Tag Archives: medicine

GENES ARE NOT DESTINY

DNA

When I was a teen, genetic determinism was in full swing. As I watched my grandparents die of heart attacks or strokes, I became convinced that my life would end by the same mechanism and I was content with the inevitable partially because it was a far off reality. But again, science is shifting our thinking. The new paradigm is called epigenetics and it has a lot to say about the choices we make. Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene activity not caused by changes in the DNA structure.

biology of belief

Science is starting to grapple with the idea that our environment and choices are far more important than our genetic code. Bruce Lipton’s book The Biology of Belief, cites that around 95% of our illnesses are related to life-style choices, stress, and a toxic environment. We have far more ability to influence our futures than merely accepting whatever is in our genetic code is written in stone. Studies of identical twins (with identical DNA) reveal that oftentimes only one twin exhibits some dreaded disease. There can also be substantial differences in longevity. How is this possible? How could genetic determinism get it so wrong?

As usual, science’s understanding has grown slowly and advanced a simple view which has become outmoded. It turns out that our genes are far from static. Genes are always in flux and always being influenced. Some genes are activated by growth, healing, or learning. Another kind of gene is influenced by stress, emotion, or dreaming. A new understanding through epigenetics may allow us to use our will to activate our genes and influence our destiny. According to this way of thinking, changing our thoughts, emotions, feelings, and behaviors sends new messages to our cells thereby changing our protein production without affecting our DNA blueprint. So the original code stays the same, but new information allows the cells to create thousands of variations of that gene.

Dispenza

As an illustration of how this might work, Joe Dispenza in Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, looked at a Japanese study of type 2 diabetes. The subjects were divided into two groups. After a baseline reading to establish fasting blood sugar levels, one group watched an hour-long comedy show while the other group watched a boring lecture. Subsequent to viewing the programs, the group who had watched the comedy show had significantly lower levels of blood sugar. After ruling out the idea that physically laughing took glucose from the blood, the researchers found that the laughing diabetics had altered 23 different gene expressions. A new state of mind apparently triggered their brains to send new signals to their cells which allowed genetic variations affecting blood sugar levels.

genie in your genes

The overall idea here is that we have a vast amount of say in how our genes create our futures. I am not destined to die of a heart attack, nor am I necessarily protected from cancer, just because no one in my family has had it. DNA is not destiny. We will need to tread carefully when we have any kind of genetic testing. I do ascribe to the idea that knowledge is power, but we need to be cautious and not bring into fruition a future that defaults to a false belief system. Another great book on the emerging paradigm is The Genie in Your Genes by Dawson Church.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, health

HER STROKE OF INSIGHT

Thirty seven year old neuroanatomist, Jill Bolte Taylor, rose on the morning of Dec. 10, 1996 to start her morning routine getting ready for work. It turned out to be anything but routine.

 A blood vessel exploded in her left hemisphere leaving her unable to walk, talk, read, or write.

To understand what she experienced, it’s important to recognize how the two parts of the brain work. The right hemisphere thinks in pictures and connects us all as “energy beings” as Jill describes it. The right brain is all about being in the moment and sees us as perfect and whole. The left hemisphere thinks linearly, connecting us to past and future. It thinks and plans using language. It is the left hemisphere that creates the experience of the self as separate from everything else.

JB Taylor

Jill woke that morning with an intense pain behind her left eye. Not realizing anything was truly wrong, she attempted to get on with her day and proceeded to her cardio-glider to get her exercise done. On the machine, she noticed that her hands looked like strange claws. Then she had the experience of witnessing her body as if it were a separate entity. Her head pain intensified so she got off the machine. It was then that everything seemed to slow down. Gone were her quick and fluid body movements. The rigid boundaries of her body evaporated as she propped herself against a bathroom wall. She watched as the molecules and atoms of her body merged with those of the wall. Next she lost her left brain chatter as her mind was silenced.

In the quiet, Jill was drawn into an expansive field of oneness. This was a peaceful, delightful place until the left brain returned telling her she had a problem and needed help. She would alternate between these two realities: one she called La-La Land which was a beautiful state of pure consciousness and connectedness and the other that called her back into the world with ever-increasing urgency. When her right arm became paralyzed, Jill realized she was having a stroke. She knew she needed help and attempted to call work. But by this time, she had lost the ability to recognize words and numbers and it took 45 minutes to finally make this all important call.

At the hospital, Jill struggled with the pain and sensory overload of being in the body. Those experiences were relieved at times by journeys into nirvana (her word); that profound place of peace, freedom, and expansiveness. On a deeper level she comes to understand that everyone can experience this nirvana state.

     “That they could purposely choose to step to the right of their left hemisphere and find this peace.”

This is her stroke of insight, the gift she brought back into the world, the source that would motivate her  year long recovery.

We have the choice to move between the hemispheres moment by moment. We choose, we create. Jill believes (and I agree) the more time we spend in the right hemisphere, the more peace we will find as individuals and the more peace we will bring back into the world.

Jill Bolte Taylor has written a wonderful book. It will especially appeal to the scientifically minded, but it will attract just as many mystics. The other true gift of her experience has to do with understanding what it’s like to have a stroke. If the medical community and family members had this level of understanding, it would revolutionize the care we give stroke victims. I would especially recommend her book to anyone who is caring for someone who has had a stroke. To learn from the inside out what it’s like can only make us more compassionate and more understanding.

WATCH DR. TAYLOR AT TED:

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Filed under Book Review, Energy medicine, Spiritual/Mysticism

Rethinking: Diagnosing Children with Developmental Disorders

child
I’ve been watching some of the TED talks that have been done over the past few years. There is no doubt that it’s becoming ever more difficult to keep up with the changing world of science and especially anything to do with healthcare. Just a couple of days ago I learned that antioxidants may not be the panacea they have been touted to be. So now I have to rethink my supplement choices and make sure my vitamins are “low dose.”

One of the most important TED talks I’ve seen concerned diagnosing children with developmental disorders and how we’re doing it all wrong. An estimated one in six children suffers from a developmental disorder including:

Mental retardation
Learning disorders (Dyslexia, speech & language disorders)
Attention disorders (ADD, ADHD)
Autism spectrum (Autism, Asperger’s)
Genetic disorders (Down & William Syndromes)
Sensory processing disorder
Epilepsy, seizures, sleep disorder

Traditionally, these disorders have been diagnosed in children by observing their behavior.

EEG 32 electrodes

In 2010, Aditi Shankardass gave a short TED talk about research she and her colleagues were doing at Harvard. Using an EEG, researchers were able to look at a child’s brain activity while awake and map the areas of activity in real time. Use of these tools leads to a precise neurological diagnosis. She goes on to explain that about 50% of those seen in the clinic diagnosed with autism, actually have brain seizures not detectable from observing behavior alone. Once these children receive appropriate anti- seizure meds, their conditions resolve.

Which leads to all kinds of questions. The latest statistic about the prevalence of autism is that it affects 1 in 88 children (1 in 54 boys: 1 in 252 girls). Does this research mean that half of autism isn’t autism, and in fact, easily treatable? What about the rest of the disorders? How many haven’t been diagnosed because observing behavior doesn’t catch the problem, and just as scary, how many are wrongly diagnosed? How many children and parents are suffering needlessly?

Dr. Shankardass ends her talk with a plea to spread the word about this non-invasive, diagnostic technique.

Watch TED talk:  http://www.ted.com/talks/aditi_shankardass_a_second_opinion_on_learning_disorders.html

Read article from MEDICAL NEWS TODAY: June 2012: New EEG Test for Autism
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/247102.php

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Filed under health

Which Element Are You?

five elements

Charles Moss, MD explores the wisdom of ancient Taoist medicine and its application in the Power of the Five Elements. Dr. Moss has been involved with integrative medicine combining the best of western and eastern medicine since 1978. He opened one of the first integrative clinics and has been on the forefront of bringing acupuncture and the Five Element system to the US.

By completing a survey in his book you can identify which element (wood, earth, fire, water, metal) in the system best explains your reaction to stress. Once you’ve identified your element, the good doctor explores how to make the most of your natural strengths while combating your weaknesses. You may be able to skim through one of the early chapters to identify your primary element but even with careful reading, I thought I was metal only to find through the questionnaire that I was primarily wood followed by metal. Interestingly, my husband turned out to be metal and then wood. In this system, every one of us is a unique combination of all the elements. There is no good or bad element.

Each of us experiences stress in our lives and the five elements reveal our typical response to those. Here are the stress responses for each of the elements. You may resonate with one or two of them.

WOOD– anger, frustration

EARTH- search for sympathy, attention, understanding

FIRE– loss of joy, emotionally flat

WATER– paralyzing fear, fatigue, immobility

METAL– depression, isolation, rigid morality

Acupuncture Points- by Permacharts Inc.

Acupuncture Points- by Permacharts Inc.

 

The Taoist system in place in China in 200 BCE, emphasized physical health and spiritual well-being. The Nei Jing, the textbook of the first holistic health care system, described a method on adapting to stressors through knowing how. The greatest insight into a long and healthy life came from self-knowledge, a positive attitude, and spiritual practice. These are the same realizations western medicine is beginning to embrace. This book provides the necessary insights to learning the knowing how of good health through the Five Element system. Some of what is suggested will already be familiar if you have some experience in mind- body science. I am most excited to learn and incorporate the acupuncture points that Dr. Moss suggests for regaining adaptation for each of the elements. Having some experience with EFT (tapping acupuncture points) I know first-hand the power and therapeutic value of acupuncture and I’m eager to incorporate these. I hope you will explore the Five Element system to learn more about yourself and how to take care of the precious vessel that is your body.

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Filed under Energy medicine, Spiritual/Mysticism