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Are your histones happy? Epigenetics and the role of Transcendental Meditation in recovery from food addiction
by Global Good News staff writer
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8 February 2013
Surrounding every gene is an 'epigene' that is made of proteins called histones. It has been discovered fairly recently that histones play a very significant role in our lives, explained Pamela Peeke, MD, at a recent conference at the University of Maryland's Center for Integrative Medicine. Histones continually scan the choices we are making, monitoring our actions throughout life, and sending messages giving direction to the genes.
Dr Peeke is a distinguished expert physician, scientist, and author in the fields of nutrition, stress, fitness, and public health. She was addressing the conference, entitled The New Science of Meditation and Self-Healing: Transcendental Meditation and Mind-Body Medicine, about her pioneering research on food addiction and the potentially significant role of Transcendental Meditation in its treatment.
Histones, according to Dr Peeke, could be called 'speechwriters for the genes'. We write our own script by the lifestyle choices we make, she said. A gene, which has the potential for any number of things, waits for direction from the histone.
Thus it is very important to 'keep the histones happy'.
Dr Peeke suggested that people need to be more aware of the gene-mind connection. She also suggested that if someone thinks they don't have time to practise Transcendental Meditation 20 minutes twice a day, they might think about their histones and whether they are happy with this particular lifestyle choice.
In terms of rehabilitation, as a person goes through the healing process the health of the prefrontal cortex (the 'CEO' of the brain, governing executive function, planning and decision-making) is paramount. Dr Peeke conducted two small pilot experiments, using Transcendental Meditation, through the Transcendental Meditation Center in Bethesda, MD. All subjects in both experiments were classified as addicted to food through Yale University's 'food addiction assessment'. The study lasted eight weeks, which gave the subjects time to adapt to Transcendental Meditation and to see what effects it would have on their ability to stay vigilant and focused, and to rein in impulsivity.
The results were very encouraging. Through the regular practice of Transcendental Meditation subjects not only were able to stay calmer, but also were able to take a breath and think, rather than jumping impulsively into whatever next activity, a classic element in addictive behaviour.
Heading into the study Dr Peeke had no expectation as to a result. However, the result she found was so remarkable that afterwards she approached Dr Brian Berman, founder and director of the Center for Integrative Medicine, with the idea to expand it and go deeper.
When Dr Peeke suggested to one of her most respected colleagues that Transcendental Meditation might be an effective way to treat food addiction she received a very enthusiastic response, she said. She feels scientists and researchers are 'on the launch pad' of exciting new breakthroughs. As Dr Norman Rosenthal said in his New York Times bestselling book, Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation, Transcendental Meditation is an extraordinary way to rein in impulsive behaviour.
She also gave recognition to a woman in the audience who was the 'living embodiment' of someone who had recently turned her life around, and had also recently become certified as a teacher of Transcendental Meditation—a very gracious professional woman who not that long ago weighed 400 pounds. This woman, in Dr Peeke's words, represents the 'practical application of dealing with food addiction through the use of Transcendental Meditation'.
Global Good News will feature more of Dr Peeke's conference talk about epigenetics, food addition, and Transcendental Meditation.
Copyright © 2013 Global Good News Service
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