Today’s episode takes a look at Methylation, it’s role and importance for many body functions, how it can enhance our quality of life and performance when running properly, or expose us to greater health risks like heart disease or cancer when it doesn’t.

Addressing methylation SNPs (genetic mutations that we all have some of to varying degrees) and related biochemical imbalances personally made a very big impact to the quality of my life, eliminating issues like migraine headaches, improving sleep, and enhancing my quality of life and productivity by smoothing out “mood dips and bumps”, and helping heal my body from chronic disease.

If you’ve listened to our other episodes you’ll have noticed that many of the guests have referred to methylation in some way. Because it affects so many people in so many ways, this is a topic that while not mainstream yet, is going to become increasingly so over over the next years. It has only just started.

Enter today’s guest, Dr. Ben Lynch. He is one of the people who has led the way in researching and helping both physicians and consumers understand methylation and how it is affecting them.

Dr Lynch is well known for his work and insights into treating methylation defects which has been his focus since 2011. He has done some incredibly detailed work in mapping out the various methylation pathways, how environmental and lifestyle factors affect them and how they can be supported. And as a result he is a highlight appearance at the conferences on topics related to methylation – which are growing in number and breadth.

His background is in environmental medicine and biochemistry and he has a doctorate in naturopathic medicine. He has worked with 100s of people with methylation defects, notably have started with the MTHFR gene (also “known as MotherFucker” gene because of the risk defects represent for cardiovascular health).

Besides insights into methylation, Ben makes some excellent points on how and when biomarker data is useful, what the most impactful actions are that we can take and optimizing methylation. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I hope you do too.

The show notes, biomarkers, lab test and links to everything else mentioned are below. Enjoy the show and let me know what you think in the comments)!

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Show Notes

  • Methylation’s role in the body as a balancer of all the body’s functions.
  • How it drives detoxification via its production of SAMe (S-Adenosyl-Methionine) with links to Homocysteine and Glutathione.
  • The role of methylation as a deactivator of genes in the body and how under-methylation can cause a cascade of gene regulation problems turning genes on that typically aren’t.
  • Food, water and stress as the primary factors influencing the quality of our methylation.
  • Creatine – making up 70% of SAMe’s use, thus methylation, and its importance in athletic performance.
  • How epigenetics trump genetics with examples of the Agouti mice and the queen bee with completely different health, function and role outcomes.
  • The issues with therapies of supplements or foods targeting specific genetic SNPs and why they are unlikely to work.
  • Typical methylation related health issues like insomnia, anxiety, chemical sensitivity, digestive issues and fatigue.
  • Methylation’s role in mitochondria health and output via its production of Adenosine for the mitochondria’s use.
  • Measuring homocysteine, a recently popular metric for cardiovascular disease, and how it isn’t as straightforward as having high levels and supplementing to reduce them.
  • The range of labs and biomarkers related to methylation and what can be effecting methylation that Ben likes to look at.
  • Ben’s use of biomarkers and his strategy for making sure that values across tests are relevant and prevent a useful picture to identify issues or make clear assessments.
  • How eating sufficient protein can influence your dopamine and serotonin balance.
  • A look at the future of methylation and other areas: How Ben would like to see IT and applications get developed to predicts methylation biochemistry in connection with genetics and other biomarkers he’s looking forward to using and other important areas of development.
  • Ben’s current work looking into how supplements don’t work with certain cases to avoid creating the negative symptoms they sometimes drive with, in particular, people who are sicker.
  • The biomarkers and things Ben keeps track of for monitoring his own personal health and fitness.

Give some love to Ben on Twitter to thank him for the advice in this interview.
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Dr. Ben Lynch

  • Connecting with Dr. Ben Lynch: You can connect with Dr. Ben in several places including his DrBenLynch.com (personal site), MTHFR.net (information on methylation and MTHFR specifically) and Seeking Health (his supplement company).

    You can also connect with Ben on both twitter @DrBenLynch and facebook Dr Benjamin Lynch.

  • MTHFR Basics: This book by Dr. Lynch provides an introduction into MTHFR.
  • Methylation Pathways Planner: You can download Dr. Ben Lynch’s map of the Folate and Methionine cycle and an 80 minute video training on folate metabolism.

Biomarkers in this Episode

  • MTHFR SNPs: Absolutely recommends getting tested for this via 23andme or other service, especially if you are planning pregnancy.
  • Red Blood Cell (RBC) Magnesium: The RBC Magnesium test is more often used for identifying magnesium deficiency as it provides a better evaluation than the serum magnesium, which can be high despite body magnesium deficiencies (very common in the population).
  • Serum Ferritin: The standard measure for iron in the body, most people’s levels, in particular men’s are too high. Ben discussed his wife’s inability to raise her serum ferritin because of pathogens in her gut sequestering it.
  • Iron Panel: Besides serum ferritin, other iron markers can offer insights into the functioning of iron metabolism. Iron panels often include serum iron, serum ferritin, TIBC (Total Iron Binding Capacity), Transferrin Saturation and UIBC. Chris Kresser has a good presentation covering the use of these iron biomarkers here.
  • Homocysteine: Ben discussed how it can be a useful value if it’s high, but if it’s low it’s not necessarily predictive of health risk factors. He also noted how it varies between children and younger adults versus older adults.
  • S-Adenyl-Homocysteine (SAH): The precursor to homocysteine. Ben sees it as a more useful test than homocysteine for diagnostic of methylation issues.
  • Biomarkers of mitochondrial function

    Ben mentioned several markers you can use as proxies for mitochondrial health and damage.

  • Lactate: Lactate elevation is an indicator of mitochondrial damage. Blood lactate is more accurate, but urinary lactate is more available via labs.
  • Lipid peroxidation: Ben referred to these markers generally. We looked at each of the specific lipid peroxidation markers in episode 4 on measuring oxidative stress.
  • Plasma Ammonia: Blood plasma levels of ammonia that are elevated can be an indicator of mitochondrial damage.

Lab Tests and Apps from this Episode

  • 23andMe Genetic Testing: The largest genetic testing service for consumers. You can download or connect your data from 23andme to better understand it with targeted applications looking at specific sets of genes. While health analysis data is no longer provided in 23andMe itself, you can simply download the data and use it with other gene analytics services.
  • MTHFR Support Variant Report generation system: This online application allows you to upload your 23andme data to it to get additional information about a wide variety of areas of your body including eye health, detox, tongue tie/cleft palate, methylation, allergy/mold, IgE, IgA, IgG, clotting disorders, thyroid, celiacs/gluten intolerance, mitochondrial function and sulfonotransferase genes.
  • Genetic Genie: Similar as above, an online application that allows you to upload, or connect, your 23andme data to it to get analysis of your detoxification and methylation SNPs (Single-Nucleotide Polymorphisms).
  • Doctor’s Data Adenosine Profile: Dr. Ben noted that he has been talking about getting Doctor’s Data to provide an Adenosine profile (not yet available).
  • Doctor’s Data’s Methylation Profile Plasma: A limited methylation profile that just covers the methionine cycle. Ben noted the usefulness of the SAM, SAH and SAM/SAH ratio in particular.
  • Health Diagnostics Research Institute – Methylation Pathways Panel: The most complete profile of methylation biochemistry currently available on the market – mostly used by Dr. Ben, notes that time lag of delivery of results is a bit slow.
  • ION (Individual Optimal Nutrition) Panel @ Genova Diagnostics: Ben uses this as a good place to start when looking for issues and things to optimize.
  • CDSA (Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis) or CSA (Comprehensive Stool Analysis): CDSAs / CSAs aim to cover a range of markers via a stool sample related to types of bacteria, to parasitology to digestive markers. Several labs run these tests with differing sets of analysis. Ben mentioned CDSA @ Genova Diagnostics, CSA @ Doctor’s Data and biohealth (this latter he found to be insensitive, not finding what he had found in other tests).
  • Mitochondrial Functional Profile: Acumen Labs’ mitochondria profile was mentioned by both Ben and Damien. The profile is used in research and clinically by Dr. Sarah Myhill.
  • Spectracell’s Micronutrient Test: Ben gave this test as an example of intracellular assessment of nutrients level, being better than traditional blood, serum or plasma levels. The spectracell looks at the nutrient levels in lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.

Supplements

  • TMG (TriMethylGlycine): A supplement used in connection with methylation supports, and in particular can help lower high levels of homocysteine.
  • B-Complex: Another methylation support in the form of a B-complex combining B12, B6 and methylfolate. The Thorne version contains the active forms.
  • Creatine Monohydrate: As one of the most expensive molecules biochemically to exit from methylation, it can be helpful to support with creatine.

Other People, Resources and Books

Who should I interview next? Please let me know by clicking here


Full Interview Transcript

Transcript - Click Here to Read

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Dr. Lynch, thank you very much for being on the show.

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Yeah, thank you Damien.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: First of all, I want to jump in to look at the area of methylation and how it relates to our health, performance, and longevity. What are the links with these objectives we have today?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: With methylation?

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Yeah, how does methylation impact our health, our performance, our longevity, our whole being, essentially.

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Well it is central. It is absolutely central. So the mitochondria are the engines of the car and it seems that methylation seems to balance how everything works. So methylation is needed to create certain things in the body. So it creates SAMe, and a lot of us know what SAMe is.

SAMe is a primary methyl-donor which goes around the body and helps makes our neurotransmitters. It gets rid of them and it helps make a compound called phosphocholine for our cell membranes. Then we have quite a bit of methylation around. The body will say okay, we have got too much, and it will speed up one enzyme to help make glutathione and it will make creatine so our kidneys and our muscles will be happy.

So you can see a lot of issues with low creatine in people. It balances our immune system, it helps make immune cells, it supports creatine and CoQ10 formation, which are pretty important. It is very central. It helps regulate genes, turning them on and off. In fact, most of our genes are turned off and if we have low methylation then some of these genes will turn on and they will stay on and then we know what happens from that. The cancer can ensue. So those are some of them and there are probably some other major ones that I am not remember offhand.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Yeah, that is great. So does it play a role in detoxification?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Yes it does because methylation is a very small role if you look in the toxicology textbook. And when I read that I was kind of disheartened and sad. But at the same time when there is a lot of SAMe around, then SAMe will help promote the enzyme which takes homocysteine and moves it into glutathione. So homocysteine, which some people call ‘the evil marker’ on labs, if it is too low that is a problem and if it is too high that is a problem.

So we need to make sure there is adequate homocysteine because homocysteine will actually move into glutathione production. That in itself is a pretty direct connection between a major thing for a xenobiotic detoxification and glutathione is the mothership for that.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So to let the people at home visualize what methylation is, would you call it – is it like a biochemical process where the enzymes are many biochemical processes taking place through a whole line of enzymes which are required for the body? How would you explain it in a simple way or how would you tend to explain that?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: I would say that methylation is a process by which there is a carbon with three hydrogens, which as a methyl group will bind and dock to certain thing. And it will bind to neurotransmitters. It will bind to chemicals, it will bind to DNA, but it seems the biggest methyl donor of the body is again [inaudible – 00:06:05]-methionine. And so what that SAMe does – methylation is a long, complicated process and there are multiple methyl donors.

Choline is one, SAMe is another one, methylfolate, glycine, and all of these are methyl donors because the body creates redundancy. Basically these methyl groups, as you said, will support various enzymes in the body and then these enzymes are proteins which do work. If these enzymes are malfunctioning due to various toxins in the environment or nutrient deficiencies, then these enzymes won’t be able to do work. And if you back up even one step further, where do enzymes come from?

Enzymes come from genes so if these genes are not functioning very well then they will not be able to make their end product. And so everybody knows about the MTHFR gene defect, making methylfolate needs that MTHFR enzyme, and that MTHFR gene to work so it can go in and do its job.

In summary, I would say that methylation is the process by which genes will produce an end-product which will then have a certain of functions and sometimes a singular function. And there are hundreds and hundreds and possibly even thousands of functions that are going on in our body that are due to methylation and I know that there are hundreds. There could be more than that. You need to also understand too that it is much bigger than that because think of a pyramidal shape – at the top of the pyramid you might have MTHFR and it is just one gene, but the downstream effect of that one gene will form a base of that pyramid. So the impact of that one gene not working is really broad.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Yeah, that can cascade down pretty quickly.

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: That’s right.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So what are the biggest methylation challenges that you see? Or the most common ones?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Stress, food, intake, and water I would say are the biggest ones. And I say that because if you work as a physician, you work with patients. And if you can modify their diet and their lifestyle alone then their methylation will balance very, very well. Of course, there are other things too like toxins in the environment, lead, and yeast overgrowth producing acetaldehyde and alcohol intake, those are other big ones. But I would say food, water and stress.

Stress is a big one because glucocorticoids, cortisol stimulate methylation. So you are saying well, that is good. It is good, but if you have ongoing stress you are pushing methylation all the time, which then means you need to be able to produce more methyl donors. And if you are eating McDonald’s or you are eating inappropriately and you are not eating your leafy greens or your grass-fed meats then your methylation is going to suffer.

So if you are under chronic stress and you are eating carbs to make you happy, you are not getting the proteins and the leafy greens and you are going to be in big trouble. Then it also goes back to our water levels here in the America that are pretty high in arsenic. And then so is our chicken because they use antibiotics laced with arsenic. And when they feed those chickens before they are butchered these chickens get bioaccumulation of arsenic throughout their life and then we eat that chicken. And then we eat another chicken and another chicken.

So our bioaccumulation of arsenic goes up. And then you have got arsenic in rice, which is a big issue. And then greens as well. So our bioaccumulation of arsenic is a really big deal in the United States and I think it is commonly missed. And arsenic is a real tough one to eliminate because it requires both glutathione and SAMe in order to get it out of the body. So our primary methyl donor and our primary antioxidant or detoxification compound need to be in their prime in order to get arsenic out of the body. And if you just have one or the other then arsenic transforms into a more brutal marker because our body will transform it into something more toxic.

So just the basic lifestyle being calm I think is really important. And another thing too I want to add to that really quickly about stress is not only does cortisol increase our methylation cycles but what neurotransmitters increase from being stressed? We have got norepi and epi. So these things also require methylation to get rid of. So if the norepinephrine increases then we need SAMe to convert norepinephrine to epinephrine, so again that is very catabolic.

And stress in itself is also very depleting of things like magnesium. And then also our adrenals might get shot and we might not be able to function very well and aldosterone levels might drop, so now we are peeing out sodium and other minerals that we actually need. So it is a big deal. So stress is a big one.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Right, so when you are talking about stress that is both emotion and physical. So it could be things you are doing like training?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Yes, excellent point – training and overtraining is a huge problem. I was a collegiate athlete at University of Washington. I did crew there and I wish I wish I knew about this. I would have been a way better athlete. But anyhow, creatine is a major user of SAMe and the more muscle mass that you have the more it takes for your body to make that creatine because your muscles will use up creatine.

So if you’re methylation is deficient and you are a bodybuilder then I know a lot of bodybuilders that supplement with creatine, which is great, but some of it is garbage. There are definitely inferior forms of creatine out there. But if you are eating grass fed meats and you are eating your veggies and not overtraining then creatine by itself is very important. They say that creatine and phosphocholine consume the majority of your SAMe in the body. I think creatine is about 70% of SAMe’s use.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Great. In terms of genetic defects we hear about the MTHFR and other snips – how big of a role are they and how important is this in the population compared to the other factors you have spoken about?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Well I would say that genetic factors are important but not nearly as important as the lifestyle and diet. So the epigenetics are what control the genetics. the epigenetics are the things that are around the outside of the actual gene itself – just our environment and our perception of the environment as Bruce Lipton so beautifully explains in his videos or in his book, the biology of belief. The epigenetics are so far more important than the genetics themselves. Do you ever watch that video, A Tale Of Two Mice, from NOVA?

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: I haven’t seen that.

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Yeah, so you’re listeners need to see that. If you Google ‘NOVA A Tale Of Two Mice,’ you will see a perfect example of what I am talking about because these mice – I won’t get into too much detail. There are these mice and they are genetical. They are called agouti mice and they are genetically predisposed to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. They are genetically predispositioned for this.

This means they will go through live and get it if their lifestyle and diet are going to be a mess. And so what they did is this mouse had little baby pups, mice pups. The pups were divided equally and they were genetically identical because they came from the same mom. They were absolutely genetically identical. They were divided in half and one group of these mice got methyl donors with their chow and the other group just got their standard chow.

Now they also had some BPA in there and that was another experiment because BPA messes up your methylation. But anyhow, the baby rats who were fed the methyl donors and the rat chow did not go on in life and get diabetes, cardiovascular risk, or cancer and their fur was a lot healthier. The other rats went on and they got basically everything under the sun. So that is a perfect example of epigenetics.

And another one that I like to talk about too is the queen bee. So the queen bee is genetically identical to the other worker bees but the epigenetics of them are totally different because the queen bee was nurtured and she was fed the royal jelly and all that. So that is another living example of how epigenetics is more important than genetics.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Great, thanks for making that point. I remember the rat and mouse from your Chicago presentation, actually. So is it worth us getting genetics tested for to identify snips in MTHFR and other area or do you think it is more worthwhile working on lifestyle first and then maybe later if we still have some problems looking at the testing?

The other question I have is doesn’t everyone have snips in some of the methylation process? We were just talking about how it has got hundreds of working parts to it. So isn’t everyone who has got some snips in part of the chain that is taking place in our body – we are pretty much all going around a bit and some of us are healthy and some of us are not so healthy. So like you said, is it more about the epigenetics side of it?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Well it definitely is but you have to take every situation in context for that specific individual. So while genetic testing is useful, and that is how evolution occurs – we evolve through mutations and these mutations can be hopefully selected and be an improvement for something in the future. So not all mutations are bad.

They have their various functions and even MTHFR has its benefits. But I would say if the person is going along and they are doing well, not going to doctors and not on various medications, they are just humming along and they are young and pretty confident in their health and how they are feeling and there is not much family risk, they look at their family and their family has a long life of good health and history, then I say it is not that big of an issue.

Now if you are born from a family that dies early, your parents are dying in their 50s or 60s, then you might want to be taking a moment, even if you are healthy because a lot of athletes, as you know, might look and appear healthy but the next thing they know they are in a wheelchair or they are dead. And they say this guy had super high risk for cardiovascular disease. Or he had the [inaudible – 00:00:16] genes and he had Alzheimer’s risk and his cholesterol was not normal but if you look at the cholesterol subfractions he was a mess. So sometimes you can just test for those things or you can look at the genetics, or you can do both.

Now, I am all about disease prevention and optimizing lifestyles, especially in unborn children. So if someone is looking to get pregnant then I absolutely recommend genetic testing through 23andMe and then running it through MTHFRsupport.com, with which I have no affiliation. Or these other things like genetic genie. The reason I say this is because there are specific genes which do mess up your methylation and it is good to know which ones they are. And then with proper education you can bypass these things. Also, if you look through history and see your family line was anxious, they had bipolar, they had breast cancer or various cancers, then again I think it is important to do genetic testing just so you can see which genes are the issue. And if you know which ones are the issue that you can focus more on that.

So it has its places in both sides where you can and you can’t. But it also depends on where you are mentally. If you think the genetic testing is going to scare you more than benefit you then I wouldn’t do it right away. I would maybe start with MTHFR and work on that or work on all the diet and lifestyle things so you can be less stressed out and then order the genetic testing under some false name if insurance kind of concerns you in the future.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: I would like to talk about what is going to have an impact – so with some tests you can get a test but you can’t really take much action after that. So there is not that much benefit. It is nice to hear you talking about getting your lifestyle fixed first. That is probably going to have a big impact and if you want to refine things, maybe some testing will help you get a bit further. Is that the way you look at it?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Yeah, and I always tell doctors this because they come to conferences and they hear this term, methylation, and they see all these complicated pathways. And I say, ‘Look, you guys are already doing this.’ Diet and lifestyle are absolutely number one – food, water, sleep, loved ones around you, and getting some form of exercise. And breathing fresh air and all these things are so, so important and the basis of not having a toxic environment around you too.

So all those things sound very simple but in our current modern lifestyle we are not conducive to any of it. They are plugged into their phones all the time and so on. So the basic lifestyle is so, so important. And I cannot tell you how many patients I have worked with that have these genetic defects and that have gotten better with just the absolute basics. If you focus on the snips and you treat the snips, the genetic mutations or polymorphisms as a more appropriate term.

If you focus on these genetic variations and you give meds or supplements or even foods that target these specific genetic variations and you miss the big picture, you are going to be chasing your tail and you are not going to be going anywhere. So you have got to do all the basic groundwork first and I cannot stand when I see these genetic tests come back and there are long recommendations of a whole bunch of nutrients to take.

That just outright pisses me off to be honest and it is very self-centered and very incorrect because these patients will never get better because they are taking supplements or meds or certain lifestyle things that are targeted to their genes, and that isn’t right. You have got to do big picture.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: That is great. Thank you for that clarification. I think one of the things is that we don’t hear about methylation that much and it is still kind of a new topic. So what kind of chronic health issues or symptoms do you think methylation can be related to that people don’t typically think of?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Anxiety, insomnia would be another one, fatigue, depression, addictive disorders, generalized fatigue, skin issues, digestive issues in terms of if you have ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s and obviously there is big picture there too, but methylation is a major component of that as well. Chemical sensitivity.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: You have quite a long list. I guess the point is that it is kind of there and it is this big important part that you have been talking about but there is not a lot of information about it there and it links with that yet.

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: I think the best way to summarize that question and keep it as simple as possible is methylation has its fingers in every symptom out there. That is really it in a nutshell. It might not be a direct effect but it is definitely an indirect effect. So I would say whatever symptom is out there, methylation is playing a role somehow. So while it might not be the primary treatment thing to go after it is definitely something that needs to be looked at in every patient, no matter the symptoms or the condition.

It needs to be optimized all the time and it is constantly shifting. Methylation reactions are occurring in every single cell of your body every single millisecond. It changes based upon how you are feeling, if you are stressed out, if you are overtraining. If you are overtraining and running say, a marathon, and you are burning through all this ATP and your muscles are using a bunch of creatine and you are not re-supplementing yourself, then you might be depressed and fatigued after. And you are like, ‘Why the hell am I depressed? I just ran a marathon and I won the damn thing, but I’m so depressed.’ So it is connected to everything.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: How do you think methylation relates to mitochondria and oxidative stress in the body? I am aware of problems with mitochondria and oxidative stress causing chronic disease as well now. So how does methylation relate to those two things?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: From my understanding right now it is an indirect thing. And I am trying to put the pieces together more succinctly so I can explain it better. When you methylate there are leftover things and when your SAMe does its job of making creatine, then after it makes the creatine it makes adenosylhomocysteine and that homocysteine then will convert into adenosine. And we know what ATP is, adenosine triphosphate.

So methylation does form adenosine through its end reactions and it helps make this adenosine and while it is not the primary formation of ATP it is a big player because if your adenosine levels get built up for various reasons due to deficiencies in B6 or Kreb cycle intermediates – or end-products there like NADH, your adenosine if it gets too high will shift your metabolism. And we have shifts in metabolism in order to protect us. So if we are running we are primarily, in the first few minutes, we are probably mostly going through aerobic energy.

There are pyruvates going to acetyl-COA and it is making our NADH. But after a while our muscles are going to be running out of those primary – it is going to be running out of acetyl-COA and there is going to be adenosine building up. And then as that adenosine builds up it will be shifting pyruvate into lactate. And that is good, we need that anaerobic shift because our body can only fuel so much glycogen in the muscles and then that shift in metabolism occurs so we can run off of lactate.

The problem is that some of these people are running off lactate all the time. And if their adenosine levels are high because their methylation cycle is inhibited that is a serious problem. If your adenosine levels are high that is going to lead into metabolic disorders, diabetes, high cholesterol, fatty livers, and the end result of this is going to be cancer and death. So a long-term metabolic shift that is due to elevated adenosine, which comes from methylation, is a serious issue. And it is not looked at and getting tests and doctors to even know what adenosine is is a big problem.

There are very few labs that look at pyruvate levels or adenosine levels. They do look at lactate, and lactate is a very important marker to look at, but if you have fatty liver or your GGT or ALT or AST levels in your liver enzymes are elevated then your adenosine is up and you have got to fix that, now. And I think that adenosine is a huge marker. And I have been working with doctor data for the last few months. As you saw at Chicago I was beating them up during that conference. And they are coming out with adenosine on their methylation profile at some point here so I am very excited for that.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Great, and obviously I want to talk about some of the testing and the metrics and so on. Where would you start? If you have a patient would it be like a 23andMe genetics test or would it be something more like a methylation profile from the doctor data that you were just talking about?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Well when you say where would I start, do you mean where would I start initially?

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Let’s say we have been working on lifestyle and these things are fixed but we still have some problems where some things are not optimum. Are there certain tests you tend to go to first because you find them the most useful? Biomarkers that you are looking for because they help elucidate the situation more quickly or tell you a lot more? They are a lot more actionable.

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: 23andMe I will get if I am struggling. So I will order 23andMe and it takes about a month or month-and-a-half to get. Once we get that done I will send them to Genetic Genie or MTHFR Support. And I like MTHFR Support report better because there are some genes that I told them to get that are on the report now, like GAMT for creatine for example, or phosphocholine production or vitamin A production.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So just for the guys at home, they have to download their data from 23andMe in a file and then upload it into these other sites, right?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: That’s right, and if you go to those websites they will walk you through it. There are diagrams and maybe even a small video of how to do that. I know there is on MTHFR Support, the basic instructions, and it is very easy. But yes, you are right. Money is an issue and unfortunately it is for a lot of people.

I will do that 23andMe and I will just base everything off of signs and symptoms. And once you get good at it you can see these pathways in your head. But if you are not good at it you can see these pathways in your head. But if you are not good at it initially then I would be getting that methylation profile from doctor’s data and that is important to run but again you have to understand how to interpret it. And on [inaudible – 00:25:59] there is an article on there along with a podcast in the learning center about methylation profile analysis.

And I give a walkthrough of an actual test that I interpreted and discuss why these markers are the way they are. And I give various recommendations and that is a good thing to look at. So I would say with the methylation pathway I like organic acids a lot.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So you said that methylation – because the doctor’s data panel is called methylation profile, is it? Or is it the pathway? Because there is another company I know you have mentioned before and I have used before also, this Health Diagnostics. They used to be called [inaudible – 00:26:31] Diagnostics.

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Yeah, I love their test. The problem is the turnaround time is pretty bad. But it might be hit or miss and I did hear from someone that if you call them for results and tell them to email the results it might speed up the return of the results by about three weeks. So that is worth mentioning, Health Diagnostics Research Institute. I think it is HDRI-USA.com or HDRI-Labs.com, something like that.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Yeah, we will put the links I am sure.

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Okay, great. Their methylation test is the best out there right now. There is no question.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So what do you like about that versus the doctor’s data one then, for example? What helps you?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Well doctor’s data is basically – even Dr. [inaudible – 00:27:12] has stated that the methylation profile with doctor’s data is basically just a methionine cycle and it touches the transsulfuration cycle just a tiny bit. But we have no idea what is going on in the folate pathway. And the folate pathway is a significant pathway that leads into the methionine cycle and if we don’t know what is going on there, we don’t know why these markers are doing what they are doing in the methionine cycle. So you have to assume and assuming is not good. You want to know.

So the Health Diagnostics Research Institute will give all the folate derivatives, which is useful to the primary ones which is very useful. They don’t give the B12 in there, which I think would be nice, but you don’t really need it because if you see methylfolate as elevated and tetrahydrofolate is low, then you can know right there that there is a methionine synthase block of some sort, whether it is B12 or oxidative stress, lead, or yeast overgrowth or what have you. So I would say that Health Diagnostics is better in that regard.

They also look at adenosine. And adenosine isn’t in the methionine cycle but it is a beautiful marker once you understand how to use it. Again, I am still learning but I am getting better at it and I believe I know how to reduce it now. I know caffeine reduces adenosine, which is very interesting.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: That is good news.

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Yeah, for those coffee drinkers. I am not saying go and suck down coffee by the gallon, but –

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Don’t quit your daily coffee.

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Yeah, I mean a little bit of caffeine can be good, especially with D-ribose. I think some people, too, not to deviate too much but this is something I have recently learned, where if people aren’t doing very well in terms of they are getting post workout fatigue or soreness, that D-ribose is something beautiful. D-ribose is really important for producing ATP and it is very demanding to produce in the body.

So D-ribose and a little bit of caffeine, part of exercising, might keep that adenosine level low and then you might be able to use aerobic metabolism for a longer period of time before you shift into that lactic acid build up, the lactate. You might be increasing endurance that way. When it comes down to labs, if I am going to order labs what I would really like to do is just – they are expensive but you spend the money up front. Because if you order labs and one day you order the CBC and Chem and you get your serum ferritin and all that in there, your basic labs and you get those back and you find some things and you work on that.

Then you still have some symptoms and you order the CDSA and you look at the digestive function and you find some things there and you work on that and you say, you know, we still have some issues and you get the organic acids and you find that you are low in B12 or something else. And if you keep doing these labs this way then you are not connecting them. And the beautiful thing is if you order all those labs at once you can lay them out on your desk and you can stare at them with this built-in pathway planner which you have the privilege of staring at it in Chicago.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: It’s huge, just for the readers. It’s huge.

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Yeah, so I have got a whole new updated one so I will get you a new copy of that, Damien, for your listeners. So if you do all these tests at once and you look at it with the pathway planner then you can see how everything interacts and why maybe the CBC is bad because of this and this and this.

Or maybe why their methylation profile is bad, because of that and this and that. And you can see the underlying causes and you can say okay, look, now we know we have a pathogen in your gut and you are anemic and your iron levels are low, and your magnesium levels are low and your homocysteine is high. And your tetrahydrofolate is high and your yeast overgrowth is high and now we can say we have all this data and we can know why all these things are abnormal now, and the underlying causes are this, this, and this.

And so you work on those main underlying causes and you make such fast headway in the patient. It is an initial investment but the speed in which your patient can get better is tenfold because you are not chasing things. Now, mind you if the patient is under 30, or 30 and younger, and their main complaints are not that serious then would I do all this testing?

No, I would probably do most things empirical, meaning I just go for the lifestyle and dietary changes without looking at some labs but if it is the first, if they haven’t had labs done for years, then I would go ahead and do all this testing too. So it depends on if they have already had some baseline testing done. If they have never had baseline testing done then it needs to get done.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Right, so when you say baseline it sounds like you are doing – how many tests are you doing? Stool tests, urine tests, the methylation – ?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Yes, and I will get you that list too for your listeners. I have a list and I do what is called a roundtable for doctors. So I am going to Japan this fall and prior to going I am making them do all these different tests. And then what we are going to do is they are going to share their patients that are struggling to get better. And then I have a list of tests that I told them to get.

And so I will just get you that list if you like. Ion Panel by Genova is pretty good. The Ion panel looks at fatty acids. It looks at organic acids, it looks at amino acids. It looks at lipid peroxidation. So if you were to order just one test to keep it simple then the ion panel with the CBC chem panel would be something to look at. It is not perfect, no test is perfect. They all have holes, which is why I have a laundry list. But I think the Ion panel by Genova is definitely a good start.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So I guess one of the main points there is a lot of these tests are about biochemicals and they are not long-term markers that are changing over time and they are connected to each other. So unless you get the whole picture, like you are doing, then if you work on some problems with the CDSA then the methylation test you get could be different and it might not fit with the problems you have identified in the first place? You are looking in the wrong direction. Is it because the biochemicals are moving around too much?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: That’s right and not only are they moving around too much, but why are they moving around? So if you order that methylation profile in 23andme because you are a doctor that specializes in methylation – and this is a big problem too, because methylation is not the tool. It is another tool.

If the patient comes in, they come to you because you are the methylation expert and you to MTHFR and the 23andme and the methylation profile and you just work on those things, and then you could be missing the underlying picture of why their methylation is wrong in the first place. And I cannot tell you as a physician – I would slap myself in the face multiple times for missing screening for pathogens.

And screening for pathogens is so hugely important because we are so susceptible to them now because of this stress and the lifestyle that we have and the likelihood of us having a pathogen is so high whether you have symptoms or not. And if you don’t have symptoms that is because you are supporting it through your lifestyle and diet or supplements or meds trying to mask the destruction that pathogen is doing on you.

So my point on this is that if you order the methylation test or your CBC and you get the things back and you work on that you might be missing the underlying picture of arsenic exposure or perhaps there is no pathogen there and maybe there is lead or mercury or maybe there are mercury amalgams in their teeth or root canals that were done that were festing anaerobic bacteria. That is why it is important to do all of these tests first so that you can see how all these things are.

And I have recently learned too is that some doctors already know this stuff but it just takes forever to link everything – but iron. I had my wife, for example, her serum ferritin just doesn’t go up. It just will not climb and her RBC magnesium too is just chronically low. And I have very good nutrients to work with this with all the cofactors and everything it is still low. Like, what the hell. And so RBC magnesium – I was reading this book and I don’t remember the title but it is by Dr. Myhill and it is her new one.

She talks about RBC magnesium being chronically low in people possibly because at rest I need to find a research citation to see if she is right or not but she says at rest 40% of ATP is utilized for moving minerals back and forth between the cell membrane. It’s like holy God, that’s big. So 40% of ATP at rest, not at exercise but at rest, is to move sodium and calcium and calcium and magnesium across the cell membrane. That’s big so magnesium has to be pumped in and so does potassium.

Potassium is a huge component that I think most people are deficient in. But my point here is RBC magnesium, I mentioned ribose earlier and this is also from Myhill, that she thinks that if people are chronically low on RBC and red blood cell magnesium it might be because their D-ribose levels are too low because their ATP levels are too low. And I give my wive ribose and I recommend it to her, but is she compliant? Sometimes. And the serum ferritin is low I believe because pathogenic bacteria in the gut, which we have recently found from the CDSA by doctor’s data is she has some pathogens in the gut and they suck up iron like crazy.

So why we are taking these nutrients, these high-quality nutrients – the pathogens in the gut are taking them all. And if you have yeast overgrowth in the gut then these things the yeast are using, your B1 and magnesium, to make acetaldehyde which is then converting to ethanol, which is disrupting your methylation cycle. So the gut is so central too – and I would do the ion panel with the CDSA probably first, and I like the RBC.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So the CDSA is the doctor’s data stool test?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: I like that one.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Versus say metametrics or some of the other ones?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Yeah, there are a lot of them out there. I think Genova’s is getting better. I didn’t like Genova’s for a long time and I think GI stool effects was not very good. I like doctor’s data. I ran another one and I think I ran Biohealth and it came back with basically nothing so that everything looked fine. I did it for my whole family and I didn’t trust it, no way. And so I did the doctor’s data and it came back with all this useful data, so it is very important that you order the right test too.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So are there any methylation or other tests you have done which you didn’t find useful, whether it is for accuracy reasons that you didn’t trust or other reasons?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Well I would have to think about that one for a while.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: I think you mentioned in a presentation homocysteine and it is in all of the main labs like LabCorp and Quest and so on, and it is obviously something that lots of people are getting tested now. How do you find that test, for example?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Well homocysteine is good if it is high, so if it is high it is useful and you know there is some type of blockage going on. And when I say it is high I am not talking about the standard range. I am talking higher than seven in an adult. Now, in kids homocysteine levels tend to be lower. And I think they are lower so normal in a kid say under 14 or so, shooting from the hip, I have it somehow in the forum of [inaudible – 00:38:20] and I need to remember the range is here and it is important. But anyhow younger kids have younger homocysteine levels.

So they might come back at five and he is like oh, that is too low, I need to work it up. No, they naturally run low and they naturally run low, probably because methylation cycles is humming along super quick because of their growth. So the younger you are the more methylation you burn through because you are growing. Look at autism, their methylation cycles are messed up and these kids are hurting big time.

But with homocysteine, my point here is that homocysteine is a good marker of a tie and the problem is that it is extremely rudimentary and we don’t know why it is high. So it is important to know why it is high but at least it is high. So doctor’s might take some action and get some B12, B6, TMG, methylfolate and so on, but the problem is if it comes back low, as you saw Dr. [inaudible – 00:39:06] lectured on about homocysteine and S-adenosylhomocysteine in the cardiovascular risk patients, because there is research out there that says look, homocysteine levels are not correlated with cardiovascular risk and you say well BS because all these other papers look at homocysteine and it is related to cardiovascular disease.

But some of these papers that are actually published are legit and they say homocysteine isn’t. But now if you look at S-adenosylhomocysteine, S-adenosylhomocysteine levels can be elevated while the homocysteine levels are normal and they are correlated. So those two things will be correlated to cardiovascular disease. So homocysteine, before you get to homocysteine is S-adenosylhomocysteine. I think while your listeners are listening to this show they should have this pathway popped up so they can follow me along a little bit but S-adenosylhomocysteine is above homocysteine and that pathway is bidirectional. SAW goes to homocysteine but homocysteine also goes back to SAW, so it goes two ways. So that is important to know, that homocysteine goes back to SAW preferentially.

So if you are to draw and write homocysteine on your piece of paper and homocysteine is your left hand and SAW is your right hand – there is going to be a bigger, heavier arrowhead moving from left to right from homocysteine to SAW than there is from SAW to homocysteine. So the pathway to moving back from homocysteine to SAW is fatter and now if your SAW is elevated your adenosine can get elevated. And if your adenosine gets elevated then it is metabolic syndrome, it is diabetes, and so on.

So you are absolutely right that homocysteine is very rudimentary and that is why methylation’s profile by doctor’s data is not as good as Health Diagnostics but at least it does look at SAM SAW and the ratio.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So that is right, the SAM SAW and the ratio, that is what you find useful in that one.

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: That’s right.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So another thing you just mentioned is some of the reference ranges are a bit different. Is that in a lot of the tests? Some of these tests are a bit young as well, like the methylation pathways from [inaudible 00:41:12] Diagnostics or [inaudible 00:41:14], as you said. Now, I am not sure how much data they actually have in a database to establish what a reference range is and what kind of populations – so how do you go about looking at reference ranges?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: You have to remember that just like you said earlier a lab test is a snapshot in time. So I am going to answer your question here and I am a little bit delayed, so if I get too off track you can hit me on the head and I will get back to the answer. But in short a lab test is a snapshot in time.

So if you are stressed out and you are stuck in traffic to get to the lab test and somebody cuts you off or there is construction and now you’re late and the doctor is bitching you out for being late or the kids are screaming in the back of your car and then you draw your blood for the methylation test – it might make some impact. And then if the doctors don’t handle – or the lab tech doesn’t handle your sample properly, there can be some issues there.

Then it finally gets to the lab and maybe it gets lost in transit or maybe it is sitting in the back of the FedEx truck for a couple of extra days and that sample gets messed up. Maybe it doesn’t and say everything now is still on the way just fine and there are no hiccups, and then the sample gets processed in the lab and is done by humans – humans can sometimes make errors like adding too much reagent, being tired and not writing things down properly, or maybe the computer isn’t reset or reconfigured every morning and then didn’t do it properly that day.

They put the results on a beautiful PDF that looks fantastic and they have these little ranges on there and you get the results back and you are like, ‘What the hell? This doesn’t look right.’ You always need to look at the lab as a piece of paper and you need to match that to how your patient is at the moment. So if the lab comes back one way and your patient is completely the opposite, maybe the lab is right. But most likely I would say this is possibly a lab error.

Now, getting back to the ranges, I know for a fact that the Health Diagnostic Research Institute – their lab values for that methylation test was they tested 100 medical students. Now, when I was in medical school I was the sickest I had ever been in my life. I was tired, I was just run ragged and med school is the toughest thing I have ever done in my life besides rowing for UW. And I would say how healthy were these medical students? Were they drinking? Were they not?

Using the word ‘healthy’ medical students is such an oxymoron to me. So that is where those lab values came from, those ranges. So you have to keep that in mind. The ranges on all lab tests are coming from the population to some degree. So in our population as a whole it is pretty sick. I don’t know the historical thing but there is a really good book out there. Do you know it, Damien? It is about homocysteine. I think it is called – could it be your B12 levels? Or is it your B12?

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Yeah, that was one of the first ones.

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: And that is a pretty good little read. It is pretty basic and it is pretty good to read and he talks about, or I believe – or she – the ranges of homocysteine and how they have historically elevated. And look at arsenic – George W. Bush, Jr. increased arsenic levels that are “safe.” So the safety level of arsenic now has been inflated over time. So the ranges – you are going to really have to take those with a grain of salt and again match it with your patient.

And I know some doctors can really dial in where they like the ranges and it would be so great if doctors could share their data, saying I find from my clinical experience that this range is the ideal one. But for some reason they latch on to these things and they keep that information private, and I don’t know why. But yeah, so homocysteine I believe a lot of them say it is greater than 11 for an adult and some even say if it is greater than 15, and that is way too high. I would say 7 is ideal, or 9 you have definitely have some work to do.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Yeah, and coming back to when we spoke a couple of times about supplements and we spoke a couple of times about supplements and we spoke about people using supplements to lower homocysteine. So some people have done some work on their methylation and some of them have been taking supplements, the B vitamins, the folates, and other supplements for their methylation and they will feel better.

But as you were talking about earlier the underlying condition – they basically have to take these supplements all the time now to keep themselves going. Is that a good idea? You were talking about continuing to look for the pathogen or whatever causes it. Are there dangers from supplementing? Or do you think it is a good idea to control symptoms for a while if you are still trying to figure things out and you should always be aiming to get off of them?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Palliation is removing the symptoms and the irritation of whatever is causing disturbance in your patient or yourself quick – that is what drugs do fast, super fast, unless they are causing other issues. I call it drive-thru medicine. You go to your doctor and say, ‘I’ve got a headache,’ and they prescribe headaches.

And maybe your ergonomics at work are not right or maybe you are not drinking enough water or maybe you are drinking aspartame or you are sucking down caffeine all the time – there are a million reasons for headaches. But if you are taking an aspirin and the body is saying, ‘Hey, listen to me and fix it,’ and you tell it to shut up, I am taking an aspirin – now, you are telling it to shut up too if you are taking methyl donors and you are not addressing the alcohol intake that you are drinking every night if you are drinking beers and wines and whiskeys and vodkas all the time.

You have a job as a real estate agent and you are celebrating house closings all the time with your patients. Then yeah, it is a social thing and it is fun to have your wine but if your methylation is not appropriate or you have yeast overgrowth in your gut that is inhibiting your methylation or you have got lead toxicity.

If you order the lab tests and you see your methylation is messed up due to the lead and you know you have elevated lead – or say you don’t know you have elevated lead but you are bypassing it with these methyl donors, these methyl donors only do so much. But the lead is still causing oxidative stress. It is still blocking other pathways that have no relation to methylation. And so while some pathways are being bypassed, others aren’t. So it is a big deal to address the underlying cause.

Let me give you a brief example here. I had a friend of mine who was drinking not a lot but he would have a few beers every night. He would wake up tired and his kidneys were sore and he was getting kind of sick of it and he asked what to do. I told him to quit drinking and he just kind of looked at me and laughed. So I said all right, take some B vitamins.

So he took the B vitamins for a while and that helped but after a while it didn’t and I said, ‘Well, now I know about methylated B vitamins, so take the methylated B vitamins. So he started taking those and he wrote to me and goes, ‘Thanks man, now I can drink even more and I wake up in the morning feeling fine.’ I was like that really defeated the purpose. But now he is making more but he feels fine.

Then I told him that drinking was a mitochondrial toxin that was affecting his mitochondria and that leads to a big issue. And that got him because he was a former athlete too and he likes to be fit. So as soon as I told him that alcohol is a mitochondrial toxin he went, ‘Oh crap,’ and he stopped drinking pretty darn fast.

But he kept going on these methylated B vitamins and he was just taking additional methylated folate and B12 as well. And he was starting to get really irritable and angry. Before he was just fine and then he just kept taking it. And he didn’t tell me this and we would talk about what I was doing these days and talking about niacin and if people took too much.

So one day he was driving down the highway and he had auditory hallucinations. The radio was off but he was hearing the radio. He kept cool because he knew it wasn’t him. He knew something was wrong and I remember Ben telling me that this could happen. So he stopped the methyl folate and he started taking niacin and everything was normalized. And then he stopped taking the methyl folate at all. He just stopped taking it. And he reduced the methylated B and he became fine.

So my point is that he had this environmental trigger that his body had to handle, which was alcohol and acetaldehyde. So his body was using all these methylated nutrients to clean up that garbage but as soon as that garbage was no longer coming in, too much of that nutrient now was causing other things. So he stopped it and lowered his dosages significantly. So I usually tell people before they reach for a supplement bottle to understand what it does and if they need it or not.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: There are a lot of these polymorphisms. Are there any situations where you have a polymorphism in your methylation process where you may have to take a supplement for a long period or maybe forever?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Yeah. I don’t know what that is yet but I would say let’s look at a couple real quick. With MTHFR if you have the 677 homozygous variant then your ability to make methylfolate is reduced by about 70% to 80%. So you are making about 20% of methyl folate compared to the standard person who has no MTHFR.

Now, if you are eating a lot of leafy greens in general and you are also eating grass fed meat and you are not that stressed out and you are leading basically a perfect life then you might not need methylated folate. I think those with MTHFR 677 might need some methylated folate to some degree pretty much the rest of their life but if they are getting it through their uncooked leafy greens and they are definitely eating quite a bit then I think they are going to be good through that.

Now, there is a paper I talked about that is on the video at MTHFR.net – a lot of the information there is dated but it is still pretty accurate. That video there is free and I show the polymorphisms in various populations like the Chinese, Indians, Hispanics, and so on, that have a very, very high rate of – Italians, too – that have a super high rate of MTHFR.

Now at the end of that video I talk about neural tube defects in Mexico and the United States being related to folate. Then they did another study that looked at neural tube defects and MTHFR, Hispanics, and the Americans and those were all directly related. The researchers also looked at Italians in MTHFR and neural tube defects, and there was no correlation.

So the neural tube defects in Italy, these people with their lifestyle seems very protective, even despite the MTHFR polymorphism over there. So they eat a lot of salads and they drink a bit of wine that is a little bit as good, and not too much not. And their lifestyle is a lot less hectic than us Americans and we chase this American dream which is just a complete nightmare for people. So the American dream is the American nightmare – I think it should be renamed.

Then if you look at another gene – GAMT of creatine, I think people with the GAMT polymorphism may benefit from taking creatine and some form of creatine or at least eating meat. If you are a vegetarian and you have GAMT then you are probably going to be in trouble.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: That is interesting that sometimes it can inform your lifestyle choices as well.

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Yeah, and vegetarians and vegans – I was a vegetarian for a while and I felt terrible. Looking at my genes I think I could understand why, plus I didn’t know how to be a vegetarian properly. I was a carbitarian and I didn’t eat properly. I think if you are a vegetarian and you know how to eat very well and you are supplementing with choline, creatine, phosphocholine and B12 then I think you can be okay.

But some of the most ill people I have worked with are vegans and vegetarians and I would say the majority of women that have had recurrent miscarriage or can’t get pregnant were vegans and vegetarians. So in most pregnant women whether they are vegans or vegetarians or not, most pregnant women are deficient in choline. And most cancer patients are deficient in choline as well. So choline is a very, very important nutrient and that comes from meat, plain and simple.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: And our friend, liver, in particular.

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: And our friend liver, yeah.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Great, thank you for all of those insights. I want to round off with a couple of questions a bit more about where you see things going over the longer term. So in the next five or ten years with this whole area of methylation, where would you hope it would go? What kind of things are you excited about in this area?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Well I am most excited about disease prevention with it and I think if it is utilized properly, meaning still focusing on lifestyle and diet and the basics, I think if there is a company like 23andMe that provides very clinically relevant polymorphisms and not a million polymorphisms that may mean nothing – but reducing it down to one 8.5 by 11 report of genetic polymorphisms that are very clinically relevant, that have been researched, that can bypass through lifestyle, diet, and nutrients, I think that would be very useful.

Right now there are a lot of polymorphisms that are published that may or may not have any clinical relevance. And I think that the 23andMe has – even with MTHFRsupport or Genetic Genie I think there are variants on that test report that are bogus, meaning no clinical relevance. I would like to see variations that are clinically relevant with actionable steps and understanding how to take action on them in simple, systematic ways and not so complex and convoluted – which I know some of my presentations can be.

I am trying to simplify things and would would be really cool too is to have some type of computer program that looks at all the polymorphisms that individual has along with their lab markers that are off, their diet, lifestyle, heavy metal exposures, and so on. You plug all that information into a database and the computer program will spit out some generalized recommendations for the physician to evaluate such pathogens or heavy metal screening or some certain things to look for, or nutrients that they absolutely must be taking and nutrients and meds that they absolutely should be avoiding.

So computerizing this I think would make it a lot more actionable. And also with prenatal screening, I think every person now should be taking some type of genetic screening that are actionable. There are things out there called Counsyl that looks at genetics that cause issues in the fetus during development. And why that test is useful – it also scares the hell out of the future parents, and having fear while you are pregnant is definitely no good because fear also messes up your methylation and a bunch of other pathways and blood flow to the baby.

So if you order a test which has actionable things that they can do through diet and lifestyle and the mother knows that and so does the father, because the father’s genetics are also significantly important for the baby’s development too, then I think that is the way to go. So I think that, in a nutshell, for disease prevention is important. And also mitochondrial disorders are really severe and you see a lot of early death in people who have mitochondrial dysfunction.

And as you may remember from the Chicago conference I talked about maternally-inherited mitochondrial disorders, because mitochondria is basically inherited from the mother. If you see a list of diseases that are all down from the mother’s side of the family or the women’s side of the family then it is probably a mitochondrial disorder and if you do any genetic testing on that you might be able to support the mitochondria immediately through NADH, COQ 10, glutathione, and so on. So again, I think disease prevention automation and specific targeted recommendations is where I would like to see it.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Yeah, in terms of tests is there anything that you see missing? I know mitochondrial tests, for example, you mentioned Sarah Myhill and I know she has a test she is doing, but I don’t know many other tests. Are there any other tests you feel would be useful to be available or are hard to access or they need further development?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Yeah, tons of them. And I would love to see this stuff on one panel and I have notes on these things trying to get other labs to look at it. So Acumen Labs, that is over in Wales or UK, Myhill promotes and works with a lot. Again, a test like this – not to spend too much time on it, but they were looking at a snapshot of ATP, ATP’s realization, and so on. And some of those tests look at causation too so I would say those are good tests. But would I necessarily order those? If they are not too expensive, yeah, and if they are expensive, no.

The reason why is because if I see lactate elevated on a patient, lactate is a very readily-available marker. So if lactate is elevated then I know immediately that the mitochondria in this patient are suffering, along with lipid peroxidation. If lipid peroxidation is elevated then we know their cell membranes are getting damaged. And if their cell membranes are damaged, then their mitochondria will be damaged.

I want to give you the markers now that are already available. So lactate, lipid peroxidation are great. Ammonia elevation is also a marker of mitochondrial dysfunction because mitochondria process ammonia, for the most part. So if that is elevated then we know the mitochondria are not working very well and creatinine is a great one for that as is general mitochondrial support. And so looking at –

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: You mentioned that it was difficult to access. Is that urine?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: I don’t know, I don’t know what is better. I think blood lactate can be either, but I know urinary lactate is available. And I don’t know about pyruvate. And now looking at B12 – B12 is a nightmare. There are really no tests – well, I shouldn’t say that. Holotranscobalamin and methylmalonic acid are pretty good for B12.

You can look for macrocytic anemias too, elevated MCH, MCV, but those can be missed because you could have normalized MCV, MCH and still have a masked anemia because of folate, so a masked B12 anemia, I should say. So you want to be looking at methylmalonic acid and you want to be looking at holotranscobalamin, but the issue with B12 is if there is low glutathione reading about this now I have a bunch of papers on it actually, but glutathione is needed to carry B12 around and so if the patient has low glutathione their B12 levels may look elevated on the lab tests and serum cobalamin.

So serum levels of pretty much anything are not that useful. You want to look at intracellular and if it is an intracellular nutrient. And we know that B12 has to get into the cell. So if you see a serum folate and serum cobalamin elevated and your red blood cell, B12, and folate, I know Spectracell looks at T-lymphocyte testing for B12 and folates and that is intracellular, so that can be really useful for people.

Now to answer your question about tests that I want to see in the future, if you want to see oxidation, I want to see oxidized biopterin and reduced biopterin. These labs are looking at biopterin but they are not telling you if it oxidized or reduced. And if your biopterin levels are oxidized – say your biopterin levels are normal, but your patient still is having neurological symptoms or cardiovascular symptoms or they are having some type of mental or emotional imbalance.

Biopterin is really critical for this because biopterin recycles and helps revert your tryptophan and serotonin and tyrosine into dopamine and your arginine into nitric oxide for your cardiovascular systems. So with these things if you have oxidized biopterin and your biopterin levels are normal then this is going to be an issue so oxidative stress – if you measure oxidative stress this is why I also recommend looking at multiple tests at once, not just one at a time.

This is a beautiful reason why. So if their B12 levels are elevated and their folate levels are elevated in their serum – if their biopterin levels are normal but their oxidative stress is high and you know their oxidative stress is high through their lipid peroxidation, their lactate, and their glutathione levels are low and glutathione peroxidase enzyme is high or superoxide dismutase levels are high or their manganese levels are low and their zinc levels are low and so on.

If you put all these together you can immediately understand and say, ‘Hey, your oxidative stress is high and it is disturbing all of these enzymes downstream. It is messing up your glutathione, it is messing up your biopterin, your B12, your folates, your cells. We have got to get that oxidative stress down. But we need to understand your oxidative stress is elevated in the first place. So you can bypass the need for these new tests that I want to come up with if you order all these different things at once. But it is expensive, it is a pain in the ass, and it is time-consuming.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So it would be better if you could go straight to – it is kind of like you have to take these proxies and these indicators rather than getting directly at the issue.

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Yeah, inflammatory cytokines can be really useful to look at, So [inaudible 01:02:00] 1, 6, 10, and then if you look at TNF alpha, these are coming back elevated and that can be a problem but again, why are they elevated? These mess up things too. I would like to see different forms of B12 and I would like to see adenosylcobalamin, I would like to see cobalamin itself, I would like to see oxidized cobalamin, and I think that would be very , very useful.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Especially with so many people supplementing these kinds of things.

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Yeah, and if they are taking B12 and most of that B12 is going to oxidize cobalamin, which is causing more damage to their body, then they need to stop taking that B12, support the glutathione, but if they can’t support the glutathione because they are reacting to the sulphur or they are not hydrated enough, then that’s a problem. If they have urinary – they are not peeing well for various reasons because of dehydration or what have you, taking glutathione could be a big problem.

Or if they are sensitive to sulphites, glutathione if you take it then it can build up your cysteine levels and your cysteine levels go down and they make sulphites. That could be a problem too, so if people feel like crap taking glutathione, it could be they are not hydrated or their cell membranes are not appropriate, they are not healthy, or their sulphites are messes up and too elevated.

So it gets tricky fast, as you saw in Chicago, because I try to teach all this in an hour-and-a-half, just like we are talking now for an hour-and-a-half. But the point is just take this stuff and listen to it and relisten and if you glean one or two things from this, that is great. And if you listen to it again you might glean something something else or you might have an a-ha moment for this particular pathway in one patient and an a-ha moment for a different part of this combination in another patient. So it is bit by bit.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So you are obviously doing a lot of work on this research. What are the most important things coming out for you in that area? What are you working on right now, maybe for next year? What is the most interesting for you?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: What is most interesting for me right now is why people react unfavorably to certain nutrients, like methyl folate, B12, glutathione, and so one and then understanding how to identify these patients before they even take these nutrients to say hey, you have this and this and this. You need to optimize this and this before you take this and this.

That is what I am working on right now. I am trying to prevent patients from flaring by identifying where they are currently and if they can respond to a particular nutrient or not and getting the reason why. That is what I am working on because I know that the majority of patients who are under 30 or even under 40 and they are not too bad, a lot of them can be taking these methyl donors and feel great.

But you start getting in the conundrum cases with the Lyme patients, the autistic patients and so on – the cancer patients. And if you start with them out of order you can flare them. If you flare them you lose patient compliance and you lose trust and it can take longer for them to get better. So what I am doing now is trying to do that work flow.

Part of that work flow seems simple when I say it like that, but the issue is I am tying it to the mitochondria and I am tying it to the hormones and inflammation. So I have always had a big hole in hormones and so I am looking at hormone-related connections. But if you look at hormones, how are hormones affected? Well, they are affected by methylation, inflammation, and mitochondrial function. And Sarah Myhill so eloquently stated in her recent book that every single pathway in the body is affected by mitochondria.

So my biggest focus right now is mitochondrial health, which is I am reading her book, because she is very well-versed in it. I agree with a lot of things in her book and she has provided me quite a bit of insight. I also disagree with a few things in her book but that is how medicine is. None of us are perfect and I say things that are wrong and we will collaborate and I will give Sarah a call or an email here at some point after I finish her book. But what I am working on now is that and when I was at that part two conference at [inaudible 01:05:57] and there were 300 docs there and I asked them what do you want me focusing on next? A few things were brought up and then I said, ‘What about mitochondria?’ And then the whole room was just in an uproar. Right now it is mitochondria in a nutshell.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Yeah, have you connected with Dr. [Terry Wyle 01:06:14]?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: No, I haven’t. I know of her book and I know what she went through. I have read her book. I haven’t connected with her yet but she is another one I need to look into. And her book was pretty basic for me but she definitely recovered, which was beautiful.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: I spoke to her a couple of weeks back so maybe I can connect you with her if that is interesting for you.

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Yeah, that would be great, it definitely would be. And my thing too is this is all about collaboration. The stuff I am working on is the stuff that I want to give out and give people and not holding and hoarding. If I am able to help a doctor or two or 1,000, then that is my ultimate goal here. So the more doctors I can work with and collaborate with, the better.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: And the more feedback you get as well so that is useful to you as well.

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Yeah, exactly. Every doctor out there has got something that I don’t know. So Terry is going to have something I don’t know for sure and she might answer the puzzles faster than me sitting here in my office, digging through PubMed and she is like I wish I knew that ten years ago.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Yeah, collaboration is definitely the way to go. So what would be your number one recommendation to someone trying to use data to help them with the area of methylation? Is there once piece of advice you would give them?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Don’t be biased – look for bias. I don’t know if that is what you are going for, but bias is a big problem in research. So if you are reading papers and you are trying to gather data or you, yourself are working on a particular project make sure that you are eliminating bias. And I say that because when I got called in to present to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America and they wanted me to talk about MTHFR I quickly told them that cancer is about more than just MTHFR.

And I could have presented an hour-and-a-half on how MTHFR is related to cancer but I would have done them a major disservice because there are a lot of articles out there and papers that talk about MTHFR and how it is not related. So I could have presented an hour-and-a-half of totally biased research and when I say bias I mean personal bias. And some of these papers on MTHFR and cancer, a lot of them are totally legitimate saying that MTHFR isn’t related and some of them saying it is.

I think it is a bigger picture than this. And that is another thing, to keep the bigger picture. So if you dial down into MTHFR is not related to gastric cancer then you need to understand the bigger picture. You have got to zoom out, so keep the bigger picture when you are collecting data and you can’t forget the basics of diet and lifestyle. And I think that is so hugely important and compliance is super important and however you get your patients compliant, whether it is with 23andMe and MTHFR tests and you plop down in front of them and say, ‘You are a mutant,’ or you tell them, ‘Mitochondria are being destroyed because of your alcohol.’

You have got to find that pain point for that particular individual to get them compliant. So anyway, I would say keeping the bigger picture, don’t zoom in too close and make sure that you are not being biased and you are not reading papers that are biased.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Great, thanks for that. Okay, last question – looking at yourself, are there any data metrics or biometrics that you track for your own body on a routine basis yearly or whatever it is?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: I look at fatigue for my own. I don’t look at data points and I look at my fatigue and my mental capacity and my moods. I look at a few data points with me personally. So if I am more tired than I should be then I ask myself why and then I review what I have been eating, if I have been more stressed, or if I am not exercising or exercising too hard. I am 40 years old now and you hit 40 and your mitochondria slow down more and more.

So I would say I look at my ability to think and my ability to maintain endurance, not only mentally but also physically. Muscle mass I think is super important because the more muscle you have the more mitochondria you have, so I am going to be starting lifting here soon so I can restore my glycogen and make more ATP. Muscle mass is a very important marker to look at. I am not going to be the Incredible Hulk by any means but if I am 213 pounds now I don’t know what my body fat is, probably 10 to 15.

But when I was rowing at UW I was 213 pounds and I was 4% body fat. I am not going to be 4% body fat again probably but I look at leanness and weight and the ratio of muscle to fat, so being fit is a marker that I am focusing on right now.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Great, thanks for that. Those are very interesting ones. Also the mood is something I think a lot of people don’t think too much about. They think they are in a bad mood today but do you always kind of relate that to something that might have gone on? Do you think there might be some kind of biological basis or could it just be stressful events?

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Yeah, great question and I think you are absolutely right. If there is a stressful event you need to be able to understand that. But you should be able to adapt to a stressful event. And it is interesting – I was just at this conference last week and you know how loud noises can sometimes make people jump?

I was sitting there and the room was absolutely dark and people were holding up candles. It was the end of the conference and it was this little ceremony that we do every time which is really cool. So they turn off the lights and hold up candles and it was quiet for a long time. I was thinking this was going to be really interesting, how are they going to end this period of silence? Is somebody going to scream and whoop and go crazy or is there going to be a gong or a bell? What is it?

So I kept waiting for it and all of a sudden the band behind us just really laid into it. It was really loud and the woman next to me jumped and I was just as calm as can be – so your ability to adapt to stress is so important. So we started this whole conversation today about adapting to stress and adrenals and so I think adapting is really important. But your original question of moods, so if I am stressed I immediately know that I need to be focusing on my adaptogens, licorice and [inaudible 01:11:56] and what have you, and eating smaller amounts but more frequently with some type of protein, and healthy carbohydrates and veggies are super important.

And not only eating it but chewing it well and absorbing it is even more important but if I am moody when I wake up, something is wrong. And I have to say that I don’t wake up in moods. I don’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed anymore. I might wake up tired or foggy-headed because I am working too hard or I stayed up too late. But I don’t wake up pissed off or irritable or sad. I don’t have those moods. And if I do get mad – I have got three boys and they can definitely put you over the edge sometimes, but I always look inward in that situation and say, ‘Okay, why am I doing this? Do I need more support in something?’

I am MTHFR compound heterozygous and I have got histamine snips, I have got GAD snips. And when I say GAD, GAD is a big one. So I am more prone to have lot of glutamate in my head compared to GAVA, because the GAD enzyme works with converting glutamate to GAVA. I am very conscious of this and so I will take some more magnesium and B6 if I notice I am a little bit on edge and protein for me is very, very important.

But your mood is super important. If people are moody, depressed, sad, glad – sad and glad are great, but if they are overly glad then something might be off too.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Right, just what you were saying about yourself and how you understand your own biology thanks to some of the work that you have done with methylation and you understand that protein is important and so some certain vitamins might help you if you are in a mood and stuff. You can see how important this is to inform our lifestyles and they could just be like I need to eat a bit more liver or whatever it is at the moment because my mood is a bit off, or whatever. And so this is an incredible area, this methylation.

I would really like to thank you for all the information you have shared today. It has been really amazing.

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Yeah, and one thing too Damien is when I presented at the [inaudible 01:13:56] I talked about how important food was from a research standpoint because there are a lot of MDs that come to my conferences and they don’t have any nutrition training to speak of. So I talk about nutrition and how important it is and I talked about how carbohydrates increase serotonin and proteins increase your dopamine.

So you think wait a minute, proteins also increase your serotonin. But tryptophan is very tough to absorb. So that is why carbs can increase the serotonin and so if people are down and out then they get addicted to carbs and you need to understand and sit back – why are they doing this? Maybe because they are trying to selectively increase their tryptophan levels because if they eat protein they are not really getting the tryptophan because the tyrosine competes with it.

So my point here is that the last paper I presented on this is that if the person eats a fair amount of protein consistently, 75 grams was what they used and I think they used 75 grams because the average weight of a person is about 150 pounds – so 75 grams and 75 kilos of weight as a really rudimentary measure of how much protein to get. But my point here is people who ate adequate protein in a day had consistent neurotransmitter balance.

So if you eat adequate amounts of protein your neurotransmitters get balanced. So it is not only eating it but you have to absorb it. You have to make sure your absorption is also good. So people who have difficulty absorbing it is an issue but again my point here is if you are eating a carb-based diet because you are sad and you need to increase your serotonin levels but you don’t know why you are eating carbs, that could be one reason. But just eat more protein and that might be the answer.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Well thanks. As I say again this has been really amazing and information-filled. I know the audience is really going to learn a lot from this.

[Dr. Ben Lynch]: Good. Thank you Damien for asking fantastic questions. You ask some fantastic questions that no other interviewer has asked me before. So thanks for that. I think people will get some good information from this.

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Our performance and quality of life is largely dependent on a delicate balance of brain biochemistry. It defines our mental health, mood, our anxiety, our focus and attention, cognitive performance and ultimately even our personality.

Today’s guest estimates that 80 to 90% of the population have some kind of biochemistry abnormality that affects their brain. This is based on insights from a database of biochemistry he has collected over 35 years with over 3 million biochemistry test assays. So while many of us may not be included within the 26% of the population included in clinical diagnoses for mental disorders, most of us can improve our mental wellbeing or cognitive performance by addressing biochemistry imbalances.

Today’s guest is Dr. William J. Walsh, founder of the WalshInstitute.org. Over his 35 year career he has treated 30,000 patients with a wide range of brain related disorders, successfully treating them by addressing biochemical, methylation and epigenetic abnormalities. The treatments are nutrient based to realign biochemistry, and thus drug free.

William is also a frequent lecturer at conferences across the world including organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the U.S. Senate and the National Institutes of Mental Health. In short, he’s got a very in long and deep CV backed up by those 35 years of experience.

“In the areas of depression and behavior disorders and ADD and even schizophrenia… about 95%… have those conditions because of their abnormal biochemistry and by correcting and normalizing these brain chemicals, we were able to help most of them.”
– William J. Walsh PhD

This is a great interview that goes into a lot of depth in biochemistry, the labs, as well as looking at the emerging area of epigenetics and how work there will help us resolve more health issues and optimizing your brain via biochemistry.

The show notes, biomarkers, lab test and other links are below. Enjoy!

itunes quantified body

Show Notes

  • How 80 to 90% of the population are affected by biochemical brain imbalances
  • How abnormal methylation (over or under) affects the moods and personalities of 30% of the population
  • Mental disorders like schizophrenia and depression that can be correct through methylation therapy using specific nutrients
  • Correcting and normalizing brain biochemistry improves mood, personality and addresses clinical mental disorders
  • The inexpensive $300 to $400 blood tests you can do to get brain biochemistry imbalances assessed
  • The 6 or 8 dominant nutrient factors that have the greatest impact on your brain health and performance
  • Correcting imbalances via nutrients such as Zinc, Metallothionein activation and epigenetic and methylation mechanisms
  • Things that can bias the results of biochemical lab tests such as lab handling and supplements
  • The difficulties and problems caused in methyl folate treatment of methylation imbalances
  • William’s view on lab reference ranges used in a variety of labs
  • The link between oxidative stress and brain biochemistry abnormalities
  • Biochemical individuality and how we should get to know our own signature and optimize factors in our life such as nutrition and exercise accordingly
  • William’s view of where brain science and treatment is changing and will evolve to over the next decade
  • Biomarkers William tracks for his own health and how he corrects/ maintain his own methylation balances

Biomarkers in this Episode

  • Plasma Zinc: Zinc abnormalities, particularly low levels, are associated with brain imbalances. William assesses this as a reliable/ stable marker.
  • Serum Copper: Copper abnormalities, specifically high levels, are associated with brain imbalances and conditions. William assesses this as a reliable/ stable marker.
  • Urine Pyrroles: Used by William to detect abnormal stress levels and potential pyrrole disorder. More difficult to use for interpretation as levels tend to vary throughout day based on stress levels and should normally be between 5 and 12. William has seen people over 200 with severe disorders.
  • Whole blood histamine: The simplest and cheapest test used to assess your methylation status, whether you are under, normally or over methylated. Histamine is negatively correlated with your methylation levels.
  • Ratio of Plasma SAM / Plasma SAH: Looking at straight plasma ratio of SAM (S-Adenyl-Methionine) to SAH (S-Adenyl-Homocysteine) provides a relatively cheap but accurate assessment of your methylation status, with a bit more information as to the basis of under or over methylation (e.g. low SAM).
  • Ratio of RBC SAM / RBC SAH : Looking at the red blood cell (RBC) ratio of SAM (S-Adenyl-Methionine) and SAH (S-Adenyl-Homocysteine) gives an estimate of intracellular levels and methylation status. Slightly more expensive.
  • Methylation Gene SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms): Gene mutations with enzymes related to methylation can impact our methylation status and cause methylation imbalances. Genetic tests identify these SNPs. The example given was the common MTHFR SNP.
  • RBC Folates: Using the Red Blood Cell (RBC) levels of the different folates (e.g. folinic acid, folic acid) as an intracellular measure for the status of your body’s folate resources. This can identify whether they are under resourced, over resourced or balanced.
  • Hair Metals Tests: William discussed the accuracy of reference ranges used in hair analysis by companies like Doctor’s Data.

Lab Tests from this Episode

  • William J. Walsh’s Brain Biochemistry Panel: William recommended this lab, Direct Healthcare Access II Laboratory, who he has worked with for a long time and runs his complete panel for $235. (See below for link to list of Walsh trained physicians for interpreting the labs, alternatively the lab has trained physicians who can provide a consultation with the test for $435 – see here)
  • Methylation Pathways Panel: Includes the RBC SAM, RBC SAH and RBC folates from Health Diagnostics & Research Institute, which William uses and was discussed in this episode.
  • Hair Toxic Exposure Elements Profile @ Doctor’s Data: This test looks at heavy metals levels in ppm (parts per million). [Note: William J. Walsh disagrees with the reference ranges, believing them to be too low, and indicating toxicity where there is none].

Other Resources Mentioned in this Episode

    William J. Walsh PhD. and the Walsh Institute

  • WalshInstitute.org: William J. Walsh’s non-profit research institution focused on publishing, educating and training physicians on his work.
  • Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain: William’s book covering his discoveries, tests and protocols in the area of brain biochemistry and methylation. A great read with a lot of detail on treating conditions from ADHD to schizophrenia – highly recommended.
  • Walsh Institute Trained Physicians: A list of the physicians who have taken training programs with the Walsh Institute for labs interpretation and his nutrient protocols for resolving abnormalities.
  • William J. Walsh on PubMed: List of peer reviewed studies William has published over the last 20 years on biochemistry, epigenetics and mental disorders in a variety of medical journals.
  • Others Mentioned

  • Carl Curt Pfeiffer, PhD: William originally was mentored by Carl Pfeiffer, deceased in 1988, who is considered the founder of orthomolecular psychiatry, otherwise known as treating mental disorders via biochemistry. Carl Pfeiffer treated 1000s of patients through the Pfeiffer Treatment Center.


Interview Transcript

Transcript - Click Here to Read
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: William thank you very much for coming on the show today. I really appreciate it.

[William J. Walsh]: Well Damien, it has been my pleasure.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: In order to get started I wanted to just quickly dive into the scope of your work. What is actually covered, I know it is all basically centered around mental disorders. Could you give a broad strokes overview of the areas you have look at and gone into over the last thirty years or twenty years.

[William J. Walsh]: It has been about 35 years actually. Basically I started as a scientist working on things like nuclear physics, chemical engineering. I worked for Argo National Laboratory, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, places like that, so I come background of heart of science.

About 35 or 40 years ago, I became a prison volunteer trying to help people living in prisons and in the course of that I got very interested in the clause of behavior disorders and that sort of launched me into studies on brain science and more than anything else.

Lately I have been studying with my colleagues and research associates, the microbiology of the brain and especially with respect to originally behavior disorders and then attention deficit disorder, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia and then most recently Alzheimer’s.

So I have been focusing on trying to understand what is going on in the brain that is different for these people. Along the way, I did start a clinic in Illinois that at one time I think was the largest complimentary medicine clinic in the world and we eventually saw 30,000 patients.

And we evaluated all of those with respect to metal metabolism and methylation and pyrrole disorders and malabsorption. I accumulated a lot of data and I have always collected the numbers so I have I think the world’s biggest chemistry database for a lot of these conditions.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Wow, that is pretty impressive. That is really why I want to get you on the show became I am pretty impressed by that number when you brought it up in another interview I had and of course your book is fantastic.

When I was researching before this interview I was looking for the mental disorders like some of the ones you have been talking about. Some of the estimates are that 26% of Americans age 18 or older actually have one of these disorders, so one in four Americans which is pretty huge. So in fact it is a huge slice of society.

Have you seen this as something that is very common place, so like the cases you have seen? Has it been very, very specific cases that have been clinical diagnosed or is it like something a bit more-broader like you had patients referred from all sorts of various work.

Perhaps they do not feel like they have a mental disorder as such. It is kind of a big word and maybe they are just having a few problems at work. They feel a bit depressed or is it something that they would not really feel is a clinical situation?

[William J. Walsh]: Well, we of course studied primarily people who had major problems severe clinical depression or schizophrenia. But in order to really evaluate something, you have to know what normal is. So along the way we study very healthy people who would not have these problems to get an idea what the chemistry should be and what the brain chemistry should be.

Now these disorders come in mild, moderate and severe, maybe it is 26% of the people of a population has a really significant problem. Probably at least 80% or 90% of us have some abnormalities in our brain chemistry and life would be better if we knew what those were and could normalize them.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: That is pretty impressive. So it is really relevant to everyone and that is what I understood in your book and what I was really amazed about. And especially when you are describing some of the personality symptoms and I think we accept it as pretty much normal in society.

[William J. Walsh]: That is right because for example methylation is something that we have to evaluate everybody. About 70% of the human population has normal methylation but about 20% are undermethylated and that is basically genetic and you are born that way and another 10% are over methylated.

These conditions have a lot to do with mental functioning. With our personality and traits for example, undermethylated people tend to have a strong will. They tend toward high accomplishment in life. They are competitive, they are sort of driven individuals compared to the others.

Whereas the over methylated people are friendly, make wonderful neighbors. They might get involved in nursing or in charity work and the over methylated people, one of the tendencies is they tend to be very artistic and better at music.

Each of us is somewhat defined a bit genetically from the time we are born and we have tendencies that are there and it sort of makes us who we are and gives us the diversity that we all like. But in extreme cases with severe chemical abnormalities, biochemistry doesn’t function well when that happens, you could have a disorder that can really plague a person and cause a lot of misery and that is what we focused on.

When we evaluate a patient, we have to not only get the lab results. We also need to know everything we can about this human being because the symptoms and traits give a lot of evidence with respect to what the chemistry is and what neurotransmitters are not functioning properly.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Can you explain a little bit more about what methylation is and if it is a problem, you are saying some people are undermethylated and over methylated but the way you described the personality types and everyone knows these kind of people.

So is it okay in some situations when it gets more advanced, more away from a balance that it because a problem or is it a slight issues that are going to present some problems perhaps in concentration and performance at work or whatever it is?

[William J. Walsh]: People who are undermethylated and I am one of them and I suspect you probably are too. These are people who are self motivated. They tend toward obsessive compulsive tendencies and if they can channel that into a career or into a blind study, it can be a really good thing.

But of course it can also go in a wrong direction. These are the same people who are more prone to be hooked on things. If they sort of started to take illegal drugs for example, from females who got involved or anybody. It can involve shopping disorders or gambling disorders.

Basically it is a matter of extremes. The environment has quite a bit to do with it. Methyl is the simplest organic chemical that is one carbon atom with three or four hydrogens. It is a very dominant factor in human function that domination starts in the womb during the first three or four weeks of that little tiny baby developing in the womb.

Your DNA and every cell in your body, at that time methyl reacts with parts of your DNA and that acts like a switch that turns on some chemicals and turns off others. In other words it is a switch. They can turn on a gene or turn off a gene.

We have 23,000 genes and every genes had only one job and that is to make a protein. That is what every gene does. It makes one specific protein or enzyme, since we have the same DNA in every part of our body in order for a person to be healthy and normal, every part of your body.

Every tissue, your kidney, your lungs, your liver, you need different chemicals in every one of these areas and that is how this is all done. It is done with methylation. If people are over methylated or under methylated, then this changes things and that is why we get these different traits and symptoms.

Sometimes they are mild and just sort of define people, some people are talkative. Others are quiet. That is probably an intrinsic thing related to methylation. In many case, there are certain disorders that are associated with methylation.

For example, about 65% of all people with schizophrenia have a methylation disorder and then about 60% of all people who have clinical depression have a methylation disorder. And if we are going to identify what their methylation status is, we can provide them with nutrients therapy, drug free therapy that can usually create that and avoid the need for a drug medication.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: You said a lot of things that are very interesting and I actually did see in your book. You’ve covered addictions for undermethylated. Have you seen any situations? So these are new applications of your work that I was not aware of.

Have you seen any application for drug abuse or areas like that for the kinds of treatments you are talking about?

[William J. Walsh]: Over our history, doing clinical work with 30,000 people, one thing that we never were very good at was trying to help people who might have cocaine addiction or heroin addiction or alcoholism and we actually would not invite those people to come to our clinic because we thought we are not likely to help them.

But in the last ten years, there has been some wonderful revealing research and addictions and it all has to do with the NMDA receptor in the brain. NMDA receptor and that seems to have everything to do with what they call memory extinction.

When something goes wrong with that receptor which is a glutamate receptor, that seems to have everything to do with addictions and there are now nutrient natural therapies that seemed to be working better than drugs in the research they are doing.

I think that is a very positive thing and we started using these therapies. It is still early. We are not quite sure yet. We have not done outcome studies but I think that for the first time in my life, natural treatments for alcoholism and drug addiction are not promising.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: When you are talking about these changes in personality, in behaviors and so on. There is an epigenetic aspect to that when we talk about methylation that affects the epigenetics. Could you explain a little bit about that and is it permanent or are these treatments actually changing the epigenetic homeostasis of the body when you are fixing and treating people?

[William J. Walsh]: What happens as I started to say during early development in the womb, in the nine months of gestation, these methyl marks are put on and attached to certain areas of certain genes and basically switch the genes on or off.

They used to believe not until about ten years ago that these methyl mark. They call them book marks or marks and they thought these methyl marks were in there like concrete. You could not remove them or change them.

Now we know that is not completely true and in fact we now know that environmental insults can offer these marks and cause disorders. We now know that most cancers are epigenetic and result from things that happen after you are born, maybe when you are an adult even.

Cancer results from overwhelming environmental insults usually involving this thing called oxidative stress and free radical assaults on the body that can actually alter these methyl marks. And in cancer they have now worked it out that they understand which genes are being affected.

And we now know that most cancer research now is aimed at identifying the misbehaving genes. And in cancer, so far, almost every one of them has been marks that have turned off by a cancer protection gene. They know that is absolutely true for bladder cancer and prostate cancer and lung cancer.

Another example is skin cancer. If a person is in the sun too much or goes to a tanning bed too often and has too much of an environmental insult to their skin, eventually you could overwhelm your natural protectors and that can alter these methyl marks on parts of your DNA and that is what the onset of cancer usually is.

From that time on you have this cancer tendency that you have to deal with for the rest of your life. That is all pretty well established. We also know that most heart disease is epigenetic in nature. In other words, you might have a person with a predisposition for these problems but it is triggered by environmental insults which can be chemical, they can be emotional stresses. They can be physical injuries.

Things that can cause enough environmental stress and insult to change your gene expression and the way it changes is by changing these methylation marks.

Another thing that happen is for the first time because of epigenetics, nutritional practitioners and people who try to do natural therapies and it has really given us a whole new ability because in the past we have studied diet and the nutrients that go into the body and for the last 20 years, we have a lot of knowledge about how we can give nutrient therapies to alter these levels.

The one thing we have not been able to do is to address the enzymes, the important chemicals in our body that are genetically expressed. But now with this whole field of epigenetics, we are now able to do that.

For example, a lot of depressives, people with clinical depression have low serotonin activity. They do not have enough neurotransmission at serotonin receptors. We now know that reuptake is a major mechanism that controls that and because of the field of epigenetics we now understand that methionine or SAMe which are nutrients available at least in U.S. and every drugstore and health food store.

We know that they are serotonin reuptake inhibitors. In other words they do the same thing as antidepressants except that they do it in different mechanism. We know that the impact of folates and niacin and a number of nutrients have a really powerful effect on brain function.

Now with our nutrient therapies and biochemical therapies, we now have the ability to be far more effective than we could five years ago.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Certainly. So all of these things you are talking about are influencing methylation and as kind of downstream to that, that is impacting biochemical balances in the body and neurotransmitters is that correct?

[William J. Walsh]: That is correct. Our focus has been on the brain but this also has a lot to do with other disorders, some has to do with the rest of the body. We have just been discussing methylation but there are other imbalances that are also very important like metabolism disorders.

We know that specifically copper and zinc, two traced metals in the body are extremely important in brain function and we know which neurotransmitters they impact. If a person has a metal metabolism disorder, for example zinc deficiency or a copper overload, we have now developed treatments that can just normalize that and help a lot of people.

So it is not just methylation. It is just that methylation is sort of a new understanding. One of the complications is that if you are undermethylated, the best way to improve your methylation is to use folates either folic acid, folinic acid or methyl folate, different forms of folates.

The problem is that we now know epigenetically because of the epigenetic science that folates have extremely powerful effect on brain function. So if you got an undermethylated depressed person, you cannot give them folates or else it will get worse.

Even though the folates will improve methylation, but they patient will get worse. And they will get worse because the impact of the folates on neurotransmitter reuptake is in the opposite direction and it overwhelms the benefits of improving methylation.

It is very complicated. If you are studying it, it is really clear and it gives us a road map for helping people that is beyond anything we could do anything in the past.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: I know it has been incredibly complicated. Just reading through your book you can understand that. One of the interesting things, it is all basically biochemical the way you look at this. It is about the biochemicals being used in our body and making sure they are in balance. Is that kind of the whole basis for it?

[William J. Walsh]: That is a lot of it. For things like depression and anxiety and behavior disorders, that is pretty much what is important. But there are other disorders like autism that actually are developmental disorders and in that case brain develops differently and you have what they call connectivity problems where different parts of the brain are slightly off spacially or you might even say geographically.

They do not connect like they should. It depends on the disorder but in most mental disorders, it is the chemistry that tends to dominate unless of course if the person has had a head injury or a stroke or something like that. I would say 95% of the cases, it is biochemistry.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Great. so by supporting biochemistry, that is addressable, the other 5% it is not really addressable because there is some permanent injury and it is basically a structural injury rather than some biochemicals that are out of balance.

[William J. Walsh]: We learned after doing thousands of patients, we learned there are some people we cannot help and we tried hard to identify who they are so we would not have them come and waste their time.

A big surprise for me was that in the areas of depression and behavior disorders and ADD and even schizophrenia that about 95% of them seemed to have those conditions because of their abnormal biochemistry and by correcting and normalizing these brain chemicals, we were able to help most of them based on outcome studies.

We would often study maybe a thousand patients from the last couple of years for the depression or for autism or whatever. And to find out what happened. Did they improve? To what degree do they improve? Are they still taking the treatment? Is life better?

And then we would find out how many people were really benefiting from this and how many of them failed to improve. And then of course we would study the non-responders and then eventually get our percentages better and better.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Your book talks about how you have broken down areas like depression into sub segments because you have got more detail and you can see different biochemical characteristics of different subsets with slightly different problems.

[William J. Walsh]: That is really important. My colleague Dr. Robert Devito is a known psychiatrist. We decided that one of the most important things we needed to make sure the world understood was about depression.

So we would give a paper at the annual meeting at the American Psychiatric Association as the big meeting once a year. We had 17,000 psychiatrists in all over the world and we wanted them to know two major things.

Number 1, Depression is not a single condition. Mainstream medicine throughout the world believes that if a person has clinical depression, basically their problem is low serotonin activity. Nearly every patient who comes to a psychiatrist or any doctor with depression is probably going to be given an SSRI antidepressant like Paxil or Proxaz or Serzone or Zoloft and the list goes on and on.

But what we found, I think the world’s biggest chemistry database for depression and what we found quite clearly is that depression is a world used for at least five completely different conditions. About nearly half of them have something else wrong and they are not going to get better. Antidepressants are not going to help the rest of them.

For example, one of these involves a condition that females have that involves elevated copper levels which has to do with hormone abnormalities and these people have severe anxiety and depression and antidepressants don’t help them. The drugs don’t help them.

Within about 60 to 90 days, we can usually completely correct that condition and most of them tell us that the depression is gone and they can throw away their medications. We wanted the psychiatrist in the world to know that so we gave this presentation and I think it went over really well, the psychiatrist that were extremely interested.

The second thing we wanted to them to know is that they can do inexpensive blood test that only cost about $300 or $400 dollars and that can guide their treatment. They can identify which biotype of depression a person has and they can find out who to give which medication to.

But even more importantly, we also talk about how they can help these people with nutrient therapies and not necessarily have to use a drug. I think that is really important. 14% of all Americans have been diagnosed with clinical depression that is a lot of people.

And so many of them are being treated improperly but just throwing antidepressants at them whereas there is another group where antidepressants are very helpful, it is very important to find out who is who? And there is one group of depressants that actually gets worst on SSRI antidepressants.

There is a lot of evidence now that that is responsible for the school shootings in America where children, teenagers usually get a gun and go into the school and kill people. We have studied the last 50 cases of school shootings and what we find is that these are different from other disorder in people.

I have studied 10,000 children and adults and usually they show their violence by the time they are 3 or 4 or 5 years old. The school shooters are different. They are usually well behaved, pretty good students, they develop anxiety and depression and they get put on in antidepressant, they all ready have elevated serotonin activity.

They get dramatically worse and then disaster happens and so I recommended during our talk at the APA to all the psychiatrists that before they give antidepressant to a teenage boy or really anyone, they really should do some blood test to find out if they are going to be able to tolerate it.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: How many types of depression have you defined?

[William J. Walsh]: There are five major types that encompass 95% of all depressants. But there are other things that can cause depression. For example a person can be hypothyroid, low thyroid can cause depression and that is separate.

There is a number of what I call splinter types. Fortunately, 90% to 95% of people with depression have as their major problem one of these five types of depression. We are now able clinically with lab testing and with a careful medical history are able to accurately diagnose what type they have and they require completely different treatment approach, each one of them.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So as I understand it, you have this database which basically provides you fingerprints in terms of the biochemistry of each of these different segments now because of all the dates you have collected. What are the list of labs that you found most useful for creating these kind of fingerprints like the blueprints of what is what and what fits into where?

[William J. Walsh]: Well I think this is really the good news. There are really more than 300 nutrient factors that are important in the body. However, what we have learned is that with respect to brain function, the function of the brain that might go wrong, there is only about six or eight nutrient factors that have a really dominant effect.

And if we focus on those six or eight factors, we are able to help nearly everyone and the beauty of that is we do not have to do lab work for 300 different nutrients and we do not have to get a treatment to try to normalize 300 or dozens and dozens of things. If we can normalize these six or eight dominant nutrient factors, we can help most people.

For example we know we have to know a person’s serum copper level and we want to know there are several plasmin level that this has to do with how much free radical copper they have. We need to know their plasma zinc level.

And about maybe 20% of people that we work with, with mental problems have abnormalities that can be corrected that will help them. We have to find out methylation.

Now there has been a lot of people lately that have been trying to use genetic testing looking for SNPs like MTHFR enzymes that are weakened and now in genetic testing you can identify enzymes in the methylation for example that are weakened. We know that that is not a very good way to identify a person’s methylation status.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Could you explain why that is?

[William J. Walsh]: Well the reason is that people are all looking at the methylation cycle also known as the one carbon cycle. And that is the cycle in the body that basically produces this chemical called SAMe which is the methyl donor, S-Adenosyl methionine.

It is a relatively unstable molecule that goes throughout the body and it donates, provide the methyl for all these important reactions and people are focusing on things that can go wrong and can cause undermethylation.

One of which is the well known MTHFR enzyme which is really the limiting part of that cycle. And now genetically you can identify weaknesses in that that can cause undermethylation. Well what people are forgetting is that a lot of people are also over methylated.

So what can cause over methylation? Over methylation has to do with the utilization of the SAMe. There is about 80 or 90 really important reactions that have a lot to do with DNA, it have to do with cell division and they have to do with all kinds of important processes.

But more than half of all your methyl goes to one reaction and that is to make creatin maybe as high as 70% of all your methyl goes to make creatin. Well there are enzymes with snips involved with the utilization of methyl and if those are weakened, then you can be producing all of the SAMe with one carbon cycle and you have got SNPs that are tending toward over methylation.

So it is a tag of war genetically between those polymorphisms, they are called snips, Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms that tend to weaken and then you got a group of them that tend to cause over methylation. It is impossible with DNA testing to tell what the net effect is.

Clinically, what we really know if a person is over methylated or undermethylated, what is the sum total result of all these polymorphisms and you can actually have a person with the MTHFR 677-T which is the most damaging undermethilation source. Some of these people are actually over methylated because of the others that tend toward methylation.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So what you are saying is that the system is too complex. There are too many genes working together and plus, you can predict what the outcome is going to be by looking at the genes?

[William J. Walsh]: The SNPs are qualitative. They are not quantitative. They do not give you percentages. So even if you knew all of the SNPs, those that would tend to increase or reduce methylation, you still would not be able to know.

But fortunately there are some lab tests that can tell you or gives you strong evidence of whether a person is over or undermethylated.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Which labs are those?

[William J. Walsh]: The labs that we have been using primarily have been whole blood histamine. The reason is that histamine and methyl are inversed where everybody has a lot of histamine in every cylinder body. And it is metabolized and it is controlled or regulated or destroyed by methylation as the main process.

The second way of this seems even better than whole blood histamine. There are now labs that will measure both SAMe and SAH. SAH is S-Adenosylhomocysteine and that is what SAMe becomes when the methyl leaves and that ratio is the gold standard for measuring methylation in the body. Both of these are dramatically better than any information you can get from genetic testing.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So is that plasma SAM and SAH?

[William J. Walsh]: With respect to methylation.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Right because I have seen some people who are testing for Red Blood Cell or RBC, SAMe and SAH.

[William J. Walsh]: I think that is all worthwhile. You get the information from these things. I think that red blood cell foliate is a valuable measure. It tells you about the folate stores which are really important both in methylation but also really important in mental health in different directions.

They now know that folates actually in most of the body tend to increase methyl levels, SAMe levels. However, in your DNA and your Chromatin where you get genetic expression, it does the opposite in many areas and folates strip methyl away from your DNA areas. That is the reason why so many nutritionists get confused.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So you could basically over folate yourself is that what you are saying? Is it where you are consuming too many folates either by diet or when you are taking these supplements like the B-Complex or the folates themselves?

[William J. Walsh]: Yeah you need to have the right amount of folate. You do not have too much or too little and there is a lot of clear evidence now that there are new disorders and new problems throughout the world. People are enriching foods and cereals with folates.

But that is important for pregnant women for example. If you are low in folate, they are more likely to have a child who has spina bifida or also with autism.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: I am just wondering if you have looked at the difference between folic acid and the other folates.

[William J. Walsh]: Absolutely.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Okay.

[William J. Walsh]: A lot of people are now saying I have got this MTHFR weakness and therefore I have to use methyl folate, also known as deplin. That is greatly overblown. For one thing, we have about 100,000 micrograms of folate in the body.

The amount of folate you can add with deplin, the idea is to bypass this MTHFR part of the methylation cycle. It is a clever and intelligent thing that seems possible. The problem is that this methylation cycle is like a race track with race cars zooming around the cycle over and over.

In fact there are more than a million methylation reactions every second in the body. The problem with methyl folate and deplin is that it is what I call a suicidal nutrient. It is used once and then it become garden variety normal folate and becomes part of the problem. It only acts once.

It probably is somewhat better than the other forms of folate which are folic acid or folinic acid. It is only slightly better and the impact of it is relatively small because again if you look at the biochemistry, if you look at the cycle, the deplin or the methyl folate, helps convert the homocysteine methionine.

It becomes THS, Tetrahydrofolate, just like all the other folate in your body. It becomes garden variety, normal folate after its first use. It is not nearly as effective as people hold back. And that is why a lot of people who are undermethylated, they might even be folate deficient but a lot of people are getting worse if they are undermethilated and they take methyl folate or any of the folates.

And the reason is epigenetics. If a person has a neurotransmitter problem, that is the exception to the rule. If you have got a problem with serotonin or norepinephrine or dopamine neurotransmission, folates have a tremendous powerful effect on those and they tend to drop and lower the neurotransmission of those.

The simplest example is an undermethylated person with low serotonin activity but that is a lot of people. That is nearly half of all people with depression. So they are undermethylated, they have depression. If you give them folic acid or folinic acid or methyl folate, they are probably going to get worse.

What will happen is that their methylation will improve because of the methyl folate or whatever, but their folates acts as a serotonin reuptake promoter and what the depressed people need are serotonin reuptake inhibitors. They go exactly in the wrong direction.

And that is why so many depressed people and then people with anxiety who are undermethylated, my probably have an MTHFR problem. Clinicians all over the world are now finding out a lot of these people are just getting worse and worse and I give them what ought to help them.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So in this cases the secret is basically doing multiple interventions like you are saying about the folate and the SAMe’s and inhibitors so in that case would you be putting two things at the same time basically to counter both sides or how do you deal with these kind of problems?

[William J. Walsh]: For the case of mental health, for the case of neurotransmitter problems with every patient or clinician to try to understand which neurotransmitter system is misbehaving and then in what direction?

For example if a person has low serotonin depression or anxiety or even schizophrenia or even bipolar then you have to do whatever you can to increase serotonin activity. Folates reduce serotonin activity and that is why that harm overrides the benefit of improving methylation.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Do you look at test with neurotransmitters in addition to the ones you have spoken about with your general blood tests?

[William J. Walsh]: We would like to but they do not reveal much. We have done a lot of that over the years and we do not think this is very significant, for a couple of reasons. One can do urine or blood studies or platelet kinetic studies or things like serotonin, dopamine and etcetera.

The question is, is that related to what is in the brain? What is happening in the rest of the body may not at all relate to what is going on in their brain.

For example serotonin, all of the serotonin in your brain is made in your brain. Yes there is a huge amount of serotonin made in the gut and in other parts of the body but none of that serotonin makes it into your brain.

And the mechanism and he synthesis of serotonin in the brain is quite a bit different from the way it is synthesized in the rest of the body.

For a while we were testing neurotransmitters in the periphery of the body outside the brain. We found that it really was not useful and did not really give us a better idea of what a person’s problems were in the brain and how to help them.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Which is why you are sort of using proxies, plasma, zinc, serum, copper, whole blood, histamine.

[William J. Walsh]: Yes, it has really gotten quite clear. It really stems from the original work by Abram Hoffer and by Carl Pfeiffer. I think they were the two people who really got this going.

Let me just give you one example. Abram Hoffer in the ‘50s. 60 years ago, he was the first person to demonstrate hat nutrients can have a dramatic impact on a person’s mental health. He found that giving niacin to schizophrenics had a dramatic improvement on so many of them.

He had a theory for that. He called it the Adrenochrome Theory. In the last five years, we now know why niacin works and it is a different mechanism and it is epigenetics. We now know that niacin in the form of niacinamide which is what happens to niacin in the body, it becomes niacinamide.

It is what is known as a deacetylase inhibitor. What it does is it increases reuptake all serotonin and dopamine. A lot of schizophrenics are high dopamine people. There is a dopamine theory of schizophrenia for many years I believe that schizophrenia basically is a problem where you got too much dopamine activity.

Now we know that because of epigenetics, that niacin dramatically reduces dopamine activity. So for the first time we understand why Hoffer’s niacin treatments work and that is wonderful to understand.

So now we know because of this new epigenetic field, we understand what methyl does, what SAMe or methionine do and because of epigenetics, they are reuptake inhibitors that increase serotonin activity which is exactly what you want.

The field of epigenetics is really guiding us to better therapies for people. The dominant effect in depression for example is reuptake. The same thing is through of anxiety and schizophrenia and bipolar, it is not the amount of neurotransmitter that is there. It is the activity. It is the reuptake. It is the speed which the neurotransmitter once it gets ejected into the synapse, how fast it goes back.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Right. And there is no way to directly account for that.

[William J. Walsh]: Well there is. There is now and it really has to do with understanding the processes of epigenetics and because they control this. The reuptake is controlled by the genetic expression of proteins that are called transport proteins.

And these are the passage ways for reuptake, for serotonin or other neurotransmitters. Once they are in the synapse to zip back into that original cell. The number of these transporters in the membrane of your brain cells turns everything. We now know how to change that.

What antidepressants do is they get in the brain quickly and they disable these transport proteins, these passage ways and they block the serotonin from going back into the original cells. They are inhibiting reuptake and that is why they work for some people.

We can do the same thing with nutrients by our knowledge of the epigenetics in that case, we have to avoid folate and we have to emphasize methyl and methionine.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: The thing that people talk about when they are comparing the genetics we spoke about a bit before and looking at biochemical markers, there are some views that these markers can vary by chemistry. It can vary by the hour, it can vary by the day, by the time of the day, by the week.

So how stable are the markers that you are looking at in terms of in the bloodstream? Are very stable in changing over months and based on treatment they change very slowly.

[William J. Walsh]: Well this is has been one of the most exciting parts of epigenetics. The markers themselves, these bookmarks along the DNA strand, they rarely change. It takes a rather dramatic events or environmental insults that change them.

However, we now know that there is a process that is called histone modification. All of our DNA is wrapped around proteins that are called histones, we are able to change genetic expression by affecting what reacts to these hisotones and if you methylate the histones, you tend to shut down genetic expression.

And if you use folates or other chemicals, it essentially will increase genetic expression of a particular gene. So you cannot change the basic bookmarks along the DNA but there are two epigenetic processes and the other one is the one that we all ready are able to tinker or if are altered.

And so we are able to change gene expression by altering the chemical on the histones and it is called histone modification. What happens if you methylate a certain part of DNA or even have the histones methylated?

Your DNA gets all jammed together. The way that proteins are made, the way that genetic expression occurs, you have to have your DNA uncoil and be laid there so that large molecules like RNA polymerase and transcription factors, they have to be able to get out and make a protein.

In every cell in your body you have got RNA polymerase, a chemical that is sort of swimming around trying to find a gene to produce. It has to have access to the DNA. Your DNA wraps around these millions of these histone proteins. Methylation tends to jam it all together and prevent gene expression whereas other chemicals can cause it to uncoil and increase expressions.

So that is a complicated answer but the answer is that you cannot change the basic methylation of the DNA very easily. We do not know how to do that yet. Cancer researchers are finding ways in which you can maybe correct these things.

I think that is the way eventually how cancer will be cured and autism and schizophrenia and other epigenetic disorders will be cured actually eventually. But right now, we all ready can do a lot with histone modification.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Right. If I kind of resume quickly, what I understood from that. You are saying that a lot of the environmental insults you are talking about earlier which could be toxins, heavy metals, chemicals have altered DNA but undermethylating them by addressing methylation in the body that helps to counter some of these effects.

[William J. Walsh]: They could be. They are undermethylated or over methylated. If you have got abnormal methylation in the area surrounding a gene, you are going to have a problem with that particular chemical which might be in your liver or in your kidneys or in your brain And so you need to have the proper methylation and these bookmarks are all established in that first two or three months in the womb.

One example of an epigenetic disorder, do you recall thalidomide? Maybe you are not old enough to remember that. Thalidomide was an anti nausea pill given to pregnant women and it caused terrible deformities.

And what it was doing is it was altering these methyl marks and altering the chemicals produced in the different parts of the body and some of them are born without fingers and toes and arms and it was really quite awful.

What happened is it messed up and altered the epigenetic laying down of these methyl bookmarks. The question then with respect to people who are adults and they have depression or anxiety or whatever is what genes are misbehaving?

There now are methods being developed where we can now identify genes that are abnormally methylated, we now have the ability of doing that. It is really a piece of cake really. It is very easy to do.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Are those expensive tests?

[William J. Walsh]: Not really. I am just starting an experiment with some colleagues in Australia where we are going to do exactly that. We are about to do an experiment where we hope to demonstrate that schizophrenia is an epigenetic disorder.

If you take the DNA which is made up of literally billions of chemicals and hundreds of thousands of areas where you are looking for specific areas where methylation can either turn on or turn of a gene.

We now have a way of cheaply and very accurately determining every methyl mark is dipped to your DNA and to a bisulfate solution. The only cytosine molecules left are the ones that were methylated. We now have the ability to do that.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Are you able to do that down to the gene level? So we were talking about some SNPs earlier, would you be able to see which SNPs are methylated and which ones are not?

[William J. Walsh]: Well the SNPs themselves are the DNA mutations. The SNPs are DNA mutations but the gene expression is related to that of course but it is also related to this histone modification and it has to do with the abnormal bookmarks.

There are two different things that could go wrong and one has to do with the SNPs which is genetic, the other has to do with the methylation marks that regulate gene expression, it has the gene regulation that is going to silence or turn on genes and now we are able to do that too. We can identify both of them.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: For example if you had a SNP but it was not methylated, so it is not active, you will be able to see that. When these people are looking at this complex system they can stop looking at that SNP and saying that is a course because it may not be turned on for example.

[William J. Walsh]: Well a SNP basically amounts to weakness in a protein enzyme. It is a weakness. It does not mean that you shut it off. Like MTHFR is a gigantic molecule. It has more than 500 amino acids. Its molecular weight is 77,000.

And what is a SNP? Of those 500 amino acids, one of them is the wrong amino acid. Just one out of the 500 and in most cases a SNP does not affect the function of that enzyme but there are a couple of places especially in that MTHFR, the 677-T and the 1298.

Those are two locations where you can get a really significant weakness, not in elimination of a function but a weakening of an enzyme. Those SNPs are there in the beginning. There are mutations that have occurred over centuries and over the millennium.

We all have mutations. I mean people are tall or short because of mutations, green or blue eyes because of mutations that is why people are basically different. We now know that there are more than ten million SNPs that have been identified in DNA.

I think every human being has at least a couple of thousand of these SNPs, we know that 52% of all people that live in Italy have MTHFR 677 and most of them don’t need treatment. I think it is important to get a perspective of what SNPs are. We all have SNPs.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: And that is just to methylation.

[William J. Walsh]: It is.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: I wanted to go back to the tests that you have been running which you are pretty keep and you said are very good at diagnosing a lot of the different mental disorders. So you have got the whole blood histamine, the plasma zinc, the serum copper, urine pyrroles and ceruloplasmin.

What I wanted to ask you, people talk about the stability that these kind of marker because they are biochemicals in your blood. Are those going to vary day by day and therefore be difficult to get an accurate reading?

For example if you take cortisol and it is rising. Is this a very specific marker of course but it is rising and going down so you have to take four readings per day to understand what is really happening.

With these markers that you have taken, are these longer term very stable markers which do not vary a lot over time so you are pretty sure of getting an accurate reading as to the state of them?

[William J. Walsh]: It depends on which test and we have to be very careful. For example with whole blood histamine, we have to make sure that a person has not had antihistamine recently or any allergy treatments like antigens can affect the histamine reading.

And that is why we are so excited about the SAMe, SAH, the new test for methylation. With respect to zinc, we have to make sure we insist that before taking a blood draw that they abstain from any zinc supplementation for 24 hours.

We have done enough, thousands and thousands of these that we know how to do it. They are not all totally stable. The same is through with copper. We do not want anybody to be taking copper supplements just before a copper test.

With the pyrroles, that is probably one of the more unstable ones. Your pyrrole level in your blood and in your urine tends to vary throughout the day and it varies with stress. When a person is under stress, their pyrrole levels tend to increase.

So you get a snapshot in time. We know that normal pyrrole levels are between maybe five and 12 using the units that we use in the USA. If a person is between say 12 and 20, we regard that as high normal and possibly mild pyrroles and people who are over 20 and we have had people as high as 200 or 300.

If a person tests really high in pyrroles, we know they have pyrrole disorder. We had a serial killer who was in prison in New York State and we did a study where we were testing his pyrrole level which was extremely high, he was 202 the first time we tested him.

Working with a psychiatrist, we tried him day after day and when we found when he was under high stress, his level might be 200 but on our calm day, it might be 40. In other words, those levels do jump all over.

In his case, he is always high but that high level, that severity can really alter and that is one reason why we need to know the symptoms and the traits because these symptoms and traits, pyrrole disorder are so sharp and clear.

We could diagnose pyrrole disorder just by meeting a person and spending and hour with them. We can pretty much predict what the level it is. So all of them are morning people, they are not hungry for breakfast. They stay up late at night. They have a tendency to sun burn. They are usually famous for their temper. If they gain weight, they have an abnormal fat distribution.

It is not completely simple and that is why at this time, I do not think people can really self diagnose themselves. In my book Nutrient Power that covers this, I deliberately did not give a road map for people to read this and just start treating themselves.

If you got a serious problem you really need to have a doctor who knows what they are doing to supervise this. You can make a person worse with nutrients.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: It seems like it is very complex. In addition to the markers which are going up and down. So could someone have a urine pyrroles level which is normal when in fact most of the time it would be in the high reference and it would be something that you could look at.

[William J. Walsh]: The answer to your question is that there is a lot of false negatives with pyrroles. We have had people who tested normal with pyrroles and then three months later we found out that they actually did have really high pyrrole levels.

Another problem with the pyrrole sample is that if the urine sample gets overheated or if gets too much exposure to light it will just decompose the pyrroles. That is one of the issues.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: That is an interesting point actually. I have come across this before. In terms of lab handling, some tests are more sensitive than others. So it sounds like urine pyrroles is very sensitive to lab handling and there could be errors for the lab.

[William J. Walsh]: Yeah, the challenge with a lot of sampling and the greatest errors we have in these markers and these studies are now what happens to the lab. But the ability to get a good sample to the lab, get the sample in good condition to the laboratory.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Because it is a centralized lab, specialist lab?

[William J. Walsh]: There are labs in Europe that do pyrrole levels and allow the samples to be sent at room temperature over days for the lab. That is a terrible idea.

You are going to get a lot of decomposition of the pyrrole molecule and it really need to be either hard, frozen and sent on dry ice and protected against light or else shipped on an ice packed in 24 hours and you have to be really careful about how that is done a lot of labs are doing it wrong.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: I have seen that problem with other markers are well. If you look at for instance the plasma zinc and the serum copper, in that case I understand that you are addressing those imbalances through supplementing zinc and copper.

Is it very difficult to not overshoot? The zinc and copper markers are they stable like they are not moving up and down every day but they are moving if you supplement. So how do you judge how much you provided in terms of an input of zinc or copper versus the more natural methods like foods, so for example if you took some liver which naturally has zinc and copper?

[William J. Walsh]: Actually copper is one of the more reliable lab test. It almost never is wrong. The copper is not going to deteriorate. It can decompose. I mean coppers have metal. It is not going to go anywhere.

So the concentration of copper in a lab test, you can really rely on. Assuming you got a good lab and that is something that we are very confident of. Now what is a normal, healthy level? Well healthy, generally an ideal level would be between say 80 and 100 micrograms per deciliter.

But if you got a woman with anxiety and depression and she is testing at 180, that means she has low dopamine and elevated norepinephrine and the treatment for this has got to be done very slowly and gradually.

And he treatment really involves giving things like zinc and B6 because zinc in vegetables cause the excess copper to leave and the way it does that is it stimulates the genetic expression of a protein called metallothionein and I do not want to get into details of that.

But you have to do it slowly and careful because if you jump in and give a full dose of zinc to a high copper person, it will dump too much copper in the blood stream and they will have the worst day of their life. So you have to do it careful when you are trying to bring a nutrient level down, you usually have to do it gradually and gradually increase the doses in maybe for two to three weeks to avoid temporary side effects.

The typical healthy zinc level I think is between perhaps 100 and 120 micrograms per deciliter. You use different labs. We almost never see people who are high in zinc. Zinc problems are virtually always involving deficiencies.

We find in the cases we have had with mental problems that 90% of them are either low normal or totally deficient in zinc and that is probably the number one most common chemical imbalance in mental disorders.

It has a lot to do with oxidative protection. Your zinc is related to one of the major protectors in the body against oxidative stress and that is metallothionein protein that has stimulated the product of it, it depends on the zinc levels.

And that is how copper is regulated in the body. Copper is really important with mental functioning. Excess of levels for example cause, we think and we published a paper on this of post partum depression, the women who develop surprising depression or even psychosis after having a couple of babies.

And the reason is during the nine month of pregnancy, a woman’s copper level more than doubles. The fetus needs that, after the baby is born within 24 hours that copper level supposed to go back down to normal.

A lot of people do not have the ability to get rid of extra copper. People who have that disorder even whether male or female that is something that is so easily fixed within 60 days, we can do a nutrient therapy that will normalize their blood levels of copper and in many cases have dramatic improvement in functioning.

Copper and zinc are markers that are specially reliable, as long as you are careful not to have anybody taking zinc or copper supplements within 24 hours of the blood draw. The other markers, we have to be more careful with a lot of the others.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So have you had people that have entered you practice? I’m just asking if it has ever come up when they have been supplementing let us say zinc or say copper or maybe something else and they have managed to cause a mental disorder clinically and end up in your practice because of that out of interest?

[William J. Walsh]: Yes that has happened for sure. A lot of people we see are all ready on supplements. Before you do the blood work, you do not want them to stop all of the supplements because that would put them into a transition that might be transitioning over a month.

And so what we have to do is find out exactly what they are taking and just have them stop for about 24 hours before we do their blood work.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Once you put them on treatment, how often and frequently do you test to make sure that things are okay or what are you looking for?

[William J. Walsh]: A typical patient would come in and we would spend probably two hours with them. Most of them sometimes in getting their symptoms of trace for medical history, you learn a lot from many medications they have taken to which ones will help them, which ones would harm them, getting all of that information and then the blood work.

With all of that, we then can identify in most cases the chemical imbalances that are at the root of their problem hopefully and then we can start them immediately on a treatment program. A treatment program of nutrients aimed at normalizing these blood chemistry levels. Typically, I always like to see patients between four and six months after that visit.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: It is quite a slow readjustment crisis.

[William J. Walsh]: Yes. People are different with respect to how well they absorb things. We might give a patient 50 milligrams of zinc but is that actually the right level for them? So if you can do a second test after they have done that for several months, find out what their zinc level is and then you can find tune the dosage and make it perfect.

And once you have done that in an adult, you really do not need to that maybe once every couple of years. Most of our patients we would want to see within six months after the first visit and after they have been taken the nutrient to look at their chemistry again and then we would typically see them once a year for a checkup. It is not a lot of doctoring.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: That is good and you just get the test and make sure everything is up. When are talking about the test, are you using reference range that labs typically use or do you have your own because I think you mentioned I think zinc is 100 to 120. Are you using narrow ranges or ranges that you have developed yourself over time that you find are better optimum to avoid these kinds of mental disorders?

[William J. Walsh]: That is a very good question. The ranges that you see from laboratories whether it is Quest or LabCorp or Sonic or something like that, these are basically what they call two-sigma ranges. There are ranges in which roughly 95% of the population sits between these two levels.

And they are extraordinarily broad. But the functional ranges for mental health are much narrower. For example, whole blood histamine, the range is typically are between 25 and 150. However, Carl Pfeifer found years ago for mental health, the range should be between 40 and 70.

And people who are below 40 are basically over methylated and people who are over 70 are undermethylated. These broad ranges that you see on the lab reports, sometimes you have to ignore those ranges and focus on the narrow ranges that are related to mental functioning not just general physical health.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Thank you very much. This is very clear and I am sure it will be very helpful for people. In your opinion would it be helpful for someone who is suffering any kind of mental disorder or say they are going to psychotherapy because they are having problems. It would be helpful to get these blood tests in case anything comes up, just these five very basic tests.

[William J. Walsh]: Well there is probably a few more than five but I think it would be very helpful to do that and we have a few labs that are quite good at doing this. We have got one on the US Aid called Direct Healthcare Access that I asked to put together a protocol of these tests.

It is more than five tests but it gives all the information that we need to at least to first look at a person’s mental functioning. Another thing we are doing is we need to have doctors that can evaluate these tests, doctors who know their patient and can do the test and understand what it means and then develop the proper treatment.

Our main activity now has been to train doctors. We train I think 34 practitioners in Ireland last year. We did 66 doctors in Australia this year. I have a team that is doing international physician training and our goal is to have 1000 doctors scattered around the world who are really good at doing this and I think that is really important.

Unfortunately it is complicated enough that it is not something that the average person can do themselves.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Is someone able to do that panel you just spoke of to see if they have a problem?

[William J. Walsh]: Yes. A lot of people do that. Some of them do it to determine if they are good candidates to see a doctor and go to the travel of seeing a doctor.

A lot of people are doing that very panel. In fact I think they do that at a specialty lab near Chicago. I think they do this for people throughout the world.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: That would be interesting if you could give me a reference for that because people might like to just run that.

[William J. Walsh]: Actually if you have my book and you look in the back of the book, there is a resources section and that lab is listed first with their contact information.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Oh great, you just ask for your panel.

[William J. Walsh]: Yeah they do my panel. I am not associated with them, they are separate from me but I have at times tested the proficiency of the lab and I think they are very good.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: And as you said that is relatively cheap? I think you said under $500.

[William J. Walsh]: We are going to be training 40 doctors in the Chicago area in October and we are having about 40 patients that will be part of the training where we take real live patients who come in and we go through the whole process to help train the doctors.

We are going to you use that panel on them and I think the cost is between 350 and 400 U.S. Dollars.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: That is great.

[William J. Walsh]: Not bad at all right?

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Yes that is really good. Say something came up in one of these tests, you are talking about many doctors you have trained on your website or some are list of individuals, they could go to get these type of biochemical treatment or is a bit border, are there other organizations? Where could they get information about doctors that would help them with these particular problems?

[William J. Walsh]: Well as we train doctors, last we just sent out a questionnaire to doctors that we have trained that have been to our training programs to find out which of them are actually doing these therapies that are confident in them and would welcome new patients and we are going to put that on our website.

Right now there is a very small list of doctors that we have on our website but we hope to have maybe 100 or so throughout the world that will be on that website maybe a month or two from now when we get all the responses back.

And as we keep going, like I said our goals is to tray a thousand doctors in the next five years throughout the world and we are interested always in going to countries that are interested. If there is a group within a country that would like to have these kinds of therapies brought to their country we are very open to work with people.

My organization is a public charity. We are not interested in making money but we are interested in getting these effective therapies available to people throughout the world.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: It is really amazing what you are doing. I want to look a little bit toward the future use of this over the next ten years. Could you see this kind of natural biochemical therapies replacing some of the drugs that are used with mental disorders today? How do you see this evolving over the next ten years for example where you would hope to see it evolve?

[William J. Walsh]: What I think is happening is I think we are just in the beginning stages of a new era in mental health. For about 100 years, we had the psychiatry model which lasted up until 1965 where the thought was if a person had depression or a mental problem, it was because of their life experiences.

Then in 1965 which was the biochemical revolution in psychiatry, they began to realize that the problem really was neurotransmitters and brain chemistry and mental functions, chemical imbalances in the brain.

The only way at that time, they knew how to correct and help these people was with drugs. So we have been on a pharmaceutical era that started in 1965 and I believe it is about to end.

And the reason is, as brain science advances, we are learning more and more how we can correct these problems without drugs. The basic fundamental problem with drugs is that they are foreign molecules. They are powerful foreign molecules.

And when a foreign molecule that is power enters the brain, you do not create normalcy. You usually have side effects or maybe a change in personality or it could be weight gain, it is not going to provide normalcy.

And as brain science advances and it is all ready beginning to happen. We are getting to the point where we are going to be able to normalize the brain without drugs because of scientific knowledge that is coming. The interesting thing is a lot of this knowledge and a lot of this great scientific work is being done by drug companies. Basically they are going to be hurting themselves.

They already are being frustrated at times by doing the research and finding that natural substances are working better than drugs for some of these conditions. The only problem is that the drug companies have the wrong goal and that is to make the next billion dollar drug.

And so when they find natural ways to correct the problem, or correct a brain chemistry problem, they don’t pursue it because it is not in the interest of their stockholders.

Anyway I think the answer is yes. We are just beginning a new era in mental health and it is going to be a tendency toward normalizing the brain ad being able to accomplish that without drug medications.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: In terms of your own recommendation to someone who is trying to make better decisions about their body’s health and performance with data, what would be your top recommendation that they should do whatever it should be?

[William J. Walsh]: Well of course the things that we all ready know, everybody needs to have a good diet. We need to have nutrient-dense foods. However, the best diet for one person is not the best for the other. For example if you are undermethylated, you would thrive on a protein-based diet.

And if you are over methylated, the best diet would be a vegetarian diet, rich in green leafy vegetables. So there is biochemical individuality, each one of us is biochemically individual. It would be nice for people to get to know who they were biochemically.

Some people do this by trial and error by finding out how they feel on different kinds of diets but of course junk food diets are a problem. People need to have the right amount of the omega 3 or fatty acids which is a major problem in the U.S. and everywhere. We might say junk food type of diets which are throughout the USA.

And then the second thing of course is exercise. One of the major things that most people don’t realize is that importance of antioxidants to have diet and to have many supplements that provide antioxidant protection. Very high percentage of people with depression and anxiety and behavior problems and these imbalances have high elevated levels of oxidative stress.

That can be caused by outside influences like toxic metals or immune problems but often it has to do with a genetic weakness for some people in protecting against oxidant stress. They may not have glutathione or selenium or zinc. There is a long list of protective agents of the body that are supposed to protect us.

And a lot of people have insufficient levels of those. So I would think that it would be really important for people just fortify themselves with things like vitamin C and vitamin E and selenium and zinc. There is a long list of really effective antioxidants. I think almost everyone would benefit from that.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: I noticed in your book by the way that when it came to heavy metals testing like urine and blood, you felt that the results from those tests were difficult to analyze. Is that still your view?

[William J. Walsh]: I first got interested in the very beginning when I found that criminals had very abnormal metal levels, I did a lot of testing of blood, urine and hair testing and actually with toxic metals, very often hair testing is done properly by a good lab can be really revealing.

It is probably a great way to find if a person has too much mercury or lead or cadmium or one of these nasty metals. One problem however is that these labs starting about 15 years go started doing something I really hated and they would list the correct parts per million level of the lead and the mercury and all.

But they changed the charts and they tend to exaggerate the toxic metals. In other words, I know what the average human being in American has about 1.5 parts per million lead in their hair. Almost all the labs make it look like 1.5 milligrams is an overload and that you are being poisoned.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: It is shown in the red for example, something like doctors data they have the red.

[William J. Walsh]: Exactly and doctor’s data by the way use my reference normals, I think I have the world’s best reference normals for metals in hair and they were using it for many years. But then they changed the toxic level of the chart and I beg them not to do that. I asked them why and they said they have to do it for competition reasons and also because of dentistry.

At that time, a lot of their hair analysis was done by dentist who were looking for mercury and they said that the dentist like to see high levels of mercury. So they made the charts look like they had high levels so they could persuade their patients to have their feelings removed.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Yeah it is very unfortunate.

[William J. Walsh]: Very unfortunate. We still sometimes will use a hair analysis. I have done a lot of forensics. I have done 28 forensics studies of famous criminals and hair analysis is very revealing for evaluating this severe behavior disorders.

I can only use the actual levels, the parts per million levels. I just have to disregard the chart because the charts are crazy. They tend to make it look like everybody has toxic metal overload.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So in general the actual levels are okay but you would say like if it is in the red or in the yellow it may be okay.

[William J. Walsh]: It may be, we now done this enough times. I have done maybe 100,000 of this and I know what normal and health is. Everybody has some of these toxics in their body. We all have toxic metals in our body.

For example mercury, just from breathing in America, you get one microgram of mercury just from breathing and you get typically about 25 micrograms of mercury from a typical diet. And if you have tuna fish for lunch, you might have 50 micrograms of mercury.

Your body has to deal with toxic metals every day. Every brain cell in your body has toxics come in and leave every day. Your brain has toxics that enter the brain and depart the brain every day and you have got protectors in the brain, things like glutathione and metallothionein that are there to protect you.

And if any of these gets into the brain, it immediately reacts with it to keep it safe, but some people do not have that antioxidant protection. And we think that has a lot to do with Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of dementia. Older people need to protect their brains with antioxidant supplements.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So it is pretty amazing all the areas you have worked in over the years. It is pretty much every aspects of the brain. Who besides yourself would you recommend to talk about these types of brain biomarkers and biometrics, someone who knows the brain perhaps in different areas, some people read their work and you find it good and you would recommend it or offer it like that.

[William J. Walsh]: Well there are a lot of people that do a very much job of nutrition biochemistry you might say and some people that I totally respect. Many of them are not in to the new knowledge. They do not track the brain science up to date especially the new impact of epigenetic switch.

So there is so much more about nutritional therapies especially related to brain disorders and mental disorders. We have put a list of them on our website, the next book I’ll write I hope they have a very long list of doctors who I think are very capable of doing this.

But there are not too many people out there who are doing our testing and our treatment methods that is why we are focusing our attention now on training doctors to do this and we have now trained about 200 doctors around the world that are doing this and I get such enthusiastic reactions when I talk to them about how they are so excited about how they can now help patients they could not help before and do it without drugs.

We are not enclosed to drugs. I want to make that plaint. Drugs, antidepressants, antipsychotics, so I have helped millions of people but I think that in most cases, improvements are partial in nature and the side effects very often are intolerable or very unpleasant and I think we need to move toward a better world, a better time when we can at least reduce the amount of the drugs.

In schizophrenics, most of them are on very heavy antipsychotic medication. Right now our knowledge level is not to the point where we can offer the likelihood to do nutrient therapy of eliminating their medications.

So what we do is we keep people on their medication, do our nutrient therapy together, do both at the same time. After about three or four months after we have completed our part of it, we then test lower and lower levels of the medication.

For depression, for anxiety, for behavior disorders, about 80% of the people tell us that they are at their best with zero medication. 20% say they would lose something if they get rid of the last piece of the medication and we say so be it.

We are not opposed to medication. We just want people to be functioning at their highest level. In schizophrenia, it is unusual. We can usually have schizophrenics become far more functional and many of them live a normal life, they can return to a normal life and be self dependent.

They usually need some medication support in the case of schizophrenia because our knowledge level is not high enough yet to eliminate the medication.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: That is great. Thanks for those details. Last question, I just love to know what data metrics do you track for your own body on a routine basis, is there anything you keep an eye on for yourself?

[William J. Walsh]: Well about 35 years ago I brought a group of criminals fresh out of the prison to see Carl Pfeiffer and these are all sociopaths who had done terrible things. And when I was there he said I could not ask anybody to go through this test unless I was willing to do it myself.

So he ranged me through this complete array of biochemical test and he found out that I had two rather significant chemical imbalances. He found out that I was zinc deficient. Since I met Pfeiffer, I am now taking 100 milligrams of zinc a day and I do blood testing and it is just barely enough to keep my blood level normal.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So how often do you test for that?

[William J. Walsh]: Now that I am an adult, I did it last year and maybe five years before that. Every once and a while I will check on it to make sure that I am okay, that it is the right level. Some people do not need anything. A lot of people get those linked from their diet. In my case, I have a genetic weakness with respect to zinc.

Another thing he found was that I was very high histamine undermethylated person. For example I am sure I am MTHFR, probably 677. I am not going to bother to test it because I expect it and I doesn’t matter anyway whether I am or not.

I am undermethylated, the way I corrected that, I used to be with methionine but now I take 400 milligrams of SAMe a day and for me that works really well and what it does for me, it does two things. I used to have migraine headaches and they have disappeared ever since I’ve take some methylation.

And I also had really severe seasonal allergies, ragweed, grasses, I don’t want allergies. That has also disappeared as soon as I went on Pfeiffer’s program.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: That is very interesting. I have exactly the same issue before I went on to methylation taking SAMe, headaches and my seasonal allergies, then went, and I’d never had those allergies until I got into my 30s.

[William J. Walsh]: I also had a tendency for low serotonin depression abut it has never happened perhaps because of methylation.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Yeah well just personally on that level, for your undermethylation, do you test every month or once every six months or once every year for yourself?

[William J. Walsh]: It is not necessary. Once you have determined your methylation tendency which you were born with, you have that the rest of your life. It is not going to change. I have never retested my histamine after the first couple of times.

And with patients, once you have done the histamine test a couple of times to verify that in fact you know what your methylation tendency is. You do not ever need to test it again because that is something that is part of them for the rest of their lives.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: That is great. Well it sounds like you have everything under control for your own body without doing much testing apart from the zinc just every now and again.

[William J. Walsh]: Yes, so far so good. I do not take any drugs. I have it handy, since then I needed to go and see a doctor for the last 25 years but I think also it is great Carl Pfeiffer when he studied my biochemistry. He gave me a treatment program to normalize my chemistry.

I am not sure but I am not going to stop taking it. I think it has probably helped me.

[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Yes. That is great to hear. William, thank you so much for the interview today. It has been absolutely amazing. We have covered lots of topics I expected to and many topics I did not know about and I am really glad we had to cover too.

[William J. Walsh]: Okay Damien. It has been a pleasure talking to you.

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