Methylation is a vital biochemical reaction in the body that supports the cardiovascular, hormone, immune, and detoxification systems, DNA/RNA structure and function, and other key metabolic system controlling energy production. It is commonly a problem in many autistic-spectrum individuals. There are some effective therapies, namely methylcobolamin therapy (injection, oral, sublingual), as well as other methylation supplements such as DMG and TMG.
The two most referenced chemical reactions in this methylation system are Re-methylation and Trans-Sulfuration.
Re-Methylation (or methylation) – this pathway involves the conversion of Homocysteine to Methionine. Methionine is a rate-limiting step for the production of other necessary chemicals which affect the heart and blood vessels, muscle tissue, immune and nervous system. The conversion of homocysteine to methionine can occur by direct transference of a methyl (CH3) groups from Methylcobalamin (B12) or betaine (trimethylglycine or TMG).
Homocysteine sits at a junction of two different biochemical reactions. Because of its position in this biochemical matrix it has the capacity to impact all methylation and sulfur group transference metabolic processes in the body. The most recognized impact of homocysteine is associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease. However, in individuals with autism its impact affects other functions as well particularly cognition including concentration, attention, and language.
Trans-Sulfuration – this pathway involves degrading homocysteine to two different amino acids – taurine and cysteine. Taurine is most commonly known for cardiac support and liver support, detoxification, bile acid formation and cholesterol excretion. Cysteine has direct influence on glutathione production. Glutathione is a potent anti-oxidant and has broad reaching effects on the DNA/RNA protection, heavy metal detoxification, and immune function. Many children on the autistic-spectrum have deficiencies of both taurine and cysteine.
There are many intermediary steps involved in these two important biochemical reactions. Envision a wheel that is constantly spinning in a clockwise fashion. Homocysteine is at 6 o’clock and Methionine is at 12 o’clock. The goal is to get from 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock, and then from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock. This keeps the wheel spinning in the right direction. Certain other chemicals will impact upon this wheel at specific points. If any one of these intermediary steps is blocked than the wheel slows down or stops. This causes a backlog of chemical information that has deleterious effects on our overall health.
Methylcobolamin, activated Folic Acid (called methyl-folate), and Betaine (TMG) are responsible for taking homocysteine from 6 o’clock to methionine at 12 o’clock. If one system is faulty (methylcobolamin/Folic acid) than betaine (TMG) can help out. SAMe (s-adenosylmethionine) the body’s “universal methyl donor” helps take methionine from 12 o’clock to homocysteine at 6 o’clock. Along the way other important chemicals are being spun off in different directions to support the many dependent biochemical reactions in the body.
The problem with many autistic individuals is that this system does not operate properly severely compromising their immune, nervous, and detoxification systems. The impact can be enormous including increased chronic infections, inability to detoxify their body of chemicals and heavy metal toxins, and neuro-cognitive problems such as language processing, attention, focusing, and concentration. There appears to be a genetic component with many autistic individuals for having a problem with this methylation and trans-sulfuration chemisty. However, for many the problem does not become manifest until their system is negatively impacted upon from nutritional deficiencies, digestive problems from yeast, bacteria, parasites, malabsorption from digestive imbalances, heavy metal toxins from vaccines or environmental exposures.
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