Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

COMT Gene Polymorphisms: A Common Problem

Dr. Andrew July 31, 2023

The first thing to realize is that COMT gene polymorphisms are very common. I tell my patients with COMT SNPs that they are in good company. This helps to defuse the toxic idea of having a “genetic” problem, and it is not far from the truth. We now know that 80 percent of the European and North American population has a SNP in the COMT V158M gene, which is the COMT gene that has been studied the most. A 2015 study published in Sleep Medicine Reviews highlighted the fact that 30 percent of people in this population are homozygous (+/+) and 50 percent are heterozygous (+/–) for the COMT V158M allele.2 Amazingly, the same research article also revealed that the COMT V158M polymorphism slows down the COMT system three to four times.2 If you slow something down in your body four times more than normal, you don’t have to be a scientist to know that it can impact your health.

Since the vast majority of people alive today have genetic imbalances in their stress metabolism pathway, we have to ask a few questions:

  • If 80 percent of everyone has a COMT gene imbalance, wouldn’t you expect that 80 percent of people would have “stress-mess symptoms” such as anxiety, panic, worry, and insomnia, which come from a slowed COMT pathway?
  • Wouldn’t it make sense that if 80 percent of the population has a slowed COMT pathway, that stress would cause the same symptoms in each person?
  • Don’t genes control your destiny? For example, if you have alterations in the way your body detoxifies stress hormones, are you not destined to be a “super stress-mess”?

By now, you should know that the answer to each of these questions is a resounding NO!

I love to tell my patients that just because they have a gene for something doesn’t mean it will be a problem. In fact, the environment inside the body is many times more important than your genes. Yet we cannot ignore that certain genes do influence how we feel. And without a doubt, the COMT gene has a massive influence on how we feel on a day-to-day basis.