VERY simply stated, methylation is a process that happens in all cells of the body so that you’re able to make the chemicals you need to function. It is tightly linked to folate metabolism and requires vitamin B12.

What exactly needs methylation reactions? The short list would include cellular repair, detoxification, neurotransmitter production, proper immune system function, and specifically important in my case, inactivating histamine. Those are some important functions, indeed.

MTHFR stands for methyl-tetrahydrofolate reductase which is the enzyme which is responsible for methylation; there are several genetic variants which result in suboptimal methylation. I have one copy of C677T gene for MTHFR.

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trigeminal neuralgia

December of 2012, I experienced trigeminal neuralgia–most likely related to MS. I distinctly remember that it is not what I told Santa I wanted for Christmas, but he was a shmuck that year, and that’s what I received. It started off cycling (about 20 minutes with pain, 20 minutes no pain), and I thought I could handle it if it continued to do that. It did not enter my mind how exactly I thought I was going to live as I was just trying to cope. It then stopped cycling. The trigeminal nerve has three main branches: opthalmic, mandibular, maxillary. Both the mandibular and maxillary branch were involved; it felt like I was having root canals on all the teeth on the right side of my face, both lower and upper jaws, without the benefit of a numbing agent.

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the look

Oh, THE LOOK. The one that you receive when trying to explain the ideas behind, or relating your experiences with paleo to someone–particularly someone who thinks they are more schooled or smarter than you. The one that says, “Oh, you poor, naïve idiot. When will you learn than traditional medicine knows all and that we would have been told if there were such a simple cure as diet?”

I received THE LOOK from my rheumatologist when I told him that I was going to try paleo. “I practice in Boulder, and I’ve seen everything,” he said in September. By January, five months later, he was asking me what my secret was.

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regaining function

We bought my WalkAide in May 2012. It, Oscar as he is called, changed my life. My drop foot had become such an impediment to my mobility that I rarely went anywhere by myself, and if I did, it certainly wasn’t very far. I started with an AFO, but for the distances I wanted to walk, I needed something more–something that would stimulate my peroneal nerve, responsible for lifting your toes, with each step. We had a brief honeymoon until my hands gave out in June from RA, and I couldn’t use a cane because I could no longer use my hands. By the time we went to Japan in September of that same year, I was again able to walk with a cane but was so fatigued from not being able to do anything for several months and the combined effect of two incurable illnesses that I brought my wheelchair, as well.

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brief hiatus

Must take a break or at least back away for a bit. My body is very good at telling me when to give it a rest. One does not argue with panic attacks or trigeminal neuralgia.Too much thinking about incurable diseases is not good for the brain or the body. Back soon.

Dr. Gunshin

I know we’ll all be surprised when I say I’ve been in a hospital in Tokyo, Japan. Several times, actually, but that’s another post. 🙂

Dr. Gunshin, the MD I dealt with at University of Tokyo Hospital, is a prize. Now maybe it helped that he did his residency at UC Davis and spoke impeccable English, but this man helped us immensely while we were in Japan during a particularly challenging “vacation” in 2013. However, what I wanted to talk about in this post was the discussion we had concerning the Japanese and their evolving diet.

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functional or traditional

In the very beginning of the rheumatoid arthritis saga in the summer of 2012, my partner and I were trying to figure out what to do. We were hedging our bets by kind of doing it all–seeing a rheumatologist AND a functional medicine MD, but I knew we were eventually going to come to a point where a choice had to be made. Namely, which path would we take. Aside from the obvious distinctions traditional medicine (pharmaceuticals) vs. functional medicine (whole body and supplements), the cost of each venture was nothing to discount.

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multiple sclerosis in Takayama

I had the most delightful pantomimed “discussion” with a young MD in a Takayama hospital the first year we went to Japan. I had picked up the flu, most likely on the plane given I later found my specific symptoms to be similar to what was circulating in the area I reside, but I ended up in the hospital in Japan. I had called my MD stateside when I began to have bizarre symptoms, and he advised me to go the nearest hospital to have my lungs x-rayed—immediately. Clearly he was being very cautious given my history. With me, caution is a good thing.

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Dr. Robert Grimm, my first real neurologist stateside, had some advice for me: don’t deal with the MS Society, the Swank diet is nonsense (more on that in a different post), and keep your weight reasonable (it will help if the MS advances). Bob, as I fondly knew him, practiced 2 hours away from where I lived, but I didn’t mind the drive. I went to him after the initial MRI and diagnosis from the MD I saw where I resided because it was necessary and prudent to know the reason for my neurological symptoms ASAP. I went to Bob the following day, MRI films and medical records in hand, to confirm the diagnosis and do the proper testing. The first thing he did was to call the neurologist that had given me the diagnosis to chew him a new orifice. The films were underdeveloped, and worse, you NEVER give anyone such a diagnosis when there is so much additional testing to be considered and so much at stake. His wife also had MS, and he was well aware of what such a diagnosis can do. Good luck removing it from a medical record even if it is incorrect. You’ll never get insurance again.

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functional medicine and genetics

I learned several days ago that my mother’s sister has been officially diagnosed with RA. My mother’s side of my genetic tree is an absolute minefield. It’s where I get all of my lung issues and allergies. I would bet if I could get my mother tested, I’d find it is also where I get the HLA-DQ2 I carry which has the highest association of any HLA serotype with autoimmune disease.

I was able to convince both of my parents to go paleo so I won’t demand her blood to prove my suspicions. 🙂

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