Do you have anxiety? Depression? Attention problems? Or are you worried about estrogen and cancer?
If so, watch this video to learn about the role of your COMT genetics.
COMT metabolizes dopamine, estrogen, and various other things. Half of us have the genetic for intermediate activity. The other half of us are split evenly between high and low activity. When nutrition is optimal, this just leads to personality differences: with low COMT activity, you’re better at focusing, but tend to ruminate on things rather than letting them go; with high COMT activity, you rarely get stuck in a rut, but you just as rarely sit down to focus on one single thing. When nutrition is off, we can go to pathological extremes, whether it’s depression and anxiety on one hand, or attention deficit and hyperactivity on the other. Robust COMT activity is also needed to get rid of harmful forms of estrogen that contribute to cancer risk.
I recommend testing your COMT genes with StrateGene, which you can get here:
For more information on how to get the StrateGene report, watch this video, the first of the three MTHFR videos:
Here are the two other MTHFR videos:
How to watch it:
How to share it and show it love:
Read the Transcript
Are you anxious, depressed, distracted, worried about your cancer risk? The enzyme COMT could be relevant. Here’s how to find out if it is for you and what to do about it.
Hi. I’m Dr. Chris Masterjohn of chrismasterjohnphd.com. And this is Chris Masterjohn Lite where the name of the game is “Details? Shmeetails. Just tell me what works!” And here we’re going to talk about COMT.
In the last few videos I’ve been using the StrateGene report, I’ll link to the video about how to get it, but I’m going to assume we all have a StrateGene report for the rest of this video. If you look at my StrateGene report on the second page you go down to the bottom, you will see the third to last and second to last lines are for COMT.
This is an enzyme that uses methyl groups from the methylation process, to methylate a few things, but chief among them are dopamine and estrogen. And you can see that there are two different mutations, the V158M mutation is the one where most of the research is, there’s another one that has less research behind it. And you can see over here that I’m heterozygous for each of them meaning I have +/-, one of those variants from one of my parents, but not the other.Now I think it’s a little bit deceptive that it shows it yellow here because it indicates intermediate risk. Actually to be +/- for that, to be yellow for that means that you are in the middle 50% of the population. If you are +/+ and red, it means that you are in the lowest 25% of the population for your genetic ability to use that enzyme. And if you’re green -/- it means you’re in the top 25% of the population and your genetic ability to use that enzyme. To be +/- and yellow means that you’re in the 50% more or less majority right in the middle, where you are in the center of the sweet spot.
So what does this mean? If you’re red +/+ it means that you have less COMT activity on a genetic basis. You will be less able to methylate dopamine and that is going to make you more mentally rigid. That means that it’s more difficult for you to let go of things, it’s more difficult for you to switch mental states, it’s more difficult for you to see something that you’re not currently paying attention to and shift your attention to it.Well that might actually be a good thing when you’re trying to focus on analytical or creative work, it can be a bad thing if what gets into your mind is an anxious thought or a depressing thought because it might be really hard for you to let go of it. On the other hand, actually I should also point out that if you have low COMT activity you are going to methylate estrogen at a lower rate and that makes you less able to clear the estrogen metabolites that are capable of doing damage to DNA and contribute to a portion of the estrogen-related cancer risk.
Now if you have the opposite case where you’re green -/- and you’re in the 25% highest activity of that enzyme then that’s probably really good for your estrogen metabolism, but it can also predispose you to be very distracted and to be not very good at focusing. Now if you look at these mental traits if your nutrition is good it’s just a personality variation; and that’s why we would expect there to be this distribution where 50% is in the middle, 25% is high, and 25% is low, because if you get too high you can’t focus as well and if you get too low you get too mentally rigid and you get stuck on things and you ruminate. You could of course swing back and forth because it’s not just your COMT genes that matters.
In order to methylate dopamine you need the support of the methylation system and in order to not over-methylate dopamine you need your glycine buffer in place. These are the things that I talked about in
the MTHFR videos, I’ll link to the three relevant videos in the description of this one. But basically if you’re not following the methylation protocol to support the methylation process and have the glycine buffer system in place then you will be much more vulnerable to falling off one or the other end depending on where you are.
In other words if you’re in the bottom 25% of COMT activity and you’re deficient in your methyl groups because you’re not providing enough choline, enough folate, enough B12, enough betaine, etc. Then you might go from a personality trait of low COMT to a pathological level of being neurotically or psychotically mentally rigid. So what you want to do is you want to take advantage of your personality trait to be really good at focusing, for example, but you want to give enough nutrition to where it stays a personality trait and not a problem. On the other hand if you have high COMT activity then you could go off the deep end in distraction if you don’t have the glycine buffer system in place because when you do get your methyl groups you methylate dopamine too much, especially when you have a really robust supply, because that buffer system with the glycine is not in place.
So as long as you get all aspects of that nutrition right you should stay within the boundaries of healthy personality variation and you should also be able to support the methylation of estrogen to get whatever protective effects you can get out of methylation for that purpose.
And even if you’re right smack in the middle for COMT it doesn’t remove those risks because even if you have a normal COMT enzyme not having enough methyl groups can still predispose you to too much mental rigidity, and not having the glycine buffer system in place can still predispose you to too much distraction or not enough focus. So it’s always important to get the nutrition, it’s just that your COMT genotype biases you towards one set of problems or another when that nutrition is not in the right place, and please, please oh please if you’re yellow +/- like me just know that you’re right in the middle of normal.
All right, I hope you found this useful. Signing off, this is Chris Masterjohn of chrismasterjohnphd.com. This has been Chris Masterjohn Lite, and I will see you in the next episode.
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