For December, I’m sharing a couple of my favorite episodes while we take a little break to spend time with friends and family. I hope you can also make room for the things you love this season; you deserve it after our year.
The first is a powerful conversation with Dr. Albert Mensah about how flawed the MTHFR (the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene) testing approach is and its common treatment: methylfolate. In clinical practice, we’ve seen adverse reactions to methylfolate treatment for many years.
We discuss why this testing approach is problematic, misconceptions about the different forms of folic acid, potential dangers, and impacts on the in-utero environment and neurotransmitter activity. Dr. Mensah is a world-renowned leader and teacher in methylation disorders. He co-founded Mensah Medical in Warrenville, Illinois, a clinic specializing in treating biochemical imbalances and the cognitive and physical disorders caused by those imbalances. Since 2005 Dr. Mensah has treated over 30,000 patients using all-natural, non-pharmaceutical targeted nutrient therapy.
His practice focuses on managing and treating cognitive disorders such as autism, behavior and learning disorders, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, anxiety syndromes, childhood and adult schizophrenia or Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease, as well as family medicine.
In this episode, we discuss:
- Loading up on methyl folate can result in neurotransmitter changes and imbalances, especially glutamate and serotonin.
- Why the MTHFR gene test can’t determine the methylation status
- How folic acid supplementation outside of the first trimester negatively impacts fetal and child development
- Testing can help you accurately determine your methylation status to support physical and mental health.
Listen to the podcast here:
Within the below transcript, the bolded text is Samantha Gilbert and the regular text is Dr. Albert Mensah.
Bonus Replay: The MTHFR and Methylfolate Myth with Dr. Albert Mensah
We are taking a little break this December 2021 to spend time with friends and family. I hope you are also able to make room for the things you love this holiday season. You so deserve it after the year we’ve had. For this month, I’ll be sharing a couple of my favorite episodes. The first one is a powerful conversation with Dr. Albert Mensah about how flawed the MTHFR testing approach is and the common resulting treatment methylfolate.
You’ll learn why loading up on methylfolate, especially if given by itself will result in neurotransmitter changes, airing on the side of elevated glutamate and shunted serotonin synthesis. It’s the reason so many people taking methylfolate have such a high frequency towards adverse reactions, which from a clinical perspective, we’ve been seeing for many years.
You may not know that MTHFR is only a backup pathway. Yet strikingly, it’s the go-to testing option despite its inability to determine methylation status and whether these genes are being turned on in your body. Read to learn why these popular approaches are problematic. I look forward to seeing you in January 2022 with some fresh content.
In this episode, I’m speaking with Dr. Albert Mensah, Cofounder of Mensah Medical in Warrenville, Illinois, a clinic that specializes in the treatment of biochemical imbalances, and the cognitive and physical disorders caused by those imbalances. Since 2005, Dr. Mensah has treated over 30,000 patients using all-natural, non-pharmaceutical, targeted nutrient therapy.
His practice focuses on the management and treatment of cognitive disorders such as autism, behavior and learning disorders, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, anxiety syndromes, childhood and adult schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease as well as family medicine. Dr. Mensah is a world-renowned leader and teacher in methylation disorders. In this episode, we’re talking about genetics, epigenetics, the controversial MTHFR test, as well as misconceptions and dangers about the different forms of folic acid and their impact on the in-utero environment.
Welcome to the show, Dr. Mensah. Thanks for joining me.
Thank you, Sami. It’s always a pleasure.
I’m always so excited when we get to have these chats. I’m fascinated at how often we see the same stories in our patients from different generations of family members. Things like ADHD, alcoholism, sexual abuse, schizophrenia, depression and even autoimmune and eating disorders. Can you tell me about a time when you worked with a family that presented in this way? What was their biochemical story? What do you tend to see? You also have some twin stories that are quite fascinating.
I love twin stories. I’m going to save that one for a little bit later. Unfortunately, what we see is certain chemistries lend themselves to certain types of predispositions relative to conditions. For example, we’ll do a family history and hear someone say, “I’m an alcoholic. My dad was an alcoholic. His dad was an alcoholic. My uncles and my brothers are all alcoholics. Alcoholism runs in the family.” I told him, “No. Alcoholism does not run in your family.”
He looked at me like, “What are you talking about? It’s my family.” I say, “The conditions that predispose to alcoholism (undermethylation) run in your family and then the situations of stress come into play. You drink to try to relieve the anxiety and depressive factor. You’re self-medicating. The difference is that individuals who are undermethylated have a very strong capacity for addictive behaviors. Even though you may try drinking for one reason, you end up drinking for a different reason, which is that your system becomes highly attached to it. It started off here in one place and ends up in a different place. That same tendency gets passed on generation after generation.” That’s one example.Individuals who are undermethylated have a very strong capacity for addictive behaviors. Click To Tweet
We also see that in a condition called Pyrrole disorder. If you haven’t listened to episode 23, please do because I had Dr. Bowman on for a deep dive about Pyrrole disorder. Dr. Mensah, can you share a bit more about Pyrrole Disorder? Why do we see alcoholism there as well? What people groups do we see that in?
Oftentimes, in Pyrrole disorder, we see it in two populations genetically. Those are the Irish or the Welsh group and the Scandinavians. What we’re looking at is the attempt at self-medication because people with Pyrrole disorder tend to have anxiety, depression and severe mood swings. They don’t know why and haven’t done anything. They still feel and act this way. Family members will say, “We all walk on eggshells around that person.”
For no reason, they’ll snap at the smallest thing or you never know how long something is going to take to build up and then they, all of a sudden, unleash on the world with wrath that is far more disproportionate than what the initial insult should warrant. We see that quite often. As a result, they seek artificial means to settle themselves down.
Those artificial means are oftentimes alcohol or some type of drug behavior including marijuana or anything they’ll try to settle themselves down. With undermethylated folks, they have a highly addictive personality. Once again, they get stuck. Not because it’s anxiety but because their chemistry seems to crave it. It’s a very slippery slope to move down when you don’t know your chemistry, especially if you’re undermethylated.
Thank you for sharing that, Dr. Mensah. What I love is how you reframed the story of, “My family having a history of alcoholism,” to, “No, your family has a certain biochemical trend.” When we look at it through that lens, I feel like that creates more of a healing pattern or pathway for that patient. That frees them up to see their history and life in a different way, which is empowering. Don’t you think?
Yes. We want to provide hope for people. Their real question is, “What’s wrong with me?” They then start to think, “I’m a bad person because I do these things. There are all sorts of negative stereotypes that I’m indulging in.” They think it’s them. It’s not you. It’s your ancestors who came before you. They passed these things on and it wasn’t them. It was their ancestors who passed it on and it wasn’t them, it was their ancestors before them.
There are these genetic patterns that tend themselves towards moving in these directions with these different issues and problems. It is typically not that person’s fault. Someone out there is saying, “You have responsibility. You need to stop it.” When it’s a biochemical phenomenon, it’s not easy to talk your way out of it. You have to be treated and change some things. There’s some level of responsibility but it’s not one that you think yourself away or cognitive yourself out of that mindset.
Fake it until you make it. Mind over matter. I get so annoyed when people say that because we both know that’s not true when we’re dealing with these types of biochemical imbalances so I appreciate that perspective. Let’s talk about transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. I’m curious, Dr. Mensah. What is that? How is it different from genetics and epigenetics?
Genetics involves the blueprint that says, “This is who you are.” Epigenetics says, “Here’s your blueprint. I’m going to go ahead and smudge your blueprint a little bit here. I’m going to X a few things out and add a few things to produce a new or different picture of the one that you originally designed to be.” Transgenetic or epigenetic inheritance takes that individual who has gone through some type of trauma. It changes that genetic structure and that change gets passed on to the next generation. Whereas with simple epigenetics, the new structure that’s present doesn’t get necessarily transferred to the next generation. The original genetic structure gets translated down.
When you’re talking about this genetic inheritance, it’s a process where all of these changes have created powerful shifts in the bookmarks of the DNA. That new thing gets passed on to the next generation and the next generation after that and they don’t know why. Why do I feel stressed all the time? Why do I feel anxious all the time? What happened? What’s odd Samantha is oftentimes, people have a sense that something was going on in the family before them.
When they get to the right age, they start asking very interesting questions. I’m not trying to get into the spiritual or the metaphysical but what I’m sharing is that there is an inner knowing that something is wrong. I’ll give you one example of a personal nature. I’m from Ghana, West Africa. That’s where I was born. My oldest brother, many years older than I am, about fifteen years apart, was killed. It’s a very difficult situation. I was only three years old at that time. I didn’t have a lot of memory of him consciously but I had a very strong subconscious feeling about him. My oldest sister’s son who never met this man was separated in a few decades and could not stop thinking about this man.
He said, “Mom, what happened to Uncle Michael?” He was changed and moved. Throughout his life, I remember him ever since he was born. Periodically, years go by and all of a sudden, he was like, “Tell me about Uncle Michael. What’s so special about this guy? What’s going on here?” He had a sense something wasn’t right. That change was there that affects the entire family because Michael was my oldest sister’s younger brother, the first one. She knew him very well. He was very dear to her heart. When he died, something changed in her and that change got passed on to her son.
There can be real transgenerational shifts. For people who’ve been traumatized by other natures, unfortunately, oftentimes the same thing happens. There’s a new predisposition. Something is not quite right about that next child or group of kids. There is something to be said about these changes that happen that get passed on in the next generation versus something that’s purely genetic or epigenetic for that issue.
Thank you for sharing that story. I’m sorry for your loss. That is a powerful story. I’ve experienced that in my family as well. We hear a lot of stories like this from our patients where they talk about that discernment and intuitive sense of there’s something that feels off. With that being said, I’d like to back up the story to that delicate in-utero period and talk about folic acid during pregnancy and its effects on the in-utero environment.
Dr. Mensah, you and I have talked a lot about this and I know for many years, what the Mensah Medical stance is on this. Can you share with us why is folic acid problematic after the first trimester? How has this contributed to all of these pretty substantial increases in things autism, mental health disorders, schizophrenia and eating disorders? I’d love for you to share more about that specifically because this is powerful right here.
Doctors are quite brilliant until we get stupid and then become dumber after that. Eventually, we realize how dumb we were and become smart again. A little bit of folic acid does wonders for stopping neuro tube defects from developing in babies and children. We know this. It’s fact. That’s a good idea. Instead of going through the first trimester, let’s go through to the next trimester.
If that worked pretty well, let’s go through a year. Let’s give folic acid to our breastfeeding mothers. What I want to delineate is the idea of a nutrient versus a molecular targeting agent. A molecular targeting agent is powerful. What we did not understand back when we thought we were so brilliant is that that’s exactly what we were unleashing on a mother and an infant. Folic acid is a powerful methylating agent and that’s the problem.A molecular targeting agent is powerful. And that's the problem. It is powerful. Click To Tweet
It is powerful so you don’t need excess exposure unless you really need it. This child developing, we don’t know what their methylation status is. When we first started taking about folic acid, we didn’t even know what methylation was. Outside of regular chemistry at a methyl molecule to another molecule that’s methylation but we didn’t know the ramifications. We then came to find out we can demethylate babies in-utero.
Let’s do the math here. Of individuals with autism, the vast majority, more than 90% are undermethylated. Of individuals with ADHD, the vast majority of them, more than 95% are undermethylated. That’s different from ADD, most of those individuals are overmethylated. Why is it that we’ve seen a rise in ADHD and autism? It’s right around the same time that we started giving longer dosages of folic acid to our patients who are pregnant and then our babies through breastfeeding.
Don’t forget folic acid is put into food. It’s put into bread, cereals, orange juice, milk and all sorts of enriched or fortified products. We have been super saturating the system with a very powerful molecular targeting agent. It’s like saying we’re taking nuclear warheads and dropping them everywhere around you.
They were wondering, “Why are all these people coming out with radioactive strangeness, sickness and illness?” We see that is a huge problem. We have to wake up to the fact that many of these conditions we’re creating unknowingly. I hate to move in this direction but that’s one consideration. In in-utero, it’s powerful because what folic does is it donates methyl in the level of the cytoplasm outside of where your DNA sits.
It then goes into the nucleus of the cell and steals ten times as much and removes methyl more so than it donated so it becomes a functional nuclear demethylating agent. Wherever your methylation concentration stood, the folic acid is removing it. It’s only beneficial up until a point but then our excess utility has created difficulties. There are many challenges in mental health that are powerfully undermethylated conditions. The correlation is too powerful.
Dr. Mensah, can you talk about how our methylation status is established in-utero?
Our ancestors pretty much give us the option of methylation status. Most of the time, that’s where it’s coming from. At the time of conception, we’ve chosen our state of life. Our methylation capacities are determined at that point in time but there are things that you can do in the environment to shift the activity. Not the genetic predisposition but the actual activity. What do I mean by that? Remember we talked about molecular targeting agents? You can target an undermethylated situation and add more methyl to it so that it normalizes the behavior. Once you stop that intervention, this system goes back to its original design and designation. It functions as an undermethylated system.
The same can be said for overmethylation. You can be designed as an overmethylator but through molecular targeting, you can remove all that methyl and test looking like an undermethylator but your genes say you’re an overmethylator. If you stop that genetic intervention or that molecular targeting intervention, your system will once again start to overmethylate.
That is laid down at conception. That comes from your ancestry. Sometimes, it’s a double-hit whammy. When you’ve got two of the same biochemical parents coming together, you produce a powerfully overmethylated child. They’re both overmethylated or a powerfully undermethylated child because they’re both undermethylated but it only takes one parent.
The kids will pick and they’ll say, “I want daddy’s undermethylation. I want mommy’s undermethylation.” It’s so funny because you hear and see it. A parent will say, “I’ve been watching that kid for three years and he’s like me.” The grandparents will say, “That one of yours, you did the same thing when you were his age.”
Everyone out there has heard this. You hear, “It reminds me of Aunt Susie and Great Uncle Fred. Watch out for that one. That’s cousin Jimmy.” There’s a reason it’s there. Our genes are coming from our family or pool. The difference is that after birth, epigenetics comes into play. The environment has an impact on genetic expression. That’s why when we talk about some genetic tests, I always go, “Are you kidding me? Genetic tests aren’t telling you what’s happening now. They’re only telling you what could be.”
I want to bring something into play here because you mentioned it earlier and I’ll come back to this story again about twins. Identical twins have the same DNA. How do some of them look different? The property brothers from HGTV are supposedly identical twins. You can’t tell those two boys apart. I’ve heard people say, “That one is more handsome. That one is more rugged. I love his beard,” whatever it is. It’s the same DNA but different epigenetics. If we can see this in identical twins, why is it so hard for us to understand that we ourselves get affected by the environment that we’re in in terms of gene expression?
The real question begs, how many of us are the same blueprint definition or manifestation as we are designed to be without epigenetics? A genetic test is only potential. It says you’ve got these genes. It doesn’t tell you they’re turned on. Even with the MTHFR testing, that even says it’s only potential, not actualization.
People see these genetic tests and say, “I’ve got the gene for this and that.” I tell them you’ve got six different genes. If any 1 of those 6 genes is turned on, you die. Since the human race has been around for I don’t know how long, everybody who’s had these genes, the genes weren’t turned on. Just because you have a gene doesn’t mean it is so.
I’m going to share some things of a very personal nature. My nieces are looking into genetics so they did Ancestry.com and so did I. For those of you who’ve never seen me, you go to YouTube and take a good look at me and I’m going to tell you that I’m Scandinavian. I have got a percentage of Swedish. I’ve got a percentage of that region and I’ve got relatives according to that thing. I’ve seen what they look like.
I can tell you, we don’t look a thing alike but I’ve got the genes. Please, remember the next time you go to do genetic testing and you hear you’ve got the MTHFR gene or that gene, if you’re not testing your chemistry, you remember Dr. Menzah is Irish and Scandinavian as well as Norwegian and British. My niece, whose mother is my sister and whose father is purely 100% African is also Portuguese. She looks nothing like anyone from Portugal. Don’t tell me about genetic tests. There’s a degree of truth to these things but I wanted to give you something you’ll remember. When next time you see a genetic test, you need to ask yourself, “Has this gene been expressed in me or is it simply sitting there dormant?”
Dr. Mensah, I’m glad that you brought up the MTHFR test because genetic testing, in general, is such a highly controversial topic, especially where methylation is concerned. Many people and practitioners are looking to these types of tests for treatment purposes. Can you explain more about why this is so problematic, especially in the area of mental health?
First of all, the concept around MTHFR as it has evolved, is not correct. It is not the major consideration for methylation. It is indeed a powerful methylating enzyme in a certain part of your system but it’s part of a backup pathway, not a primary pathway. When you are feeding the backup pathway and not feeding the primary pathway, what happens when your backup is depleted? You plunge. That’s part one.
Part two, MTHFR does not represent methylation status. Methylation status is determined by a tug of war. As we’ve said for a long time, a tug of war between enzymes for undermethylation versus overmethylation. The 8 to 10 enzymes over here versus the 12 enzymes over here, as groups, whoever wins that tug of war, determines your methylation status, not one enzyme. The MTHFR test only says that if you’ve got these SNPs or aberrations, you may, please note the words, have a 30% chance of difficulty with regard to methylation.
Let’s shift that, Sami. If that’s 30%, what does that mean? It means you’ve got a 70% chance that has nothing to do with the equation. The molecule is also huge. What many doctors forget in terms of basic signs and thinking, they don’t check the molecular weight. None of us do but when you start doing the research, the molecular weight of this thing is huge. It’s a 77,000 kilodalton molecule. It’s like saying you’ve got a giant truck that is 5 stories tall and 3 miles long with 77,000 tires.
People say, “I’ve got a SNP.” Let’s say a SNP equals 1 tire and you’ve got 2 SNPs. That equals two tires. These tires are 20 feet tall. You lose 1 or 2 tires out of 77,000. It leaves you with 69,998 tires. Do you honestly think this truck is going to slow down or stop? That’s the analogy I want people to remember about this MTHFR thing. It is flawed on multiple levels. It does not represent methylation. There’s only a 30% chance that it’s even functioning properly. The ridiculous odds are even with those SNPs. It’s not even slowing down this molecule a bit and does not play a prominent role in mental health.
We already know this. There’s a difference between fact and true fact. You may have an SNP but it doesn’t mean the truth is that SNP is causing you any trouble. The genetic test must have some relevance. Let me give you some genetic analyses here. Every single one of us has six lethal genes. You activate and turn on one of those genes and you drop dead right now. No questions. How long is the population of humans on this planet been? If everyone’s got six lethal genes, how are we even still alive?
If you use the same logic, they should have all turned on and we should have all been dead. Even our kids should have been dead at some point. We shouldn’t have been here generations ago. All you need is one lethal gene. All we’re talking about is one enzyme and that enzyme is too large. It’s not the prominent creature in methylation. Treating gets you nowhere. There’s the other thing. If this were also concrete and correct, using methylfolate, everyone should be cured. I have rarely ever heard in these years since this test came out of probably more than 2 or 3 people who said they did well beyond 3 months with methylfolate. If they did, it’s more likely they were overmethylated, not undermethylated.
We’ve been doing this as organizations for at least three generations. It was with Dr. Walsh, our mentor, who first introduced methylation to these very people who had never heard about it and then started doing the research on MTHFR. He even told them they were moving in the wrong direction and didn’t listen. You’ve got the man who should be known as the Father of Methylation. I don’t care who’s saying what but in terms of mental health, this man has exposed this to the world as no one else truly has. I’m not here to bow down and worship but I give credit to where credit is due because when I first met him, I can tell you may find this hard to believe, Sami, I thought I knew everything about the brain.
I was a neuroscience guru back in school. They paid me to TA my classmates back in those days. I was hot stuff. I figured it out when Dr. Bowman, my partner, told me about this new strange field where they’re doing things that heal autism, treat schizophrenia and all these things we know are not possible. At first, I said, “You got to be kidding me. You’re joking.” She said, “No. You got to see this for yourself.” She’d only been at this place for a month.
I said, “In the worst-case scenario, I’ll go and impress them with my brilliance.” I walked in there with my three-piece suit back in the old days and had my briefcase. I went and profiled, ready to impress the mess out of that institution. I sat down with my other mentor, Dr. Robert DeVito. For 45 minutes, we didn’t talk about anything related to medicine. I met Dr. Walsh, who I was quite sure didn’t like me. I couldn’t read him for anything. By the time my time with them was done, the ego that walked into that building, I don’t know how it ever fit in that building in the first place, but it left the size of a fraction of a pinhead.
I was extremely humbled. I left it and said, “I don’t know anything. If this is real, then I have no clue here.” I took a risk because I had no job. I had been offered a beautiful, very lucrative position in a small town out West. I had nothing to lose but I was so disturbed by what I had seen because it was everything we were taught not to believe.
Everyone there, including my business partner, who’s a no-nonsense lady, told me she had witnessed for herself the opposite of what we had been taught. I figured I had to either explore this opportunity because it might be the greatest thing that no one has ever heard of or it might be the biggest joke and piece of crap anyone could ever understand. I was like, “If it’s nonsense, I’m going to learn that quickly. I can always go back to making money and having a lucrative career.”
X number of years later, we haven’t left. There’s a reason for it. The repetitive validity of people doing well and normalizing has been proven. This is not a theory. These are facts and truths. A lot of the people who are starting this stuff are dealing with theories, not with facts because if they’re dealing with facts, they should see the entire bulk of their population doing well based upon what it is they’ve been told, believe and are doing. That’s not the case.
Thank you so much for sharing that. Dr. Walsh is so humble. I don’t think that he gets enough credit for all that he’s done. He has seven patents. We wouldn’t even have a cell phone without his brilliance but he’s such a humble man. He’s so willing to share his information. I don’t think people realize that he is the Father of Methylation and we wouldn’t be where we are without his brilliance.
As a matter of fact, the irony is we wouldn’t be having this debate if it weren’t for him.
What’s amazing to me is, going back to the MTHFR conversation, and the “resulting therapy” being methylated folate and all the issues that we see based on that, I’d love for you to speak to that. It’s because you already shared how folate strips methyl. There’s a donation that’s happening outside but in the nucleus of the cell where our instructions are made at that level of DNA, it takes away so much more than it provides.
The concern for us and what we have been seeing for a number of years are a lot of adverse effects from methylated folate. Neurotransmitter changes specifically with glutamate and serotonin. We see people do well for maybe 2 or 3 months and then there’s this huge crash. Can you speak to that a little bit more? I want people to understand why this is problematic, even though so many people say that there’s not even any such thing as under and overmethylation. We know that’s not true because of how people are responding to these products that are being sold and marketed.
Let me talk about the idea that there’s no such thing as under this or over that. I want you to look at the span of the universe. Everyone knows opposites exist, tall-short, thin-fat, heavy-light. It’s the nature of the universe. If you’ve got anything that involves a concentration and people don’t understand, methyl is a concentration we’re referencing and how much. If you can have too little, you could have too much.
If the system isn’t working properly, you can either back up a whole lot or never produce a whole lot. These are broad constructs. What people don’t realize is that we have entire personality profiles that are very consistent with methylation status, undermethylators and overmethylators. Every now and then, there’s a crossover in between. Most people are normal in methylation but when there’s a glitch in the system, you can underproduce or overproduce methyl and it goes back to your DNA.
I always say those who are discovering this process are usually the ones who are questioning this whole concept of methylation. Once you’ve been doing it and see it for yourself as certain skeptical people that are talking would tell you, it’s a whole other story. One of my favorite people, I’m not going to tell you who this person is but we’ll walk through airports and should look at people and start going, “Undermethylated. Overmethylated.”
She starts telling entire stories about their lives and say, “Let me go up and give that person a hug because their dog died. She’s having a hard time and the kids are giving her trouble. She hasn’t slept in three days.” It is because she’s looking at the personality types that are written in the physical manifestation of the person.
You can see these things so clearly. When you’ve been doing this for a while and you’ve got real experience behind it, the stories speak for themselves. There’s more than validity here because we’ve got a correlation between personality types, academic performance, methylation status and all sorts of things. That’s true for both under and overmethylation. The other side is let’s talk about the great Abraham Hoffer’s work with bipolar and schizophrenia.
When he did his work, niacinamide was a very powerful agent and that’s what he used. He did not reference methylation but what he was truly treating was overmethylation. That’s because people who are overmethylated produce lots of dopamine and that dopamine was a key factor in the processes that these individuals were going through mentally when they would ruminate, hear voices and all these things.
Our pharmaceutical drugs were designed to lower dopamine. That’s why we had such tremendous success. I’m not a naysayer in terms of pharmaceuticals. I’m saying that there’s a point in a time where they can be useful but to get to the core of the problem, you’ve got to treat the chemistry and quite a few people are doing both simultaneously.
That too is okay but the key here is understanding what you’re doing and why. When we’ve been given folic acid for a very long time in-utero, beyond the first trimester, the year beyond and people breastfeeding, folic acid in our diet, like the bread, cereals and enriched fortified foods, we have created functional demethylation going on and turned out individuals who are more undermethylated.
That’s one of the reasons why a lot of medications don’t work anymore because we don’t realize the medicine when these drugs were first produced. We had a different condition as far as methylation was concerned. We know there’s been a change and the key here is connecting the dots and knowing which dots are connected to which.
Abraham Hoffer wasn’t wrong. At that time when he did what he did, people were high dopamine individuals. That same category of folks is now low dopamine people. The meds that lower your dopamine aren’t doing them any good. They’re not working very well. All you have to do is ask the general pool of psychiatrists, “Are these medications working as effectively as they used to in this pool of patients?”
A lot of them say, “No, not really. We have to add this med and that med and do a few different things.” That’s where the concept of folic acid has played a role. Also, what we know is that in many conditions like autism, ADHD and even some forms of severe depression, individuals who are highly addictive personalities are usually undermethylated folks.Highly addictive personalities are usually undermethylated folks. Click To Tweet
All of this time that we’re giving tons and tons of methyl, we’re shifting where we are epigenetically targeting without knowing our methylation status. We are inducing susceptibility to many of these conditions. We said this many years ago. I believe it was John Hopkins who shared a story on the fact that folic acid or folate may be causing autism or might be a contributor to autism.
We also know the correlation is very clear with cancer. You’ve lost colleagues to cancer. You’ve shared that story a couple of times. I don’t know if you’re open to sharing that with us in this episode.
Ironically, it is the reason for the development of the Mensah Research Institute. I had two friends who graduated behind me in med school. They walked down that aisle behind me. I was M, another one was M and another one was M. Of these two young ladies, one didn’t even make it beyond her pediatric residency. She lasted two years.
She had gotten married. She was a beautiful young lady with a wonderful husband and family. She didn’t make it to have their first child yet. She died of breast cancer. The other one I hadn’t seen for a while. She’s a wonderful OB-GYN and a powerful young lady. I saw her at a party with one of my residency friends. She said, “I’m not a breast cancer survivor but a breast cancer thriver.”
I was so proud of her. I found out only a few months later that breast cancer had returned in a very powerful way and she began to deteriorate. I tried calling her because we had some semblance of understanding methylation and how it worked in some of these conditions. She had been walled off and quarantined by her family. I couldn’t get to her. It was extremely frustrating no matter how much I tried calling. They wanted her to have a peaceful transition. It’s like looking at a glass door and someone is behind the door and you’re screaming, “Come let us try to help you.” She can’t hear you and then I found out she passed away.
Honestly, Sami, that was it. I said, “Never again. If I ever find anything that helps anyone in any situation with regard to these issues and challenges, as we start to see the crossover benefits of molecular targeting, not just for mental health but for physical disorders, I’m going to do everything in my power.” We began to see some of the great correlations and links in terms of cancer.
Cancer is the epigenetic center. They are doing the most powerful work in epigenetics. That’s where we’ve learned a tremendous amount from the oncologists and the cancer researchers. We began applying these methodologies to what we call Cancer Support. We’re careful about saying we treat cancer. We support cancer powerfully. Every cancer is individualistic, though. You’ve got to know exactly what cancer is, the timing involved or the treatments.
You’ve got to know when to use, not to use, pull back and reinitiate. That is done through careful association with the oncologist and knowing what they’re doing. That’s an area where we have helped people do better. We’ve trained doctors overseas to do the same. Unfortunately, they are missed but the loss of two very good, wonderful dear human beings to this creature that anyone who knows me will tell you don’t even say that word to Dr. Mensah. He’s going to go off on a tirade.
If we did not understand the critical role of methylation, we wouldn’t be able to help these folks. It’s not just mental health or other ramifications. Sami, we’re so proud of you for the work you’ve done. You are one of the people who’s helped convince me of the importance of gut health but you can’t even talk about the appropriate diet if you don’t know your methylation status.
People say, “I want to eat healthy. What’s the best diet?” We sit down and say, “First of all, it depends on what your chemistry is like. The best diet for you is not the best diet for John down the street or Samantha.” It all depends on what their chemical situation is. It’s not about politics, belief systems or religious beliefs. I tell people of all sorts of backgrounds, “I understand your culture, religion and so forth but let me tell you the facts and you get to choose. You are an undermethylated person having a purely plant-based diet. If you’ve got a mental health condition, that’ll send you in the wrong direction. If you’ve got high copper on top of that, it can predispose you to a certain type of cancer.”
The big picture has to be assessed. It is an issue of life or death so I don’t mince words. I’m not going to be politically correct. If you come to us and ask us a question, I will give you the answer. You do with it what you wish but that’s because I’ve seen people die and get worse in their mental health for the wrong reasons.
You can believe whatever you want to believe. I’ll share with you what we know. It becomes incumbent upon us but we want to do the right thing for ourselves. If your life is okay, it doesn’t matter what you eat. If you do okay and you’re balanced or if you want to do what’s best for your system because you’ve got a serious condition, that’s when we get serious.
That’s when it’s like, “Let’s test you first, then send you to Samantha so she can design a wonderful dietary protocol for you based upon your chemistry. Don’t worry about what your cousin Jane ate or did because she’s not you. You’re an individual.” We’ve got to address things individually. You can’t help people if you’re not accurate in your methodology, testing and assessment. Sorry, I went in that direction, Sami. It’s one of those topics that gets me revved up here.
Dr. Mensah, I so appreciate it because people need to know this. This is one of the reasons why I started the show, to begin with. This is a platform where people can get facts and answers. We know there’s a direct correlation between methylation, cancer, and also copper and women. We want to be careful and targeted there.
We can’t go around making these ridiculous claims about how a plant-based diet or a keto diet is great for everyone because we know that’s not true. We know it depends on the individual and their chemistry. That’s what we want to impress upon people that are reading. Know your chemistry, understand that we’re all unique and that’s okay. Some people do better with more plants, animal products and protein.
Those of us that are undermethylated need to have those proteins in our diet. I was vegan for many years. At first, it was great because I went from a standard American diet to a raw vegan diet. I was cleaning out my system but over time, I created a serious vulnerability in my chemistry. By the time I got to you, I was ready to jump off the Golden Gate bridge. That is fact. That was my journey but if we can save people and help people before they get to that point where I was, then we’ve done our job and our service to humanity. That is everything to me and I know it is to you as well. We’re not in this for the money. It’s about saving lives at this point.
Sami, I have to give you a tremendous amount of credit because of where you’ve been, the realization of what you needed to do, taking that turn and you’re helping a number of people. If you had been in denial and hung in there with what I would call a street corner dictum around do’s and don’ts, you wouldn’t be able to help so many people. Let me give a shout-out of fairness. People who are overmethylated should be on a heavily plant-based diet, not undermethylated.
Here’s the real irony and I still haven’t figured this one out. Why is it that all the undermethylators want to be plant-based and the overmethylators want to be meat-based? They’re designed to be the exact opposite. I’ll still never understand that but eventually, we come to terms and if you eat a balanced diet, it’s okay and doesn’t matter which way you are because you don’t get too much of one versus the other.
The reality is this. Statistically speaking, those folks in the opposite chemistry camps are somehow drawn into eating the exact opposite way on both ends. It’s one thing we didn’t talk about. This is your forte here. The question is, why is it you don’t tolerate meat in the first place? Do you have problems with your digestive enzymes? Do you have problems because you’ve got a gut imbalance that makes you queasy? Is it because you’re pyloric?
There are a variety of reasons that can make you not want to touch certain types of foods and it’s not because your body revolts. It’s because your system isn’t balanced and that’s where talking to Sami comes into play because she can get you there and share with you why. The question is, are you supposed to eat one way or is it that your system is dysregulated and you can’t eat the other way? That’s one of the things that also has to be determined.There are a variety of reasons that can make you really not want to touch certain types of foods and it's not because your body revolts; it's because your system isn't balanced. Click To Tweet
I appreciate you saying that and we’ll be talking more about the GI tract. In the first couple of episodes, I talked about even inflammation in the GI tract alone can create depression and ADHD symptoms, even though we know ADHD is an undermethylation phenomenon. We always have to take into account what is going on in the GI tract. We have a lot of undermethylators that have SIBO. They may also be very zinc deficient. Our anorexic patients are undermethylated and severely zinc deficient. They don’t want to touch meat. They don’t like the way it tastes or have a taste for it.
Nothing tastes good. Their GI tract is so inflamed that it’s hard to digest protein because protein takes a lot of energy to digest. There are so many variables there. I’m glad you brought that up because we always want to let people know that even if you are undermethylated like I am or copper toxic like I was and it does run in my family, you’re still going to be unique to someone else that maybe has similar chemistry.
They might be the same age and weight as you but because of that epigenetic component and your story, you are stil different. We’re going to be talking a lot more about the story as well as we move forward with the show. All of these variables are so important. This is why working with people that understand the science and the facts of the chemistry involved can help you on that deep biochemical level. I appreciate that Dr. Mensah.
Sami, let’s look at this thing about methylated folate. You’ve got this creature and quite honestly, for the most part, there’s so much misdiagnosis going on that methylated folate is not the most functional creature in the world anyway. If you give methylfoate to an undermethylated person, remember, the folate piece comes and strips away the methyl from your DNA. What may happen is because methylfolate gets part of that backup system that in the short run, you might see an improvement and say, “Mensah was wrong. I feel great.”
It’s been 2 or 3 months, then in month number 3.5 comes, you go right back down and you’re going, “What’s wrong? I don’t understand this. I was doing so well.” Your cycle bottomed out. You proved to yourself in your system and revved up the backup pathway but then you didn’t fortify the main pathway because it’s methylated. If MTHFR was truly part of the main pathway in methylation, you should be good all the way through, which you’re not.
The average person lasts only so long, then things go back to normal. That’s if you’re undermethylated. If you’re overmethylated, this could be one of your boys. You could be having a grand old time. Even then, the issue is why use the methylated version if you’re overmethylated? Take the methyl out of the equation and use the folate, folinic acid or folic acid. It’s because what you’re doing is it’s trying to put out a forest fire, a fire in your kitchen, let’s say and the fire is going and you say, “Let me pour a little bit of kerosene in there and then try to put it out. You’re overmethylated. Let’s add more methyl and then try to remove it. That doesn’t make any sense. In either condition, your best versions involve the pure versions.
Methylated folate is not an appropriate product. It doesn’t work as people think. It doesn’t provide you any long-term utility at all. We’re talking about mental health. Please, remember that. Don’t go find some esoteric things saying that in my studies. How do you know about a depressed mouse or an anxious mouse? We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about individuals with very powerful conditions and definitive chemistries. That’s what we need to identify with regard to methylated folate. It’s part of a system of incorrect commentaries and ideas. It’s well-intentioned that these folks who are using it mean the best but they are going by what it is. They were told by the laboratories and by certain systems of belief and understanding that are not panning out.
Thank you for explaining that. It’s so important that we share this information with people so they understand what’s happening, why they’ve bottomed out and what’s going on. Also for both the over and undermethylated population, we want to be careful with the form that we’re using. Dr. Mensah, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate all that you’ve shared, your vast knowledge and many years of experience. We are all truly blessed by you. Thank you again.
Thank you, Sami. We appreciate the opportunity. The honors are ours to be able to work with you and talk to folks about some very important topics. We’re trying to help people. If you hear us being impassioned, it’s because we’ve seen the pain. We’ve had or experienced or known someone who had the pain but we want people to do well. We’re vested in a particular situation so that we can help others not suffer. That’s where you and I both come from Sami and why it’s such a pleasure to work with you.
Our stories are extremely powerful and contain genetic, epigenetic and transgenerational narratives. Educating yourself with the facts surrounding accurate testing and treatment provides a powerful pathway to healing the brain and body, you can find Dr. Mensah at MensahMedical.com.
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