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Filtering by Tag: Undermethylation

What To Do When Emotions Block Our Methylation Pathways

Aisling FitzGibbon

Stuck Emotions block our Methylation Pathway.png


Although I use nutrition with my clients I have become aware of its limitations when it comes to healing the emotional body whose memories are lodged in our energy pathways. These memories can keep us in a state of high arousal and stress, thereby depleting the physical body of the necessary vitamins and minerals that aid the process of methylation. Methylation is the process that affects our ability to efficiently detoxify leaving us susceptible to impaired immunity, lower energy, cardiovascular problems, infertility, allergies and mood disorders.

Anyone who has ever felt nervous before an exam knows how the body responds to a perceived threat. Frenzied butterflies catapulting in the stomach, hands sweaty with increased heart rate and racing self -castigating thoughts of “why didn’t I do more beforehand.”

Before three of my driving tests my emotional body took over, even drove the car for me and actually failed the test on each occasion. My sense of logic and reason took a backseat while the emotional out of control me drove the testing route. Not a good idea. For all my body knew I could have been primed for battle with adrenaline and cortisol triggering the fight flight mechanism. I found myself having to sit in a car with the driving instructor (illegal to fight with driving test examiner) hoping he would say something, anything really to lessen my stress response. His impassive features instead prompted me to flee both from him and the car.  The reality is I stayed while stress hormones coursed through my body. That 30 minutes of test time, plus the hours spent worrying beforehand would have robbed my body of its precious B vitamins, Vitamin C, Magnesium and Zinc, all of which are needed for a healthy methylation cycle. The methylation cycle is necessary for our immune system, for healthy detoxification, energy production for to control our inflammatory response.

Any prolonged emotional state that either keeps us in high arousal or in a flat depressed state affects our mineral status and our ability to methylate properly.  All of our emotional experiences, both positive and negative are held in the cells of our body as a memory. Unless these memories are processed and released they stay lodged in our cells, leaving us susceptible to poor immunity, an impaired detoxification system and lowered energy. I have seen time and time again that unless clients work to clear their emotional body, their physical effort of working with diet and supplements is not enough to shift them from surviving to thriving.

Unprocessed emotions causes mental mind chatter- that internal dialogue that uses up our mineral reserves. This keeps the body in a hyper vigilant state with a subsequent loss of magnesium, our calming and life sustaining mineral. This magnesium loss can be devastating to the physical body as its depletion leads to a downward spiral of energy loss and an inability for the cell to cleanse itself of its daily toxicity. Dr Hans Selye divided our stress response into three stages mediated by the adrenal and thyroid glands, all of which can be gone through in minutes. This disturbs the methylation process as stress hormones knock out our mineral reserves.

The word emotion stands for energy in motion when feelings move through or are expressed in a healthy way. Energy flows along specific pathways called meridians that run though our body. If emotions are blocked and not released, they are stored in our cells, our tissues and our organs. Repressed unresolved emotional trauma leads to mind chatter that drains our energy system. Fear, in some instances, can arise from a preverbal state or can come from a person’s past from events that happened years earlier, even at birth.

When we hold tightness in our body we are holding onto resistance towards a specific situation/issue. This is how emotional pain and trauma can then take on a physical manifestation, a subject that has been written extensively about by Louise L. Hay. For example, she says that asthma is triggered by feeling stifled and by suppressed crying. Yet holding back tears leaves a person prone to anxiety, low immunity, impaired memory and poor digestion.

Trauma disconnects us from ourselves, from others and from our environment. In its wake, we may feel out of control, helpless and left unable to fully engage with our life experience. People who have been in abusive relationships, who have had to fend for their survival from an early age have learned to store that trauma in their bodies. Past trauma makes us hypervigilant to our surroundings, to perceived or imaginary threats, to emotions that overflow easily and to feeling on overdrive.

No matter where we come from or how our body manifests it we will hold onto trauma unless we are given the tools to help release it from our system. We need tools that will clear distorted emotions from the energy pathways. The Tools of Fragrance Alchemy help to release trauma and stress from our cellular memories. Working with the Fragrance Alchemy oils helps us to move beyond the fear, anger, shame, guilt and disappointment, enabling us to access the more positive emotions of love, trust, praise and gratitude.

Our emotional and physical health are inextricably linked. We all recognise how daunting it can be having to deliver a public speech- it can even double allergic reactions (blocked methylation) for up to two days afterwards. The emotion of praise on the other hand can in fact lower cholesterol according to a report in The Journal Human Communication. Research has shown that when people spent three 20- minute sessions per week writing about their loved ones, their cholesterol dropped within five weeks.

Fragrance Alchemy helps to release the emotions that are blocking the energy flow along the meridian pathways. Each of the meridians corresponds to a particular organ such as the lung meridian. This meridian pathway could be compromised with grief and sadness. When grief is stuck in the lung meridian it can lead to the feeling that nothing can ever change. Fear is held onto in the kidney meridian holding you in a fight or flight mode. Using the oils of Fragrance Alchemy, discovered by Almine from Spiritual Journeys, helps to clear the meridian pathway of distorted emotions and deep -rooted trauma. I have experienced both subtle and miraculous changes that have happened since using the oils both on myself and with my clients. I combine the use of Fragrance Alchemy in my Holistic Nutrition Practice as the perfect compliment to nutritional therapy.

Unprocessed emotions blocks the meridian pathway and our ability to efficiently methylate. Stuck trauma traps us in an over reactive and protective state where any change is regarded as stressful. This depletes our mineral and vitamin status. Scientists such as Martin Seligman, expert on Positive Psychology and author of Flourish are aware of the effects that positive emotions have on our physical body and how those emotions can affect our health. Sometimes no matter how much physical work we do on ourselves, we may not make the necessary gains we expect until we work on clearing the emotional body.

If you are interested in working with me, using the tools of Fragrance Alchemy combined with nutritional therapy then please get in touch and fill in my clarity application form. As an Occupational Therapist I help provide the necessary framework for scaffolded change that is practically adopted into your daily life helping you express your greatest self.  

Recommended Reading List 

Seligman M, Flourish; 2011, A New Understanding of Happiness and Well- Being and How to Achieve Them, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, New York 

Lipton, B,  2015, The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles, Hay House, UK

Hay, Louise, 1984, You Can Heal Your Life, Hay House, USA

My secret love affair with Harry Selfridge

Aisling FitzGibbon

It must have been the cold winter months when I normally cocoon in front of the fire that I was drawn into the seductive world of Harry Selfridge. His smouldering brown eyes lit by the twinkle of a rogue caused me to fall in love with this rebel of a man who changed forever the retail world. Yes I know he’s dead, well the real one is anyway, and I’m engaged but feelings are feelings. I blame Netflix. Who wouldn’t love Harry’s creativity, his energy, his utter self -belief? I was mesmerised by this colossus of a man who linked pleasure to shopping and who encouraged women to shop unchaperoned for the first time. Harry’s character, immortalised by the TV network series Selfridges has captured the imagination of the public (I’m not alone) who are left wondering how a man who once had it all could have ended up destitute at the end of his life. 

Maybe you know someone like Harry- incredible entrepreneurs who when things are going well make rash impulsive decisions and risks that negatively affect their business. What causes men like Harry to find themselves embroiled in destructive dalliances or who addict so much to work that their home life suffers? Is there an underlying biochemical issue that propels them away from the empires they create, causing them to risk it all?

Harry Selfridge was a man who was highly driven and motivated. He was also very competitive and wanted his emporium to be the best in the UK. Harry was what we would call a classic undermethylator, one who is driven by perfectionistic traits and a strong desire to succeed. Dr Bill Walsh, author of Nutrient Power,  found that 38% of people with depression were undermethylators and he also stated that there are plenty of people who are undermethylators who are not depressed but who are driven by their inner biochemistry to succeed at all costs. Harry Selfridge had a high libido (an undermethylators trait) as evidenced by his relationship with the Dolly sisters who cost him a considerable fortune by gambling 5 million pounds by today’s standards. It was reported that he once offered one of them 10 million dollars to marry him! A fit of madness you might think, but addicts care little for doing the sensible thing. At a time when he should have relaxed to enjoy the fruits of his labour Harry was rushing to clubs and casinos. His nickname of “a mile a minute Harry “ really suited him.

Addiction is fuelled in part by a biochemical craving for a dopamine hit. Scientists have looked at the link between lower levels of dopamine and ADHD. ADHD behaviour can cause impulsive behaviour and a tendency to acting first and thinking later. There can be lack of attention to detail. Low levels of dopamine are linked to high copper levels and low zinc. I would imagine that Harry Selfridge had lower dopamine levels that made him prone to take huge financial risks and gamble his fortune. He also did not attend to the fine print of his spending that soon went out of control.  

Our dopamine levels are drained by stress. Toxins of all kinds such as air fresheners, perfumes, cosmetics and  soap also decrease dopamine levels.  Dopamine is released in high amounts with sugar, alcohol, nicotine and gambling(2-10 times higher than normal) The greater the surge of dopamine the more you feel pleasure and the more driven you are to do it. This is what creates the addiction cycle. Unfortunately the dopamine receptors downregulate when over stimulated, leaving a person needed more and more outside stimulation. 

Dopamine is the celebrity of brain chemicals and one of its functions is the pleasure pathway. Unfortunately the dark side of pleasure is addiction. David Linden PHd, a neuroscience professor at John Hopkins School of Medicine and author of The Compass of Pleasure: How our Brains make Fatty food, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijauna, Generosity, Vodka, Learning and Gambling Feel so Good said that most people are able to achieve a certain degree of pleasure with only moderate indulgence but those with blunted dopamine systems are driven to overdo it. In order to get to the same set point of pleasure that others get so easily with two drinks at the bar and a laugh with friends they need 6 drinks at the bar to get to the same thing. Although drinking gives a temporary hit of dopamine overtime you can develop a progressive tolerance of alcohol. Alcohol depletes zinc and this starts a downward cycle of craving more alcohol.

Harry Selfridge who had clawed his way up from being a 14-year-old stockroom boy in Chicago to becoming an international retailer, eventually blew his 60 million fortune on reckless gambling, womanising and out of control spending. The sad thing about Harry is that he could never enjoy what he had as he was constantly leaping ahead to the next thing in the constant drive to needing more and more. Could he have been governed by his biochemistry that eventually had him ousted from the empire he had served to create? Did his quest for a dopamine hit lead him to take more and more risks? Did his undermethylation issues, that predisposed him to being highly motivated drive him eventually to addiction. 

I am lucky to be able to offer blood tests in my practice that test for methylation status and zinc levels. This takes away the guess work and provides a scientific baseline for clients to see where they are at and where they need to be. Depending on whether you are under or over methylated will determine your prescription for nutrients. I offer individualised plans that are tweaked on my weekly coaching programme.

If you want to work with me please fill in my clarity call application. 

Lady Gaga's Struggle with Depression

Aisling FitzGibbon


Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta once said she invented her Lady Gaga persona to help her battle against depression and anxiety. Positive measures to relieve depression, however well meaning, don't address the underlying biochemical imbalance. In 2013, following hip surgery, Lady Gaga's depression reared its ugly head and affected her sleeping and energy levels. Her resilience to deal with life and stand up to people diminished. At one point, she admitted “I really felt like dying – my light completely out”.

Lady Gaga admits to being helped by taking antidepressant medication which means that the type of depression she suffers from responds to antidepressants. According to Dr Bill Walsh, author of Nutrient Power, there are 5 biotypes of depression, two of which respond to SSRI medication. One of these biotypes is found in people who are undermethylated.

Methylation is involved in almost every reaction in our body and occurs billions of times every second in our cells. The methylation cycle is the name given to a biochemical pathway that contributes to a wide range of bodily functions such as detoxification, immune function, energy production, control of homocysteine levels, control of inflammation, cancer prevention, neurotransmitter balance and  membrane fluidity. Methylation helps to continuously repair our DNA.

Problems with methylation occur for many reasons including environmental toxins such as heavy metals, genetic inheritance, poor diet, alcohol, smoking, a high sugar diet, stress and emotional trauma.  Certain medications can also lead to undermethylation such as acid blockers, the contraceptive pill, Dilantin for seizures and methotrexate as they deplete the B vitamins needed for the methylation cycle.

When too few methyl molecules are available to add to enzymes, hormones and neurotransmitters as well as to DNA itself, undermethylation occurs. According to Dr Carl Pfeiffer those who are undermethylators tend to produce lower levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, melatonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, Conditions that can be associated with undermethylation are low energy, anaemia,  anxiety, depression and anorexia.  

Profiling Lady Gaga, I would take a guess that she is undermethylated as she has a history of high achievement, is highly motivated and creative. She also has allergies such as to honey, grass, cherries and vanilla which would indicate high histamine production. Elevated histamine results in undermethylation. Lady Gaga also has a history of cocaine usage- addictions are higher in those with undermethylation. She has admitted she has been addicted to various things since she was young.

Lady Gaga experienced sexual abuse when she was raped at the age of 19. As a result of this she experiences dissociation so her mind doesn’t relive her pain. The trauma of abuse can lead to undermethylation as the minerals we need for methylation such as magnesium and zinc are rapidly excreted from the body with stress. “When something traumatic happens, your brain disconnects so that it can handle it. But it stays in your tissues, physically in you” said Lady Gaga about the trauma she experienced. I agree with what she says as I believe that everything that happens to us imprints on a cellular level, with the result that trauma gets locked into the tissues, arresting the person in time. Issues literally get locked into the tissues of the body.

Working with clients using dietary healing and supplements begins to release the toxicity in the cells and normalises methylation status. Any issues locked into the tissues also begin to be eliminated. By changing the biochemistry, issues are released and come up to be resolved. I know from my own experience and from working with clients that once physical toxicity is released the emotional body becomes unstuck. It is always so fascinating to witness what really lies within.  

In September 2016, Lady Gaga admitted she was still taking medication to help her cope with depression. To open up her methylation pathways she will need to detox from any metals, including copper, increase her intake of magnesium, methionine, zinc, choline, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B6 and B12. Folic acid levels need to be monitored in those with undermethylation problems as they tend to develop excessive levels of folates. This can worsen depression.

If Lady Gaga is thinking of having children in the future, she is best advised to check her methylation status now as the next generation can be affected.  If both parents are undermethylated prior to conception, there is a risk of autism in the next generation. Undermethylation in the womb causes overexpression of several genes, weakened protection against oxidative stress and increased vulnerability to environmental insults. Undermethylation in the womb is a major factor in brain development and epigenetic errors.

If Lady Gaga finds that she is undermethylated, she will need to check her folate status. Folate is needed for the prevention of neural tube defects but it can have side effects for both mother and baby is one or both are undermethylated. It is only needed in the first trimester of pregnancy as this is when the brain is fully formed. Children with autism are mostly undermethylated.

I work with clients who are keen to work on their health status before conception to give them the best possible chance to have a healthy baby. The blood tests that I use (Dr Bill Walsh protocol) checks methylation status, deficiencies and toxicity of certain minerals and metals. If you are interested in working with me please fill out my clarity application form.