I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome and also suffer from migraines, and my husband and I have been talking about trying to conceive. It seems both IBS and migraines are associated with a common gene mutation known as an MTHFR mutation, and that a string of other health conditions are also associated with this same gene mutation.
This has led me to wonder if I should be tested for this gene mutation. I would like to know more about who is at risk of an MTHFR mutation, and what the best time would be to take such a test.
Hope you can help!
I don't think you should just assume that an MTHFR mutation has anything to do with your irritable bowel syndrome or migraines. I know some sources say as many as 50% of the population has these mutations, but not that many people have IBS or any of the other things supposedly associated with MTHFR. It's nice to think there is a simple answer to a chronic condition, but the truth is there often isn't.
The best time to get an MTHFR test is if your doctor recommends one to you, and only then. Don't just go order one for yourself, you'll just be wasting money.
I really don't know much about this, but I did spend some time reading up on MTFR mutations. When it's mentioned that up to 50 percent of people could have an MTHFR mutation, you should keep in mind that not all MTHFR mutations are the same. Some allow for the processing of folate quite well, just a little less effectively than people without MTHFR mutations. In this case, knowing about having one is not so important because it doesn't cause you much harm at all.
Even people who think they are seeing health issues that may be related to MTHFR mutations may not need an MTHFR test. More efficient is just getting your homocysteine levels checked. This gives enough information to determine whether you need an MTHFR test or not, and will save money.
While those conditions absolutely s*ck, even more in combination than on their own, you shouldn't necessarily assume that if both conditions are (reportedly!) linked to MTHFR mutations, that you have such a mutation and that this is the cause of the problem.
The Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (NIH) doesn't mention either IBS or migraines as being related to MTHFR, so I would not assume that you need a test for these mutations. If you do want to find out at any cost, I second the last poster and say you should ask your doc for a homocysteine levels test, as this is simply a lot cheaper.
You know, while the exact causes of migraine are not clear yet, more research is being done in this area, and yep, you bet that there is some evidence that MTHFR mutations can be related to migraines as well. There is an Italian study that showed that people with migraines with an aura are more likely to be affected by C677T mutations, to name one example. There is a Russian study that found the same thing.
I do agree that you may not need the MTHFR test and homocysteine levels could give you a lot of insights here.
As for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, I have absolutely heard that inflammatory bowel diseases can be related to MTHFR mutations. This is pretty mainstream info, I think.
The fact is that most people find out they have an MTHFR mutation exactly because they are experiencing symptoms, look into the background of those on the internet, and this leads them to the idea that MTHFR mutations could be related. Nobody engages in expensive genetic tests for the heck of it! And mostly, doctors do not point their patients in this direction either. That does not mean it could not be a possible answer, however.
Watch out, as, although MTHFR mutations are definitely legitimate, there's a whole bunch of quacks out there who can literally not wait to make some money off your current confusion about the mutation. These are naturopaths and even complete lay people who have no medical training of any kind, who are happy to start recommending you all sorts of supplements and diets even though you may not even have an MTHFR mutation. This mutation, in its serious form, is far rarer than most people would have you believe at the moment. This is a fad and it too will pass.
This thread hasn't offered me any clarity about whether or not I should take the test! I understand that you can't tell who has an MTHFR mutation and who doesn't. That is what the test is for, after all. But who should get the test, what medical conditions indicate that you are a good candidate to look into this further and get the MTHFR test?
With so much conflicting info out there (some saying nearly everything can be related to MTHFR and others saying almost nothing is), it is really confusing for a person to decide what to do next.
Dr Charis Eng from the Genomic Medicine Institute, a reputable source if there ever was one, I'd argue, plainly describes the MTHFR test as a "genetic test you don't need". That counts for something, in my book at least.
She says that it's not the results of an MTHFR test that should dictate the rest of your healthcare, but rather the results of a much simpler test, namely one that looks into homocysteine levels. Several of us have already mentioned this.
If you do have high homocysteine levels, as Dr Eng says, you'll generally do well with supplementation in B12, B6, and folate. She also seems to imply, in a very polite way, that most of the things that people say are related to MTHFR mutations simply aren't. Look it up.
I understand you want answers, I really do! You just probably won't find them in MTHFR mutations.