The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Epigenetic Medicine

Just ordered me a copy. Epigenetics is solidifying.

Your genes respond to your thoughts, emotions and beliefs. The way you use your mind shapes your brain, turning genes on and off in ways that can dramatically affect your health and wellbeing. In this best-selling, award-winning book, researcher Dawson Church reveals the exciting applications of the new science of Epigenetics (epi=above, i.e. control above the level of the gene) to healing. Citing hundreds of scientific studies, and telling the stories of dozens of people who have used his ideas for their own healing, he shows how you can apply these discoveries in your own life. He explains how electromagnetic energy flows in your body and affects your cells, and how the new fields of energy medicine and energy psychology can help cases that are beyond the reach of conventional medicine. He shows how your hormonal, neurological, connective tissue, and neutrotransmitter systems all work in harmony to conduct a coordinated flow of information throughout your body. As you take conscious control of the process, you produce a positive effect on your health, becoming an “epigenetic engineer” of your own wellbeing. Practical and scientific, this book has transformed the lives of tens of thousands of people. This new edition is updated with the latest research and clinical breakthroughs.

Our choices can alter our genes. The on and off switches to our DNA. It doesn’t alter DNA itself. But the DNA is not a blueprint but a switchboard.

I changed my order to this one. Written by a Ph.D. and M.D. in psychiatry I just ordered me a copy. Haven’t read it yet. The field of epigenetics is new but looks promising. Here’s the description of the book:

Our biology is no longer destiny. Our genes respond to everything we do, according to the revolutionary new science of epigenetics. In other words, our inherited DNA doesn’t rigidly determine our health and disease prospects as the previous generation of geneticists believed. Especially in the last ten years, scientists have confirmed that the vast majority of our genes are actually fluid and dynamic. An endless supply of new studies prove that our health is an expression of how we live our lives–that what we eat and think and how we handle daily stress, plus the toxicity of our immediate environment–creates an internal biochemistry that can actually turn genes on or off. Managing these biochemical effects on our genome is the new key to radiant wellness and healthy longevity.

Now gaining broad credibility among scientists, the study of epigenetics is at the forefront of modern medicine. According to the author, the real upshot of the epigenetic revolution is that it opens the door to what futurists call personalized medicine. For the first time in a trade book, Dr. Pelletier explains in layperson’s language the genetic biomarkers that will become the standard reference for measuring which specific lifestyle changes are required to optimize a given individual’s health. In the very near future, each person’s state-of-the-art genetic and epigenetic profile–matched with other precise indicators such as assays of the gut microbiome–will guide their daily health practices.

This short but profound book by a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine introduces readers to this exciting new field, and reveals the steps that each of us can take today to change our genetic expression and thereby optimize our health for a lifetime.

I started taking Paxil. And it’s an epigenetic:

Also certain antipsychotics are too:

From Wikipedia. Notice it says that epigenetics has the potential to explain the origin of mental illness. They still don’t know the cause but epigenetics looks promising.


Epigenetics has many and varied potential medical applications.[116] In 2008, the National Institutes of Health announced that $190 million had been earmarked for epigenetics research over the next five years. In announcing the funding, government officials noted that epigenetics has the potential to explain mechanisms of aging, human development, and the origins of cancer, heart disease, mental illness, as well as several other conditions. Some investigators, like Randy Jirtle, PhD, of Duke University Medical Center, think epigenetics may ultimately turn out to have a greater role in disease than genetics.[117]

Part psychotic disorder, part mood disorder, schizoaffective disorder is baffling. What causes schizoaffective disorder? It’s a question that people living with this complex disorder and their loved ones commonly ask. Researchers and other mental health professionals ask it, too. So far, the answer remains elusive.

The causes of schizoaffective disorder are still largely unknown. This mental illness is unique. The combination of psychosis and mania and/or depression makes it difficult to fully comprehend. Researchers are seeking answers, including a definitive cause. While they can’t say with absolute certainty what causes this mental illness, they do have solid theories. Hopefully, one day, this will lead to better schizoaffective disorder treatments.

For now, based on what is known about related disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorders, and on commonalities among people with schizoaffective disorder, researchers and neuroscientists are discovering possible causes. They’re also identifying likely risk factors and triggers.

Possible Causes of Schizoaffective Disorder

While it’s still unknown what causes schizoaffective disorder, these factors have been identified as potential origins of the disorder:

  • Genetics: There is quite possibly a biological component to schizoaffective disorder, with certain genes coded for things like mental illness, including psychotic disorders.

  • Brain: Differences in brain chemistry and brain structure have been found in people with schizoaffective disorder compared to non-affected people. Neuroimaging studies have shown brain malformations and/or smaller brain volume in people with this mental illness.

  • Birth defect: Problems during birth that cause reduced oxygen to the baby can cause mental illnesses later in life, and it seems that may include schizoaffective disorder too.

  • Exposure to toxins or viruses in the womb: Babies whose mothers smoked, drank alcohol, were exposed to other environmental toxins, or came in contact with certain viruses may be at increased risk in adolescence or adulthood for illnesses such as schizoaffective disorder.

  • Substances: Certain drugs, psychoactive, mind-altering drugs like LSD, PCP, psychedelic mushrooms, and others, seem to have the potential to cause psychotic and other disorders.

Currently, no difference in cause has been found between the two types of schizoaffective disorder. One thing researchers are trying to discover is why one person with schizoaffective disorder will have bipolar type and another person has depressive type. While it’s possible that each type has a unique cause, current knowledge says that the causes are the same no matter the type.

Here’s the rest of the above article:

Risk Factors and Triggers for Developing Schizoaffective Disorder

Risk factors and triggers have a role to play in the development of schizoaffective disorder (or anything else, for that matter). One or more of the elements that causes the disorder must be present, and risk factors and triggers can “activate” those causal factors to spur the development of the illness.

Risk factors are conditions that exist or actions someone is taking, while triggers are things in the environment that have a negative impact on someone. Risk factors and triggers that are at work in the development of schizoaffective disorder are such things as:

  • Family history of mental illness, especially schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder
  • Developmental delays in childhood linked to structural differences in the brain
  • Extreme and/or chronic stress
  • Substance use or abuse
  • Having been a victim of abuse or neglect
  • Trauma

Neuroscientists have made progress in understanding the cause of schizoaffective disorder. It’s important that research continues, for insight into cause can lead to significant prevention efforts.

From Oxford University Press

Why do we grow up to look, act, and feel as we do? Through most of the twentieth century, scientists and laypeople answered this question by referring to two factors alone: our experiences and our genes. But recent discoveries about how genes work have revealed a new way to understand the developmental origins of our characteristics. These discoveries have emerged from the new science of behavioral epigenetics–and just as the whole world has now heard of DNA, “epigenetics” will be a household word in the near future.

Behavioral epigenetics is important because it explains how our experiences get under our skin and influence the activity of our genes. Because of breakthroughs in this field, we now know that the genes we’re born with don’t determine if we’ll end up easily stressed, likely to fall ill with cancer, or possessed of a powerful intellect. Instead, what matters is what our genes do . And because research in behavioral epigenetics has shown that our experiences influence how our genes function, this work has changed how scientists think about nature, nurture, and human development. Diets, environmental toxins, parenting styles, and other environmental factors all influence genetic activity through epigenetic mechanisms; this discovery has the potential to alter how doctors treat diseases, and to change how mental health professionals treat conditions from schizophrenia to post-traumatic stress disorder. These advances could also force a reworking of the theory of evolution that dominated twentieth-century biology, and even change how we think about human nature itself.

In spite of the importance of this research, behavioral epigenetics is still relatively unknown to non-biologists. The Developing Genome is an introduction to this exciting new discipline; it will allow readers without a background in biology to learn about this work and its revolutionary implications.