Warrior or Worrier? The truth about COMT
Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is one of several enzymes that degrade catecholamines such as dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. In humans, catechol-O-methyltransferase protein is encoded by the COMT gene. COMT is mostly found in the peripheral nervous system, and less significantly found in the Central Nervous System, and found in the highest concentration in the liver.
There are 2 types of COMT expression, the warrior and the worrier.
Generally have a higher IQ
do better on tests
better toxin elimination
higher estrogen elimination
higher incidence of ADHD
Higher pain tolerance
Normal magnesium levels
Normalized B12 and folate levels
Slower estrogen elimination and estrogen dominance Lower pain tolerance
Increased probability of addiction and anorexia
PMS worse in females
Enhanced response to stimulants
Red face after exercise & Decreased Sweating
Lower Mg levels
Lower Intracellular b12 and folate
Prone to mood swings and mania
COMT is the enzyme that allows you to spare the “feel good hormones” dopamine and nor-epinephrine. If this enzyme is completely blocked mood swings and addiction can occur. Keeping the gut healthy with probiotics and a good diet assures proper conversion of the amino acids needed to manufacture quality neurotransmitters. Lots of antibiotics and processed food can impair digestion and create impairments in conversion and manufacturing.
One of the most important jobs that COMT has, is to degrade dopamine, in the brain, where it is broken down by MAO (monoamine oxidase). MAO is Another important snp/gene that encodes an enzyme partially responsible for the metabolism of several neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. The monoamine oxidase family of enzymes, metabolize monoamines (neurotransmitters and neuromodulators consisting of a single amine).
COMT is the enzyme that introduces a methyl group to the catecholamine, which is donated by S-adenosyl methionine (SAM). Any compound having a catechol structure, like catecholestrogens and catechol-containing flavonoids, are substrates of COMT. This is why individuals with a COMT mutation are considered estrogen sensitive and estrogen dominant.
By discussing and understanding the biochemistry and intricacies of the COMT enzyme we can begin to see the problems with it when individuals have missing or reduced functioning.
COMT mutations cause great difficulty with detoxing. COMT pathways toss out good and bad minerals indiscriminately leaving low level magnesium (among others), an essential mineral to uptake b12 properly. B12 levels can be supplemented with success using lithium orotate, please check with a provider about dosing. Supplementing with lithium to enhance transport may in fact cause a b12 deficiency if its not done properly.
Individuals with a COMT mutation are generally volatile susceptible to depression, mood disorders and issues with toxicity. This means be mindful of your stress and moods and put some supports in place during times of physical and emotional stress. Addiction is common with individuals carrying this SNP too, I highly recommend early and often discussions around drugs, alcohol and other addictive substances or behaviors.
COMT mutations can make people sensitive to phenols. Phenols are found in purple and red foods, such as strawberries and red grapes, these slow the function of the enzyme further. When the COMT enzyme slows there can be mood swings, insomnia or anxiety. Symptoms of people with phenol sensitivities are heat intolerant suffer from headaches and insomnia.
In a nutshell, individuals with COMT mutations require individualized, targeted treatment and should be addressed on all facets of wellness!