Face Mapping: What Your Breakouts Can Reveal About Your Health

Face Mapping: What Your Breakouts Can Reveal About Your Health

If your eyes are the window to your soul, then your face just might be the window to understanding your breakouts, or anything else that’s plaguing your body. We’re referring to the concept of face mapping, which, for the unschooled, is an ancient practice rooted in Ayurveda teaching and Chinese medicine that treats your face as a roadmap to pinpoint underlying issues in other parts of your body. Say, for example, that pesky breakout in the middle of your forehead. Face mapping connects that specific area of your face to an organ or body part, which allows you to make the necessary changes to your diet or lifestyle to make it go away. Intrigued? We were too, which is why we consulted Dr. Dan Hsu, an NYC doctor who specializes in Eastern medicine.


Keep scrolling to find out where face mapping came from, how it works, and how to diagnose breakouts on different areas of your face!

  • the history

    “Face mapping goes back thousands of years,” Dr. Hsu says. “A lot of it comes simply from clinical experience. Nowadays, you have all types of blood tests and scans, but back then, doctors would have to give a diagnosis by looking, touching, and asking questions.” Chinese medicine states that all organs have a different color, temperature, and taste, and are manifested in a certain way. The liver, for example, is manifested in the eyes. Even nowadays, one of the first symptoms of jaundice (a liver disease) includes a yellowing of the eyes. “That was true 2000 years ago, and it’s still true today,” Hsu says.

  • how it works

    Hsu says that the skin on your face is an expression of your health. “The body is made up of a bunch of systems—lympathic, neurological, digestive, to name a few—and all of these systems are tied together,” he explains. “It’s very difficult to affect one without affecting others.” He says face mapping is a way to verify what’s going on inside your body, since every part of your body is linked to different organs (hence the jaundice example he gave earlier). “In Chinese medicine, we look at the body as a whole, and how everything works together,” he says.

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    face map

    Keep scrolling to see what your breakout locations are saying about your health!

  • above the brows

    According to Chinese medicine, the area above your brows is linked to your gallbladder and liver. If you’re getting breakouts there, try eating less processed or junk food and reduce the amount of fat in your diet.

  • between the brows

    Hsu says that breakouts between your brows mean you’re drinking or smoking too much, or eating too many rich foods. “Cut down on rich foods, butter, cheese, and late night snacks,” he advises. “Incorporate more exercise into your routine, and get more sleep.”

  • nose

    Your nose, not surprisingly, is connected to your lungs and heart. To combat breakouts in this area, Hsu recommends cutting back on spicy foods, meat, and salt and replacing them with fruits, veggies, nuts (which are full of good fats like omega-3 and 6). If you’re getting constant breakouts on your nose, check your blood pressure and vitamin B levels—Hsu says that upping your vitamin B intake can help combat flare-ups.

  • left cheek

    “Chinese medicine is really big on left and right,” Hsu tells us. If you’re breaking out on the left side of your face, he recommends eating what Chinese medicine practitioners refer to as “cooling foods”—think winter melon, cucumber, and the like. The left cheek is more connected to your liver, which Hsu says is the weakest between one to five p.m. in the afternoon. “If you’re having a breakout on your left cheek, try to avoid any strenuous work during that time of day,” he says.

  • right cheek

    Hsu says the right side cheek is more connected to your lungs. He recommends doing aerobic and breathing exercises early in the morning to strengthen your lungs. The right cheek is also more sugar-focused. “If you’re breaking out on your right cheek, I would recommend cutting back on junk food and sugar, as well as wine, taro, and seafood,” Hsu says.

  • mouth

    If you suffer from breakouts around your mouth area, once again, your diet could be to blame. The area around your mouth is associated with your digestive organs, like your intestines and liver. Hsu recommends cutting back on spicy foods and fried foods, while eating more fiber, fruits, and veggies.

  • chin

    “Modern acupuncturists would say that if you break out around your chin, you should get your hormone levels checked,” Hsu says. “Stress can also be a huge part of it.” He recommends drinking spearmint tea and taking omega-3 to soothe these breakouts, as well as talking to your gynecologist about your hormone levels.

Gout May Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease

There may be a bright side to the excruciating pain of gout.

New research suggests that patients diagnosed with this acute inflammatory arthritis face a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) compared with people without gout.

“Our findings provide the first population-based evidence for the potential protective effect of gout on the risk of AD, and support the neuroprotective role of uric acid,” saidHyon Choi, MD, DrPH, the study’s senior investigator, and director of epidemiology at Massachusetts General Hospital here.

Using data from The Health Improvement Network (THIN), an electronic medical records database representative of the U.K. general population, Choi and his colleagues identified 59,224 individuals with gout (70.8% male, mean age 65.3 years) and matched them to 238,805 controls without gout (71.1% male, mean age 65.3 years) based on age, sex, body mass index, date of study entry, and year of enrollment.

Gout diagnoses, outcomes, and dementia risk factors were identified from electronic medical records.

Over a median follow-up time of 5.1 years the study identified 309 new cases of AD in the gout group and 1,942 cases in the control group, showing an incidence rate of AD in the gout group of 1.0 per 1,000 person-years compared to 1.5 per 1,000 person-years in the comparison cohort, said Choi, who presented the results at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.

After adjusting for BMI, smoking, alcohol use, prior comorbid conditions, and cardiovascular drugs, the multivariate hazard ratio of AD among those with gout was 0.76 (95% CI 0.66 to 0.87), translating to a 24% lower risk of AD among people with a history of gout compared to those without.

No previous studies have examined the association of gout and AD risk, but Choi pointed out that data from the Rotterdam Elderly Study, published in Brain in 2009, showed an inverse association between serum uric acid levels and the risk of any dementia.

Specifically, the Brain study reported an 11% lower risk of any type of dementia per standard deviation increase in serum uric acid levels (odds ratio 0.89, 95% CI 0.80-0.99) over an 11-year follow-up period.

Furthermore, higher serum uric acid levels at baseline were associated with better cognitive function later in life, he explained.

While the potential biological mechanisms behind this association of uric acid and cognitive health are still speculative, uric acid has proven antioxidative properties and has been shown in animal models to protect against oxidative stress-induced dopaminergic neuron death, he said.

“There are several ongoing studies to prevent progression of Parkinson’s disease using uric acid-raising drugs. If confirmed by future studies, similar investigations may be warranted for AD,” he said.

Complete recovery is an option in mental illness care strategies

Complete recovery is possible, but the stigma should go

The incidence of mental illness is predicted to rise. Its economic burden would be the single largest burden among all disease categories in times to come.

The reasons are many. First, mental illness strikes people in adolescence or early youth. This is the time a person is still acquiring skills and training through education to become employable. Secondly, when one becomes mentally troubled enough to be called ‘ill’, they are frequently incapacitated enough to not be able to either continue such education for significant periods of time, or at all.

Managing a member who is ‘ill’ requires a lot of adjustment by the family. More often than not, one person becoming ill puts others through care-giving stress and emotional burden, in addition to facing the economic consequences of a person facing ‘disability’. More often than not, another person is required to look after the person, in worst-case scenarios on a full-time basis, which may rob the carer of employment opportunities. Managing a mentally ill member in the family also involves people themselves becoming ill!

Mental illness is not ‘traditionally’ seen as a form of disability, for no mentally ill person has any outward signs, unless they are severely disturbed and behaviourally completely maladjusted. Yet they invite scope for social exclusion. This means they do not even get the support that perhaps other disabled people with more ‘visible’ disabilities would get in society. Since for families too, the person suddenly becomes mentally ‘ill’ or their behaviour becomes unexplainable, not having been born with any visible retardation or neurological problems, adjustment to the appearance of mental illness itself is a setback.

Though professionals time and again attempt to give psychological support to families and individuals in order to help people rehabilitate, few people know that complete recovery is possible — even in serious illnesses.

If there is a way out of mental illness and some have successfully recovered, why do we not hear such success stories in the public sphere? The reason is the stigma: the fear does not leave people even after they recover completely. Not many want to admit they lived with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder in their past, for they do not want to invite any speculation about themselves, their current abilities for work, their reliability or their marriage prospects.

In many developed countries it is considered important that those with mental illnesses be supported to rehabilitate and find employment, while also being enabled to live independently and as regular and socially adjusted individuals. Even when someone is classified as mentally ill, his or her right to happiness is still considered a valid requirement. Consequently many allied health professionals and therapists with newer orientations create outcomes of wellness in those countries. Increasingly there is also a shift towards bringing recovery in the domain of psychiatric concerns, rather than mere rehabilitation. This is particularly so in Canada, Sweden, Finland and Australia. Meanwhile, in low-income countries such as India the talk is around increasing the infrastructure for psychiatry, training more personnel, having more specialists who can deal with the increasing incidence of disturbed behaviour.

Bringing in more professionals to ‘manage’ the mentally ill does not really reduce the incidence of illness; it only shifts the focus from the fact that people who are suffering can be healed if offered other support systems such as enabling environments which are not just productivity driven but also humane, families that do not saddle individuals with their own aspirations and careers but let young people decide what they want to do with their lives. Of course these are the simpler things one is alluding to, and not the complexity of reasons that coalesce to create mental illnesses, when they do.

On the other hand, owing to the stigma, though many recover, few ever hear about them outside of academic and research contexts, whereas a whole world out there could benefit from their triumphs. This is simply because a lot of times the ones who recover do not go back to their doctors to tell them they have recovered, or that they have gone off medication. The doctors simply do not know.

In accordance with the shift that is happening in some of the above-mentioned countries, the low-income countries can easily move their policy focus more towards rehabilitation support and guidance, providing nutrition and employment to people rather than training more professionals to deal with problems that have no solutions coming that way. Shifting the focus will also mean the government will enable more people and families to be saved from permanent poverty, rather than becoming caught in a flux of illness that progressively enfeebles the whole family, and society itself, in the long run.

Countries such as India have a natural advantage in the scope of rehabilitation and recovery that we can offer, for our social fabric is not entirely fragmented and most people can still count on the family for support. This advantage has been reported in psychiatric research. Consolidating these structures with more training and knowledge, millions in this country who face insecure lives, future and prospects could be empowered.

Groundbreaking Study Finds Turmeric Extract Superior to Prozac for Depression.

A study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research has confirmed for the first time in a randomized, controlled clinical trial that the primary polyphenol in turmeric – known as curcumin – is both safe and effective in treating serious states of depression.[1]

The research was performed at the Department of Pharmacology, Government Medical College, Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India, and involved patients already diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD). The objective of the trial was to compare the efficacy and safety of curcumin with fluoxetine (Prozac) in 60 patients diagnosed with MDD. Subjects were randomized to receive either a six week treatment with fluoxetine (20 mg) and curcumin (1000 mg), individually or in combination.

Success of the treatment was evaluated using the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D17). The results were reported as follows:

“We observed that curcumin was well tolerated by all the patients. The proportion of responders as measured by the HAM-D17 scale was higher in the combination group (77.8%) than in the fluoxetine [Prozac] (64.7%) and the curcumin (62.5%) groups; however, these data were not statistically significant (P = 0.58).

“Interestingly, the mean change in HAM-D17 score at the end of six weeks was comparable in all three groups (P = 0.77). This study provides first clinical evidence that curcumin may be used as an effective and safe modality for treatment in patients with MDD without concurrent suicidal ideation or other psychotic disorders.”

turmeric extract 300x199 Groundbreaking Study Finds Turmeric Extract Superior to Prozac for Depression


If the results of this relatively small trial are applicable to a wider population, this is truly groundbreaking news. There was already a rather sizable body of preclinical research indicating that curcumin is an effective antidepressant in the animal model,[2] but this was not enough to sway most physicians who practice so-called “evidence based medicine” into actually suggesting it to patients as a Prozac or antidepressant alternative.

And this is understandable, as the lack of solid human clinical evidence supporting the use of a natural substance is no small matter from a legal-regulatory perspective. Unless a substance has passed through the approximately 800 million dollar financial gauntlet of phase I, II, and III clinical trials required to apply for FDA drug approval, and has actually received that approval, there is scant legal protection for those who use natural medicines to prevent or treat disease, and who might face a lawsuit (frivolous or genuine) as a result of a claim of injury.

Curcumin, of course, is extremely safe, with a 2010 phase I safety study finding that oral doses as high as 8 grams a day were well tolerated.[3]  Fluoxetine, on the other hand, is highly controversial due to its well-known toxicity, and its laundry list of side effects, which include suicidal ideation (not a good side effect for someone already depressed!).

Also, even though it would appear the study found that curcumin and Prozac were equivalent in effectiveness, the fact that curcumin comes “… without concurrent suicidal ideation or other psychotic disorders,” clearly proves its superiority over Prozac. There are also a wide range of additional side benefits that come with using curcumin, including its powerful neuroprotective properties. You will find no less than 109 studies on GreenMedInfo’s database documenting curcumin’s ability to protect, and in some cases restore brain function.  [see research here: curcumin’s neuroprotective properties]

Studies like this are greatly encouraging as they confirm the timeless wisdom of plant, mineral and nutrient-based medical interventions which were once the norm before pharmaceutical medicine, only recently, attempted to dominate the spectrum of alternatives available to the public.

Some final details that may be of assistance are: (1) curcumin is approximately 3-4% of the whole root powder by weight. (2) curcumin is poorly bioavailable, as it is alcohol and not water or fat soluble, so must be taken in higher quantities, or in combination with either carrier molecules such as the phospholipid phosphatidyl choline or bioavailability enhancers such as black pepper, or the primary compound responsible for increased absorption in black pepper: piperine.

For additional information on the topics covered here read: 600 Reasons Turmeric May Be The World’s Most Important Herb

[1] Jayesh Sanmukhani, Vimal Satodia, Jaladhi Trivedi, Tejas Patel, Deepak Tiwari, Bharat Panchal, Ajay Goel, Chandra Bhanu Tripathi. Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Phytother Res. 2013 Jul 6. Epub 2013 Jul 6. PMID: 23832433

[2] GreenMedInfo.com, Animal Research on Curcumin’s Anti-Depressive Properties

[3] Masashi Kanai, Kenichi Yoshimura, Masanori Asada, Atsushi Imaizumi, Chihiro Suzuki, Shigemi Matsumoto, Takafumi Nishimura, Yukiko Mori, Toshihiko Masui, Yoshiya Kawaguchi, Kazuhiro Yanagihara, Shujiro Yazumi, Tsutomu Chiba, Sushovan Guha, Bharat B Aggarwal. A phase I/II study of gemcitabine-based chemotherapy plus curcumin for patients with gemcitabine-resistant pancreatic cancer. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2010 Sep 22. Epub 2010 Sep 22. PMID:20859741

Stephen Hawking’s 5 Most Mind-Blowing Quotes .

The physicist explains how aliens might kill us all, why we must leave Earth and more terrifying tidbits

When one of the smartest people on the planet says something, it probably pays to listen.

Stephen Hawking, the physics icon and subject of the new biopic The Theory of Everything, has said a lot over the years in lectures and books. And some of them are, frankly, terrifying.

Here are five of his wildest quotes that just might change the way you view the world.

1. Hawking really doesn’t want us to meet aliens, because they’d probably destroy us.

“We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach,” Hawking said in a 2011 Discovery Channel special. “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”

2. Hawking really wants us to colonize other planets, because otherwise humanity will eventually be doomed.

“Sooner or later disasters such as an asteroid collision or a nuclear war could wipe us all out,” Hawking said in 2006. “But once we spread out into space and establish independent colonies, our future should be safe.”  We wonder what Hawking thinks of the plot of Interstellar.

See more Making ‘The The Theory of Everything’

3. Time travel is possible, but …

“Time travel used to be thought of as science fiction, but Einstein’s theory of general relativity allows the possibility that we could warp space time so much that you could fly off in a rocket and return before you set out,” Hawking told Larry King in 2010. “Unfortunately, it is likely that the warping would destroy the spaceship and maybe the space time, itself.”

4. We need to start genetically enhancing humans so that A.I. doesn’t take over.

“With genetic engineering, we will be able to increase the complexity of our DNA, and improve the human race. But it will be a slow process, because one will have to wait about 18 years to see the effect of changes to the genetic code,” Hawking said in 2001. “By contrast, computers double their speed and memories every 18 months. There is a real danger that computers will develop intelligence and take over. We urgently need to develop direct connections to the brain so that computers can add to human intelligence rather than be in opposition.”

5. Computer viruses should count as life

“I think computer viruses should count as life,” Hawking said in 1994. “I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. We’ve created life in our own image.”

What great Hawking quotes did we leave out?

German company can make gasoline from water and airborne CO2

Scarcity of hydrocarbon fuels is a bit ridiculous on the face of it; hydrogen is the universe’s most abundant substance, carbon the fourth-most abundant, and hydrocarbons are defined by having both those elements. Industrial processes are able to press carbon intodiamond, now even with gem-level accuracy, and we regularly manipulate hydrogen to create hydrogen fuel. One would think that the sheer availability of these materials ought to beg for synthetic creation of hydrocarbon fuels, especially with so much excess carbon from CO2 in the atmosphere.

The challenge of assembling airborne carbon gases into liquid hydrocarbon fuels has remained elusive, with most actual progress coming thanks to intermediate carbon-fixers like algae. Now, though, a German company called Sunfire says it can take regular water, harvest CO2 from the environment, and make high quality hydrocarbon fuels — gasoline and diesel, mostly.

This rig works with proprietary “Power to Liquid Technology,” which is nicely diagrammed here. It all starts by creating steam, using electricity — Sunfire says the electricity will come from renewable, green sources like wind or solar, which seems believable when you think bout the inherent absurdity of burning one hydrocarbon fuel to create another. Regardless, this electricity is used to create steam from water, and this steam is then treated to remove the oxygen from the H20 molecules, leaving only H2 — or hydrogen gas. All we need now is a source of gaseous carbon — and I can think of a few.

In reality, simply having these rigs pull raw CO2 from the air is probably not the best solution, as we could have something hoovering up CO2 in a concentrated form, as it’s about to leave conventional power plants. Could we turn waste CO2 from coal burning into gasoline? Burning that gas would still release the carbon into the atmosphere, but we’d still get more power out of a tonne of coal, which would reduce emissions overall. Regardless, the rig can collect its precious CO2 from almost any source, and by reacting a source of CO2 with some of its generated H2 gas, the rig reduces the carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide, or CO. By assembling this CO into chains with the rest of the H2 gas, Sunfire can create very specific hydrocarbon molecules. Suspend those molecules in water and voila— you’ve got a fuel.

Of course, as with every infant-stage technology like this, the efficiency still isn’t there. Right now, a machine that costs “seven figures” to build can only produce a single barrel of fuel per day — that’s compared to a very average oil rig, which might spit out 250 barrels in the same period. However, this test rig had to be designed and built slowly, by steps, while a second version could be patterned off its success for a fraction of the cost. This still won’t have much of a chance to replace any Middle Eastern oil rigs, but could be a huge part of effective carbon capture at conventional power plants. Trapping carbon as limestone for sale to the construction industry has gotten some attention in the power sector, so selling oil ought to be an attractive concept as well.

The first step in turning water to gasoline? Zap it.

Remember that synthetic fossil fuels have all the same emissions downsides of natural fossil fuels, but since some or all of the molecules emitted into the atmosphere were originally captured fromthat same atmosphere, it can be seen as a carbon neutral technology. We need a lot better than just carbon neutrality — we need carbon negativity to really overcome the challenges that lay ahead — but since it’s unrealistic to expect the world to end its addiction to abundant energy, they may be the best solution available.

Making gas from nothing will probably never be cheaper than just sucking it out of the ground, since in the ground the Earth has already put in all the work of synthesis. Doing that synthesis ourselves, not over millions of years but over tens of hours, will never save the world — but it could preserve it long enough for science to develop something that will.

Extraordinary Things You Can Do With Sperm

Mature Sperm.
A scanning electron micrograph of mature sperm. University of Utah Andrology M

Sperm is one of the vital components when planning to start a family. Like a women’s egg, a man’s sperm must be healthy in order to reach and penetrate the egg.  Though sperm is mainly used for procreation, it can have extraordinary benefits for everyday life.

In sperm, a crystalline polyamine compound called Spermine can be found. This particular compound is also known as an antioxidant. It is believed to diminish wrinkles, smooth skin and help with taming or preventing acne. Bioforskning, a Norwegian company, has synthesized the compounds into a facial cream.  According to Bioforskning, the cream Spermine is 30 times more effective than vitamin E and can delay the aging process by 20 percent. However, nature’s most natural facial cream can cost you a whopping $250.

Not only can sperm provide healthy skin, but also it can be used as an anti-depressant. In a recent study, researchers demonstrated that women who were directly exposed to semen were less likely to be depressed. The study stated mood-altering hormones that are present in semen can be absorbed through the vagina. Some of these mood-altering chemicals include, but are not limited to prolactin, a natural anti-depressant; oxytocin, which assist in enhancing one’s mood and serotonin, a widely known antidepressant neurotransmitter.

Sperm is also directly linked to the frequency and intensity of a woman’s morning sickness. According to SUNY-Albany psychologist Gordon Gallup, the frequency of morning sickness is directly related to the frequency of insemination during pregnancy.  Gallup and graduate student Jeremy Atkinson revealed women who undergo artificial insemination may experience worst cases of vomiting, and nausea.

When it comes to cooking, although semen may be the farthest thing from your mind, according to “Natural Harvest-A Collection of Semen-Based Recipes,” semen is very nutritious. The cook book advertises semen as an “inexpensive” ingredient that can give any food an “interesting twist.”

Lastly, if by any chance you are in dire need of invisible ink, semen may suffice. During World War I, the British Intelligence Service discovered semen can act as invisible ink. Unlike other chemicals used, semen did not react to means of detection such as iodine vapor.

Unless you are a part of an intelligence serve of some kind, invisible ink may not be essential, however if you ever need a facial Spermine may be a great option

What Should I Expect for my PET/CT Scan?

Patients undergo different types of scanning procedures to produce detailed images of potential cancer growth. Depending on the cancer, physicians may use MRI,mammography, CT, PET/CT or other technologies.

While some of these procedures use only x-rays or radio waves to create images, a PET/CT scan uses a combination of traditional x-rays and computer imaging. A radioactive substance similar to glucose is given to the patient, and because cancer cells tend to use more glucose than normal cells, PET/CT scans can help detect the biological activity of those cancer cells.

The procedure involves a radioactive substance, but it does not have any side effects and is painless. If you have any questions or concerns about an upcoming PET/CT scan, your care team can answer any questions or concerns.

A PET/CT scanner

Before the PET/CT scan

To produce accurate results, patients need to prepare for a PET/CT scan:

  • Do not wear clothing with snaps, zippers, buckles, or any other large pieces of metal, and do not wear jewelry. These items could potentially interfere with the scanning procedure.
  • Do not eat or drink for six hours before the test and do not suck or chew candy, gum, or lozenges. Plain water, with nothing added, is fine to drink.
  • Try to limit physical activity for 24 hours prior to the exam.
  • Prescribed medications are fine to take prior to the exam.
  • Insulin or oral agents used to control diabetes should not be taken within four hours of the PET/CT scan. Physicians may adjust eating restrictions if the diabetes is diet-controlled.

Technicians Tim Belisle and Tricia Locascio of Nuclear Medicine in the PET/CT control room.








What to expect on the day of the scan

  • The PET/CT scan appointment takes about two hours total, which includes preparation and scan. The PET/CT scan itself typically lasts 30-60 minutes, depending on the imaging needs.
  • You can bring your own music player and headphones into the procedure room, which also has classical music available to play.
  • You can take prescribed medications such as Valium, Ativan, or other pain medications to reduce anxiety.
  • After you check in, a technologist will explain the PET/CT scan, record your height and weight, and answer any questions. The technologist will also take a small blood sample to test blood glucose levels.
  • Once the blood is checked, the technologist will inject the radioactive substance into a vein. You will need to rest in a reclined position for 60 minutes before the scan.
  • After the PET/CT scan, a radiologist will review the images and send a formal report to the patient’s physician.


In the mainstream media (and the popular consciousness programmed to consume it) defective genes are spoken about as if they were “disease time bombs,” fatalistically programmed to go off inside of us, thanks to flawed genetic contributions of our ancestors. And yet, despite common misconceptions, monogenic diseases, or diseases that result from errors in the nucleotide sequence of a single gene are exceedingly rare.  In fact, less than 1% of all diseases fall within this category…

Following the completion of the Human Genome Project (HGP) in 2003 it is no longer accurate to say that our genes “cause” disease, any more than it is accurate to say that DNA is sufficient to account for all the proteins in our body. Despite initial expectations, the HGP revealed that there are only 20,000-25,000 genes in human DNA (genome), rather than the 100,000 + believed necessary to encode the 100,000 + proteins found in the human body (proteome).

ADN_animationDid you follow that? There are not even enough genes in the human body to account for the existence of the basic protein building blocks that make it possible, much less explain the behavior of these proteins in health and disease states!

The “blueprint” model of genetics: one gene -> one protein -> one cellular behavior, which was once the holy grail of biology, has now been supplanted by a model of the cell where epigenetic factors (literally: “beyond the control of the gene”) are primary in determining how DNA will be interpreted, translated and expressed. A single gene can be used by the cell to express a multitude of proteins and it is not the DNA itself that determines how or what genes will be expressed.

Rather, we must look to the epigenetic factors to understand what makes a liver cell different from a skin cell or brain cell. All of these cells share the exact same 3 billion base pairs that make up our genetic code, but it is the epigenetic factors, e.g. regulatory proteins and post-translational modifications, that make the determination as to which genes to turn on and which to silence, resulting in each cell’s unique phenotype.

Moreover, epigenetic factors are directly and indirectly influenced by the presence or absence of key nutrients in the diet, as well as exposures to chemicals, pathogens and other environmental influences. Thoughts and emotions also play a role in how these epigenetic factors are articulated, indicating that the flow of genetic information, once thought to be strictly vertical (passage of genetic information from one cell or individual organism to its progeny by conventional heredity mechanisms), also flows horizontally and bi-directionally, opening the door back up for the human soul to return to biological science, having been reduced to a mere “ghost in the machine,” since René Descartes (1596-1650), the French philosopher and mathematician, split body and soul asunder, almost five centuries ago.

In a nutshell, what we eat and what we are exposed to in our environment directly affects our DNA and its expression.

Within the scope of this new perspective even classical monogenic diseases likeCystic Fibrosis (CF) can be viewed in a new, more promising light. In CF many of the adverse changes that result from the defective expression of the Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator (CFTR) gene may be preventable or reversible, owing to the fact that the misfolding of the CFTR gene product has been shown to undergo partial or full correction (in the rodent model) when exposed to phytochemicals found in turmeric, cayenne, and soybean.

Moreover, nutritional deficiencies of seleniun, zinc, riboflavin, vitamin e, etc. in the womb or early in life, may “trigger” the faulty expression or folding patterns of the CFTR gene in Cystic Fibrosis which might otherwise have avoided epigenetic activation. This would explain why it is possible to live into one’s late seventies with this condition, as was the case for Katherine Shores (1925-2004).

The implications of these findings are rather extraordinary: epigenetic and not genetic factors are primary in determining disease outcome. Even if we exclude the possibility of reversing certain monogenic diseases, the basic lesson from the post-Genomic era is that we can’t blame our DNA for causing disease. Rather, it may have more to do with what we choose to expose our DNA to, and even more surprisingly: how we choose to think and feel about our embodiment.

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