It seems that epigenetics has recently exploded into mainstream media, and although this topic has been the subject of research for decades, we are only beginning to understand the implications of this research and what it can mean for the future of wellness. At SHiFT, we are often asked how what we can do can help address epigenetic issues. We absolutely can, but let’s start with understanding a little bit about what the research has revealed.
What is epigenetics?
Epigenetics is defined as “the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself”.
Most current research is pointing to two thoughts. First, that we can pass genetic markers of stress and trauma through biological DNA, meaning, we can pass down the stress of events through our genes to that of our children.
Erika Beras reports in her article, Traces of Genetic Trauma Can Be Tweaked, that trauma can be passed down to offspring due to epigenetic changes to DNA. She discusses a current article in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology [Katharina Gapp et al., Potential of Environmental Enrichment to Prevent Transgenerational Effects of Paternal Trauma] where Isabelle Mansuy, professor of neuro epigenetics at the University of Zurich, conducted a study on newborn male mice and their mothers that were separated from each other causing both to experience traumatic stress and both those male mice and their offspring displayed trauma symptoms. Mansuy says “the behavioral changes were associated with an increased level of the glucocorticoid receptor in the hippocampus—the part of the brain that contributes to stress responses. And these alterations were found in the hippocampus of the traumatized fathers—and of their offspring.” However, in her research, she goes on to say that a positive experience for the male can reverse this effect. This line of research leads us to understand how trauma on a personal and societal level can affect the genetic expression in our children and begins to shed light on how we can reverse these effects.
The second line of thinking is that our environment is also affecting our genetic expression. Bruce Lipton, author of the Biology of Belief states, “research in this area has found that stress, diet, behavior, toxins, and other factors activate chemical switches that regulate gene expression and reveals that environmental influences are more prominent in causing illness than genes.”
In his research article “Stress Makes its Molecular Mark”, Eric Nestler states “these are experience-dependent molecular alteration to DNA or to proteins that alter how genes behave without changing the information they contain”. In other words, it isn’t just about having the genetic markers, it is about how they are expressed and what causes them to express.
Dawson Church’s book, The Genie in our Genes, deeply explores the connection between environment and genetic expression. Church states, “As we think our thoughts and feel our feeling, our bodies respond with a complex array of shifts. Each thought or feeling unleashes a particular cascade of biochemicals in our organs. Each experience triggers genetic changes in our cells”.
So how does SHiFT fit in?
Church also states, “applying the discoveries of epigenetic control of the genes, and hence cellular function, offers great potential for medical breakthroughs. It allows us to seek therapies that intervene at the level of consciousness by changing beliefs and behaviors that interfere with health. Changing energy patterns before they manifest as disease works at the level of cause that is of higher order than matter. While metaphysicians have advocated such a focus for millennia, modern research is now giving us an understanding of the genetic changes that occur in response to changes in energy and consciousness”. This is exactly what Energetic Kinesiology (EK) is addressing. EK (a combination of Applied Kinesiology and Applied Physiology) is a client based therapy which uses the ancient techniques in Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic principles and Indian healing techniques and combines them with current western research to relieve “stress” in the physical and neurological systems and to bring the mind/body back into homeostasis.
At a cellular level, we are energetic beings. We are atoms bouncing in space and creating frequency. All matter is frequency, or energy. And frequencies can affect other frequencies (ie, thoughts) or matter (ie, muscles). When we address “stress” at the frequency level we are able to bring those frequencies back into homeostasis and eliminate physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms. This means that we are looking to see what thoughts, behaviors, and environmental factors are doing to the genetic expression and help to alleviate the stress that is causing the disruptions, hence changing the expression of that gene without changing the gene itself.
There is a whole new frontier to be discovered here, particularly in our culture, where we are conditioned to address physical symptoms more than energetic ones. Other cultures have been experiencing the benefits of working with our bodies as electrical beings for thousands of years. But what our culture lacked in knowledge, we made up for with curiosity and the tenacity to “prove it”. This actually benefits us today as we are driven to develop technology that can see the unseen, feel the unfelt and hear the unheard, leading us to scientific proof of what eastern cultures have been saying all along.
A final thought from Dawson Church, “Imagine if each of us constructed a set of visualizations that was uniquely geared to our psychological structure. Imagine going to your preventive medicine physician or psychiatrist and having a caring expert help you identify your unique psychological triggers, levers that can aid you in maintaining health”. That is Energetic Kinesiology, that is what we do at SHiFT.