It’s All In Your Head

You’re Losing Your Mind!

Ever had symptoms that your doctor didn’t believe were real or truly present, or that he/she diagnosed as primarily neurological?

Ever been told that your intense pain, headaches, or fatigue are just hypersensitivity, angry neurons, or laziness?

Suffer no longer. There is an explanation for your “craziness”. And chances are, it involves your genetics.

My Story

In 2014, for my symptoms of two periods a month, significant weight loss, chronic fatigue, weakness, and faintness, I was told by an OB-GYN physician to go on the pill. That would fix all my problems.

An NP told me that I had hormonal imbalance (she was partially right, but that was not the root cause. Hormonal imbalance was just one of the symptoms).

Convinced that neither the pill nor other hormone therapy qualified as an optimal solution – and both sounded like bandages (harmful ones, no less) to my problems, I declined to take the pill or pursue hormone therapy, and instead focused on trying to heal myself of adrenal fatigue, which I suspected at the time was my main issue (again, this was part of the problem, but not exactly the root cause of my symptoms. The home remedies did help to an extent, though.).

Little did I know that I was being poisoned.

poison bottle

How My Job Destroyed My Health

For about two and a half years, I worked at a large retail company. Only recently (long after leaving) did I learn that this particular company was one of the worst places I could have worked (my current doctor said as much!).

According to my physician, certain retail stores and the mall are typically drenched in formaldehyde. So basically, I was slowly being killed each time I clocked in.

I remember that there were odd smells – probably from weird additives – emanating from the deli lunch meat that would pass through the checkout, and there was at least one cleaning powder we would use on the floor that would make me extremely sick (and since it was powder, it was pretty easy to breathe in).

The problem is, once I’m exposed to harmful chemicals and toxins, I have a very hard time detoxing from them, due to genetic mutations on the MTHFR and CBS genes.

After about nine months of working there, I had to take a leave of absence. I was frequently feeling dizzy and faint, and bleeding twice a month (and my “main” period was getting heavier, more painful, and longer). I was unable to properly function on the job.

I had no idea at the time what was happening.

No one did. Not even the multiple health professionals I visited (though one natural-solution-minded professional was able to recommend some supplements that were at least partially helpful).

After around 6-8 weeks of LOA, I returned to work, but I still didn’t feel completely well.

Around 1.5 years later, I left this workplace for a different job at a medical imaging facility, and experienced a considerable health improvement with this change.

But the poisoning from that prolonged exposure eventually caught up with me. Even the exposure to patients in poor health and to gluten-contaminated hospital food at my new workplace added to the pile of toxic overload.

And eventually – not long after leaving this workplace – I reached a point where I could barely function at all.

I had met my poison threshold.

The Science Behind “Neurological”, “Mental”, and Invisible Diseases

MTHFR. CBS. NBPF3. These are the names of just a few genes that are frequently implicated in modern day’s invisible and autoimmune diseases.

In this article, I will be focusing primarily on MTHFR and CBS. Learn more about pyroluria (gene NBPF3) here.


cute fluffy dog
Photo credit:

Are you allergic to everything? Plants, mold, pets, dust? Foods like tomato, spinach, oranges, and avocado?

If you answered “yes”, then you are likely an undermethylator.

This means you have at least one mutated allele on the MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) gene (it’s possible to have several mutated alleles – in different locations on this gene (MTHFR) alone. I have at least 13.)

MTHFR, when working properly, is responsible for the synthesis of the MTHFR compound – a methylation chemical that is responsible for detoxing the body. If part of your MTHFR code is mutated, however, your ability to create this chemical will likely be impaired. The tweaking of even one chemical in the entire MTHFR DNA sequence (say, guanine replaces adenine in one spot in the DNA code) will give you a mutation that could impair your ability to produce MTHFR by approximately 30%. If you got this DNA tweak from both parents though, your ability to create this chemical can be impaired by 70%.

What does this mean for your health? It means that, because you’re not making (or making enough of) the methyl donors (methylation compounds like MTHFR), your body will be extremely challenged to remove heavy metals, fluoride, other pollutants, and histamine from your body.

Histamine buildup means inflammation buildup.

I’m 24, and my doctor says my symptoms indicate that I have heart issues (even though I strive to maintain a pristine, non-toxic, highly-nutritious diet). Why, at age 24, when maintaining a healthy lifestyle, do I have heart issues?

The answer largely lies with MTHFR. Even the air I breathe (high-pollen) is enough to cause histamine (an inflammatory substance) to accumulate in my body. I cannot easily eliminate the histamine from my system, so that inflammation builds up and affects my heart.

Histamine is also a neurotransmitter, so when it accumulates, it can throw off the neurotransmitter balance in the brain and gut (which is the “big brain”). Depression and anxiety are frequently correlated with neurotransmitter imbalance.

Cleaners, heavy metals like aluminum and mercury (which my doctor found to still be significantly present in my system from immunizations that I had as a child), and poisoned water (rich in fluoride and heavy metals) all make me sick – more than they would someone who doesn’t have any MTHFR mutations.


CBS stands for cystathionine beta-synthase, an enzyme responsible for ensuring the proper processing of sulfur in the body.

When one has a mutation on the CBS gene, it is actually an upregulation, which means that the CBS enzyme works too fast, getting used up too quickly.

When there is not enough CBS enzyme left to process sulfur, high-sulfur foods and drugs are processed incorrectly, resulting in harmful byproducts. Compounds such as ammonia (not a sulfur compound, but highly caustic) are created, and the sulfur element itself often ends up as excess taurine (an amino acid) or sulfites (other toxic compounds).

The ammonia can make its way to the brain, burning neurons (brain cells). This causes brain fog. Another possible side effect of CBS mutations is itchy skin. When I stopped eating high-sulfur foods, this symptom improved significantly for me.

How I’m Recovering from Poisoning

I am avoiding shopping at most large retail stores and the mall. As long as I expose myself to extremely toxic environments, it will be very difficult for me to heal (my detox process is so slow that any small amount of toxic exposure could be enough to undo the work of several months). So I’m very careful what places I go.

I avoid foods that I know might have slightly higher amounts of mercury, like tuna fish or farmed fish. I avoid city water (too much fluoride [often] and heavy metals). I am fortunate to have access to well water, but if that weren’t the case, then I’d want to purchase a quality water filter.

I also have an air filter in my bedroom.

I threw away my few drycleaned items (which were likely cleaned with perchloroethylene (perc), a highly toxic compound).

Perc has been linked to:

  • an increased risk of bladder, esophageal, and cervical cancer
  • eye, nose, throat, and skin irritations
  • reduced fertility

Perc also breaks down into other harmful compounds in the ground, polluting groundwater and air.

Additionally, I am limiting my exposure to books (sadness 😦 …guess I’ll just have to become a Kindle person again), exposure to pollen (as this increases inflammation which can affect my heart), and most foods. I am only putting into my system things that I believe will aid more than harm (or, ideally, only aid) me in my recovery process. Except…when I mistake a problem food for a healthy one….

I am also taking up yoga, which has significantly improved my blood circulation and has helped me to relax and enjoy somewhat improved energy levels.

Meanwhile, I am working very hard to build an online business which I can maintain from home or take anywhere with me, so that I can be more free to cook healthy food, manage my circadian rhythm, and have less exposure to toxins as I attempt to repair my body (and encounter less toxic exposure long-term).

More Steps in My Recovery

A few months ago, I started seriously consuming bone broth every or nearly every day. I even took a three-day “bone broth fast”, where I consumed only bone broth, ghee, and licorice supplements (note: if you try this, be prepared to be out of commission for the duration of the fast).

After this fast, I noticed a slight improvement in my gut health. I was able to reintroduce some foods back into my diet.

bowl of pretty, dewy cherries
Photo by Michał Grosicki on Unsplash

To learn more about my health journey, check out my post When You Can Only Eat Five Foods.

Disclaimer: I am not a physician, just someone who’s read a lot on health, medicine, and home remedies, and conducted many personal health experiments. Please do not treat this information as medical advice. Consult your physician regarding any health concerns.


© 2017 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

14 thoughts on “It’s All In Your Head

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  7. A Chicken

    Damn, what a tough, daily struggle to endure. Best of luck with the online business. I think you should really look into DIY Soylent, although the extra effort would be required on your part to be diligent in checking the ingredient sources for tox risks. Still, my very first batch of Soylent I ever made took less than 24 hours from the moment I found out about Soylent and the moment I’d sourced all the ingredients and drank it for the first time. Glad to hear you removed yourself from the retail poison!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂 Sadly, I can’t do most/all of the DIY Soylent ingredients (coconut, canola, flax, whey, maltodextrin). Thanks for mentioning it though. 🙂


      1. A Chicken

        Awe 😦 that’s pretty tough. I was using olive oil for fats at one point early on, can’t remember if you’ve mentioned an aversion there. Really any oil mixture, ideally more than one you can mix together for a decent omega-6:omega-3 ratio. I suppose egg protein is out for you, as is soy. Rhinehart was trying pea protein and rice protein at one point IIRC though. Barring a carb source, maybe there are other possible routes to a keto mix that might work?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes! Olive oil is one type of fat I can do! 😀 Yeah, egg, soy, pea, and rice protein are all out, unfortunately. 😦 One keto-ish thing I’ve found that works besides olive oil is cacao butter. So I eat a ton of that. 😛


  8. Question. Are you compound heterozygous? Along with the itchy skin and brain fog, do you get severe dry eye? Ok thats two but its so seldom that I find someone that sounds so similar. My food intolerances aren’t as bad, but they’re still pretty restricted. Gluten, all dairy, all sugars (even natural ones in fruit and vegetables), fried foods (the oils get me). Its green and clean for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey hrozelle! I do have at least a mild-to-moderate case of dry eye (living in a semi-arid part of Colorado probably doesn’t help). Sounds like we do have a lot in common! I have homozygous mutations (most of them not well-studied) on several MTHFR loci. Homozygous for MTHFR A1298C (one of the more widely researched variants), but no mutations on C677T. Homo on CBS C699T and hetero on CBS A360A. Thanks for commenting, and please let me know if you have any more questions! 🙂


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