by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© July 2016, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
Methylation is one of the body’s most important and most common chemical processes. It is the addition of a methyl group, or CH3, to many chemical compounds to change their solubility, or for other reasons that are explained below.
To assist methylation, a supplement of TMG or trimethylglycine is now part of every nutritional balancing program. This was not part of Dr. Paul Eck’s original research. TMG supplements were added to the program in early 2013.
A SAMPLING OF METHYLATION PROCESSES
Methylation processes occur in hundreds of essential chemical reactions in our bodies. To give you an idea of their importance, here is a small sampling of them:
1. Use in genetics. Methylation is key for making all the chemicals in our bodies. Here is how it is involved:
A. It is used to stop certain viruses that can damage the DNA.
B. It helps grow the chemicals.
C. It stops the production of trophoblast. This has to do with cancer.
D. It suppresses replication of DNA in areas where the body does not want it replicated.
E. Extremely important for neurological chemicals.
F. Extremely important for formation of some chemicals in the blood.
G. It inactivates replication of the X chromosome, which is very important.
H. It is used to cause a genetic trait to come from only one parent, and not both.
I. It prevents some genetic diseases.
2. Detoxification. Methylation is a primary method of removing toxins in the phase 2 liver detoxification system of the body. More precisely, methylation converts toxins of all kinds from insoluble, less soluble or fat-soluble compounds into water-soluble compounds. This, in turn, allows the body to eliminate them more easily.
Methylation, in this sense, is somewhat like first tagging toxic substances and then altering them in a way that allows the body to identify them as toxins, and then to eliminate them rapidly and simply. Larger molecules are then able to be eliminated through the bile, while smaller ones pass into the bloodstream and are removed by the kidneys in the urine.
3. Neurotransmitter synthesis and utilization. Methylation is part of the synthesis of dopamine and serotonin. This is one reason why taking trimethylglycine or TMG can help a person relax. However, relaxation may also occur because TMG assists with liver detoxification.
4. Folate metabolism and cardiovascular health. Methylation is involved in converting homocysteine, which is a dangerous amino acid when in excess, back into methionine, an essential amino acid. This, in turn, is converted to other amino acids in various biochemical pathways.
About 50% of the earth population appear to have genetic variants of the MTHFR enzyme causing them to have some difficulty resynthesizing methionine from homocysteine. This can be a factor in cardiovascular disease, mental illness such as depression, and perhaps other health conditions such as fatigue and exhaustion.
While doctors may tell you the problem is “genetic” and therefore incurable, our evidence is that it is not incurable. The problem with the RNA can be due to toxic metals such as copper and mercury, that somehow interfere with genetic transcription, or the “writing” of the RNA from the DNA. For much more on this subject, please read MTHFR Defects on this website. In other words, the problem is not due to defective DNA, which would be hard to change. It is due to zinc deficiency and other problems involved in the copying of the DNA. For more on genetics, read Genetic Defects And Nutritional Balancing on this site.
5. Hormonal regulation. By assisting the liver and for other reasons, methylation is involved in balancing hormones, such as restoring the proper balance of estrogens, for example. This helps reduce the tendency for cancer and for many other health conditions related to a hormone imbalance.
6. Reduces inflammation. This occurs for many reasons. Among them are toxin removal, hormone balancing, neurotransmitter synthesis, and others.
7. Helps protect the mitochondria. By protecting the mitochondria, methylation helps adaptive energy production greatly. Without adequate methylation, one becomes very tired.
8. Restores the level of SAMe in the spinal fluid and elsewhere. SAMe or S-adensylmethionine is a common chemical found in the body. It functions as a methyl donor once it has been restored to functioning by the action of methyl groups. It can be given as a supplement to prevent depression, and it has other mental and physical effects on the body. It is quite costly, so we do not use it and instead we use other methyl donors such as trimethylglycine or TMG, folate, methionine, cysteine, taurine and others.
9. Required to make coenzyme Q10. This vital substance is needed for heart health and for energy production within the mitochondria.
10. Tends to increase muscle mass. This can be important in wasting diseases such as cancer, and for general health. This aspect of protein synthesis aided by extra methylation is widely known in the livestock industry. Methylating agents are added to some animal feeds.
11. Other. Methylation reactions are very common in the body and involved in most body functions, to some degree. This is why compromised methylation can cause or contribute to almost all health conditions. Most people today have inadequate methylation, and this is why we supplement with TMG.
To facilitate the attachment of a methyl group to a toxin or other molecule, methyl groups or CH3 can take the form of an anion with 7 or 8 free electrons, or a cation with 6 free electrons. The words anion and cation have to do with the electrical charge of the molecule and nothing more. The correct electrical charge is required for the methyl group to attach to a variety of toxins and other molecules in the body.
EVERYONE NEEDS MORE METHYL GROUPS
Most everyone, in our experience, does not have enough methyl groups. This is the case even if a person is healthy, and even if a person eats a very healthful diet. This may be due to some type of pollution that interferes with the body’s production of methyl groups.
It might also be due to a toxin or stress that everyone is exposed to today that increases the body’s need for methyl groups. This is a current subject of research in nutritional balancing science.
Dr. Eck and other researchers believe that some people are overmethylated – that is, they have too many methyl groups. This does not seem to be the case, however, in my experience, or it is extremely rare. I have only seen this, so far, if a person takes too much trimethylglycine as a supplement.
Confusion of terminology. Carl Pfeiffer, MD, PhD used the term undermethylated to describe some psychotic patients who are also described as histadelic or having high histamine levels and with low serum copper. Among their primary symptoms are delusions, phobias, an obsessive-compulsive tendency and an adverse reaction to taking B-complex vitamins.
Overmethylated in Dr. Pfeiffer’s understanding is associated with histapenia, or low histamine and copper overload. Among their symptoms are depression, low libido, panic disorder, onset after giving birth, dry eyes and mouth. As mentioned above, however, I do not find that people with elevated copper or low histamine levels (slow oxidizers) are overmethylated.
SOURCES OF METHYL GROUPS
1. Endogenous production. A healthy body makes many methyl groups.
2. Natural foods. Methyl groups are also found in natural foods, especially quinoa, spinach, lamb, chicken, and beets. Cooking may damage them a little, but the diet is a good source if one eats plenty of dark green cooked vegetables, for example. Fewer are absorbed from raw foods, so salads are not a good source.
Processed foods and vegetarian foods are very poor sources of methyl groups. Please strictly avoid vegetarian diets if you want to obtain enough methyl groups.
3. Supplements. To supplement methyl groups, we use TMG or trimethylglycine. Women can take up to 1 gram daily of TMG. Men can take up to 3 grams daily.
FACTORS THAT CAN INTERFERE WITH METHYLATION
The following may affect methyl group formation:
1. A diet low in cooked vegetables. Cooked vegetables provide most of the dietary methyl groups.
2. Sugars in the diet. Especially today, sugars in any form at all appear to be harmful for proper methylation. I am not sure of the reasons for this, but this is one reason I advise against eating any simple carbohydrates or sugars, including fruits and fruit juices, and all products made with these.
3. Some fermented foods. Fermented foods are a problem today for several reasons:
A. Some of them contain toxins called aldehydes. These form during the production of the food item. Aldehydes are quite toxic for the liver. Examples of food items that contain aldehydes are kombucha tea, kimchi, and most fermented grains. Please avoid all these products for best health, no matter what other benefits they may offer.
B. All fermented foods are also yin in macrobiotic terminology for at least two reasons: 1) they are basically raw foods, and 2) they contain ferments, which are bacteria or yeasts that tend to be more yin food components.
For both of the reasons above, eating a lot of fermented foods may increase the need for methyl groups in our bodies.
Fermented foods that are safe to eat in moderation include yogurt, kefir, miso and most good quality cheeses. These do not contain as many aldehydes, so they are safe to eat.
Do not fill up on fermented foods. Some health authorities strongly recommend eating loads of fermented foods due to some health benefits. I do not agree with this due to the problems listed above. Fermented foods, especially kombucha tea, can provide an energy boost, or “high”, so people think they are healthful when they are not. Kombucha tea appears to contain an amphetamine-like substance that can be addictive. For more on this topic, please read Kombucha Tea, Aldehydes and Fermented Foods.
4. Too much animal protein in the diet. Too much methionine in some diets may negatively affect methylation.
5. Inflammation and infections in the body. Fighting off these threats to life uses up more methyl groups.
6. Heavy metal toxicity, especially copper and mercury. These may interfere with methyl group formation.
7. Use of high-dose niacin or niacinamide. This reduces methyl groups because the body uses up methyl groups in order to detoxify and excrete niacin through the liver. A dose below about 50 mg per day, however, should not be a problem.
8. Liver toxins. Anything that is ingested, inhaled or comes into contact with the body that is toxic for the liver will be harmful for the formation of methyl donors. Also, liver detoxification pathways require methyl groups, so exposure to liver toxins may use up more methyl groups.
9. Advancing age. Production seems to decrease with age.
10. Male gender. According to Paul Frankel, PhD and Fred Madsen, PhD, authors of Stop Homocysteine Through The Methylation Process (1998), women of child-bearing age have the best methylation, better than that of men.
METHYLATION AND CANCER
Cancer toxins appear to increase the need for methylating agents such as TMG. A common reason people die with cancer is they cannot eliminate their toxic metals and toxic chemicals due to impaired methylation in the liver. As a result, toxins accumulate until death occurs. I originally learned about the use of supplementary TMG from a cancer specialist.
HAIR ANALYSIS INDICATORS FOR A NEED FOR METHYL DONORS
This is a research area at this time. Most everyone seems to need extra methyl groups. Even more may be needed if a hair mineral test reveals:
1. Poor eliminators on an initial hair mineral analysis. This indicates difficulty eliminating toxic metals. Note that poor eliminator patterns that appear only on a retest do not indicate a need for methyl groups, and this phenomenon has a completely different meaning. For more on this interesting topic, please read Poor Eliminator Patterns on this website.
2. A zinc level greater than about 20 mg% on an initial hair mineral test. This is an indicator for the presence of hidden copper and perhaps other hidden toxic metals.
3. A four lows pattern, especially on an initial mineral analysis. This is a definite indicator of impaired methylation and a greater need for methyl groups.
4. A very slow oxidation rate. This is always associated with copper toxicity, and often toxicity with other heavy metals.
5. Elevated mercury, which is almost universal today.
6. Elevated copper, and perhaps high levels of the other toxic metals.
All of these indicate hidden or deeply stored toxic metals.
ADVANCED HELP, MAGNESIUM AND METHYLATION
Rarely, during a nutritional balancing program, the hair magnesium level increases 50% or more on a retest analysis. This pattern is called receiving help. For more about it, please read the article entitled Interventions on this website.
When it occurs, the production of methyl groups increases. This is wonderful, in all cases. In part, at least, it is due to the replacement of an inferior magnesium compound in the body with a more biologically active form of magnesium. The increase in the hair tissue magnesium is evidence of the elimination of the more toxic form of magnesium. This is an interesting observation that seems to be born out consistently in practice.
Potassium and methylation. Potassium can also increase rapidly on a retest hair analysis. This is often caused by the elimination of a lower quality potassium compound (potassium chelate or potassium chloride in many cases) as the body heals. Poor quality potassium finds it ways into our bodies from:
1) Toxic N-P-K or superphosphate fertilizers. These are used on ALL of our foods today, even organic foods. Fruits, in particular, take up the toxic potassium from the soil. This is one of the main reasons I do not recommend eating fruit or fruit juices of any kind, no matter how nutritious they may seem. Please read Superphosphate Fertilizers for more on this topic.
2) Toxic potassium also concentrates in male seminal fluid or semen, female sexual fluids, and amniotic fluid (the fluid that babies lay in within their mothers’ wombs). Babies are thus born with more of this toxic potassium in their bodies, which they may be able to eliminate within the first two years of life if they follow a nutritional balancing program. Otherwise, it often remains inside the body for years. Homosexuals often have more of it, as well, that shows up on hair mineral tests. For more on this topic, please read Toxic Potassium on this site.
The elimination of lower-quality magnesium and lower-quality potassium both seem to cause an increase in methyl group production in the body, although more research about this is needed.
A COMPLETE NUTRITIONAL BALANCING PROGRAM IS BEST TO ASSIST METHYLATION
Only this program includes much more rest, toxin avoidance, and a diet loaded with cooked vegetables. The program also includes supplemental zinc, magnesium, calcium, and other minerals needed to produce methyl groups.
This will lead to a more balanced body chemistry, and the slow removal of two dozen toxic metals and hundreds of toxic chemicals. For more on nutritional balancing programs, read Introduction To Nutritional Balancing and other articles about nutritional balancing on this website.
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