Research by the Harvard Medical School and others has demonstrated that the practice of Qigong positively affects gene expression, the immune system, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, nervous system, and cellular function allowing cells to live longer -- true "anti-aging" and the legendary "fountain of youth". Qigong promotes gene transcription for stress reduction and improvement of immune function. The scientific basis of Qigong is explained in part through epigenetics (cell biology), psychoneuroimmunology (neuroscience) and gene expression.
Functional Genomic and Neurological Correlates of Mind-Body Therapies. Mind-body practices elicit changes in sympathetic nervous system activation of gene transcription factors involved in immune function and inflammation and create persistent changes in neural function and morphology associated with these practices. Mind-body therapies are immunomodulatory, with effects on leukocyte transcription and function related to inflammatory and innate immune responses, and neuromodulatory, with effects on brain function and morphology relevant for attention, learning, and emotion regulation.
How Slow Breathing Makes You Relaxed (The Mercury News). Stanford researchers connect breathing to state of mind. Abstract: Breathing control center neurons that promote arousal in mice.
Psychoneuroimmunology is the study of the relationship between the mind, or psychological processes, and the nervous and immune systems. The meditation component of Qigong is an example of a "psychological process" that affects physical health and well-being. The moving meditation of Qigong lowers stress, strengthens the immune system, reduces chronic inflammation, and improves cellular metabolism and aging. Qigong can be considered a "mind-body" practice or "mind-body medicine." Dr. Herbert Benson of the Harvard Medical School and Founder of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine describes the profound affects of the mind on the body and health based on his lifetime work as a cardiologist and researcher. Dr. Benson compares health and well-being to a three legged stool. The legs are pharmaceuticals, surgery, and self-care. Self-care includes nutrition, exercise, the relaxation response (practices to achieve the relaxation response include Qigong), and belief or faith. Benson is quick to clarify that faith as a psychological state is healing, regardless of its origin.
Herbert Benson - The Relaxation Revolution: Enhancing Health Through Mind Body Healing
The idea that the mind can heal is not new. In the early 1950's Norman Vincent Peale wrote The Power of Positive Thinking which became a cultural phenomena. Peale's basic message was that individuals have the power to make themselves sick or well by their thoughts. By the 1960's the power of positive thinking was well accepted by the general population, but not the medical community. A major catalyst for a change of heart came from journalist and author Norman Cousins. Cousins was informed by his doctor that he was unlikely to survive a condition thought to be an autoimmune disorder. He not only embraced the power of positive thinking by refusing to believe his doctor's prognosis, but he also developed a radical new therapy: laughter.Cousins is credited with literally laughing his way back to health against all odds. In 1976 he wrote an article on his experience that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. This article was positively received by thousands of M.D.s. He later expanded this article on the benefits of laughter and humor in the healing process to his memoir Anatomy of an Illness, published in 1979. Inspired partly by this high-profile case of healing through laughter, the medical community finally started taking notice of the effect of the mind on health in the early 1980's. The neuroscience sub-field of psychoneuroimmunology was one result, and mind-body healing through laughter became the object of serious scientific inquiry. Laughter therapy is widely accepted today even though it's mechanism of action is not fully understood.For example, see Laughter prescription and Laughter Remains Good Medicine.
A systematic review of psychoneuroimmunology-based interventions. Systematic review reports that Tai Chi, meditation, and mindfulness are among the treatments that result in decreased levels of cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine (stress-related hormones). In addition, they were also associated with reductions in inflammatory processes and levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in cancer, HIV, depression, anxiety, wound healing, sleep disorder, cardiovascular diseases and fibromyalgia.
Can your thoughts affect your health? The control system of the body is not genes or chemistry, it is manipulation of information (patterns of energy) in the body's energetic field. Our biology is controlled by our mind, not genes, so to affect your health, change your mind. View a preview of The Living Matrix, a film on the science of healing. Listen to explanations of recent medical and physics research that will transform your understanding of how to get well and stay well.
Dr. Candace Pert's (1946-2013) pioneering work in neuroscience uncovered the primary mechanisms for how mind-body medicine works at the molecular level. A bodywide network of peptides and receptors are the molecular (i.e. biochemical) basis of emotions, wellness, and life itself.
"Every cell in our body has a characteristic vibration. When these cells vibrate at a certain rate and in a certain pattern, the body functions well and the person feels good. When they vibrate at a different rate and pattern, the body functions less well and the person feels not so good … every thought is a pattern of energy characterized by a certain vibratory rate and pattern … the vibratory pattern of the thought and its consequent emotion are experienced throughout the entire body, by each cell, and this vibratory influence triggers the release of certain kinds of neuropeptides which flood through the body … thus thoughts are patterns of energy which influence the functions of the whole body." Dr. Candace Pert in Molecules Of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine
Dr. Candace Pert wrote a popular book on her research called the Molecules of Emotion. The following are excerpts from this book:
The nervous system is a network based on neurotransmitters (chemical proteins which consist of peptides).A "second" nervous system based on ligands and receptors (vibrating molecules/peptides) coordinates the activities of cells throughout the body. This includes the endocrine, neurological, gastrointestinal, and immune systems. Peptides are created throughout the body. Peptides that affect the brain are called neuropeptides. Brain function is moderated by both neurotransmitters and neuropeptides. A "gut feeling" is related to the density of receptors in the intestines.Emotions are physically instantiated as neuropeptides and their receptors, both of which can be found throughout the body. Physiology and emotions are inseparable. There's a wonderful section in the movie What the Bleep which depicts this process.Cells are constantly signaling other cells via neuropeptides, which bind with receptors. The signaled cells respond by making physiologic changes. These changes create a feedback loop to the signaling cell, providing a mechanism to moderate the production of the neuropeptides.Virtually any peptide found anywhere in the body can be found in the respiratory center. This may provide the substrate for the powerful healing effects of consciously controlled breathing.Psychoneuroimmunology is the study of the functional integration via peptides of the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. Neuropeptides and their receptors join the brain, glands, the spleen, bone marrow, and immune system in a multi-directional network of communication between the brain and body. At the molecular level, there is no difference between the mind and the body.Conscious breathing modulates peptide production and activity which in turn creates the healing effects associated with Qigong breathing practices.
At their core, the documentaries The Living Matrix (2009) and HEAL (2017) have a common theme: the human body is more than a biochemical machine, and we are not victims of unchangeable genes. By engaging and integrating our physical, emotional, and mental natures through intention and the mind, we can tap into our informational, energetic matrix to be healthy or, inversely, make ourselves sick.
HEAL "takes us on a scientific and spiritual journey where we discover that by changing our perceptions, the human body can heal itself; we should not buy into a scary prognosis. We have more control over our health and life than we have been taught to believe. This film empowers us with a new understanding of the miraculous nature of the human body and the extraordinary healer within us all. HEAL taps into the brilliant minds of leading scientists and spiritual teachers, and follows three people on actual high stakes healing journeys."
In comparison, The Living Matrix is rich in information but a bit dry in presentation of one interview after another of doctors, researchers and scientists. HEAL is lively and modern in delivery, presentation and content - less science and more focus on integrative and alternative body-mind modalities. Almost all the HEAL presenters are teachers, healthcare providers, and authors in the forefront of our New Age. Even though HEAL was almost 2 hours long, I could have watched and listened to much more. The Living Matrix helped fill gaps and is important to the subject making, in my opinion, the 2 films complementary.
Luisa de Castro
National Qigong Association Level III Instructor
German researchers link thoughts and stress levels. The study reveals the relationship between the content of self-generated thoughts and psychosocial stress measured in terms of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and sympathetic activity.
Stress and Immune Function during Pregnancy: An Emerging Focus in Mind-Body Medicine.This article describe studies linking stress to immune function during pregnancy, with an emphasis on studies on inflammation.
Psychoneuroimmunology may provide the scientific basis for personalized and systems medicine. The exploration of the extensive interactions among psychological and behavioral factors, the nervous system, the immune system, and the endocrine system may help understand the mechanisms underlying health, wellness, and diseases.
Italian literature review demonstrates a mediating role of emotional regulation in the development of depression and physical illness. Adaptive emotional regulation strategies cause a reduction of stress-elicited emotions leading to physical disorders. Conversely, dysfunctional emotional regulation strategies and, in particular, rumination and emotion suppression appear to be influential in the pathogenesis of depression and physiological disease.
Psychoneuroimmunology: the experiential dimension. "Experience makes an impact on all adaptive systems, including the endocrine, immune, and nerve systems, and is of the essence, not only for the unfolding of an organisms' healthy status, but also for the development of malfunctional traits."
Baseline Immune Biomarkers as Predictors of MBSR(BC) Treatment Success in Off-Treatment Breast Cancer Patients. Lymphocyte subsets serve as stress biomarkers.
Influence of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on Telomerase Activity in Women With Breast Cancer. Mindfulness-based stress reduction reduces symptoms of depression, anxiety, and fear of recurrence among breast cancer survivors. Telomere length (TL) and telomerase activity (TA) are known markers of cellular aging, psychological stress, and disease risk.
C-Reactive Protein (CRP) is a biomarker of chronic inflammation. CRP can be measured in the blood, and higher amounts indicate inflammation somewhere in the body. In addition to inflammation, physical inactivity is associated with elevated C-peptide, IL-6, and CRP.
Epigenetics (literally, control beyond genetics) is a new field of biology that is exploring the effect of the environment on cellular behavior. The "environment" includes one's physical, social, and electromagnetic environment as well as beliefs, perceptions, lifestyle, habits, behaviors, and mind-body practices such as Qigong. Gene expression is the process by which proteins are manufactured from instructions stored in the DNA.
Humans have about the same number of genes as rats, mice, and other mammals and roughly 4500 more genes than plants, 10900 more genes than roundworms, and 16400 more genes than fruit flies. There simply aren't enough genes to account for the complexity of human biological processes, behavior, and physical structure. The complexity is made possible by several factors. One factor is regulatory proteins which direct the activity of the genes. A cell's nucleus contains regulatory proteins and DNA. Environmental signals affect the interaction between the regulatory proteins and the DNA within the nucleus as well as the function of the cell through interaction with proteins in the cell cytoplasm, cytoskeleton, and the cell membrane.
The epigenome turns the expression of genes on or off through many environmental influences, including prenatal care, drugs, diet, toxins, social interactions, and radiation. Epigenetic mechanisms include phosphorylation of proteins, methylation and histone modification of DNA, and noncoding RNA. In addition, research indicates that "junk DNA" plays an important role in gene expression and is another proposed pathway for environmental signals to affect gene expression.
According to some epigenetics researchers, the true "brain" of every cell is not the nucleus but the cell's membrane which interacts with and responds to environmental signals. A broader view sees the environmental signals affecting proteins both inside and outside the cell, as well as on the membrane. Epigenetics gives a mechanism for a bridge between the energetic basis and the biomolecular/chemical physiological basis of our existence. The "energetic basis" is our fundamental bioenergetic structure and being interacting directly with environmental signals which are different forms of energy, such as light, electromagnetism, sound, heat, vibration, emotions, thought, and the practice of Qigong. See also Bioenergetic Basis of Life.
Editing the brain: How new epigenetic tools could rewrite our understanding of memory and more. The practice of Qigong regulates the expression of genes and creation of proteins through the production of transcription factors, such as hormones, that act as catalysts to gene transcription. New DNA technologies allow sampling the mix of genes that are being expressed at any moment. An analogy would be scooping up a glass of water from a rushing stream and testing how clear it is. Researchers can now identify whether genes are being expressed for stress and inflammation or for relaxation and regeneration. What gets expressed depends upon what someone is thinking or doing, and this is where Qigong becomes epigenetics. Epigenetic changes are implicated in a host of neural conditions, from Alzheimer's-related memory loss to depression. Now, a revolutionary set of molecular editing tools is allowing scientists to alter the epigenome like never before. If the human genome is the book of life, then the epigenome is its editor. Epigenetic marks -- chemical tags that switch genes on and off -- allow the body to produce more than 200 cell types from the same genetic code. Creating a neuron, for example, involves silencing a third of the genome.
Epigenetic Mechanisms of Integrative Medicine (IM). IM's ability to affect healing is due at least in part to epigenetic mechanisms. This hypothesis is based on a mounting body of evidence that demonstrates a correlation between the physical and mental effects of IM and modulation of gene expression and epigenetic state.
Dr. Lipton explains that genes do not control biology. Genes cause nothing. They are simply blueprints for how to build proteins. Proteins are the primal element of life. Proteins and genes are directly affected by the environment. The popular media has still not really discovered this fact. Lipton demonstrates how the new science of Epigenetics is revolutionizing our understanding of the link between mind and matter and the profound effects it has on our personal lives. The profound health effects of Qigong at the cellular level are due in large part to epigenetics. Lipton clearly explains why the accepted genome and gene functional paradigm is simply incorrect and out of date. Epigenetics is the most important revolutionary discovery in biology tantamount to the discovery of quantum physics as opposed to classic physics.
"The notion that only physical molecules can impact cell physiology is outmoded. Biological behavior can be controlled by invisible forces, including thought, as well as it can be controlled by physical molecules like penicillin, a fact that provides the scientific underpinning for pharmaceutical-free, energy medicine." Dr. Bruce Lipton.
The following video gives a short introduction to epigenetics and explains how what you think directly affects cells. A longer, more complete version of the interview can be found in Bruce Lipton 'The Power of Consciousness'.
"Specific frequencies and patterns of electromagnetic radiation regulate and control gene regulation, cell division, cell differentiation, morphogenesis (the process by which cells assemble into organs and tissues), hormone secretion, nerve growth and function....Though these research studies have been published in some of the most respected mainstream biomedical journals, their revolutionary findings have not been incorporated into the medical school curriculum." Bruce Lipton: Biology of Belief
A Mitochondrial Health Index Sensitive to Mood and Caregiving Stress. Daily mood and chronic caregiving stress are associated with mitochondrial functional capacity. Mitochondrial health may represent a nexus between psychological stress and health.
Bruce Lipton basically "wrote the book" on epigenetics, and it's called Biology of Belief. Here are some of his insights from that book:
The function of the nervous system is to perceive the environment and coordinate the response/behavior of all cells in the body
Environmental influences, including nutrition, stress, and emotions can modify genes without changing their basic blueprint
Information that controls biology starts with environmental signals that in turn, control the binding of regulatory proteins to the DNA. The regulatory proteins direct the activity of the genes.
The malignancies in 95 percent of breast cancers are derived from environmentally-induced epigenetic alterations and not defective genes.
Humans have about the same number of genes as rodents; only 9000 more genes than fruit-flies; and only 1500 more genes than microscopic worms. How can we be so complex with so few genes?
The nucleus of a cell is simply a memory disk, a hard drive containing the DNA programs that encode the production of proteins - proteins are part of the endocrine system and they control the autonomic nervous system as well as all other bodily functions
Since each atom has its own specific energy signature (wobble or vibration), molecules radiate their own identifying energy patterns. Every material structure in the universe, including individual humans, radiates a unique energy signature.
Specific frequencies of electromagnetic radiation regulate DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis, alter protein shape and function and control gene regulation, cell division, cell differentiation, hormone secretion, nerve growth and function.
Protein synthesis, or folding, is where proteins (poly-peptide chains) are instantaneously transformed into their final three-dimensional state. The signaling speed required to make this happen is faster than is possible via a bio-chemical mechanism. In other words, the signaling seems to require electromagnetic (or faster) speeds.
Electromagnetic or acoustic vibrations can create a constructive interference or "harmonic resonance" in atoms. The atom absorbs energy and starts to vibrate faster as a result. Kidney stones have been treated by doctors with constructive interference mechanics. Focused energy waves interact with atoms.
Thoughts, the mind's energy, directly influence how the brain controls the body. Thoughts, a form of energy, can activate or inhibit the function of a cell's proteins via constructive or destructive interference.
Our conscious mind experiences the chemical communication signals between cells as emotions.
If positive thinking/emotions is good for you, imagine what negative thinking can do. See nocebo.
This video is from the Public Broadcasting System NOVA program. It is yet another explanation of epigenetics and the effects of the environment on gene expression. Genetically identical twins and mice have differentially expressed genes. The epigenome silences different genes to make cells different from one another. The epigenome regulates the genes.
Epigenetic side-effects of common pharmaceuticals: a potential new field in medicine and pharmacology.The term "Epigenetics" refers to DNA and chromatin modifications that persist from one cell division to the next, despite a lack of change in the underlying DNA sequence. The "epigenome" refers to the overall epigenetic state of a cell, and serves as an interface between the environment and the genome. The epigenome is dynamic and responsive to environmental signals not only during development, but also throughout life; and it is becoming increasingly apparent that chemicals can cause changes in gene expression that persist long after exposure has ceased. This paper presents the hypothesis that commonly-used pharmaceutical drugs can cause persistent epigenetic changes.
Understanding cancer through proteomics (video 19:55). Danny Hills makes a case for the next frontier of cancer research: proteomics, the study of proteins in the body. As Hillis explains it, genomics is not a blueprint but merely shows us a list of the ingredients of the body -- while proteomics shows us what those ingredients produce. Understanding what's going on in your body at the protein level may lead to a new understanding of how cancer happens.
Proteomic Analysis of Differential Proteins Related to Anti-nociceptive Effect of Electroacupuncture in the Hypothalamus Following Neuropathic Pain in Rats. This study reports that electroacupuncture can modulate pain via regulation of expression of multiple proteins in the hypothalamus.
Parser Combinators: a Practical Application for Generating Parsers for NMR Data. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is a technique for acquiring protein data at atomic resolution and determining the three-dimensional structure of large protein molecules.
SERS Based Protein Assays. The goal of this project at University of California Davis Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology is to exploit the sensitivity offered by the SERS (surface enhanced Raman scattering) effect as applied to label-free detection of target biomolecules for medical and fundamental biological applications. Currently available assays and sensing techniques involve either tagging of the target molecules with fluorescent markers and/or incorporating a secondary tagged-molecule. These conventional approaches are subject to numerous limitations (i.e., sensitivity, specificity, complexity, expense, assay time, possible loss of activity, photobleaching, toxicity, etc). Present studies seek to develop assays for direct or indirect detection of biomolecules.
Proteins provide a measure of actual status, not just risk or disposition. Proteomics is the study of many proteins at once in a biological system using a given technical approach. The enormous diversity of proteins can be appreciated by considering that tens of thousands of genes give rise to hundreds of thousands of mRNAs which in turn give rise to potentially a million or more forms of proteins including post-translational modifications; a typical biological sample may contain tens of thousands of different protein forms. Proteins are a very valuable source of potential biomarkers: protein presence is driven by combined genetic and environmental factors, and thus proteins provide a measure of actual biological and disease status, not just risk or disposition. In addition, proteins are easily accessible in body fluids and tissues that collect from many of the body's systems.
Applied Proteomics, Co-Founded by Danny Hillis, Gets New CEO, $22.5M. API’s goal, Klemm says, is nothing less than to “elevate molecular diagnostics to another level beyond the genome” by measuring the proteins made by genes—a long-sought technology that is expected to help doctors improve medical care for individual patients. Because proteins carry out most cellular functions, the company says a snapshot of all the proteins circulating in the body at a given moment represents “the most powerful source of information” in terms of understanding a patient’s health status.
Stem Cell Study Opens Door to Undiscovered World of Biology. Different kinds of cells synthesize proteins at different rates and in different ways, and that those highly regulated differences are important for cellular survival.
Scientific medicine is beginning to revert back to more ancient, ayurvedic lessons about healthcare. The approach is to treat the body as a system, where balance is the foundation for good health and disease and sickness are the externalities of imbalance. With advancements in proteomics and computing we can begin creating models of what a healthy bodily state looks like. In the same way we might use environmental models to analyze the global climate, we can isolate specific variables that can inform the larger picture. As the data piles up, preventative medicine will become a quantitative endeavour. A doctor visit of the future will be a simple blood test that measures proteins, lipids and some other key signals, which can then be plugged into a systematic database to help us treat diseases long before any symptoms arise. It is a huge upgrade in efficiency, one that could save millions of lives and alleviate the indebted healthcare system in the process.
"For hundreds of years Western medicine has looked at mind and body as totally separate entities, to the point where saying something 'is all in your head' implied that it was imaginary. Now we've found how changing the activity of the mind can alter the way basic genetic instructions are implemented." Herbert Benson, MD, director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute
Molecules of Silence: Effects of Meditation on Gene Expression and Epigenetics. Epigenetic mechanisms represent a way to regulate gene activity in real time without modifying the DNA sequence, thus allowing the genome to adapt its functions to changing environmental contexts. Factors such as lifestyle, behavior, and the practice of sitting and moving mindful activities such as mindfulness meditation and tai chi have been shown to be important means of environmental enrichment and have been reported to positively impact well-being. In fact, they can be considered emotional and attentional regulatory activities, which, by inducing a state of greater inner silence, allow the development of increased self-awareness. [PMCID: PMC7431950].
Anti-inflammatory effect on genes expression after four days of Qigong training in peripheral mononuclear blood cells in healthy women. Polish study finds Qigong training decreases inflammatory and increases anti-inflammatory gene expression.
Mind-body therapies and control of inflammatory biology: A descriptive review. Qigong and Tai Chi decrease expression of inflammation-related genes and reduce proinflammatory signaling biomarkers.
Epigenetic research has shown that cellular rejuvenation and DNA repair can be stimulated by our behavior, our environment and our mental and emotional state.
"Researchers found that the DNA repair rate of people with cancer in remission compared to healthy people was much slower. The patients in remission were then taught stress-reducing techniques. Following three months of practice, their cell repair rate had nearly doubled. It is conceivable that the “new” energy medicines of Qigong and vibrational sound can affect the erratic energy of DNA and stimulate cellular rejuvination."
Genes are not Your Fate (video 3:11). Changing your lifestyle will change the expression of your genes. Proper nutrition, exercise, managing stress, loving more, your brain gets more blood flow and oxygen. The result is an increase in brain size through the creation of more neurons.
Why Your DNA May Not Be Your Destiny. Epigenetic changes are biological markers on DNA that modify gene expression without altering the underlying sequence. Researchers have found that environmental and lifestyle factors — such as trauma, stress and even diet — can activate epigenetic changes. Epigenetic traits can be passed down from generation to generation.
How Exercise Changes Our DNA. Exercise (e.g. Qigong), a new study reminds us, changes the shape and functioning of our genes, an important stop on the way to improved health and fitness.
Mindfulness Meditation Alters Gene Expression. A new study conducted by researchers working in Wisconsin, Spain, and France shows that mindfulness can even affect your genes. Specifically, the study shows that mindfulness can limit the "expression" of genes associated with inflammation. "The changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs," study co-author Dr. Perla Kaliman, a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona in Spain, said in a written statement. "Our findings set the foundation for future studies to further assess meditation strategies for the treatment of chronic inflammatory conditions." Also see
BENEFITS OF MEDITATION: STUDY SHOWS IT CHANGES YOUR DNA. The study followed a group of practiced meditators and a control group of untrained subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After eight hours of mindfulness meditation, the meditators showed a range of genetic differences in levels of pro-inflammatory genes. “Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs,” says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article. Specifically, the genes in the meditating group showed less inflammation and faster recovery from stressful situations.
This year (2008), more than 1 million Americans and more than 10 million people worldwide are expected to be diagnosed with cancer, a disease commonly believed to be preventable. Only 5–10% of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects, whereas the remaining 90–95% have their roots in the environment and lifestyle. After sequencing his own genome, pioneer genomic researcher Craig Venter remarked at a leadership for the twenty-first century conference, “Human biology is actually far more complicated than we imagine. Everybody talks about the genes that they received from their mother and father, for this trait or the other. But in reality, those genes have very little impact on life outcomes. Our biology is way too complicated for that and deals with hundreds of thousands of independent factors. Genes are absolutely not our fate. They can give us useful information about the increased risk of a disease, but in most cases they will not determine the actual cause of the disease, or the actual incidence of somebody getting it. Most biology will come from the complex interaction of all the proteins and cells working with environmental factors, not driven directly by the genetic code”
Social Regulation for Human Gene Expression (video 1:08:24). Speaker, Steven Cole, Ph.D., professor of medicine and psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences (University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine) discusses how socio-environmental conditions can affect human gene expression. This is an excellent introduction to how epigenetics, especially a practice and lifestyle such as Qigong, can modulate short- and long-term gene expression and immune function.
Mind-body practices that elicit the relaxation response such as Qigong and Tai Chi have been used worldwide for millennia to reverse the detrimental physiological effects of stress. Practices that trigger the relaxation response (a term pioneered by Dr. Benson, author of The Relaxation Response, have been reported to be beneficial therapeutically (sometimes as an adjunct to medical treatment) in numerous conditions that are caused or intensified by stress.
Dr. Roger Jahnke has written a review of the Benson study and several others on gene expression that will fundamentally transform science, medicine and society. The implications for corporate wellness, integrative medicine and fitness are huge. Read Dr. Jahnke's Report [PDF].
Study Reveals Gene Expression Changes with Meditation. The study investigated the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced meditators, compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.
Bioelectromagnetic medicine: The role of resonance signaling. The discovery by Zhadin that ultrasmall magnetic intensities are biologically significant suggests that electromagnetic signaling is endogenous to cell regulation, and consequently that the remarkable effectiveness of EM resonance treatments reflects a fundamental aspect of biological systems.
Stanford bioengineers develop ‘molecular stethoscope’ that uses RNA to track the dynamics of fetal development and disease. This new technique, which tracks RNA levels in blood samples, offers more information than DNA analysis. It's like having a video rather than a snapshot to help figure out what the body is doing, and why.
Rapid changes in histone deacetylases and inflammatory gene expression in expert meditators. After an intensive one-day meditation intervention we detected reduced expression of histone deacetylase genes (HDAC 2, 3 and 9), alterations in global modification of histones (H4ac; H3K4me3) and decreased expression of pro-inflammatory genes (RIPK2 and COX2) in meditators compared with controls. The regulation of HDACs and inflammatory pathways may represent some of the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic potential of mindfulness-based interventions.
Relax - it's good for you. Researchers at Harvard Medical School completed a comprehensive scientific study showing that deep relaxation changes our bodies on a genetic level. What they discovered is that, in long-term practitioners of relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation, far more ''disease-fighting genes'' were active, compared to those who practised no form of relaxation. The research is pivotal because it shows how a person's state of mind affects the body on a physical and genetic level.
Relaxation response (i.e. Qigong) induces beneficial changes in energy metabolism, insulin secretion and inflammatory pathways. This is yet another outstanding research result from the Benson-Henry Institute and Harvard Medical School. Both short-term and long-term practitioners evoked significant temporal gene expression changes with greater significance in the latter as compared to novices. Relaxation response practice enhanced expression of RNA associated with energy metabolism, mitochondrial function, insulin secretion and telomere maintenance, and reduced expression of RNA linked to inflammatory response and stress-related pathways. This research proves some of the most significant benefits of Qigong practice. Also see Meditation Produces Opposite Effect of ‘Fight or Flight’.
How Exercise Changes Fat and Muscle Cells. Exercise changes the expression of genes through a process called methylation. Methylation, analogous to a light-switch, turns on or off the expression (or behavior) of genes. Exercise and lifestyle (e.g. Qigong practice) directly influence methylation patterns. Epigenetics is the study of the effect of lifestyle and environment upon genetic activity.
Tweaking MRI to Track Creatine May Spot Heart Problems Earlier, Penn Medicine Study Suggests. Measuring Creatine Levels with MRI Has Benefits Over Contrast-Enhanced MRI and MRS.
ABSTRACT: Mind-body practices that elicit the relaxation response (RR) have been used worldwide for millennia to prevent and treat disease. The RR is characterized by decreased oxygen consumption, increased exhaled nitric oxide, and reducedpsychological distress. It is believed to be the counterpart of the stress response that exhibits a distinct pattern of physiology and transcriptional profile. We hypothesized that RR elicitation results in characteristic gene expression changes that can be used to measure physiological responses elicited by the RR in an unbiased fashion.This study provides the first compelling evidence that the RR elicits specific gene expression changes in short-term and long-term practitioners. Our results suggest consistent and constitutive changes in gene expression resulting from RR may relate to long term physiological effects.
Dusek JA, Otu HH, Wohlhueter AL, Bhasin M, Zerbini LF, Joseph MG, Benson H, Libermann TA.,
Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, United States of America, “Genomic counter-stress changes induced by the relaxation response.”, PLoS One. 2008 Jul 2;3(7):e2576.
Press Release: Relaxation response can influence expression of stress-related genes.
Genomics is concerned with the structure and function of DNA. DNA is the parts list for the functioning components of the body, which are proteins. Knowing the details of one's DNA does not in most cases contribute to an understanding of function or disease. For example, knowing your DNA is not going to say whether you will get cancer except in possibly a small set of cases. On the other hand, DNA methylation and phosphorolation are more relevant, and they depend upon lifestyle, including thoughts, emotions, nutrition, life experience, and reactions to stress.
Even more relevant to health, wellness, disease, and function than genomics or DNA is proteomics, the study of proteins, including their structure and function. It is a new field of study whose name was coined in 1997. Recent research suggests that studying proteins might give a better understanding of the functional processes ongoing in cells than genomics because proteins are the molecules that directly regulate physiological processes. Proteins, in turn, are dependent upon RNA. Transcriptomics is the study of the function of RNA and the creation of proteins. Even more basic or fundamental is metabolomics, the study of human metabolism and metabolites, the building blocks of RNA and proteins. A thorough understanding of the structure, function, and control of human metabolism, function, and wellness requires an understanding of how electromagnetism relates to these four -omics. There is currently no theory for the relationship between electromagnetism and physiology, and yet this relationship is a fundamental fact of human existence.
Specific Transcriptome Changes Associated with Blood Pressure Reduction in Hypertensive Patients After Relaxation Response Training. This Harvard Medical School transcriptome research is the first to show at the molecular level how Qigong (which elicits the relaxation response) lowers blood pressure. Qigong Institute founder Dr. Ken Sancier showed that Qigong reduces blood pressure in hypertensive patients in his ground-breaking 1996 paper 'Anti-Aging Benefits of Qigong'. Note that one of the authors of this current paper is Dr. Herbert Benson who wrote the book on the Relaxation Response.
Functional genomics in the study of mind-body therapies. Massachusetts General Hospital reports existing trials focusing on gene expression changes brought about by mind-body therapies have revealed intriguing connections to the immune system through the NF-κB cascade, to telomere maintenance, and to apoptotic regulation.