What is DNA?
“It’s a history book – a narrative of the journey of our species through time. It’s a shop manual, with an incredibly detailed blueprint for building every human cell. And it’s a transformative textbook of medicine, with insights that will give health care providers immense new powers to treat, prevent and cure diseases.”
Genetics is the study of single genes in isolation. Genomics is the study of all the genes in the genome, their interaction with each other, and with the environment. Each individual’s history book is full of possible stories. Which stories are told can be largely influenced by factors such as diet, lifestyle, emotional state, and environment
In clinical practice, we are privileged to have the ability to hear what our patients are presenting with: their story. We have the ability to order testing that looks at their phenotypical expression (what each gene is telling the body to say: the “stories” that are being told). This allows not only better treatment of existing concerns, but also tailored prevention of future disease.
This can be seen through the story of one of my patients, JP. When we met, JP told me “I would love to find relief from the gut pain I feel daily… I can’t remember the last day I had without some bowel pain or issue like gas and bloating.” Alongside her severe digestive symptoms, JP expressed significant anxiety, fatigue toward the end of the day, fertility concerns, and cravings for sweets.
JP was a bright, young individual experiencing undue suffering every day. The issues left unresolved by conventional care were not only causing daily pain and discomfort, but put JP at risk for developing serious illness in the future.
To get to the root-cause of JP’s suffering, I ran the following tests:
This uncovered hidden celiac disease, as well as casein (dairy) intolerance.
This showed 35 “reds” and “yellows” (food sensitivities), suggesting severe intestinal permeability.
GI Stool Effects
Showing SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) and various medication intolerances.
Showing imbalances that could aggravate and perpetuate her anxiety.
Heart Rate Variability
Showed a stressed system in need of rest and relaxation.
Her ION revealed numerous nutritional imbalances. These allowed for exploration into ‘nutrigenomics’, or how these nutrient deficiencies and imbalances affected JP’s gene expression and determined her health.
All of the above tests allowed for greater understanding of the underlying imbalances that lead to JP’s debilitating symptoms. This allowed me to eliminate her lifelong digestive problems by cleaning up her gut, reducing her toxicity, balancing her hormones, and replenishing her nutrient depletions.
Her anxiety, however, began to worsen once her digestion improved. It was only in looking at her genome that I was able to finesse her diet and supplement program to heal her fully.
23andMe Gene Test
Prior to the deciphering of the human genome, it was believed that once we knew the code of life in our DNA, we would answer all the questions related to the origin of disease. What we learned, however, is that rather than disease being locked in as hardwired “stories” in our genome, these characteristics that are included in our genes are dynamic. Each gene is in a constant dance with our environment, lifestyle, diet, stress level, and physical activity (or lack thereof).
In running this test, we uncovered genetic inefficiencies in methylation, neurotransmitter sensitivity (mood management), and nutrient usage (explaining the nutritional imbalances), got information to optimize her diet, and figured out what needed to be done to reduce her risk for the mood disorders most of her close family suffered from, improve her addictive behavior around sweets, and greatly reduce the risk of her developing the chronic illnesses she was particularly susceptible to getting.
Thanks to genomic testing, I was able to see where JP’s gene expression was hindering her healing journey. With that knowledge, we were able to build bridges where there were once roadblocks, and JP left my office with the gifts of vitality and robust health.
“Our health and disease patterns… are not hardwired by our genes, but are rather a consequence of the interaction of our genetic uniqueness with environmental factors.”
–Jeffery Bland, PhD
Jeff Bland called this genomic revolution a paradigm shift in our model of healthcare from a deterministic, disease-centric model to a wellness-centric model. We had previously assumed that dominant and recessive traits were locked into our genes and we had no ability to change them. The assumption was that medicine existed to put a band-aid on symptoms and disease which we could not prevent or heal. Luckily, our new wellness-centric model asks not only “How do you get sick?”, but “How can you be well?”.
We are on a gigantic wave of medical revolution, and genomics is at the heart of that wave. Let’s paddle out together and see where the riptides might be.
With love and healing,
Dr. Lynne Murfin, MD