Currently, studies have shown that our genes can be modified by epigenetic factors such as; diet, life experiences, beliefs, perceptions, chemicals, meditation, mindfulness, and cognitive therapy. In other words, environmental signals that don’t affect DNA sequence. A simple example is the placebo effect, where our beliefs affect our biology.
Scientists once thought that the patterns of the human epigenome were set during early fetal development. More recent discoveries show that the epigenome can and does change during your entire lifetime. Alterations are made in response to your environment, which includes your surroundings, experiences, diet, and personal behavior. These changes take place without affecting DNA, but in some cases they’re heritable, meaning they can be passed on to offspring.
Epigenetics encourages the belief that problems caused by our behavioral genes can be fixed by our mind. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH, formerly the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine [NCCAM]), a division of the National Institutes of Health, reports on a wide variety of health products and practices, since about 40% of our disposable income goes to alternative and complementary therapies. They include acupuncture, massage therapy, spinal manipulation, Tai and chi and qi gong, and so on.
These mind-body therapies are not accepted as mainstream Western medical remedies since scientific evidence of their effectiveness is lacking. Any positive results from these therapies are generally thought to be due to the placebo effect, When a fake treatment — a sugar pill or a saline solution — improves a patient’s condition just because the patient expects it to work, it is referred to as the “placebo effect.”
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