Epigenetics and Mental Illness

Research has shown that epigenetics play a crucial role in schizophrenia susceptibility. (Over 4500 abnormally methylated sites have been identified in the prefrontal cortex of schizophrenia patients. Recently, seven regions were found to be consistently differentially methylated in schizophrenia, despite considerable heterogeneity in the methylation profiles generally of patients with schizophrenia. The regions were near CERS3, DPPA5, PRDM9, DDX43, REC8, LY6G5C and a region on chromosome 10. Of particular interest was PRDM9 because it encodes a histone methyltransferase that is essential for meiotic recombination and is known to tag genes for epigenetic transcriptional activation.  The researchers concluded that these 7 key areas of abnormal methylation in the brain are likely key causes of schizophrenia.[1]

This is epigenetics in action! People are born with a predisposition, then an environmental trigger such as severe oxidative stress causes an epigenetic change which throws the entire system into disharmony.

One carbon metabolism (methylation) is required for the production of serotonin as well as for other monoamine neurotransmitters and catecholamines. Several studies have studied the role of Methylation, Homocysteine and B Vitamins in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).[2] Significantly lower levels of B12 (and vitamin D) and higher Homocysteine have been found in with OCD.  This demonstrates that methylation and monoamine metabolism can play a role in the aetiology of OCD. Genome-wide DNA methylation analysis demonstrated that 2,190 unique genes were found to be differentially methylated between OCD and healthy control subjects. These results strongly suggest that differential DNA methylation plays an important role in causing OCD.

The right nutrients for the right person can make profound epigenetic changes

A recent study found daily blueberry consumption lead to differential expression (>1.2-fold) of 608 genes and 3 microRNAs, with Mir-181c undergoing a 13-fold increase in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. This means certain nutrients directly influence our immune system and genetic expression! Patterns of 13 blueberry metabolites were independent predictors of gene expression changes and significantly modulated biological processes involved in cell adhesion, migration, immune response, and cell differentiation.[3]

Impressively, micronutrient therapy has even found to be effective in the reduction of aggressive and violent behaviours in male children and adolescents in a 16 week trial.[4]

You Need Our Precision Approach

We can change a person’s epigenetic expression using the right targeted nutritional treatment, thereby improving their mental health.

Though as Dr.Walsh says: “After clinical experience with thousands of mental health patients, I was surprised to learn that nutrient overloads usually cause more mischief than deficiencies. This explains why most multivitamin/mineral products are ineffective for mentally ill patients and can cause more harm than good. Patients with an overload of copper, methionine, folic acid or iron are likely to deteriorate if they take supplements containing these nutrients. In most cases, mentally ill persons cannot become well using a special diet or indiscriminately stuffing themselves with amino acids, vitamins and minerals.

“The challenge is to carefully identify the specific nutrient overloads and deficiencies possessed by an individual and to provide treatments that normalise blood and brain levels of these chemicals with rifle-shot precision. This is the essence of biochemical therapy.” (Nutrient Power: Heal your biochemistry and heal your brain”, William Walsh, PhD)

"The Role of Methylation and Epigenetics in Brain Disorders" presented by William J. Walsh, PhD


[1] LF Wockner, CP Morris, EP Noble, BR Lawford, VLJ Whitehall, RM Young and J Voisey, Brain-specific epigenetic markers of schizophrenia, Translational Psychiatry (2015) 5, e680; doi:10.1038/tp.2015.177; Transl Psychiatry (2015) 5, e680; doi:10.1038/tp.2015.177

[2] Psychiatry Res. 2017 Aug;254:232-237. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2017.04.032. Epub 2017 Apr 21.

[3] A. Rodriguez-Mateos, G. Istas, L.Boschek, RP Feliciano, C E Mills, Céline Boby, S Gomez-Alonso, D Milenkovic, C Heiss, Circulating anthocyanin metabolites mediate vascular benefits of blueberries: insights from randomized controlled trials, metabolomics, and nutrigenomics, The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, glz047, https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glz047

[4] Hambly JL , Francis K , Khan S , Gibbons KS , Walsh WJ , Lambert B , Testa C , Haywood A . , J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2017 Nov;27(9):823-832. doi: 10.1089/cap.2016.0199. Epub 2017 May 8., Micronutrient Therapy for Violent and Aggressive Male Youth: An Open-Label Trial.