JULY 2010

Epigenetics: Chiropractic's 21st century call?

DNA was discovered by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953, and ever since, that complex strand of molecules in its distinct double helix configuration has been our number one excuse for poor health, lack of success, and even bad life choices.


   "I have diabetes. I inherited it from my mother."

   "I've always been lazy. It's in my genes."

   "I can't help that I'm fat. I can't change my DNA."


You hear it all the time from family members and friends. I'm willing to bet you've made similar pronouncements every now and then. We all have. We've been taught since childhood (or at least since 1953, whichever came first), that our appearance, behavior and even attitudes are mostly the result of unchangeable DNA. For good or ill, we supposedly carry in our cells static programming that is impossible or at least extremely difficult to overcome.


In recent years, however, we've been hearing more about epigenetics and are changing our ideas about the way we can rewrite the genetic programming and alter the course of our health and our lives.


These ideas are crucial for chiropractors and practice members alike, since we have a unique opportunity to alter the epigenetic instructions of the human body, in order to bring about significant positive health benefits.


In fact, the more I learn about epigenetics, the stronger my belief is that we've been doing this for more than a century although we didn't see it in those exact terms. But when we give an adjustment so that the person's neurological function is normalized and the innate intelligence of the body can be better expressed, we very well may be allowing the body to correct epigenetic tags that regulate genetic material.


For those of you unfamiliar with the emerging field of epigenetics, I suggest you watch Bruce Lipton's lecture from 2000 Bruce Lipton - Biology of Perception 1 of 7. As you can see it is in 7 parts and a bit long, but well worth the time.


A simplified explanation is that we can change the expression of our genetic code by altering the chemical tags covering our DNA, and the proteins they're wrapped around. These tags make up the epigenetic layer and effectively turn certain genes on or off.


The key is that the epigenetic layer responds to external stimuli--everything from what we eat and drink to the stress we experience in our daily lives. By changing the epigenetic layer, we can actually change the way the DNA expresses itself.


As a visual, think of the epigenetic layer as the sleeve of a long sleeved shirt covering your arm, which is the gene. Certain things in the environment can cause the epigenetic layer (sleeve) to roll up exposing the gene (arm) and then allowing that gene to express itself in whatever manner it is programmed to do - good or bad.


For instance, in 2003, it was discovered that changing the epigenetics of the agouti gene--dubbed the "obesity" gene--via dietary supplements high in the methyl groups, effectively shuts the gene off and may help eliminate obesity.


We conceivably could regulate the function of genes controlling cancer, shyness, depression, or whatever other physical, behavioral, or attitudinal condition we want to change.


A potentially more astounding fact is that early research shows the epigenetic layer can be altered by our own thoughts. Dr. Lipton's work, for example, shows that DNA is controlled by signals from outside the cell, including the energetic messages emanating from our positive and negative thoughts.


If chiropractic adjustments help the body regulate the dispersal of methyl groups around genes, this would explain why it has such profound effects on so many different health issues. The brain signals the changes needed in the epigenome, and chiropractic helps that signal reach its destination without distortion or interference. We already know that long term chiropractic care can help you repair DNA.* Of course, much more neurological testing and research has to be conducted in order to test this hypothesis, and I hope chiropractors will be leaders in such studies.

In the meantime, chiropractors and practice members can begin pushing the envelope of the new science by learning more about epigenetics and opening their minds to the infinite possibilities this field offers to us. In addition to the video, there are some really good books that explain epigenetics in more detail.


The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, & Miracles by Bruce H. Lipton Ph.D.

The Genie in Your Genes: Epigenetic Medicine and the New Biology of Intention by Dawson Church

Epigenetics: Mechanisms, Functions and Human Effects by Balazs Pinter, Zsolt Meszaros

Epigenetics by C. David Allis, Thomas Jenuwein, Danny Reinberg, Marie-Laure Caparros

Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future (and a Way to Get There from Here) by Bruce H. Lipton Ph.D., Steve Bhaerman

* and

Do You Really Want to Be Healthy?

There is an old saying, "Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die to get there." A similar statement could be made concerning health. In almost any survey taken asking people what they wanted most out of life, good health is one of the top three things on the list. The only two things that ever top it are happiness and good family relationships. Yet how many of us allow other less important things to keep us from attaining maximum health.


Like happiness, health does not come by luck. It is true that hereditary factors are important to good health but most people can be healthy in spite of hereditary weakness. Conversely, hereditary strengths will not overcome a failure to take care of yourself.


Most people who come into a chiropractic office indicate a desire to be healthy. Unfortunately, they often do not realize that it will take some effort on their part. The average person's experience with medicine has led them to believe that they will be made "healthy" by what the doctor does to them or what he gives them. They can just sit back, do nothing or at most, remember to take their medication every four hours. While this approach may be relatively effective in the treatment of disease, it has virtually NOTHING to do with health. For the most part, disease treatment is a passive activity.


Health maintenance, health restoration, or health development is largely an active endeavor. Therein lies the problem. Sitting back and doing nothing will not promote or maintain health. Hoping or wishing for it will not make it happen. It must be actively pursued. A choice must be made. Good, nutritious, health-promoting food is available, but then so is junk food. You must make the decision as to what kind you are going to eat and then make the extra effort to get it. Exercise is not a passive activity. You cannot get it by just watching exercise DVD's.


Chiropractic is not a passive activity either. While it is true people lie on the table and relax, it is the body that makes the adjustment. The chiropractor introduces a force to the spine and the body's muscles actively move the bone to exactly where it belongs. Further, the benefits of chiropractic care occur after the adjustment, like exercise and eating, they are far reaching and unlike "treatments", they are not designed for short-term, immediate effects.


It is true you may feel good after eating a good meal or after a good work out. You may also feel good right after a chiropractic adjustment, but the real benefits are the long-term ones. When the body is working better it can actively promote health and well being and add years to life and life to years.


There is another aspect that makes chiropractic care an active approach. People must make the commitment to care. The chiropractor cannot give you a bottle of adjustments and say, "Take one every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the next six weeks."


People must make the willful decision to come in, be regular, and follow their adjustment program. The chiropractor cannot follow you around or take you by the hand.


Do you really want to be healthy?


Sadly, too many people do not want to pay the price, which is time, money, and effort.


Happiness does not come by accident. Fame and fortune are not a matter of luck. Similarly, you cannot expect to have good health unless you do those things necessary to attain it.


Every individual has to establish his or her priorities. Is watching television more important than exercising for your health? Is saving money by eating poor quality food more important to you than spending the few dollars for good food? Is doing whatever you do that interferes with regular adjustments more important than your health?


Only you can answer these questions and how you decide on these and other relative questions could very well determining your health, your happiness and your life.


Do you really want to be healthy?

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