The idea is that if we can change certain key choices, such as our stress level and diet, it is equivalent to writing notes in the margin of your genome. In the future therapist may learn how to flip a DNA switch to support and protect our health.
Epigenetics is closely related to the more established neuroplasticity, which is founded on the belief that we can change how our brain operates. There is plenty of spare capacity to direct our health towards healing and wholeness!
Both these lines of research overturn the traditional belief that we are born with a fixed genetic blueprint that determines our traits, health and behaviours. Epigenetics sets out to demonstrate that our DNA is more of a switchboard than a blueprint.
If this is true then it is argued that our environment and life experiences can trigger on-off mechanisms in our genetic switchboard. The challenge is to find out how the mechanisms by which genes become expressed or silenced can influenced to overcome problems, such as stress and depression.
“The epigenome has been heralded as a key missing piece of the etiological puzzle,”says a Tonic therapist. “The discover opens the door for understanding how development of psychological disorders may be influenced by the surrounding environment, in concordance with the genome.”
It is a long way off yet, but it is an interesting concept. So behavioural epigenetics could be the buzz term in therapy in 2019.
These epigenetic changes can influence the growth of neurons in the developing brain, as well as modifying neuron activity.
To learn more, read Pamela Peeke’s book ‘The Hunger Fix’.