Friday 13 May 2016

'23andme' test

There are 7 billion people on this planet, each with approximately 37.2 trillion cells, a unique genetic code and a myriad of detoxification pathways. I think that we can safely assume that when it comes to healing, what works for one person may not work for another. 

Personalised treatment demands individual testing. My latest exciting insights come from the 23andme genetic profile test. This test shows genetic SNPs - essentially 'mutations' (or more accurately 'polymorphisms') in the gene code. I'm just starting to learn about this, and it's pretty involved. 23andme analyses hundreds of thousands of SNPs scattered across 23 pairs of chromosomes which make up the human genetic sequence. This is just a fraction of the estimated 10 million possible SNPs in the human genome! Gulp. Now think about this - each of our estimated 20-25,000 known genes has a regulatory job. A SNP in a certain place of a certain gene indicates reduced function, and 
can give valuable insight into disease pathways.

The most well understood and important SNP is in the MTHFR gene. This gene instructs the body to make the MTHFR enzyme. This important enzyme is responsible for converting vitamin B9, or folate, into it's active form, Methylfolate, which is a key player in the METHYLATION CYCLE. This critical chemical process takes place billions of times per second in our cells and is fundamental to the proper function of almost all of the body's systems. Here's the science part (I wish I'd paid more attention during chemistry lessons!) Methylation is the process of donating a methyl group (one atom of carbon bound to three of hydrogen: CH3) to a substrate (an end product, ie DNA, RNA, chemicals, neurotransmitters, hormones, immune cells, nerves) to make the necessary biochemical conversions needed for:

     Gene regulation
     Detoxification (Processing chemicals and toxins)
     Building neurotransmitters
     Processing hormones
     Immune System Function (Creating T and Natural Killer Cells)
     Cellular repair (DNA and RNA synthesis)
     Energy production
     Myelination (the production of protective nerve coating)

So you see, if this important cycle is working under par due to a gene mutation, over time it can lead to degenerative disease; breast cancer, MS and Alzheimers to name a few. Around 40% of us have a SNP in the MTHFR gene. A heterozygous SNP (where one allele is affected but the other is fine) can decrease efficacy by up to 40%, and a homozygous (where both alleles are affected) by up to 90%.

And MTHFR is just one gene of around 20,000! I have homozygous SNPs in COMT and MAO-A, two important detoxification genes, both of which are responsible for inactivating the more dangerous forms of oestrogen, and breaking down catecholamines (dopamine and adrenaline). My methylation pathways are compromised with homozygous SNPs in MTR and MTRR genes, and I have heterozygous mutations in 20 other genes. 

My SNPs explain my inability to process B vitamins, my tendency to worry (are you reading this, husband?), my adrenal burn out, heavy metal toxicity and inability to metabolise oestrogen safely - a sure route to breast cancer. 

But there's no bad news here! The beauty of this incredible knowledge is, that according to epigenetics we can switch our genes on or off by adjusting our internal environment. With this information we can gently support the body in the areas of lack, for example by taking oestrogen detoxifiers like calcium d-glucarate and DIM, or bioavailable forms of methyl/hydroxy B12 and methylfolate. 

Information is power, and this test provides another very important piece of the puzzle. I would absolutely recommend everyone who is trying to heal from chronic disease to take it. It costs £125 and is available to order (in the UK) on-line, you simply spit into a tube and post. Results take 6 - 8 weeks to come back, and need to be run through an interpretation programme. I found Nutra-hacker to be the most simple to understand, with elegant diagrams explaining the implication of certain SNPs and how to address them supplementally.  

Friday 6 May 2016

Dying. And living.

We're all going to die. We know this right? Death is an integral part of life. But how many of us live like we positively embrace and accept this fact? In the past few months so many beautiful souls that I know have passed. I wonder if any of us are ever ready. For some I sensed acceptance that it was time to soar. Others felt that they had more to do here. And yet, our only reason to BE is to Be Here Now, to taste the sweetness of every moment in this physical body.

Death Doulas seem like a pretty good idea to me. Just as birth is an elegant human process, so is dying. What a beautiful thing, to be supported and guided in this experience, with love, knowledge and compassion. I want my children to have this understanding, that at the point of death we can choose to be surrounded by loved ones who peacefully allow us to be released from our physical bodies, knowing they must gently support and allow this progression. That the time is right, that it's OK. 

My reasons to stay Earthbound come in human (and puppy) shaped forms. It's all about love. It's only about love. And yet where we're going after this life, there will be no end of love. My belief is that when we die that's all there is, we assimilate back into the one giant heartbeat that is God, or Source, or whatever word works for you. There is no need to fear death, instead we must surely wholly embrace life.

For me, the realisation that this life is a Good One, has been immense. I'm living in a state of abundance, blessed with a healthy family, a roof over my head and food on my table. I don't live in fear or poverty, and so I believe that I have an obligation to do the work in this lifetime - to grow spiritually. Cancer has been my biggest teacher, I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I'm so grateful to have woken up. That I've been able to live every day since diagnosis wholly is a blessing. Sometimes it's felt onerous and intense, but I've never wanted to go back to sleep.

This week I bought a waterproof box. I put all of my cancer journals into it, and only on placing it in the loft did I realise that I'm ready to put cancer behind me, rather than being immersed in it, surrounded by it. I live by it's lessons, but I release the fear. 

For Karl, Hannah, Janet, Rosa, Grant and Maria: 

Raymond Carver - Late Fragment

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so? 
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.