Health… an Upstream Perspective
Traditional modern medicine has long associated disease with the malfunctioning of the body due to faulty genetics and/or the “unknown” for quite some time. This is based on the perspective that the human body’s fate is largely predetermined to health or disease irregardless of outside influences due to genetic inheritances and random, unexplained mutations.
The relatively young field of Epigenetics (by mainstream standards) is based on studying the changes of gene expression based on external and/or environmental factors which subsequently affects how cells read these genes.
It would appear that these two perspectives are a bit contradictory.
One field of thought blames faulty expressed genes for disease.
The other train of thought blames the external and internal environments of the body for alterations in genetic expression which then potentially lead to disease.
Which one is it?
From taking a brief glance at the VMAT2 gene and it’s relationship with Melatonin, it’d appear that hormonal secretion lies upstream from genetic expression. The body naturally produces hormones that regulate cellular and subsequently organ function. It would appear that once the body is producing sub-par amounts of these health giving hormones, in conjunction with potentially overproducing stress hormones… it is an inevitability that cellular dysfunction occurs which leads to the manifestation of disease.
Let’s take the disease known as “cancer”.
In a recent exchange on Twitter, Dr. Rhonda Patrick cited the following:
@NuricheCory DNA damage is at the root of cancer. Some people repair/mitigate damage better (genetic jackpot). https://t.co/zdKmdEoP5D— Dr. Rhonda Patrick (@foundmyfitness) November 11, 2015
Let it be known that I do enjoy Patrick’s interviews, online interaction, and insights. She is very informative and it’s great to see young doctors keeping an open mind as to holistic methods of addressing disease. While Dr. Patrick states that DNA damage is at the root of cancer, it doesn’t necessarily equate DNA damage to being the root from my perspective. She states that some people naturally repair DNA damage better than others based on genetics. This brings us back to the discussion of epigenetics and environmental factors that effect gene expression & DNA damage.
Being that Q4LT has a relatively narrow defined scope of focus, it behooves us to take a look at the relationship between melatonin and DNA damage.
In 2004, a study published in the journal Experimental Toxicology & Pathology reported results of rats who had been administered melatonin in order to verify whether there were any protective effects against the ionizing radiation induced DNA damage in their brains. The results indicated that pre-treatment of the rats with melatonin prior to the radiation led to a “significant decrease in the DNA strand breakage and lipid peroxidation”.
In 2007, Mutation Research/Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis published the results of an in vitro study whose aim was to verify melatonin’s potential ability to protect DNA against oxidative damage. It was reported that melatonin “reduced DNA damage induced by hydrogen peroxide” and “stimulated the repair of DNA damage induced by hydrogen peroxide”.
In 2012, Oncogene published a study titled “Melatonin triggers p53Ser phosphorylation and prevents DNA damage accumulation”. The paper stated “melatonin induces phosphorylation of p53 at Ser-15 inhibiting cell proliferation and preventing DNA damage accumulation of both normal and transformed cells”
In 2013, the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research published a study on the effects of melatonin on DNA Damage induced by anti-tumor agent Cyclophosphamide in rats. The results stated that melatonin treated rats “showed a reduction of 85.8% in the number of chromosomal aberrations” vs. non-treated rats.
In 2013, BMC Cell Biology published a study on melatonin’s effect on DNA strand breaks in breast cancer and colon cancer cell lines. The conclusion of the study was “melatonin may enhance DNA repair capacity by affecting several key genes involved in DNA damage responsive pathways.”
In 2014, in the Journal of Pineal Research, a study was published in regards to it’s potentiality to mitigate Ultraviolet B-induced damage in human skin cells. The paper states “significant reduction in the generation of reactive oxygen species (50–60%) when UVB-exposed keratinocytes were treated with melatonin” and “observed that melatonin and its metabolites enhanced the DNA repair capacity.”
Based on just a handful of these studies it would appear that there might be a potential correlation between melatonin deficiency and subsequently DNA damage leading to cancer.
In 1998, the journal Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation published a study titled “A significant correlation between melatonin deficiency and endometrial cancer”. The results showcased a 500% greater value in plasma melatonin levels for the non-cancerous group of women vs. the cancerous group.
In 1999, in the journal Mechanisms of Ageing and Development a study was published in which rats had their pineal glands removed (the pineal gland is considered the predominant source of melatonin production in the body). The study stated “the findings are consistent with the idea that the accelerated accumulation of oxidatively damaged products after pinealectomy was due to reduction in melatonin since it functions as a free radical scavenger and antioxidant.”
In 2015, the journal Endocrine-Related Cancer published a study titled, Melatonin: an inhibitor of breast cancer. The study concluded the following: “Research in animal and human models has indicated that LEN-induced disruption of the circadian nocturnal melatonin signal promotes the growth, metabolism, and signaling of human breast cancer and drives breast tumors to endocrine and chemotherapeutic resistance. These data provide the strongest understanding and support of the mechanisms that underpin the epidemiologic demonstration of elevated breast cancer risk in night-shift workers and other individuals who are increasingly exposed to LEN.”
At a brief glance, it would appear that melatonin plays a role in many facets of the body much greater than simply a sedative or sleep hormone. It’s rather clear this hormone has a positive & protective effect on the function of the lungs, stomach, skin, brain, nervous system, bladder, lymph nodes, small intestines, large intestines, bones, kidneys, liver, heart, and pancreas. Just as an FYI there are multiple, potentially dozens of studies showcasing melatonin’s positive protective effects on each of these organs.
Another key factor in our immune system function is the thymus which is an endocrine gland that produces T-cells and is well known as being extremely important to our well being. Traditional science textbooks state that the thymus begins to atrophy during puberty and eventually morphs into a little blob of fat. Interestingly enough, in 2003 a study was published in Immunology Letters in which the following was asserted in terms of mice and exogenously administered melatonin, “our results show that melatonin distinctly reversed the age-related thymic involution as revealed by the notable increase of thymus weight, total number of thymocytes and percentage of thymocytes at G2+S phases.”
In 2004, in Neuroendocrinology Letters a study was published in regards to rats that had their pineal glands removed. The results suggest that pineal gland removal decreased thymus gland weight which was reversed with exogenous melatonin administration.
Perhaps the Thymus gland… one of the most important players in terms of our immune system doesn’t have to “naturally” atrophy prematurely during puberty?
(Maybe the “Sleeping Prophet” Edgar Cayce was on to something?)
Does this equate to Melatonin by itself as being a “miracle” hormone that allows us to overcome all disease… specifically cancer? Perhaps not literally… but it could possibly equate to the environment which induces elevated Melatonin levels subsequently leads to higher levels of Glutathione, Pinoline, and potentially Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) which all synergistically repair DNA damage alongside melatonin. There is likely dozens of other unidentified hormones that play a syngergetic role with this master hormone. The point is that it is the overall environment of optimized melatonin production that produces the cellular regulation and DNA repair that staves off disease rather than simply the melatonin by itself. While it’s been a long held belief that darkness equates to elevated melatonin production, it’d appear that EEG state is equally if not more influential on endogenous melatonin secretion.
Darkness inherently provides less detail of visual processing which effects brain wave patterns (EEG). However, this doesn’t equate to darkness automatically equating to optimized Melatonin levels irregardless of the EEG state. Think… convict that’s been thrown in the “hole” for 7 days while incarcerated in a maximum security prison versus a meditation practitioner partaking in a dark room retreat for 7 days. The dark surroundings could be considered eerily similar but the EEG states of the convict vs. the meditation practitioner are likely to be extremely different. One person has trauma on the mind while the other has deep relaxation which equate to vastly different EEG states and subsequently hormonal secretion.
In 2000, the scientific journal “Biological Psychology” published a study in which night-time plasma melatonin levels were measured amongst experienced meditators. The conclusion of the study is that it “showed significantly higher plasma melatonin levels in the period immediately following meditation compared with the same period at the same time on a control night”.
In 2004, in the “Medical Science Monitor” a study was published which measured melatonin plasma levels in experienced meditators compared to non-meditators. During the study, it was confirmed that the experienced meditators exuded an average of 58% higher plasma melatonin level (4.9 pg/ml-1) compared to the control group (3.1 pg/ml-1) during a normal, waking state.
In 2012, in the journal “Frontiers in Neurology”, an extensive review was done on meditation and it’s regulatory role in sleep. According to unpublished data in the paper, experienced meditators had melatonin levels nearly 500% greater than non meditators. Here is the excerpt - “Diurnal (daytime) melatonin levels were found to be significantly high in Vipassana meditators (approximately 300 pg ml) than non-meditating controls (65 pg ml).”
In 2010, in the publication “Journal of the Formosan Medical Association”, a study was done on nighttime melatonin levels from “Chinese Original Quiet Sitting”. The conclusion of the study was that “COQS” could be used as a psychophysiological stimulus to increase internal melatonin production.
In 2011, in the journal “Evidence Based Complimentary Alternative Medicine”, a study was published on the effects of diaphragmatic breathing and it’s effect on the body. The study concluded that the diaphragmatic breathing group exhibited approximately a 42% greater level (27 pg/ml) of nocturnal salivary melatonin levels compared to the control group (19 pg/ml).
These groups of studies provide some support for the correlation between melatonin secretion and EEG state rather than purely basing the relationship on light/darkness.
This brings us back to the question of… what is the root cause of disease and more specifically cancer?
Is it DNA Damage, faulty genes, or “good” hormonal deficiency coupled with overproduction of “bad” hormones?
While most of the studies of health focus on disease, it’d appear to be equally if not more important to study humans that are truly healthy. It is my opinion that true health is largely predicated on robust longevity rather than aesthetics. This is why taking a deep look at centenarians (humans living over 100 years) is extremely important in terms of analyzing commonalities of disease free living for sustained periods of time. It’s much too easy to assume that an active, health conscious person in their 30s is “healthy” based on appearance while having little foresight of how long they will live or how they will age. Centenarians have already reached the level that most strive to attain so to study true health is to study Centenarians in my opinion.
In 2004, in the journal of Pineal Research a study was published titled “Qualitative and quantitative changes of melatonin levels in physiological and pathological aging and in centenarians.” The study concluded: “pineal melatonin secretion is affected by age and by the degree of cognitive impairment. In centenarians the maintenance of the circadian organization of melatonin secretion may suggest that the amplitude of the nocturnal peak and/or the persistence of a prevalent nocturnal secretion may be an important marker of biological age and of health status.”
In 2008, in the journal Experimental Gerontology a study was published in regards to potential Neuroendocrine features associated with extreme longevity. The study concluded “these findings suggest that the circadian rhythm of melatonin secretion is maintained in centenarians and, based on the limitations of this study, could be considered one factor in successful aging.”
In 2000, in the journal Acta Biochimica Polonica a study was published in regards to the antioxidant defense of centenarians. The results were reported as follows: “in comparison with young healthy female adults the centenarians had significantly higher red blood cell glutathione reductase.”
In 2008, in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society a study was published looking at the antioxidant parameters of centenarians compared to healthy young adults (25-35) and middle-aged adults (65-75). The results were as follows: “with normal aging, total glutathione levels decrease, but the centenarians in this study showed levels similar to those of young adults.”
Would it be considered a coincidence that these long-lived people exude higher amounts of melatonin and glutathione that have been identified to mitigate DNA damage in addition to regulating their endocrine system?
Sleep quality is extremely important to optimize night-time melatonin levels but the demeanor and thoughts (EEG state) of a person during the waking state are equally as important in order to maintain greater melatonin levels during the day. Perhaps a commonality amongst the long-lived has to do with particular emotions which subsequently effect EEG state which subsequently affects melatonin secretion which subsequently affects hundreds of bodily functions including DNA damage and repair?
There’s also the question of the body’s filtration system such as the liver and kidneys. For some strange reason, many of the biotech/pharmaceutical drugs on the market today focus on fixing “faulty cellular signaling” while producing the strange side effects of liver, kidney, and even bone marrow damage. Just take a look at the HIV drug Truvada as an example. It is my opinion that allopathic medicine has gone so far downstream from the true “root” problem that we are discarding extremely important yet simple concepts such as enhancing master hormonal secretion and enhancing filtration organ function to reverse disease and induce systemic wellness.
If someone were to state… “prove the concept that humans with higher than average levels of Melatonin & Glutatione are healthier and live longer”, I’d likely state that there is no clinical, peer-reviewed studies to prove this.
However, there are centenarians.
In the same vein I’d ask them, “prove the concept that synthetically blocking or altering cellular signals in order to "reverse disease” provides the desired effect of systemic regulation & regeneration as does endogenously produced hormones at optimized levels".
I simply do not comprehend the mentality of focusing on such minute, downstream fixes when the root problem appears to lie so much farther upstream based on studying the healthiest people on the planet versus the sickest. The farther you go upstream, the more it appears that a person’s thought process plays a pivotal role in the manifestation of disease due to effects on EEG state of the brain which is obviously the master control center of the body’s nervous system, endocrine system & all the rest of the systems housed in a human.
The recent breakthroughs regarding the Iceman, Wim Hof as it pertains to immune system and autonomic nervous system control via breathing exercises and meditation are intriguing based on the ability to alter one’s blood pH (acidity/alkalinity) and EEG state. This subsequently has a direct impact on hormonal secretion.
There are literally dozens if not hundreds of books touting the importance of maintaining an alkalized state in order to remain in robust health with thousands of anecdotal reports of success. Perhaps the Wim Hof studies will approach the pH angle of health from a different perspective which will then lend credence to the earlier practitioners touting the importance of an alkaline state based on basic epigenetic principles. It could be that a combination of alkalizing one’s body coupled with inducing elevated melatonin synthesis via EEG manipulation could be a very important key to mitigating DNA damage.
It appears as though carbon dioxide(CO2) levels ultimately dictate the pH levels found throughout the body. It behooves us to take a look at a 2001 study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. The paper is based on studying the effects of CO2 on human ovarian cancer growth. The conclusion was “carbon dioxide exposure increases the in vitro growth of human ovarian carcinoma cells”.
An additional paper in 2001 in the journal Surgical Endoscopy outlined the effects of CO2 influencing the growth of cultured human cancer cells. The conclusion was as follows “CO2 insufflation influences the growth of cultured human tumor cells. After a short period of suppression, the CO2 environment stimulates malignant cell growth.” In 2013, in the journal Anticancer Research a study outlined similar conclusions as it pertains to colon cancer cells. The conclusion was “CO(2) concentration changes enhanced the invasive capacity of colon cancer cells”.
From a different perspective on pH, a study in the journal Cancer Research took place in 2009 regarding the effects of orally administered Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda) in mouse models of metastatic breast cancer. The study cited the following “we show that oral NaHCO(3) selectively increased the pH of tumors and reduced the formation of spontaneous metastases in mouse models of metastatic breast cancer.”
It’s a bit interesting to me that these same exact factors that appear to lead to optimized health happen to be the same exact factors that appear to lead to endogenous “Spirit Molecule” (DMT) synthesis.
Remember… elevated Melatonin + suppressed CO2 levels?
Another potential tie-in to endogenous DMT levels in the body as it pertains to health is the enzyme indolethylamine N-methyltransferase (INMT). INMT has been reported to provide the conversion from Tryptamine to DMT possibly in the lungs. This 2014 overview in the journal Biochemistry notes the fact that INMT is downregulated in prostate and lung cancers “implying a role for INMT in inhibiting tumor progression”.
It’s rather clear that the rabbit hole of wellness and disease can progress indefinitely…
The human body is complex beyond complex but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we (traditional sciences) should continue digging further into the complexity (DNA, MicroRNA, siRNA) in order to “figure out” wellness. We’ve gotten so far from root issues that the perspective has become so convoluted that it makes little sense to continue on the path. We’ll learn more details and cellular mechanics but… so what?
By taking a very basic look at the average lifestyle of people in industrialized countries which consists of overeating (CO2 overflux + melatonin deficiency leading to leptin/ghrelin appetite imbalance), sedentary (lymphatic stagnation), sleep deprivation (melatonin deficiency), lack of direct sunlight (Vitamin D deficiency/Glutathione deficiency), frantic EEG state (stress hormone overflux + melatonin deficiency), and over exposure to blue light (melatonin deficiency)… it isn’t quite a mystery why diseases would tend to manifest rather prematurely.
There are dozens of holistic modalities currently being utilized to combat all forms of disease. I believe there is more than one way to optimal wellness but that ultimately the foundation of all these programs have to do with optimizing melatonin levels (relaxation/emotions), glutathione levels (diet/supplements), alkalizing (CO2 suppression), initiating lymphatic flow (exercise/movement), and some variation of the “refurbishing” of the entire digestive tract aka the majority of the immune system via diet or specific methods.
Mind you none of this has even touched upon the importance of Vitamin D on it’s subsequent regulation of glutathione and overall wellness in the body.
At it’s absolute most basic fundamental level of this “holistic” perspective, one only has to cite the rather obvious regenerative effects of sleep. There are likely hundreds if not thousands of studies on the multitude of health benefits of optimized sleep. One only has to look at the breathing patterns and melatonin surges (EEG states) during this period to hypothesize that if these general parameters are replicated during one’s waking state (meditation, hypnosis, deep relaxation, breathing exercises), that regenerative hormonal secretion can potentially be perpetuated during one’s waking hours which would potentially optimize one’s health even further.
Just because allopathic medicine has fallen 33 steps down the rabbit hole of the human body while their holistic counterparts operate at step 1 doesn’t equate to a lack of scientific backing for the reason to stay at step 1. All you have to do is look at the data and work your way backwards in a logical manner.
Being that we are almost in 2016 with a plethora of information at our fingertips with the ability to personally connect with other individuals on a global scale, we are obviously at a nexus as it pertains to the future of health and medicine. More and more cancer patients are willing to forego the standard treatments of chemotherapy. More and more diabetes patients are reversing their conditions via lifestyle changes. These people are willing to “put themselves at risk” in order to try a different approach to eradicating disease. The success of a few will open the eyes of a group which will ultimately lead to the adoption by the masses.
It’s an inevitability at this point.
PS. While emotional health appears to be the ultimate upstream catalyst that ultimately dictates overall well-being, it isn’t completely realistic to tell a person with severe illness to merely change their attitudes in order to reverse their health conditions. These people need patience, guidance, understanding, and comprehensive yet simple implementation plans to heal themselves properly both body and mind.
For a more extensive look at the potential effects of DMT synthesis within the body and how they correlate with externalized and internalized experiences read “Measuring DMT Formation in Humans”, 6-part Series on DMT & Gamma Waves as well as the “Wild Theories” series.
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