental factors can result in ongoing activation of the NEM stress response, leading to adrenal fatigue and imbalances in the body’s circuits, including the Detoxification circuit.
Detoxification Circuit Dysfunction and the COMT Mutation
The Detoxification circuit, which includes the immune system, the liver, and the extracellular matrix (ECM), works to clear the body of toxins and metabolites. When this circuit is unbalanced and malfunctioning due to chronic stress, it slows down significantly, leaving the body awash in harmful substances. The COMT mutation can worsen this situation, leading to an accumulation of neurotransmitters in the system. Over time, this can create a vicious circle, worsening adrenal fatigue, and negatively impacting overall health.
Managing the COMT Mutation
While it’s impossible to change your genes, some strategies can support your body’s natural detoxification processes and manage the impact of a COMT mutation. Here are some helpful tips:
B vitamins, magnesium, S-Adenosyl methionine (SAMe), fulvic acid, and marine phytonutrients can support the function of the COMT gene.
Avoiding foods that increase catechol levels, such as high-protein foods, caffeine, and alcohol, can help manage the effects of a COMT mutation. Also, eating foods that support liver detoxification, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, flaxseed, and certain plant foods, can help manage estrogen imbalances and improve the detoxification circuit’s balance.
Exercise and Stress Management
Limiting strenuous exercise, maintaining regular eating patterns, and practicing stress reduction strategies can also help manage the effects of a COMT mutation.
Contact AustinMD Aesthetics & Wellness
In conclusion, understanding and managing COMT mutations can significantly improve an individual’s overall health and wellbeing. At AustinMD Aesthetics & Wellness, we offer comprehensive services to help individuals with COMT mutations effectively manage their condition through personalized plans. By integrating advanced genetic insights into our healthcare approach, we strive to provide the most personalized care to our patients. Give us a call on 512-593-5605 and make an appointment to visit us at 13625 Ronald Reagan Blvd, Cedar Park, TX 78613