The Cutting Edge of Healthcare: Going Beyond Western Medicine and Traditional Holistic Healing...

The Cutting Edge of Healthcare: Going Beyond Western Medicine and Traditional Holistic Healing to Personalized Healthcare

By Beth O’Hara

 

We have entered a new era of healthcare with personal genetic data now easily and inexpensively accessible. (Currently, 23andme.com provides a home test kit for $99 and provides more genetic data than any other labs through their raw data report.)

Why is genetic data important?

Genetic data can provide extremely important information when dealing with chronic illnesses (like chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, diabetes, asthma, autism) autoimmune disorders (such as crohn’s, celiac, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus), neurotransmitter imbalances (contributing to conditions such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder) and even hormonal imbalances, infertility, cancers, allergies, aging, insomnia, and food intolerances.

One size does not fit all.

Most healthcare is currently based on a one size fits all model, even natural healthcare. Have a cold? Western medicine may prescribe an antibiotic (even though antibiotics do not work against viral infections) and natural medicine may offer a remedy consisting of elderberry, oregano, and/or garlic capsules. Whether or not certain drugs, supplements, and natural remedies are safe and effective for an individual is highly personal, though, and based both on genetics and one’s personal biochemistry.

What can genetic data tell you?

Human beings have 23 chromosomes, and on each chromosome there are thousands of gene pairs. Sometimes, there are errors in the DNA that are passed along to the next generation. Errors in the genetic code are called SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphism). A single mutation on one of the gene pairs is called a heterozygous SNP. A double mutation is called a homozygous SNP. Many SNPs cause no issues; however, SNPs on particular genes can significantly impair normal biochemical processes, leading to inflammatory conditions, chronic diseases, and disorders.

SNPs in genes involving the detoxification and methylations pathways can be particularly detrimental to health. Methylation is a critical process that governs gene expression, immune system regulation, neurotransmitter processing, DNA repair, and even affects energy production and detoxification.

Through your genetic data you can learn which medications are more likely to cause you side effects, how susceptible you may be to environmental toxins such as pollution, car exhaust, heavy metals, and pesticides, as well as whether you have greater risk for certain diseases.

Genetics is only one part of the puzzle.

Genetics and gene expression are both key components to health and wellness. Genetics are like the body’s blueprint. Gene expression can be likened to how the blueprint is interpreted. If there is an error in the blueprint, it may or may not be corrected by the builder. Gene expression is influenced heavily by environment, diet, nutrition, smoking, medications, supplements, chemical use, stress, meditation, and even intergenerational factors.

Gene expression is evaluated through an extensive look at symptoms, health history, family history, and lab results.

What is nutrigenomics?

Nutrigenomics is the field of the relationship between genetics, gene expression, and lifestyle factors that inform personalized diet, nutrient, supplement, and lifestyle recommendations for greater health and well-being. Be sure any nutrigenomics professional you work with understands how all these pieces come together.

Personally, I have been able heal from a severe inflammatory joint disorder, recover from depression and anxiety, improve insomnia, and reduce my food sensitivities through nutrigenomics.

Why isn't healthcare making better use of this information?

For one, genetics and nutrigenomics are highly specialized courses of study not yet covered in medical schools or alternative healing programs. This is cutting edge research, which requires a depth of knowledge to apply successfully, and unfortunately, not every practitioner who is using genetic data is doing so effectively.

How do you find a practitioner who is knowledgeable and experienced in this area?

First, whether the practitioner is a medical doctor, naturopath, nutritionist, or health coach, inquire about the practitioner’s background and study with nutrigenomics. Who has the practitioner studied with? How long was the course of study? How in-depth was the training?

Also, ask which genes the practitioner reviews. For chronic conditions, beware of panels of one to ten genes, which cannot give clear picture. For example, MTHFR has been a very popular gene in the past few years, yet this gene is only one component of a complex methylation process. MTHFR stands for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, and this gene codes for the enzyme that converts folic acid into the active form of folate the body can use. When there is a SNP on this gene, folic acid conversion may be impaired which can create a host of health issues.

Based solely on MTHFR genetic data, some practitioners will recommend methylfolate to their clients. This can backfire, though, if detoxification is impaired and if there are other inflammatory issues in the body. In these cases, adding methylfolate too soon may cause additional problems.

Genes interact and impact one another.

It is vitally important the practitioner take a comprehensive look at as many genes that interact with one another as possible and understand how and when to recommend supports based on a very complex picture. Personally, I look at over 300 genes at this time in my practice, and work with a proven pyramid of addressing concerns to support the body and to ensure the process is as comfortable and effective for the client as possible.

This is a very exciting time in healthcare.

There are many new options and treatments available today which can provide answers and accelerate healing because of the accessibility of inexpensive genetic testing. For many people with chronic illnesses and neurochemical imbalances, there is renewed hope. New avenues of treatment are available which have never been available before.

Still, it is a new and complex area, and as such, patients who take advantage of these new opportunities in health care need to ensure they choose a knowledgeable provider.

Want some help in taking the next steps and how to apply this information?

Contact Beth O'Hara to schedule a holistic health coaching session, focusing on nutrigenomics. Beth will inquire into your concerns and health issues, create a full report about your specific methylation and detoxification genetics, debrief all the information with you, support you with concrete steps and action plans to improve your health and well-being. 

Further Information

Checking under the hood – looking for root causes to health issues through gene testing

Listen to an interview with Beth O'Hara on Holistic Mental Health: Bedlam in America Interview

Author

Beth O’Hara is a Holistic Health Coach, Life Coach, Iyengar Yoga Teacher, and Certified Enneagram Teacher. She has been studying Nutrigenomics extensively for the past five years and has work with hundreds of clients to improve their health and well-being. Her listening skills, empathy and intuition make her a compassionate, effective and gifted coach and teacher. She is experienced in working with client's to transform areas that include health and wellness, relationships, self-understanding, self-esteem, and life balance.

You can contact her here for more information.

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