Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dawson Church and The Genie in Your Genes: Learn about Epigenetics

The Genie in Your Genes is a breakthrough book linking consciousness to genetic change. For the first time, a single book summarizes a chain of remarkable scientific discoveries that are revolutionizing the ways we think about health.

Author Dawson Church applies the insights of the new field of Epigenetics (epi=above, i.e. control above the level of the gene) to healing. Citing hundreds of scientific studies, he shows how beliefs and emotions can trigger the expression of DNA strands.

He focuses on a class of genes called Immediate Early Genes or IEGs. These genes turn on within a few seconds of a stimulus. They can be triggered by thoughts or emotions ("I loved that unexpected gift of roses Bill gave me" or "I'm so mad about what Uncle John said at the Christmas party"). Many IEGs are regulatory genes turn on other genes that affect specific aspects of our immune system, such as the production of white blood cells that destroy attacking bacteria and viruses. Epigenetics thus influences our health every day.

He coins the new term "Epigenetic Medicine" to describe healing techniques with epigenetic effects. He also summarizes the science behind the infant fields of Energy Psychology and Energy Medicine, both of which offer promising epigenetic medical therapies, and describes a few of the thousands of powerful personal breakthroughs that are being achieved by therapists, doctors and lay people practicing these techniques.

The Genie in Your Genes shows that there is a sound theoretical framework, based on credible experiments, for understanding these astonishing results, and predicts that the insights of Epigenetic Medicine will dramatically advance the fields of both medicine and psychology in the coming decade.

Best of all, The Genie in Your Genes demonstrates that, by taking control of our consciousness and using it to influence our genetic expression, we can sometimes bypass years of therapy, as well as harmful drugs and invasive surgeries, to, in effect, do continuous genetic engineering on our own bodies. This can produce both immediate relief from long-standing anxieties and neuroses, as well as "miraculous" healing of persistent physical conditions, especially autoimmune diseases.

Among a new crop of books that chart the way to a positive health future, The Genie in Your Genes stands out as a solidly grounded and exciting pointer to the future possibilities of a medicine that links soul to body and mind.

Today's guest blogger is Dawson Church, author of The Genie in Your Genes. I have to admit to being fascinated by this topic and also totally lacking in knowledge of Epigenetics. I have asked Dawson to discuss the connection between Epigenetics and cancer.

Dawson's turn:

Epigenetics is the science of how genes are switched on or off from outside the cell; epi=above, so epigenetics is control of genes above the level of the DNA itself.

About 20% of the genome is strongly inherited. These traits, like eye color and height, are set early in fetal development and cannot be changed much. The other 80% of genes express in conjunction with the environment. The environment includes cues like food, sex, opportunities and threats.

Stress is a very strong environmental epigenetic cue. When you’re stressed, by being chased by a predator, for instance, every system in your body is mobilized. Your respiration deepens. Your circulation speeds up. Capillaries in the digestive and reproductive systems contract to force blood elsewhere, since you don’t need reproduction, immunity or digestion when there’s a tiger charging at you. You need high blood sugar, elevated blood pressure, and plenty of blood in your muscles, so that’s exactly what happens. All these responses are mediated by genes that turn on and off in response to stressful stimuli. The genes that code for stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline turn on within seconds of such a stimulus, and your body starts pumping out those vital protein molecules.

In The Genie in Your Genes, (, I emphasize the studies that show that the stress response isn’t just triggered by objective threats. It’s also triggered by subjective experiences like thoughts, beliefs and emotions. Cancer patients, for example, have high levels of cortisol. Even though there’s no predator, emotional stress drives the production of these hormones. And we pay a price, since the precursors required for cortisol production are exactly the same as those required for our main cell repair hormone, DHEA. Cancer patients have, on average, less than half the normal level of DHEA.

In the book I emphasize all the habits of consciousness that drive healthy epigenetic signals. They include meditation, altruism, energy psychology, spirituality, social connectedness, and optimism. By cultivating these habits, we send signals of safety to our cells, that result in a healing internal environment. I use examples like that of identical twins. Their genomes are indistinguishable at three years of age, but by fifty, epigenetic influences have made them quite distinct. Identical twins die, on average, more than ten years apart, so the influence of epigenetics on health and life-span is not trivial. The book is all about how to harness the power of consciousness to send healthy epigenetic signals, and nudge our genome (regardless of which fixed genetic predispositions we’re born with) in the direction of optimal vitality.

About the author:

Dawson Church has edited or authored many books in the fields of health, psychology, and spirituality. He has collaborated on articles with many of the leading voices of our time, including Larry Dossey, Bernie Siegel, Caroline Myss, Barry Sears, and John Gray. He earned his doctorate in Integrative Healthcare at Holos University under the mentorship of distinguished neurosurgeon Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D., founder of the American Holistic Medical Association. He went on to receive a postgraduate Ph.D. in Natural Medicine.

Church and Shealy coauthored a compendious survey of spiritual healing throughout history called Soul Medicine. Church founded Soul Medicine Institute (SMI), a nonprofit dedicated to education and research into science-based medical interventions which use consciousness and energy as primary modalities. He is the author of several studies published in peer-reviewed journals, and lectures at many medical and psychology conferences each year.

He presents workshops on peak performance for athletes and organizations through EFT Power Training. He performed the first randomized blind trial of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) for athletes, the first study of EFTs effects on healthcare workers, and a large nationwide study of PTSD in war veterans as part of the Iraq Vets Stress Project.

His research summarizes the biomedical evidence for consciousness-based treatments. The Genie in Your Genes outlines the latest studies on the effects of psychospiritual experiences on gene expression, and predicts that consciousness will reach the front line of medicine in the coming decade. It has been hailed as a brilliant contribution to the literature by many reviewers.

You can visit his website at


Rie McGaha said...

I love that would've made for a great erotic title!
Rie McGaha...fantasy that keeps you up

Ruth said...

Oooooh this looks like an awesome book! I'll have to add it to my growing list. I just started learning about energy psychology and Thought Field Therapy with Robert Bray's book, No Open Wounds, and am really enjoying it. Looks like this will be next on my list. Thanks for the great review and interview!