Personalized Medicine: Addressing Our Genetic Variations

Posted on 15 May 2017

By Dr. Denise Cooluris, ND

Ever notice that certain characteristics tend to ‘run in the family’? Sleep problems – are they the same as your mother, brother, and aunt? A family’s grandmother, father, and son all showing signs of a mood disorder or addiction pattern? All the women seem to have similar hormonal patterns?

Always having paradoxical reactions to medications? Seems as though you are sensitive to everything? Is there a missing piece in your chronic illness puzzle?

Why is it that your friend can have a cup of coffee after dinner and go right to sleep, where you would be awake for days?

Once you start thinking it through, it’s hard not to suspect a genetic link in some of these scenarios, and there certainly is. Our genes determine how our bodies interact with the outside world, as well as our own internal environment. Your genetic composition influences whether you are a ‘warrior’ or a ‘worrier’, how you metabolize your hormones and neurotransmitters, the influence that medications and chemicals may have in your system, and the health conditions you may be predisposed to, among many other influences.

Our genetic composition is determined by the genes of our biological parents, we inherit their coding in the form of genetic pairs which then determine how our body functions. When our genes develop, numerous different types of genetic errors, or “mis-writes” can occur. This is referred to as a single-nucleotide polymorphism, or more commonly, a SNP (“snip”). A SNP can be a region of a gene that has a genetic alteration that causes variability in how our body functions. This alteration is turned on or off by our diet, environment, lifestyle, stress, and mental ‘clutter’.

The most commonly known SNP, and one that many of our patients are familiar with, is an alteration of the MTHFR gene. This gene codes for an entire cycle of processes by which we take the folic acid we’ve eaten and put a methyl group on it. This is a real important step in our biochemistry that has huge implications – if the methyl group is not on the folic acid, you can not properly function in cell repair or genetic repair, and may be at risk for cardiovascular disease, fertility concerns including recurrent miscarriage, neurological and psychiatric conditions, and certain cancers. But the MTHFR gene function reflects just one of our biochemical cycles, and we want an understanding of the cause and effect of our genes on all cycles – it’s about the whole picture.

Through a relatively simple and inexpensive testing process, we can identify your personal genetic variations, interpret how these variations may be influencing your health, and decide what we can do to compensate for these genetic variants. We start with saliva testing via the lab 23andme as an avenue to get Personalized Medicine: Addressing Our Genetic Variations by Dr. Denise Cooluris, ND your genetic sequencing data and then process this data through an additional genetic analysis program to attain clinically relevant genetic information that our doctors can then interpret for you.

We can’t change your genes, but we can guide you towards effective interventions that change the weakness of your genetics. We can influence our genetic strengths and weaknesses using targeted nutrients, dietary interventions, and lifestyle factors – it doesn’t get much more personalized than this! This can be a very potent step in prevention for yourself and your family. If there are known hardwired weak areas in the family, let’s find out about them now and counterbalance them moving forward into a lifetime of optimal health.


If you would like to start the process of understanding how your genetics may be influencing your health, please contact our staff to schedule an appointment. Dr. Richard Chen, MD is uniquely specialized in genetics analysis and is currently offering 45-minute Personalized Genetic Analysis consults to our patients, as well as complimentary introductory visits to learn who he is as a doctor and how he may contribute to your healthcare needs.

Hill Park Integrative Medical Center
435 Petaluma Avenue, Suite 150
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Phone: 707-861-7300 Fax: 707-823-8568

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