by Bea Garth, copyright 2018
I have been reading Dr. Ben Lynch’s new book called DIRTY GENES. It is helping me put the missing pieces into the puzzle for some of my most plaguing health issues. The study of Methylation, genetic snps and epi-genetics has finally started to progress to where it can help many people struggling with underlying health problems. By figuring out what genetic snyps one has, it becomes easier to learn how to avoid possible pitfalls.
It appears that in my case, my CBS snyp (along with my COMT/ plus NOS/DAO/MTHFR etc. snyps) has been causing me no end of trouble by creating too much toxic ammonia in my system. The high thiol sulfur set off severe urinary tract system difficulties when I was a young adult in part due to a reaction to silver amalgam fillings and radiation exposure as an infant. Plus more recently the high thiol foods and supplements have been creating problems for me with such things as sleep, skin, collagen issues and nerve degeneration due to my continued toxicity.
I have a friend whom I have been helping given I have more understanding about health issues than he does. He is being similarly helped by this new diet even though his epi-genetics and symptoms have presented themselves differently than mine. For him his most disturbing symptom has been the development of intestinal microbes he just has not been able to get rid of. They have caused him great pain in his gut as well as chronic insomnia, severe brain fog and frequent intense joint pain to such an extent he sometimes can hardly walk.
Although he does not cover the CBS genetic snp in his book, Dr. Lynch’s clear explanation of the methylation process and how the snyps inter-relate with each other (and epi-genetics) has enabled me to make much better sense of it all. As a result, I have finally put my finger on what has been causing me (and my friend) so much trouble with so many foods.
As it turns out, if the CBS snp becomes stressed, it can make one sensitive to high thiol sulfur which then turns into toxic ammonia given the body’s inability to methylate it properly. That in combination with a couple of my stressed COMT genes (and those of my friend) makes a very difficult stew, so to speak.
And yes my epi-genetics have been stressed, I’ll say. Both due to getting severely sick as a small infant (my older brother says from six months to a year) due to the secret Hanford Radiation experiment in December 1949 called The Green Run (they release between 8000 and 12,000 curies of radioactive iodine as well as other toxic radioactive materials into the atmosphere along the Columbia River). Plus exposure to umpteen toxic materials repairing old houses for my family business for over twenty years. My friend too has suffered from working on old houses, both those of my family as well as others when he was working as a carpenter and painter.
The last few years both my health and that of my friend’s has gradually been going down hill despite my (and our doctors’) best efforts to help both of us. But now finally with this new knowledge about the CBS snp and others such as COMT, DAO, NOS and MTHFR, both he and I are starting to feel so much better it amazes me–simply by going on a low thiol diet! Over time I am hopeful that many of our symptoms will finally resolve by following what we are learning from our snyps and supporting our epi-genetics through diet, exercise, meditation and whatever methods we can use to help keep detoxified.
It makes sense that high thiols creating toxic ammonia have been a scourge for me. I lost the use of half my right kidney when I was 23 years old after all. Despite my doctors (who wanted me to be on antibiotics the rest of what would have been a very short life), I went off the antibiotics anyway. I was getting rashes, large welts and ringing ears along with brain fog from almost all of the antibiotics, including sulfa drugs (this last is a clue towards one having high thiol sulfur sensitivity).
My grandmother suggested I might be sensitive to various foods, the worst possibly being citrus fruit. I soon discovered she was right. Eventually, through extensive trial and error, I figured out I am very sensitive to the wheat family and most milk products, although I kept eating yogurt for years. It was suggested I was sensitive to fructose but, as it turns out, that was not correct. Instead I eventually discovered I am very sensitive to high histamine foods, which includes a lot of fruit, and to any fruit that is over-ripe. In addition I found I am very reactive to any foods that are red or purple. One nice thing that I have discovered almost immediately after going on a low thiol diet is that it is now OK for me to eat yellow and green apples. Previously if I ate an apple it helped contribute to keeping me wide awake at night.
According to Dr. Andy Cutler (see link at bottom of list below), there is a big connection to needing to eat a low thiol-sulfur diet if one suffers from a mercury overload from dental amalgams. Certainly in my case I did not do well at all with silver mercury amalgams — they gave me gum-boils as a child and continued to cause ringing in my ears and gave me a metallic taste in my mouth as an adult. No doubt this mercury toxicity underlay my developing kidney disease when I was 23. Even by age 13, I had developed severe bladder problems when I was on the basketball team. I finally had the amalgams slowly removed when I was almost 40–which helped quite a lot, but did not resolve all of my health issues. As usual, I continued detoxing using herbs such as dandelion root and much later added in bentonite clay. I eventually got rid of the mercury, however I still continued to have problems particularly as I aged, although its true my work renovating old houses did not help given the toxicity of many of the old and new building materials. Plus my constant need for detoxification due to producing excess ammonia from my diet.
Again, for my friend, his health plummeted after he got a mouth full of silver amalgam fillings topped with metal caps when he was in his early 40’s. After that, his job continuing to work on old houses (sometimes involving removing toxic materials plus painting) did not help. Although he had his amalgams removed over 10 years ago, he continued to have problems. In his case, he has two homozygous CBS genes, so he has been even more severely affected than I have been to toxins. It is no wonder he started having problems with his prostate and at times found it difficult to walk or even think due to all the excess ammonia. He was able to heal in part through the use of acupuncture, Chinese herbs and diet, but he continued to be very weak. It is only now he is starting to feel less pain in his gut by changing his diet to low thiol foods. Already he is starting to sleep a little better. Hopefully in time his debilitating brain fog will also lift. Clearly he is still sensitive to the left over mercury in his system which, while not high, is not low either.
My feeling is that once the CBS gene mutation has been turned on by something like toxic mercury, one has to continue to support it through diet and some method of detoxing, even after the mercury or other toxins have been removed. The fact is that with a CBS gene in the mix, and the continuation of eating high thiol foods, ammonia is creating its own havoc, often supported by toxic biofilms as is especially the case for my friend.
The truth is, I had skirted around this thiol sensitivity without really knowing what it was. I figured my health issues must be both environmental and genetic, but honestly I did not know what exactly was causing it or what to do about it. My reactions to many of the high sulfur foods was not clearly obvious since the symptoms from them were more insidious, in part covered up by my taking various detox herbs since my early twenties (to keep my kidneys and liver clear), as well as my severe reaction to foods that did not seem to relate to each other like gluten, nuts, citrus and milk not to speak of my idiosyncratic sensitivity to red and purple foods. Although I knew I shouldn’t eat a lot of chard for instance in order to avoid the scourge of developing kidney stones, I continued to eat fairly high thiol dark green vegetables. (Ironically, chard is one of the less high thiol sulfur greens.)
Despite all the healing I had already done, I was gradually going under. Since my mother’s death and my move with my husband up north to Washington, my insomnia and itching got way worse. I went around feeling partly like a zombie. It was hard to figure out, but I finally realized that eggs and other high sulfur foods such as garlic, onions, broccoli and cabbage were making it nearly impossible for me to sleep. However I was still eating kale and occasionally bok choi. And a host of other high thiol foods I shouldn’t have been eating like buckwheat. I was getting weaker and weaker, not to speak of the embarrassment of having weird hours due to my inability to sleep on any kind of regular schedule. I also have had to resort to wearing dresses and skirts rather than wearing pants due to the severe itching.
What a roller coaster this has been!!
Now on low thiol foods plus of course continuing to eat fairly low histamine foods with no gluten or milk products etc., both my friend and I are starting to sleep better at night plus we are starting to feel more energetic and clear. And yes we just had another a big discovery for my friend. It was his snyps that gave us the clue since he has a homozygous DAO snp (whereas my DAO snyp turns out to only be heterozygous, ie. just from one parent). It turns out he needs to avoid high histamine foods, the very opposite of what we thought! The histamine sensitivity just didn’t give him the headaches it gives to both my husband and me. Instead it shows itself in other symptoms like the insomnia and aching joints. Clearly it is acting together in lockstep with the CBS snyps.
Both my friend and I likely still have more healing to do, however it seems clear that our various symptoms are starting to lessen as we continue on this healing path. No doubt I will need to look at some of the other snyps that might also be bothering both my friend and me. But all in all, I am very happy we are finally beginning to get our lives back at last! Though it, of course, has been a humbling experience for me to have these realizations take so long despite all my herbal and dietary studies.
Dr. Ben Lynch offers this key advice in his book: it is important for most of us to eat a bit of carbohydrate, protein and fat with each meal in order to support and not stress things out like serotonin and dopamine–especially important for someone like me and my friend who have COMT snyps too. Fruit and vegetables also continue to be very important, though my friend and I have to make sure they are low histamine overall, and low thiol sulfur — and for me, not red or purple. Eventually as we heal more, from what I read, we should be able to add in some medium thiol foods as long as we continue to detox effectively.
And yes I am discovering too we need to be careful regarding supplements since a lot of them are high thiol, or are thiol inducing such as MSM, epsom salt baths, NAC, milk thistle and turmeric.
In case you want to learn more about CBS and low thiol foods plus COMT, here are some good links below that you can check out. The last one of which lists foods that are both high and low thiol. It has a discussion by Andy Cutler on how mercury often initiates a reaction to high thiol foods: