Have you ever wondered why some people are more sensitive to stress while others handle it easily? The answer might lie in a gene called COMT. COMT, short for catechol-O-methyltransferase, is a gene that plays a crucial role in regulating stress response and dopamine levels in our brains. In this blog post, we'll explore what it means to have a slow COMT gene and discuss effective strategies to navigate its effects.
What does it mean to be a COMT Warrior or Worrier? Is a warrior better than a worrier in handling stress? All your questions about the COMT gene are answered in the video below.
What Is The COMT Gene?
Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is an enzyme that regulates the breakdown of catechols.
Catechols include dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine, and estrogen metabolites.
The COMT gene helps the body in making this enzyme.
COMT gene has 3 different forms, each of which influences an individual’s stress responses.
People with a fast COMT pathway tend to be less sensitive to external environments and experience less stress.
On the other hand, people with a slow COMT pathway tend to experience more anxiety and are more sensitive to traumatic events.
Those with the intermediary pathway fall between the above two categories with respect to stress response
The COMT gene provides instructions for the functioning of the COMT enzyme.
The COMT enzyme breaks down brain chemicals called catecholamine neurotransmitters.
They include dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine.
The slow variant of this gene has been associated with anxiety and mood disorders.
Types of COMT Gene
The COMT gene produces two types of COMT enzymes.
The membrane-bound COMT enzyme (MB COMT) is produced by the brain's nerve cells.
It is the more extended version of the COMT enzyme.
The COMT gene has another shorter version of this enzyme, called soluble COMT or S-COMT.
This enzyme is produced by kidney, liver, and blood cells.
The COMT Genotypes
There are 3 variants of the COMT gene.
|Genotype||Amino acid||Enzyme activity||Stress response|
It is important to note that even though the AA variant of COMT is associated with poor stress response, it also provides an advantage in memory and attention tasks.
COMT: Warrior vs. Worrier (R)
|Warrior||GG ; Val/Val||lower pain threshold, enhanced vulnerability to stress, yet also more efficient at processing information under most conditions|
|Worrier||AA ; Met/Met||higher pain threshold, better stress resiliency, albeit with a modest reduction in executive cognition performance under most conditions|
What Is The Slow COMT Gene?
The worrier variant is also called the slow COMT gene since it results in the slow breakdown of dopamine and other catecholamines.
When you have this variant, your body has difficulty removing catechols from the system.
As a result, you are more sensitive to stress and more prone to anxiety.
Who Has Slow COMT Gene?
About 20-30 % of Caucasians of European ancestry have the slow COMT gene.
It limits the body's ability to remove catechols.
It directly affects stress reactivity, health, and well-being of a person.
Symptoms of Slow COMT Gene
No set of symptoms can conclusively tell that you have a slow COMT gene. Only genetic tests can reveal this information.
However, there are certain symptoms that are characteristic of a slow COMT gene. They include:
- Higher sensitivity to stress and traumatic events
- Blood sugar imbalance
- Weight management issues
- Daytime sleepiness
- Enhanced memory
- Better cognitive function
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How To Deal With Slow COMT Gene?
COMT is a methylation gene
DNA methylation is a biochemical process required for normal development. Several B vitamins play an important role in DNA methylation.
- It is advisable to get adequate amounts of vitamin B2, B6, B9, and B12, and also magnesium.
- High-protein foods that contain amino acids such as tryptophan and phenylalanine are best avoided.
The COMT gene processes catechols
A slow COMT gene may have difficulty removing them from the system as they trigger catechol release.
- Limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption is advisable, as they can lead to excess catechol release.
- Excess estrogen can slow down the catechol gene. Thus, foods such as soy products and bath products that contain paraben should be avoided.
- Exercise increases catechols in the blood. Limiting strenuous exercise is vital to managing a slow COMT gene.
- Fasting can also increase catechols in the blood. Thus it is important to eat regularly and manage blood sugar levels.
- A slow COMT gene limits the body's ability to remove stress hormones naturally. Therefore, stress responses feel longer and more severe. It is important to practice stress reduction techniques.
**Please consult a qualified specialist before making any significant changes to your diet. The content above is for informational purposes only and doesn’t substitute for medical advice.
COMT Gene Testing
If you have done an ancestry genetic test with companies like 23andMe, AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, etc., you can learn your COMT gene status in just 3 steps.
- Download your DNA raw data from your service provider
- Add the “Traits and Personality” report to your cart (or the Xcode Life Genome Pack for a 70% discount)
- Upload your raw data and receive your results within 24 hours.
In your report, look at the “Warrior Personality” and “Worrier Personality” sections in your report.
The COMT gene plays an essential role in our health and well-being. It regulates the COMT enzyme, which removes catechols from the body.
This gene can have 3 variants: a slow variant, an intermediate variant, and a fast variant.
Having the slow variant means that your body has a hard time removing catechols. It might make you more sensitive to stress and traumatic events and predisposed to depression.
Cutting out certain protein-rich foods from your diet might help deal with a slow COMT gene.
Practicing stress reduction techniques helps deal with stress.