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Biochemical Imbalances: What are They?

Biochemical Imbalances: What are They?

Biochemical imbalances: Each of us has a body that functions due to biochemical factors that influence our personalities, behaviors, mental health, immune function, and allergic tendencies. There are about 60 chemical elements in our bodies, and each plays a role in the expression of our genes.  More than 95% of our bodies are made up of four elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen. The remaining 5 percent are either macronutrients or micronutrients that are required for the proper production of hormones, neurotransmitters and immune function. Macronutrients like calcium, magnesium, and potassium are needed in large amounts for proper body function. Micronutrients like vitamins and trace minerals, are needed in smaller amounts for proper body function. These nutrients perform various functions, including the building of bones and cell structures, regulating the body’s pH, carrying charge, and driving chemical reactions.

We are all Biochemically Unique

biochemical imbalances and how they affect physical and mental healthNot only did we inherit characteristics from our parents but also from several ancestors on both sides of our families.  Our biochemical imbalances can be affected by diet and stressful life events, but it often goes back to genetics and epigenetics.  Genetics is the study of heredity and the variation of inherited characteristics. Epigenetics is the influence of environmental factors in a person’s life that will turn genes ‘on’ and ‘off’ without changing the DNA sequence.

Because of genetic differences in the way our bodies process foods, most of us are quite deficient in certain nutrients and overloaded in others.  Despite an ideal diet, most of us have certain nutrients that are at very low levels, and some of us may have nutrients at very toxic levels. Without a healthy balance of macronutrients and micronutrients, through epigenetics our bodies will turn on genes that we inherited and cause a disease state. At Mensah Medical we do specific biochemical laboratory testing to determine an individual’s biochemical imbalance and we prescribe an individualized and compounded vitamin, mineral, nutrient protocol to help our patients recover from various disease states. Our physical and mental health needs the proper balance of critical brain chemicals. This is why correcting biochemical imbalances is key to optimal health and wellness.

Most Common Biochemical Imbalances:

The following information was originally published in an article entitled, Biochemical Individuality and Nutrition: by William Walsh, PhD, FACN, President of the Walsh Research Institute.

Overmethylation

Many persons who suffer from anxiety and depression are overmethylated which results in excessive activity of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.  Typical symptoms include chemical and food sensitivities, underachievement, upper body pain, and an adverse reaction to serotonin-enhancing substances such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, St. John’s Wort, and SAMe. They have a genetic tendency to be very depressed in folates and other B vitamins.  Biochemical treatment focuses on rebalancing these nutrients.  These persons may also be overloaded in copper and methionine and supplements of these nutrients must be strictly avoided for optimal treatment of their biochemical imbalances. Read more about the common symptoms of overmethylation.

Undermethylation

Many patients with obsessive-compulsive tendencies, oppositional-defiant disorder, or seasonal depression are undermethylated which is associated with low serotonin activity.  They generally exhibit seasonal allergies, perfectionism, competitiveness, and other distinctive symptoms and traits.   These undermethylated persons may benefit nicely from Paxil, Zoloft, and other serotonin-enhancing medications, although nasty side effects are common.  A more natural approach is to directly repair the underlying problem and therefore correct their biochemical imbalances. Read more about the common symptoms of undermethylation.

Metal-Metabolism

A common problem in ADHD, behavior disorders, and hormonal depression is a genetic inability to control copper, zinc, manganese, and other trace metals in the body due to improper functioning of the metallothionein protein. These patients biochemical imbalances often show them deficient in trace metals, amino acids, and Vitamin B-6 and overloaded in others.  They must avoid supplements and “enriched” foods containing copper. In addition, we recommend they drink bottled water and limit use of swimming pools and jacuzzis treated with copper sulfate anti-algae agents. Foods to be limited due to high copper content include shellfish, chocolate, and carob.  Elevated copper levels are associated with hormonal imbalances and a classic symptom is intolerance to estrogen. Treatment for their biochemical imbalances focuses on stimulation of metallothionein using trace metals, amino acids and Vitamin B-6.

Pyrrole Disorder

A common feature of many behavior and emotional disorders is pyroluria, an inborn error of pyrrole chemistry which results in a dramatic deficiency of zinc, Vitamin B-6, and arachidonic acid. Common symptoms include explosive temper, emotional mood swings, poor short-term memory, and frequent infections.  These patients are easily identified by their inability to tan, poor dream recall, abnormal fat distribution, and sensitivity to light and sound.  The decisive laboratory test is analysis for kryptopyrroles in urine. Biomedical treatment centers on restoring the body with necessary nutrients. Read more about the common symptoms of pyroluria/pyrrole disorder.

Glucose Dyscontrol

Our database indicates a significant number of our patients have chronic low blood glucose levels in addition to other biochemical imbalances. This problem doesn’t appear to be the cause of behavior disorders, depression, etc., but instead is an aggravating factor which can trigger striking symptoms.  Typical symptoms include drowsiness after meals, irritability, craving for sweets, trembling, anxiety, and intermittent poor concentration and focus. Treatment includes glucose-stabilizing nutrients, but the primary focus of treatment is on diet.  These patients benefit from six or more small meals daily with emphasis on complex carbohydrates and protein.  In essence, they cannot tolerate large meals or quick sugars.  Complex carbohydrates provide the necessary glucose in a slow, gradual manner and may be thought of as “time-release” sugar.

Toxic Substances

Occasionally we encounter a patient whose condition has resulted from a heavy-metal overload (lead, cadmium, mercury, etc.) or toxic levels of pesticides or other organic chemicals.  Our database indicates that persons with a metallothionein disorder are especially sensitive to toxic metals, and that overmethylation is associated with severe chemical sensitivities.  Effective treatment for persons with these biochemical imbalances requires a three-part approach: (1) avoidance of additional exposures, (2) biochemical treatment to hasten the exit of the toxic from the body, and (3) correction of underlying chemical imbalances to minimize future vulnerability to the toxic. Read more about the common symptoms of metal toxicity.

Malabsorption

Although only 10% of our database case histories involve serious malabsorption, more than 90% of patients with autism exhibit this problem.  There are three primary classes of absorption problems: (1) stomach problems, including excessive or insufficient HCl levels, (2) incomplete digestion in the small intestine, and (3) problems at the brush-border of the intestine where most nutrients are absorbed into the portal blood stream.  The consequences can include nutrient deficiencies, irritation of the intestinal tract, candida, and mental health problems. Incomplete breakdown of protein and fats can adversely affect brain neurotransmission, and is associated with impulsivity and academic underachievement in these patients.  Treatment depends on the type of malabsorption present and may involve adjustment of stomach HCl levels, digestive enzymes which survive stomach acid, nutrients to enhance digestion, and special diets.

Essential Fatty Acids

The brain is 20% fat (by dry weight) and these fatty substances fulfill very important functions. The myelin sheaths which surround our brain cells contain essential fatty acids which are directly involved in receptor formation and nerve transmission.  A 1998 Symposium at the National Institute of Mental Health presented strong evidence of the important roles for omega-3 oils (especially EPA and DHA) and omega-6 oils (especially AA and DGLA) in ADHD, depression, and schizophrenia.  A Harvard study showed EPA and DHA supplements to be more effective than psychiatric medications in combating bipolar depression.  Typical American diets usually result in insufficient omega-3 and excessive omega-6, and some nutritionists routinely recommend supplements of omega-3 oils. However, biochemical individuality also exists with oils and certain persons are innately low in omega-6 oils.  A review of symptoms and specialized plasma and red-cell-membrane lab tests can identify individual needs.