Monday, February 20, 2012

Epigenetics - Modern Medicine Catches Up to Common Sense

Saturday 2/18 I listened to Dr. Susan Scharf speak on a powerful new tool of medicine dubbed epigenetics which identifies damage to chromosomes inflicted from environmental stresses and poor habits.  Her talk entitled Why Genes Don't Have to Decide Your Fate was non technical although terms like SNPS and nutrigenetics did arise.  Epi means "on top of" referring to elements other than inheritance that describe something other than DNA that influences health. As Dr. Scharf said "environment pulls the trigger". The premise that Nuture is just as important if not more important than Nature or "genetics" is a new branch of medicine that mimics what the wise have always said. It's a relief to see that this viewpoint is gaining ground as it will provide hope to millions who have thought themselves condemned. Epigenetics as championed by Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Oz note that genes are just part of the story of health from short term to longer term multi-  generational influences.  My guru Bernando LaPallo would agree. When people say that diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes are "genetic" epigenetics or functional medicine takes a deeper look into the patterns of eating and  damaging habits such as smoking and  drinking all the way back to say Granny. Reversal of disease by adding the good stuff of optimal diet, exercise, positive attitude and stress management is now visible to a sector of society who were not able to envision this before. This method  can be likened to the every effect has a cause and that there is no such thing as random. For example my friend Mike was telling me that his mother smoked while pregnant while carrying both he and his brother and that they have both suffered from respiratory illnesses all their lives.
How It Works
Tests are conducted on the patient to identify the weak links in the DNA that tell a story about patterns, damage and behavior. This kind of detective work can help pinpoint in a very personal way the trouble and offering clues to solutions on how to treat the problem instead of using a one size fits all approach.
The Human Genome Project began in 1990. In order to prove that what your mother may have told you that eating all your vegetables is good for you is in fact true, the project notes that genes are the blueprints for cell reproduction and as such don't make decisions and therefore don't control outcome. Genes are building blocks. Like any material the quality can be greater or lesser depending upon what they are made out of and the finished product in this case your body is affected by that. Factors such as food, exercise, toxins, water, attitudes and beliefs all play a part and happily can be improved upon. For those who need another kind of analysis for what ails them in language and terms that correspond to modern medicine today epigenetics is a good place to start.  For those who have little faith or knowledge in the wisdom of our grandparents looking to adapt their methods of practice with additional diagnostic skills to treat patients by avoiding medications when possible and using nature as a healer this is a field worth plumbing.  For more info on Dr. Scharf visit her site web site.

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