As an environmental illness sufferer myself and someone who is in the final stages of clinical training to become a Nutritional Therapist having obtained a bachelor's degree in nutritional health, I have become interested in genetic testing.
In the past genetic testing of any kind has been extremely expensive and has tradtitionally looked only for genes that identify hereditary diseases. Now however there are commercially available tests that many naturopathic doctors and other functional medicine-orientated health care practitioners are utilising to better help patients with environmental illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), as well as those with chronic unexplained ill-health but no diagnosis.
Such testing allows for the detection of single nucleotide polymorphyisms (SNPs - pronounced "snips"), small sections of genetic code that determine, for example, the efficiency with which an individual can neutralise and excrete toxins or synthesise neurotransmitters by affecting the functioning of various enzymes and other chemicals.
This information for the first time allows health care practitioners and patients to modify environmental factors such as diet and tailor treatment programs to take genetic predispositions and weaknesses into account. This could potentially improve the success of interventions as rather than using a "one size fits all" protocol for each patient or diagnosis, an individual can be treated as just that, a unique individual.
Most who are suffering, or who have suffered from, an environmental illness, whether ME/CFS, MCS, or gut issues such as Candida overgrowth will attest to the fact that treatments that have worked for others have not helped them, and vice versa. This is because these illnesses are not the result of a single inherited gene (or a few genes), or an infection, poisoning, or other environmental exposure - these illnesses are the result of a complex interplay between genetic susceptibilities and a variety of environmental exposures accrued during life (and even before birth).
It is my hope that profiling of SNPs controlling metabolic processes known to be dysfunctional in environmental illnesses (and those that become apparent in the future) will help many sufferers regain a better level of health more quickly than has been possible thus far.
Genova Diagnostics have pioneered commercial genetic testing with their Genovations tests. Those likely to be of most help in determining factors underlying environmental illnesses in individual sufferers are the:
- DetoxiGenomic Profile
- ImmunoGenomic Profile
- Comprehensive Inflammation Profile
- NeuroGenomic Profile
Some of these profiles overlap in the SNPs they look for so history, symptoms and previous test results will no doubt help to determine which would be the most appropriate in your particular situation.
I will be adding review pages for each of the above profiles with detailed descriptions of what they test for and what results might indicate and I will link to them from this blog post as I do so (you can also learn more at www.genovadiagnostics.com or ask your health care practitioner).
It would be great to hear from anyone who has had any of these tests and your experiences with them. Please leave comments below as always!
About: Matthew Hogg ("Maff")
Diagnosed with M.E./chronic fatigue syndrome aged only 11 years old and subsequently associated illnesses including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). Despite his own struggles he has constantly sought to educate and support others suffering from such "invisible illnesses" through his website, The Environmental Illness Resource. He fully recovered from MCS using his own approach and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutritional Health.