Herbal Support for Optimal DNA Health
by Laurie S Roth Donnell, Master Herbalist and Holistic Health Practitioner
Epigenetics is the science of tracking how a person’s mental, emotional, and cellular experiences can change, alter, morph, and direct how the DNA is passed onto future generations! Perhaps you have noticed some people totally change for better or for worse, in the course of a decade. Darwin’s theory of natural selection, portrays evolution of animals occurring over “geological time” and is part of the story, but the remaining part, the theory of epigenetics, puts opportunity and responsibility for genetic evolution on the shoulders of the individual. Destiny is not fated by our DNA, but chosen by our daily dietary and lifestyle choices as well as our thought patterns and emotions. By taking extra care to nurture what nature has given us, we each can significantly alter our wellness for better or for worse.
Perhaps we can alter the trajectory of our wellness enough to make a significant difference in the happiness and well-being of our community, our future generations, and ourselves. Several high-frequency, clarity-invoking metabolic herbs contribute to this genetic fortification and work to support and naturally enhance genetic wellbeing. The reduced expression of youthful metabolism-associated genes in aged individuals is largely based on epigenetic mechanisms. DNA hypermethylation and NFκB activation are fundamental mediators of metabolic degeneration (insulin resistance), aging, and inflammation.
Dietary interventions including specific tonic herbs may reduce age-related DNA methylation and associated degenerative disorders. As intelligent humans, we have the ability to control, to a significant degree, the factors that most affect our health process and healthy aging. In Ayurvedic Medicine there are a few epigenetic “all-star” herbs such as: Tulsi, Ginger, Turmeric, Amalaki, Brahmi, Atis, Jatamansi, Jyotishmati, Cinnamon and to some extent Ashwagandha, all utilized as epigenetic herbs. In the last decade, western science has confirmed Tulsi and Ginger can reach all the way into the chromatin of a cell’s nucleus and up regulate the histone H3, a key player in epigenetics. Investigation into what dictates the direction and magnitude of the response of an individual, and the actual and hoped for molecular targets for the micronutrients available in herbs, are based on both genetic and epigenetic events and conditioning. In the case of the response of herbs being epigenetic events, note the fascinating fact that herbs themselves can turn these epigenetic events on or off. In other words, long-term use of one herb that can up regulate histone may change one’s ability to be supported by another herb. Shilajit, Saffron, Honey, and Ghee are actually epigenetic medicines as well. Consult with your health care provider prior to incorporating these herbs into your daily health regime.
Indeed, the paradigm has shifted before our eyes. Genetics is no longer the stern ruler of our destiny (it never really has been). Our unity with nature, the harmony we share with one another, the spirit of our interactions with people, the environment and its creatures, and the way we live our lives determine who we are, who we will become, and our impact on the world we live in. Epigenetics is the physical mechanisms—a physical mechanism that manifests our spiritual power. Healthy optimal gene expression is fundamental to wellness. In addition, as much as I am in awe of Tulsi, Ginger and other likeminded herbs to assist us here, truly we cannot shift the responsibility of our personal wellness to any outside party—no doctor, no priest, no herb, and no oasis. Rather, in the end, the depth of our wellness depends on the nature of our spirit and intentions to provide the body optimum nutrition and exercise to thrive and maintain healthy DNA at any age.
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