There are the have and the have-nots. Amongst our many genes is the one that will determine our determination. It is called COMT (Catechol-Oxygen-Methyl-Transferase). With todays medical technology we and many other physicians routinely preform this insurance paid for test from a DNA cell sample with a swab from inside of the cheek.
Improved working memory, executive function and higher IQ are governed on whether there is mutation of the COMT gene. It controls hormone levels, pain sensitivity, toxin elimination, anxiety, mood swings and dozens of drugs. The COMT neurotransmitters are dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine and cancer causing hormones and levels could be four-fold higher in those that have compared to people that do not have not this genetic mutation.
Amongst other duties this gene carries the assembly code for an enzyme that clears dopamine from the prefrontal cortex. That is the part of the brain is where we plan, make decisions, anticipate future consequences and resolve conflicts. Dopamine changes the firing rate of these neurons, speeding up that function of our brain. The brains work best when dopamine is maintained at an optimal level-not too much, or too little. By removing dopamine, the COMT enzyme regulates neural activity and maintains the status quo mental function.
There are two variants of the gene. One variant builds enzymes that slowly remove dopamine. The other variant builds enzymes that rapidly clear dopamine. We all carry the genes for one or the other, or a combination of the two.
In lab experiments, people have been given a variety of cognitive tasks such as computerized puzzles and games, portions of I.Q. tests etc. The researchers have consistently found that, under normal conditions, those with slow-acting enzymes have a cognitive advantage. They have superior executive function and all it entails. They can reason, solve problems, orchestrate complex thought and better foresee consequences. They can concentrate better. This advantage appears to increase with the number of years of education. The brains of the people with the other variant, meanwhile, are comparatively easygoing. The fast-acting enzymes remove too much dopamine, so the overall level is too low.
It seems that having slow-acting enzymes sounds better, but there is a trade-off, to these slow enzymes in how they handle stress. In the absence of stress, there definitely is a cognitive advantage. However under stress, the benefit goes away and makes these events worse.
Stress floods the prefrontal cortex with dopamine. A hit of dopamine is normally a good thing, but a surge brought on by continued stress is an adversity for people with the slow-acting enzyme. They cannot remove dopamine fast enough and it backfires causing anxiety.
A study of Beijing schoolchildren calculated the advantage to be 10 I.Q. points. But outside the security of the lab environment the cognitive advantages disappeared. The I.Q. advantage dissipated under stress and their performance declined. The students with the slow-acting enzymes decreased by 8 percent than those with the fast-acting enzymes.
The ‘Warriors’, a The New York Times Magazine article on the subject referred to as the natural type. They only focus when stimulated, as in battle. The others who had too much dopamine, were the ‘Worriers’. Continuous focus under high stress caused them to function poorly. Worriers get better grades but Warriors do better on tests. Some anxiety during tests means better results.
The Worriers with too much of these neurotransmitters are more prone also to have ADHD, aggression, gambling, alcoholism and insomnia. Due to higher estrogen in female Worriers, premenstrual syndrome, migraines, carbohydrate craving, breast soreness, heavy periods and cramping worsens. In both men and women panic states, irritability, obsessive-compulsiveness, phobias, and sleep disturbance are more common. Increased sensitivity to pain and but not response to narcotic pain medicine are also characteristic. With less stimulation, Warriors have a harder time getting work done. Warriors can improve productivity and school performance without prescription medicine.
Other gene mutations add insult to injury by making one prone for autoimmune disorders, Tourette’s syndrome, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and fibromyalgia. Moreover, response to stimulants, including caffeine and Ritalin, is magnified.
Nutrition, exercise, herbs and drugs can neutralize these symptoms and protect against hormone-related disease.
In our genetic panels are we also assess the response to pain meds (OPRM 1) and the detoxifying gene, MTHFR.
and treat mutations with activated folate (MTHF). For Worrier’s, we recommend nighttime magnesium and GABA In the morning super B complex containing methycobalamine, L-5MTHF, and pyridoxine- 5 phosphate. Detoxification strategies of sweating, fasting, infrared sauna, and liver support such as Milk Thistle, reduce risk and improve quality of life. Modulating estrogen can eliminate PMS.
Mutations of MTHFR and Worrier COMT added to mercury amalgams and vitamin D deficiency add to the recipe for autoimmune, heart, and psychiatric disorders, neuropathies, diabetes, and thyroid and kidney failure. COMT, OPRM 1, and MTHF assessment with natural remedies rather than the weight-promoting, sex-inhibiting anti-anxiety antidepressants, and narcotics are less expensive and safer.