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Epigenetics: How thoughts and emotions affect our genes? (Dawson Church)

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Discover epigenetics and why stress, emotions, spirituality and disease are inextricably linked. Explore the potential of epigenetic medicine and improve your health by proactively changing the way your genes are expressed through the alteration of your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.

What is Epigenetics?

Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene function that occur without any changes in the DNA sequence. It examines the source that activates gene expression or suppression and observes the energy flow that modulates the process. In other words, Epigenetics focuses on the signals that turn genes on and off. Some of those signals are chemical, while others are electromagnetic. Some come from an environment inside the body, whereas others are a response to an environment surrounding the body. These signals tell the genes what to do and when to do it, and looks for the forces outside of the cell that orchestrates the process.  Epigenetics studies the environment, such as the signals that initiate stem cell differentiation and wound healing.

VIDEO: Epigentics – why genes turn on and off?

  • Dawson gives a simple definition of epigenetics here (
  • Dawson explains how our genes are in a constant state of expression or suppression depending on the needs of the body. For example, he explains how our genes may suppress themselves when we are relaxing (i.e. having a glass of wine), or how they express themselves when we are in a state of shock (i.e. if we here a gunshot).
  • Dawson goes into detail about genes that turn on and off with regular intervals (clock genes) – how genes are expressed when we’re sleep versus when we engage in daily activity like eating.


What level of control do we have for our genes? What is fixed? What can be changed?

How much do we inherit as a fetus?  What is past down from generation to generation?

The old deterministic and fatalistic idea that genes cannot change is not 100% factual. There are many ways genes can be modified. Genes can be modified by reducing our stress level, altering our environment, or making other changes to our lifestyle. While it is true that certain gene expressions like hair and eye color are fixed, they only represent 15% of your genome. The remaining 85% is dynamically shifted based on external conditions.

VIDEO: and

VIDEO: How can we control our genetic expression? Lifestyle: exercise, diet, Stress, environment and age.

Dawson explains how lifestyle, environment, and mindset changes control your gene expression. He shares a personal example of how he made simple changes like reducing his consumption of negative news, to reduce his stress level.

VIDEO: How does a pharmaceutical approach compare?

Dawson explains the pros and cons of using psychotropic medicine for depression here: (

Why do epigenetic changes accumulate with age?

Why Stress hurts our body?

Our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs have an effect on our genetic expression and the chemical composition of our bodies. High stress levels suck biochemical resources away from cell repair and kill brain cells. The stress hormone cortisol is known to have a host of bad effects. It has been proven to reduce muscle mass, increase bone lose and osteoporosis, interfere with the generation of new skin cells, increase fat accumulation around the waist and hips, reduce memory and learning abilities among other detrimental consequences. However, Dawson Church believes that we can effectively restore normal cellular operation if we learn to release the short-term stress we hold on to and return to a biochemical baseline (P129).

How does The Fight-or-Flight Response contribute to poor health?

Dawson Church draws the war analogy to describe what happens in our brains and bodies when we are triggered by real or perceived fear and the fight-flight-or-freeze response and stress kicks in:

“When you trigger the fight-or-flight response in your body, it’s the equivalent of a head of state declaring war.  When war is declared, every industrial resource of a nation is suddenly shifted to the production of munitions.  Troops are mobilized and young people are drafted. The communications and transportation systems of the country are put under military control. Borders are sealed, and security is tightened everywhere. Every one of the country’s systems is put on a war footing.

When you’re in danger, though, the body has no use for frontal lobes (focused on language and abstract thought). Instead, it relies on your ancient reptilian instincts to keep you alive. The fight-or-flight response hijacks all the body’s systems. Your muscles tense for action and blood flows to your outer limbs. To get the blood, it diverts blood from your digestive, reproductive, and cognitive systems. Your skin blanches to prevent blood loss. Your pupils dilate, your blood sugar rises, along with your blood pressure and heart rate, so that you have plenty of spare energy.

The mobilization comes at a price. Your immune system is depressed, as are your digestive and reproductive capacities as much as 80% of the blood in your frontal lobes drains out to free the muscles, which is why sages tell you not to make any decisions while you’re upset.” (p171)

When the crises have passed, everything goes back to normal unless you use your forebrain to replay that drama over and over again. In turn, this will trigger the fight-of-flight response in your body thousands of times after the need for war has disappeared.

Why Stress Induces Genetic Changes?

When researchers compare the genes of medical students before and after taking their medical licensing examination, they found that during the high-stress period, twenty-four genes were expressed differently.  Another research study found that people who are lonely and depressed compared to a happier group had 209 genes that were expressed differently.  P 250

How does Stress effet us at the cellular level?

In his article Spirituality and Immunity, Stephen Marini, PhD, shares the results of stress at the cellular level:

  • Wound healing take nine days longer.
  • Intercellular communication is decreased
  • The immune system is suppressed
  • Poorer inflammation response at the site of the injury
  • Increased bacterial infections
  • Increased susceptibility to autoimmune diseases
  • Decreased ability to handle invading toxins.

Combating Diseases with Epigenetic Therapy and alternative medicine

Scientific evidence from several studies has shown that when we are happy, our emotional state has a powerful epigenetic effect on our bodies, affecting all of the major systems.

Below are abbreviated passages from Chapter 2 of Dawson Church’s book, The Genie in Your Genes that offer ways that you can make progress in shifting your genetic expression and overall health.

What lifestyle changes are healing?

Dawson Church shares a list of conscious-based methods that will shift our emotional state from anxiety to serenity, which ultimately affects our gene expression. These techniques can be used to induce happiness and give us control over genetic markers.

  • Positive beliefs
  • Yoga
  • Spirituality
  • Prayers
  • Positive Images and visualizations
  • Electromagnetic shifts
  • Optimism
  • Intention
  • Energy Medicine
  • Energy Psychology
  • Positive Thinking
  • Nurturing
  • Gratitude
  • Happy Social Networks
  • Acts of Kindness
  • Meditation
  • Compassion

How a belief god can improve your health?

Research composed by Psychiatrist, Dr. Gail H. Ironson on HIV/AIDS published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, showed the correlation between spirituality and the progression of HIV. A diagnosis of HIV/AIDS alone is a devastating event that can aptly cause anyone to become depressed and overwhelmed. But, Ironson’s study also revealed that patients who did not believe in the love of God lost helper T cells three times faster than those who believed God did love them. Those that felt a sense of peace showed lower levels of the body damaging stress hormone cortisol as well.

“If you believe God loves you, it’s an enormously protective factor, even more protective than scoring low for depression, or high for optimism.  Patients who believed that God was punishing them, didn’t love them, didn’t have the power to help, or felt their church had deserted them, experience 19% to 28% greater mortality during the two-year period following hospital discharge”. P65

How prayer can speed healing?

Countless studies have revealed the true power of prayer. The bottom line, patients who pray get better faster.

Larry Doseey’s book, Prayer is Good Medicine, shared over 1,200 scientific studies that demonstrate the link between prayer and intention and health and longevity. Get three steps for pumping up your prayers here.

Why meditation is so important to your health?

Dr. Robert Dozer, cofounder of the Integrative Health Clinic of Santa Rosa, states that “meditation-all by itself-may offer more to the health of a modern American than all the pharmaceutical remedies put together”.

According to the PET scans and EEG recordings, experienced Tibetan Buddhist monks in comparison to novices showed greater increases in gamma waves, attention, memory, and learning.

To boot, another study done at the University of California in San Francisco found that school teachers who meditated in as little as thirty minutes or less per day had the same mood enhancing effect as an antidepressant.

VIDEO: What is the science behind how meditation and mindset changes our genes?

Visualizations can help brain form new neural connections

Visualizations and the positive images we create in our minds can produce an epigenetic environment that reinforces the healing process. In a study of seventh grade math students, Stanford University Research psychologist Carol Dweck, PhD, noticed how students who believed that the nature of intelligence could grow and change like a plant had shown improvements in their math scores. These students were taught about neuroscience and how the brain grows and form neural connections when confronted with novelty and change. They visualized that if they worked hard in school, their brains would expand. Contrarily, those who believed that intelligence were fixed showed a decrease in their math scores.

How a positive attitude can change how long we live?

In his book Spontaneous Remission, Dr. Andrew Weil’s cites studies that illustrate how negative perceptions about aging can shorten our lives but positive beliefs prolong them. It was learned that older people who thought highly of aging lived seven and a half years longer than those with negative attitudes. Another study followed one thousand older adults for nine years; those with higher levels of optimism were 23% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and had a 55% lower risk of death from other causes.

VIDEO: Can these techniques produce long lasting results?

  • Research conducted on veterans with PTSD revealed that just after six sessions 90% of their symptoms disappeared and positive improvements were seen 3 – 6 months later. Other studies had shown similar results for phobias as well.

VIDEO: How to becomd a “feel Good” drug addict?

  • After engaging in above behaviors you can be addicted to dopamine, high levels of serotonin, DHEA, and a low set point for cortisol and to become stress intolerant.

Epigenetics: How Alternative medicine can help?

Dawson suggests alternative to allopathic medicine and when to go to a Western or Eastern practice.

VIDEO: Energy Medicine – Acupuncture, Accupressure, Reiki

Techniques that work with your energy meridians: Acupuncture, EFT, and Acupressure

  • Dawson explains what happens with Acupuncture and shares his theories on how they work with piezoelectricity.
  • Discover how energy flow relates to the expression of our genes and how the needles in Acupuncture are used to unblock the energy flow and trigger the feel good hormones.

Energy Psychology

Roger Callahan’s Thought Field Therapy (TFT) spawned the foundation for much of the Energy Psychology Therapies. The TFT process includes the following techniques: Emotional Freedom Tapping, EMDR, WHEE (Wholistic Hybrid derived from EFT and EMDR), PSYCh-K, Tapas Acupressure Technique, and Energy Medicine.

Energy Psychology uses touch instead of Acupuncture needles to redirect energy. These therapies are proven to be more concise compared to its long-term conventional psychotherapy counterparts, which can often take months and years to develop improvements. They also have long lasting effects.

Dawson Church quotes Biologist James Oschman on how energy psychology works (p222):

“Stored trauma can be resolved as quickly as it was set in place. The body is continuously poised to resolve these afflictions and all of the physiological and emotional imbalance they create. This process goes to the deep energetic level that organizes and incarnates or underlies conscious experience itself. When this happens, the patient may suddenly know that the issue or discomfort will not bother them again. “

Dawson Church suggests that one way these techniques work in changing genes is that they “create a piezoelectric charge that travels through the connective tissue along the path of least electrical resistance. When a traumatic memory is recalled, along with the awareness of the site in the body that holds the primary memory of the trauma, tapping introduces a message of safety to the body that is not congruent with the emotionally arousing memory.  So while your mind is sending a message of danger, your body is getting a conflicting message of safety. This decouples the memory from the fight-of-flight response. The immediate early genes that regulate stress are expressed, and the body becomes calm again.  The intensity of physical feeling at the site of the body diminishes, discharging the emotional intensity related to trauma” P231.

VIDEO: Proof that energy changes are real?

When to use Alternative Techniques and go to traditional Doctor

These techniques can be the preventative medicine you need. Before seeing a traditional doctor, Dawson Church shares some of their competencies that he extracted from Andrew Weil’s book Spontaneous Healing.


  • Manage trauma better than any other system of medicine.
  • Diagnose and treat many medical and surgical emergencies.
  • Treat acute bacterial infections with antibiotics.
  • Treat some parasitic and fungal infections.
  • Prevent many infectious diseases by immunizations.
  • Diagnose complex medical problems.
  • Replace damage hips and knees.
  • Get good results with cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.
  • Diagnose and correct hormonal deficiencies.


  • Treat viral infections.
  • Cure most chronic degenerative diseases.
  • Effectively manage most kinds of mental illness.
  • Cure most forms of allergy or autoimmune disease.
  • Effectively manage psychosomatic illness.
  • Cure most forms of cancer.

VIDEO:  Dawson shares his thoughts on the best way to combine Eastern and Western therapeutic techniques and when you should use Western medicine here.

VIDEO: What should you try when you have tried everything in Western medicine and nothing is working?

About Dawson Church – Award-Winning Author of The Genie in Your Genes, Founder of National Institute of Integrative Health

Dawson Church, PhD,  is an award-winning author whose best-selling book, The Genie in Your Genes, ( has been hailed by reviewers as a breakthrough in our understanding of the link between emotions and genetics. He founded the National Institute for Integrative Healthcare ( to study and implement promising evidence-based psychological and medical techniques. His groundbreaking research has been published in prestigious scientific journals. He is the editor of Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, & Treatment, a peer-reviewed professional journal (, a blogger for theHuffington Post, and a reviewer for the APA’s Mental Health Mobile Phone Application Review Database. He shares how to apply the breakthroughs of energy psychology to health and athletic performance through EFT Universe (, one of the largest alternative medicine sites on the web.