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Scientists Finally Show How Your Thoughts Can Cause Specific Molecular Changes To Your Genes

With evidence growing that training the mind or inducing certain modes of consciousness can have positive health effects, researchers have sought to understand how these practices physically affect the body. A new study by researchers in Wisconsin, Spain, and France reports the first evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of intensive mindfulness practice.

The study investigated the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced meditators, compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice,” says study author Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs,” says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, Spain (IIBB-CSIC-IDIBAPS), where the molecular analyses were conducted.

The study was published in the Journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

Mindfulness-based trainings have shown beneficial effects on inflammatory disorders in prior clinical studies and are endorsed by the American Heart Association as a preventative intervention. The new results provide a possible biological mechanism for therapeutic effects.

Gene Activity Can Change According To Perception

According to Dr. Bruce Lipton, gene activity can change on a daily basis. If the perception in your mind is reflected in the chemistry of your body, and if your nervous system reads and interprets the environment and then controls the blood’s chemistry, then you can literally change the fate of your cells by altering your thoughts.

In fact, Dr. Lipton’s research illustrates that by changing your perception, your mind can alter the activity of your genes and create over thirty thousand variations of products from each gene. He gives more detail by saying that the gene programs are contained within the nucleus of the cell, and you can rewrite those genetic programs through changing your blood chemistry.

In the simplest terms, this means that we need to change the way we think if we are to heal cancer. “The function of the mind is to create coherence between our beliefs and the reality we experience,” Dr. Lipton said. “What that means is that your mind will adjust the body’s biology and behavior to fit with your beliefs. If you’ve been told you’ll die in six months and your mind believes it, you most likely will die in six months. That’s called the nocebo effect, the result of a negative thought, which is the opposite of the placebo effect, where healing is mediated by a positive thought.”

That dynamic points to a three-party system: there’s the part of you that swears it doesn’t want to die (the conscious mind), trumped by the part that believes you will (the doctor’s prognosis mediated by the subconscious mind), which then throws into gear the chemical reaction (mediated by the brain’s chemistry) to make sure the body conforms to the dominant belief. (Neuroscience has recognized that the subconscious controls 95 percent of our lives.)

Now what about the part that doesn’t want to die–the conscious mind? Isn’t it impacting the body’s chemistry as well? Dr. Lipton said that it comes down to how the subconscious mind, which contains our deepest beliefs, has been programmed. It is these beliefs that ultimately cast the deciding vote.

“It’s a complex situation,” said Dr. Lipton. People have been programmed to believe that they’re victims and that they have no control. We’re programmed from the start with our mother and father’s beliefs. So, for instance, when we got sick, we were told by our parents that we had to go to the doctor because the doctor is the authority concerning our health. We all got the message throughout childhood that doctors were the authority on health and that we were victims of bodily forces beyond our ability to control. The joke, however, is that people often get better while on the way to the doctor. That’s when the innate ability for self-healing kicks in, another example of the placebo effect.

Mindfulness Practice Specifically Affects Regulatory Pathways

The results of Davidson’s study show a down-regulation of genes that have been implicated in inflammation. The affected genes include the pro-inflammatory genes RIPK2 and COX2 as well as several histone deacetylase (HDAC) genes, which regulate the activity of other genes epigenetically by removing a type of chemical tag. What’s more, the extent to which some of those genes were downregulated was associated with faster cortisol recovery to a social stress test involving an impromptu speech and tasks requiring mental calculations performed in front of an audience and video camera.

Biologists have suspected for years that some kind of epigenetic inheritance occurs at the cellular level. The different kinds of cells in our bodies provide an example. Skin cells and brain cells have different forms and functions, despite having exactly the same DNA. There must be mechanisms–other than DNA–that make sure skin cells stay skin cells when they divide.

Perhaps surprisingly, the researchers say, there was no difference in the tested genes between the two groups of people at the start of the study. The observed effects were seen only in the meditators following mindfulness practice. In addition, several other DNA-modifying genes showed no differences between groups, suggesting that the mindfulness practice specifically affected certain regulatory pathways.

The key result is that meditators experienced genetic changes following mindfulness practice that were not seen in the non-meditating group after other quiet activities — an outcome providing proof of principle that mindfulness practice can lead to epigenetic alterations of the genome.

Previous studies in rodents and in people have shown dynamic epigenetic responses to physical stimuli such as stress, diet, or exercise within just a few hours.

“Our genes are quite dynamic in their expression and these results suggest that the calmness of our mind can actually have a potential influence on their expression,” Davidson says.

“The regulation of HDACs and inflammatory pathways may represent some of the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic potential of mindfulness-based interventions,” Kaliman says. “Our findings set the foundation for future studies to further assess meditation strategies for the treatment of chronic inflammatory conditions.”

Subconscious Beliefs Are Key

Too many positive thinkers know that thinking good thoughts–and reciting affirmations for hours on end–doesn’t always bring about the results that feel-good books promise.

Dr. Lipton didn’t argue this point, because positive thoughts come from the conscious mind, while contradictory negative thoughts are usually programmed in the more powerful subconscious mind.

“The major problem is that people are aware of their conscious beliefs and behaviors, but not of subconscious beliefs and behaviors. Most people don’t even acknowledge that their subconscious mind is at play, when the fact is that the subconscious mind is a million times more powerful than the conscious mind and that we operate 95 to 99 percent of our lives from subconscious programs.

“Your subconscious beliefs are working either for you or against you, but the truth is that you are not controlling your life, because your subconscious mind supersedes all conscious control. So when you are trying to heal from a conscious level–citing affirmations and telling yourself you’re healthy–there may be an invisible subconscious program that’s sabotaging you.”

The power of the subconscious mind is elegantly revealed in people expressing multiple personalities. While occupying the mind-set of one personality, the individual may be severely allergic to strawberries. Then, in experiencing the mind-set of another personality, he or she eats them without consequence.

The new science of epigenetics promises that every person on the planet has the opportunity to become who they really are, complete with unimaginable power and the ability to operate from, and go for, the highest possibilities, including healing our bodies and our culture and living in peace.

Article sources:

Michael Forrester is a spiritual counselor and is a practicing motivational speaker for corporations in Japan, Canada and the United States.

Source: preventdisease.com


  1. J. J. Gregor says:

    Great article! Any insight on how to start reprogramming the subconcious?

    1. Felicia says:

      Try Emotional Freedom Technique Tapping (EFT Tapping). It combines eastern and western medicine; basically you meditate on a limiting belief or trauma and tap on predetermined pressure points on your body, resetting your nervous system and amygdala to no longer feel stress about certain thoughts. I can personally attest to its power and try to spread the word to everybody I know!! I recommend getting a book or two about it, and you can self-administer the practice.

    2. Dharam Singh says:

      J.J. I was part of an MRI/Meditation study at Harvard-Mass General Hospital. The mantra referred to in the below article is one we used. Very powerful technology for ‘hacking the mainframe”.

    3. Gregg Bell says:

      The subconscious is really just a set of programs, habits of thought, a belief is just a thought you keep thinking, it’s a mindfulness thing, you need to be aware in the moment the limiting belief arises, and stay with it, challenge it, question it, in order to move past it.
      Questioning its basis in reality, the effects on how that thought makes you feel, who you’d be without the thought, what are the opposite thoughts, what type of mindset is bringing about the thought, ie. growth vs fixed.
      You don’t have to think about driving a car, it’s subconscious, you still have the power to be mindful that you don’t always use your indicator lights, and thus bring about a new habit that must be focused on in order to always use the indicator light, until it becomes habit.

      1. Jan Hunt says:

        Yes and other research studies such as those involving “biofeedback” are showing similar results (UNT in Denton, TX is one university campus that investigates biofeedback through research).

      2. Bill Person says:

        First, I am curious about your background in this discipline.
        Secondly, I have introduced a simple terminology for n=my kids hoping they will share and work with it on their own kids. It is “self-talk. ” Self talk is that noise we hear below the din or normal daily life.
        The point being that if and when you can catch yourself talking to yourself you then have the ability to question if what you are saying to yourself is true or not. Very difficult but along the lines of meditation I would say.

        1. Gregg Bell says:

          I was pointing a little deeper than self talk, more to repressed feelings, automatic skills, subliminal perceptions, thoughts, habits, and automatic reactions, which is Freud, Jung. however I should have mentioned it, shad helmstetter has been writing about the topic since ’90, most recently and much more popular is Eckart tolle.
          Bill you’d be very interested in Marva Collins, her ideas are referenced quite frequently in the Harvard positive psychology course, she is very focused on helping build a solid foundation for children, I’ve integrated many of her ideas into raising my son.

        2. LLC says:

          Your feelings are your indicators of what is going on in your subconscious. They are the vibrations that you are putting out at any given moment. These vibrations create your reality experience. Meditation breaks the patterns of subconscious babble and allows you to connect to the higher, lighter vibrations of peace, joy, contentment, sweet solitude and beyond.

    4. Denis Poirier says:

      Try John Hagelin for TM training for orderly brain functions at http://www.hagelin.org/

      1. Transcend says:

        Good suggestion. For people interested in getting the most out of meditation, what’s important, in my opinion, is to understand the distinction between the process of “transcending,” as occurs effortlessly during TM practice, and the various other approaches. Here’s a link that explains transcending: http://meditationasheville.blogspot.com/2008/06/transcending-4th-state-of-consciousness.html

        The emergent paradigm in meditation research is that the different meditation practices do not all produce the same results. Mindfulness, concentration and contemplation have been found to not have the same effects as one another. Peer-reviewed research also shows that these practices, while beneficial, do not have the same range of benefits as the TM technique: http://meditationasheville.blogspot.com/p/how-tm-compares.html

        1. Jan Hunt says:

          Thank you for the weblink!!

    5. Cameron Boehmer says:

      Yup—rewire the connections between your prefrontal cortex and your limbic system.

      Depending on how well you walk, all roads can lead to Rome, but Vipassana meditation is the most “scientific” method I have come across. I believe EFT probably works on the same principle (retraining your stress response by intentionally triggering it and meeting the experience calmly), and while I know EFT helps some people, I have not heard of anybody who got enlightened practicing it, whereas Vipassana has produced many buddhas.

      Talk therapy and other techniques can be useful for building self-awareness and intention, but it does not do the groundwork of subconscious reprogramming. That you have to do moment by moment, and meditation is the most cut-and-dried method I know of.

      1. Marcel Capraru says:

        Wouldn’t it be better to allow subconscious develop normally during the first 6 years of life? During the first 3 the warp of counscious ( subconscious) is being traced, the next 3 allow for repair. Like with a cloth, you cannot see the warp, just the fabric, but the quality and strengths of it stays in the integrity of the warp. A ”mind-warping” process needs a special prepared environment and freedom to develop…See: Maria Montessori- The Absorbent Mind

    6. Jan Hunt says:

      Along with those mentioned below, another one is utilizing “hemisync,” “holosync,” and other similar nomenclatures which refer to inducing the brain to go into a specific wavelength (ie.: delta, theta, etc.) for various purposes including reprogramming the subconscious to move beyond negative programming. Extensive research has taken place for war veterans returning home who experienced events that were extreme shocks to one’s mental and/or emotional statesAnother avenue is a website: http://www.happify.com that provides both free and paid for exercises that are simple, quick, and fun to do that also assist an individual to eliminate negative subconscious or brain chatter thoughts. More correctly stated, happify’s exercises do not necessarily eliminate negative thoughts, but rather provide a path that naturally allows a shift in one’s focus that generates positive thoughts. There is one area I am still researching that I am not sure if it can be mended by these same techniques and that area deals with thoughts that come from “conditioning,” as conditioning is a response arrising more along the autonomic nervous center. I do tend to believe that this form of negative subconscious brain chatter can also be mended by the various techniques; but it is mostly my own belief (which if our thoughts create our reality – then for me it is a “YES” but not necessarily for all).

    7. Melissa Southard says:

      Dr. Shad Helmstetter’s Self-Talk – get the Lifetime Library of Self-Talk!

    8. Fushin says:

      Thank you for bringing the focus back.The most effective way to first FIND your subconscious issues is to learn about shadow (Jung), to identify the reactive parts of yourself. Because by definition, if you know about it, it’s conscious. It is a difficult thing to trap and work with the subconscious. Mondo Zen (www.mondozen.org) is the best tool I’ve found, along with Integral Spirituality (Ken Wilber). Good luck!

    9. Marcel Capraru says:

      Wouldn’t it be better to allow subconscoius develop normally during the first 6 years of life? During the first 3 the warp of counscious ( subconscious) is being traced, the next 3 allow for repair. Like with a cloth, you cannot see the warp, just the fabric, but the quality and strengths of it stays in the integrity of the warp. A ”mind-warping” process needs a special prepared environment and freedom to develop…See: Maria Montessori- The Absorbent Mind

    10. Lulu says:

      Go to http://catherinecollautt.com/blog/marie-forleo-interview/ to watch an interview of Catherine Collautt, PhD. She’ll make it perfectly clear. Best wishes.

    11. Yasmin Davis says:

      You could read Bruce Lipton’s book “The Biology of “Belief”. At the back
      he explains that a technique called “PSYCH-K” developed by Rob Williams
      works very well to tap into your subconscious and re-programme it to
      what YOU want. You can Google it :)

    12. RichardCrant says:

      J. J. That is an easy one. Please contact me only if you are serious in your request and prepared to follow through.

  2. Tor Dalberg says:

    Seems logical this – on a cellular level. All depends on all and details not coherent will do no good.

    1. Leah Fowler says:

      I like this article because it gets people talking about what they think and feel about what is true and possible. The more we share ideas–both rational and idealistic– the more we can truly learn and discover. I think we are all helping each other in this way. Here are my responses to this article:

      I like how this article talks about the importance of the “subconscious,” which I prefer to call the “unconscious.” I recommend checking out a type of music therapy called the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music that was developed in the 70’s. I have been studying this method and having personal sessions as a way to explore my unconscious and personal imagery. The basic premise is going into a relaxed state of consciousness while listening to classical music programs designed for imagery and exploration, and chosen to fit the specific needs of the traveler in that moment. The guide or therapist who is trained, assists the traveler in interacting with their imagery (thoughts, feelings, images, etc.) as they experience the music. The material is then processed after the music program has ended through drawing mandalas (non-verbal) or journaling or discussion. The material is processed and integrated before the next session. I think it is great to explore this way, and it helps me to connect to my unconscious beliefs and inner world. Making contact with the inner world (through dreams, meditation, art, Guided Imagery and Music, etc.) is the best way to find out what is there, to benefit from this wealth of material, and to possibly find out how the inner world is manifesting in the outer world. The best part is that I never know, and I am often surprised and uplifted by the messages I find. Connecting to my unconscious through dreams and GIM has been one of the most exciting processes of my life!

      On a side note, if we are mostly made of bacteria, and bacteria has been shown to be empathetic (in the documentary “I Am”), wouldn’t that mean that our bodies (or the bacteria that makes them up) would naturally resonate empathetically with our dominant vibrations — whether those are conscious or unconscious? This is just a thought and theory I came up with the other day.

      1. Jan Hunt says:

        Leah – I find your last topic very interesting. Thank you for sharing it. Another avenue of better healthy living is accomplished through the utilization of water and its ability to have memory. That is what holistic medicine is based upon. It is also what multi million and billion dollar corporations have been focusing on during the past ten to twenty years as the implementation of “healthy” water eliminates the problems of BLACK MOLD that shows up quite commonly these days in various refrigerant and other cooling machines. But my most recent and maybe favorite one deals with one’s “BREATH.” My massage therapist back on Maui trained my body to respond to my breath and it is simply amazaing how I can be laying down and within just a few minutes through the utilization of my “breath” I can adjust my whole back while liing there, inhaling and exhaling!! Moreover I recently discovered further information on the BREATH which completely excited me: SCIENCE OF BREATH by Yogi Ramacharaka; 1905; Yogi Publication Society; ISBN 0-911662-00-6. Another book is just as great but I am not certain if I remember the title correctly, but I think it is: INTERNAL BREATHING EXERCISES.

        1. Leah Fowler says:

          Thank you for sharing, Jan! I have been wanting to find more information on breath! I will look for these books. I know the breath is an amazing thing! Wow! This topic provides so many avenues for discussion! I hadn’t thought about water in this way for some time, either.

          I can’t help but mention a book I found called “behaving as if the God in all things mattered,” or something like that. I only read part of it during a training I attended, but it was about a woman who connected to the god spirit/spirit of nature in her garden. It was very interesting.

          1. Yasmin Davis says:

            Leah and Jan, you will probably like Bruce Liptons book “The Biology of Belief”

  3. Nerdvana Nagel says:

    Mmmm, what 30+years of studying/practicing meditation has done for me & my body, mind & spirit ;~}

  4. Des Malone says:

    Change your paradigm, change reality

  5. Jason Green says:

    This is a word salad that pretty much amounts to “the placebo effect is real” – yeah we know that, it’s how pseudo science and medicine “work”…. None of the links here go back to an actual published and peer reviewed scientific study and I could not find one anywhere.
    This does not mean I find this article negative – being positive and living for today is empowering… However there is still yet to be shown any metaphysical, genetic, or ‘real’ quantifiable vector. Don’t make claims you can’t back up with data and don’t regurgitate garbage without checking the legitimacy of the sources.

    1. teledyn says:

      The footnotes lead you to wisc and a quick search on their site leads to http://www.news.wisc.edu/22370

      1. Jason Love says:

        A problem I see is the study’s author Richard J. Davidson is the founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds. Anytime a scientist has a business related to the field or seems a little bias, it means the study needs to be replicated by a few more people.
        Not saying it isn’t a valid study. It just needs to be explored a little further.

        1. teledyn says:

          totally agreed. but do we know that this is a business? or is it a research project, much like the various “Positive Psychology” departments now all over the place but which were considered ultra-fringe New Age Gumboo when I was in college. I think the study also cites some prior work and claims to be a confirmation or in support of other research, but even there, well, we never really know until we’ve tried it ourselves, right?

          1. Jason Love says:

            That is very true!

    2. Guest says:

      If the plaecbo effect is real – why don’t you call it a real effect. Bitches can’t reason beyond words and labels. If you relax the fuck out and feel better – would you still call that “placebo”? If its real, its real. If I said you are a demented nitwit, and you feel bad – and then the result is said to be placebo because we dont fully understand the neuropsychomycoendoplasmicreticulointeractions that resulted in it, and so there is no objective evidence that you would, would that make sense? I dunno why but I really can’t stand demented people who think they are smarter than all. This time, it must be the placebo I took while reading the above comment[till yet to be shown any metaphysical, genetic, or ‘real’ quantifiable vector, why I wouldn’t ].

      1. Guest says:

        if the evolution theory is real, why don’t you call it just evolution?

        1. Guest says:

          If the gravitational theory is real, why don’t you call it just gravity?

          There is no believing in evolution. Either you understand it or you don’t. It’s as simple as that.

          1. cmarrou says:

            When are you going to evolve into someone who doesn’t insult everyone else?

          2. Guest says:

            WHEN did I insult anyone?

          3. alex is a biiaaatch says:

            shut the fuck up you depressed piece of shit. no one asked for your lousy opinion

          4. Nicholas Zadkiel says:

            I feel that there is scientific proof to back this theory up. Prof Benjamin Libeth from Cal Uni studied brain activity and concluded that there was a noticeable rise in brain activity before a conscious thought that triggered an action (please forgive my simple explanation of this) the Sub conscious mind can process 1 million bits of information in the same time that the conscious mind processes 1 bit of information. So who is really in control? If the subconscious mind believes we are ill then we will be. Then turn the tables and if in our heart we believe that whatever will help us does! Then voila we get better, in simple terms. You only have to trust your intuition and get out of your left brain and realize that without a shadow of a doubt that we are the most amazing beings and that all of this and more is completely true. Love is the answer! What is the question? Get it! Self love is all that matters! Any negative thoughts of lack, victim mentality, with no love of self will only bring on these situations! It’s the law of attraction and its always working.

        2. Dr. Philip Tan-Gatue says:

          just because something is called a “theory” doesn’t mean it’s not considered real. Let’s review science. A hypothesis is a plausible explanation not yet backed up by proof. Back it up with more proof you get a theory. When something is so defined and so backed up by proof that to say otherwise is to seem insane, it’s a scientific law, i.e. law of conservation of matter and energy, or newton’s laws of motion

          1. Kyle Rutherford says:

            Ehhhhh no. Sorry Dr. Tan-Gatue, but you’re not entirely correct. Theories in science doesn’t evolve into a law when enough evidence is encountered. It’s not a ladder system. It does NOT go hypothesis-theory-law. Theories are the HIGHEST level in science. Laws define a simple set of mathematical observations that are set in stone and are used to help define and conceptualize theories. For example.. The THEORY of electromagnetism that you use to operate your computer and QUANTUM theory is also another theory used for your computer. Both of which utilize laws to help formulate the theories.

          2. Dr. Philip Tan-Gatue says:

            I stand corrected. apparently I was working using a misconception I was taught thirty years ago in grade school.

            Does this explanation I found on physicsforums work?

            A “law” is a readily
            observable fact about something. It is something that is obvious and
            undeniable. Allow me to clear up a common misconception right now, laws are not a “higher” stage than theory, and no theory ever becomes a law.
            Laws are simple and obvious statements about a phenomenon that never
            require a second guess, or an experiment, to verify them (for example,
            there is a law that states that there exists an apparent attraction
            between all objects having positive mass…it’s called the law of
            Gravity, and it’s not just undeniable, but it’s readily observable and
            demonstrable (by virtue of the simple fact that you are not floating
            about, but are anchored to the Earth)).

            Now, a “theory” is an advanced hypothesis. An hypothesis is a plausible,
            testable explanation of how a phenomenon works and/or why it works that
            way. Once an hypothesis has been tested repeatedly, under a variety of
            conditions, such that it is sufficient to convince a majority that the
            hypothesis is probably right (“right”, in this context, means that it
            can be used successfully to make predictions as to how the phenomenon
            will behave if one conducts the same experiment(s) again), it can
            graduate to “theory”, but it is still tested just as vigorously.

            A theory can be “strong” or “weak”, depending on the amount of evidence
            there is that agrees with it, the amount of accurate predictions it’s
            made, and the amount of experiments that have been conducted and have
            concluded in its favor. However, it doesn’t matter how strong a theory
            gets (you might think of such as examples as the theory of Evolution,
            Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, &c), it never becomes a law.
            That would run contrary to the definition of “law” as readily
            observable and nor requiring experimenation for verification. Also, a
            theory may always be disproven, but it must then be replaced with a
            better theory.

            Read more: http://www.physicsforums.com

          3. Kyle Rutherford says:

            Yeah. Pretty much. Laws aren’t ‘always’ true though. They are just true in certain instances. For example…

            Newtons laws.

            They are good enough for our conception and our understanding… but they break down when something is too small or going too fast (near the speed of light).

            So even though Newtons laws are still laws and are still good enough/applicable enough for our dimensions. They still have their limitations.

      2. JewelEyedGamerGirl says:

        Because the placebo effect doesn’t actually change things? It just makes you feel better. And for some illnesses…like depression…that’s fine. However, the placebo effect is not sufficient treatment for diseases that are less about how you feel and more about your body being destroyed.

        1. Dr. Philip Tan-Gatue says:

          Correction. Placebos do not cause real effect. Placebo is the sugar pill. Placebo EFFECT is when just THINKING something good will happen causes something good to happen. A placebo effect may occur when biologic changes occur while taking a sugar pill. Obviously not every instance of taking a placebo results in a placebo effect.

        2. John says:

          But placebo effect does actually change things. You need to read more about it. It is not just “feeling” better.

      3. Drew Mara-McKay says:

        you win at scrabble for ‘neuropsychomycoendoplasmicreticulointeractions’

    3. Guest says:

      If its real, its real. Not placebo. If you take water and feel better – and statistically 99% of people feel better by drinking water – then water is a [atleast psycho-symptomatic] cure.

      1. Joseph Richard Crant says:

        True as we have discovered in our own studies that the term “placebo effect” is just a term, however it describes something profound and if anything can be realized or manifested in physical form from a thought then it is a real phenomena and not pseudo-science. In our study we have observed what can only be described as “physical manifestation from non-physical phenomena, which means that people are detoxifying to realize subsequent emotional-physical health benefits from discussion and introduction to a paradigm (a perspective). Reap it Murphy, we are at the top of this one !

    4. Nate Pucel says:

      I recommend researching the work of Bruce Lipton

      1. Jason Green says:

        i thought i would reasearch Bruce himself first – and while he has some impressive credentials he also has an obvious propensity towards “woo” and trying to mash spirituality and physical science. i think the probablity would be high that his studies would be loaded with confirmation bias. His youtube videos (the ones i watched) are rife with logical fallacies and direct contradictions – i plan to listen to his apearance on Joe Rogans podcast tonight. He WANTS to believe what he is pushing and so do lots of other people – i am guessing my thus far formed impression of him will not be well recieved by those people… sorry.

    5. AI Hand says:

      “being positive” i take to mean “the effort to believe something to be true you know is a lie”; a stressful dis-ease producing way of being and an entirely subconscious process…who in their right (awakened) mind would choose to have negative thoughts, bad moods, dark days? Who would “go there” if they were 100% in charge of their 100% conscious (0% subconscious) mind? Truth is, subconscious drivers or programs are at work and which we are not in charge of because they are operating in the dark (subconsciously). Who would choose to be negative if they had the choice? And who would deny that emotions lead to stress lead to illness and disease? If you meditate, you already know by experience the health effects meditation has on the mind and the body. Commentators who are unaware of the technique involved in meditation will tend to lump meditation into the category of “placebo effect”. Meditation (TM to be specific) has been bar none the most effective treatment for post traumatic stress disorder among Afghan and Iraq soldiers and I suspect something more than hypnotizing soldiers to “believing” meditation was returning them to normal functioning is at work.

    6. Dave Stone says:

      study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology, which is on Elsevier. This article isn’t up yet, but you’ll notice that the primary author, Richard J. Davidson has papers up from 2000 and 2008. I’m sure this one will be up soon, as well. Jan ed.

    7. Linda says:

      Since I have access to scientific databases, I looked for this in one database (it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but simply I didn’t feel like taking the time to find it) and found that there were four other similar studies published in 2012 – 2013. I cannot post full papers here, but I can post the abstract of one that is very similar….

      “Psychological stress is a major provocative factor of symptoms in chronic
      inflammatory conditions. In recent years, interest in addressing stress
      responsivity through meditation training in health-related domains has
      increased astoundingly, despite a paucity of evidence that reported
      benefits are specific to meditation practice. We designed the present
      study to rigorously compare an 8-week Mindfulness-
      Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) intervention to a well-matched active
      control intervention, the Health Enhancement Program (HEP) in ability to
      reduce psychological stress and experimentally-induced inflammation. The Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) was used to induce psychological stress and inflammation was produced using topical application of capsaicin cream to forearm skin. Immune and endocrine measures of inflammation
      and stress were collected both before and after MBSR training. Results
      show those randomized to MBSR and HEP training had comparable
      post-training stress-evoked cortisol responses, as well as equivalent
      reductions in self-reported psychological distress and physical
      symptoms. However, MBSR training resulted in a significantly smaller
      post-stress inflammatory response compared to HEP, despite equivalent
      levels of stress hormones. These results suggest behavioral
      interventions designed to reduce emotional reactivity may be of
      therapeutic benefit in chronic inflammatory conditions. Moreover, mindfulness practice, in particular, may be more efficacious in symptom relief than the well-being promoting activities cultivated in the HEP program.

      (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)(journal

    8. Yasmin Davis says:

      Jason, you might find this interesting: Placebo knee surgery! Works just as well as the real thing :)

      1. Jason Green says:

        thanks Yasmin – interesting article! It seems i have put the cat amongst the pidgeons :) The placebo effect is real – i already said that – my point in my initial comment was that all this article is really asserting is that the placebo is real (were your mind convinces you that something has physically changed when there is no mesurable difference – ie. it simply has not) – what the article does not even come close to doing is convincing me of its insanely sensationalist headline that you can physicaly alter your genes (a measurable, emperical, observable, repeatable change / effect) through the power of “thought”. extrordinary claims require exrordinary evidence, i feel people are just too ready believe something like this because we WANT to believe it – I want it to be true! it would be AWESOME ——- but based on what i have seen – its not – its a headline designed to grab people with a certain world veiw / philosophical pre disposition and then used lots of big words and important sounding names to say what amounts to very little…

        1. Yasmin Davis says:

          Hi Jason, I agree. The headline is in fact incorrect (bad journalism) as the article said the study looked at the change of the EXPRESSION of the genes, not the genes themselves. Awesome thought indeed

          1. Jason Green says:

            and i still cant find the study… has it been published? if so where (somebody please link!) and has it been reviewed? my experience with studies of this nature is that they are rarely very robust and if you mine them for the info your already looking for you can make them “express” just about anything (see what i did there? :) ) thats why the peer review process is so important before reaserchers make sweeping conclusions and biased media outlets start writing headlines for people to share all over the net…

  6. disqus_PcuUOAi3Y2 says:

    Such unspecific terminology it’s hard to grasp what these “experienced meditators” vs. control were actually engaged in. What is practicing intensive mindfulness vs. quiet non-meditative activities?

    Meditation is entirely self-defined. For me meditation is playing the guitar – it completely seperates me from my environment if I am fully engaged and requires my full mental and physical attention to get exactly what I desire from it – but would this qualify as “intensive mindfulness” or non-meditative activity? it’s hard to say what they mean if they do not specifically outline what each group did

    1. Cameron Boehmer says:

      I agree, the language of meditation in pop culture is kind of a mess :( But there are a variety of very technical definitions of meditation that give results of a very different nature from even focused guitar playing. If you’re curious, look up vipassana meditation, or absorption jhanas. I wager a 10-day vipassana course would bring a whole new dimension to your strumming :)

    2. Janee Polino says:

      True. And I’ve been practicing this type of meditation every night. Reason being is because at night as a lay down before going to sleep, I find this to be the best time where there is actual quiet at home. And as I am telling my mind (and our brain is always working even in sleep) certain things, I end up falling asleep while doing this meditation, and therefore my subconscious is taking over from there I believe. Before ever reading this article, I’ve been practicing this! And truly it works. It takes some time to reprogram our mind to do the things we want it to do, directly because of the way we were trained and programed since childhood. But this does work, and I’ve been seeing many various positive effects since. Although there are times I’ve failed to be consistent with this form of meditation, it does have a positive effect I was looking for.

    3. Richard Bergstrom says:

      It’d qualify as intensive mindfulness, but not intensive mindfulness of the mind. As an example of the difference, you could probably reconstruct a song that you heard on the radio but you might not be able to remember the song you were writing in your head yesterday unless you took notes or tried to strum it on your guitar.

  7. Kaltaka says:

    I’m open-minded to the idea that the mind can directly interact with genetic material but don’t think this is proof. The study: http://www.news.wisc.edu/22370
    They showed that the genes believed to be involved in inflammation reactions are affected by mindfulness meditation. Keep in mind, however, that Correlation Does Not Imply Causation. Meditation may decrease stress, which reduces inflammation, and, in turn, the genes involved in inflammation are then changed as a result.

  8. Danielle Weiries says:

    sorry no way, if i have an infection i flippin want an anti biotic not to hear i love you. there is way more to it than that. in fact hearing i love you while being denied care has the opposite effect

    1. Restita DeJesus says:

      Where did it say that consciousness practices was to replace conventional medicine? Hmmm, I dont see it.

  9. Don Cummins says:

    This is poor journalism. This article contains no links or reference to original source material and that makes the whole thing suspect. I believe the premise that our thoughts affect our bodies and our biology, but I still really appreciate a link to supporting material or at least the name and location of the articles this piece is based upon. Journalsm like this isn’t geared for intelligent, inquisitive minds, but for those who believe whatever is written.

    1. Transcend says:

      That’s so true.

  10. Transcend says:

    Correction: The American Heart Association does not actually recommend “mindfulness-based” techniques. Their 2013 report on the effects of alternative approaches explicitly stated that mindfulness-based meditation has not been found through research to significantly reduce hypertension. They did, however, find that the Transcendental Meditation technique has a significantly powerful effect at lowering high blood pressure, and their report included a recommendation that physicians recommend the TM technique to patients. The author mist have been confused about these two very different approaches to meditation. You can read about the report here: http://meditationasheville.blogspot.com/2013/05/heart-association-transcendental.html

  11. William Cutlip says:

    I would love to hear an Internal Family Systems (IFS) review of this. When we’re blended with parts, we only know what the traumatized part knew at the time; what’s happening inside? How long do we stay blended, and is there a tail-off in terms of health effects as noted above?

    — The idea of meditation and mindfulness producing a “placebo effect,” by the way, is laughable, especially couched in “scientific” terms. It doesn’t come in a pill yet? There’s no way to put metrics, much less wrenches, on this? Must be “pseudo-scientific.” Uh-huh.

  12. Tor Rønnow says:

    The headline says changing the genes, the article says changing gene *expression*. Those are two completely different things ! However, I realize that the latter may be of great importance. I agree with Jason Green that we should see real documentation, not unsupported claims. Personally, I believe the placebo effect is “for real”, but not necessarily for all individuals nor in all contexts. No matter how hard I try thinking about it, I just don’t turn into Brad Pitt.Or a donkey.

  13. Willie says:

    Can someone find a link to the actual paper because I cannot.

    1. Max says:

      there is none

  14. Julia Schall says:

    But how does one change ones subconscious?

    1. Lulu says:

      Go to http://catherinecollautt.com/blog/marie-forleo-interview/ to watch an interview of Catherine Collautt, PhD. She’ll make it perfectly clear. Best wishes.

    2. Yasmin Davis says:

      “Psych-k” a technique developed by Rob Williams. Google it and find a local trained facilitator

  15. Max says:

    and they try to cut funding for our eduction *facepalm*

  16. Alexandru Glod says:

    can you please share the actual links to the study reports? I’ve googled and nothing was found. probably the search algoritm doesn’t work for me. if there is such a report, this would be groundbreaking science

  17. Dr. Philip Tan-Gatue says:

    The headline is a bit inaccurate. Genes don’t change, but which genes stay dormant and which genes are activated to do their job is what changes. Gene EXPRESSION.

  18. AA says:

    You piqued my curiosity with the statements saying that mindfulness could lead to changes in gene expression and completely lost me when you claimed that positive thinking could cure cancer.

    1. Yasmin Davis says:

      well, if mindfulness could lead to changes in gene expression, and many cancers are supposedly related to ‘defective genes’, then changing the way the genes express themselves could change wether or not a person gets cancer. :)

      But it takes more that ‘positive thinking’, it needs a change at the subconscious level.

  19. jgat says:

    It’s funny that this concept is being presented as “new” “groundbreaking” research, when ancient texts have calmly affirmed this process for thousands of years…

  20. Eliya Negri says:

    I love the idea this article explores, that our thoughts can change our cell behavior, and we can potentially heal ourselves. But it leaves me hanging at the end regarding the fact that the subconscious mind is more powerful than the conscious mind, and the subconscious mind is out of our control. What are we to do with that?

    1. Yasmin Davis says:

      You could read Bruce Lipton’s book “The Biology of “Belief”. At the back he explains that a technique called “PSYCH-K” developed by Rob Williams works very well to tap into your subconscious and re-programme it to what YOU want. Google it :)

      1. Eliya Negri says:

        Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll look it up.

  21. tahiya says:

    It seems this study shows changes in genetic factors after a session of midfulness meditation. The leap to conscious vs subconscious patterning is not a given based on this study. We would need to see what the mindfulness meditation is doing to change subconscious belief systems before making the correlation.

  22. Mark A. Gergely says:

    I believe there was already a clinical study of
    Transcendental Meditation some years ago
    that came to the same conclusions.

  23. Alexandra Marie says:

    I have been studying this for years and a book that changed my life and allowed me to tap in and control my subconscious is “The Power of Your Subconscious Mind” by Joseph Murphy Ph. D., D., D.If you’d like to experience a life filled with understanding the subconscious I highly recommend this book.

    It’s so good to see an article that expresses what people have practiced for years. I am filled with hope :)

  24. Kyle Rutherford says:

    This entire article is BS. I urge people to do their research. One of the sources mentioned is a Dr. Bruce Lipton who is known for trying to combine spirituality with science and it ends up making him a quack.

    There is no evidence… at all… that being able to just think about altering your genes that you will be able to alter your genes and that’s what this Dr. Bruce Lipton has actually stated. He stated you can cure genetic diseases by just ‘thinking’ about them. Don’t believe me? Look it up.

    For example…


    (Mercola is a HORRIBLE source of information, btw and is home to all sorts of crazy quack woo shit)

    There is no doubt that stress plays a factor in immunoresponses that could effect your bodies ability to destroy cancer cells.. But that’s where the connection ends.

    I discussed this with another geneticist and he said, “Dear Kyle,
    OK, I took a look. He is either a complete quack willing to ignore whole bodies of science in favor of a pet theory for which there isn’t the slightest support, or else he is a charlatan intentionally scamming his audience to sell books.”
    This was in concern to a “Dr.” Lipton.

    So take it for what you may, but the guys a quack and the article should be very much critically analyzed.

  25. Jun says:

    For those who are wondering about the source article, it is indeed an actual study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology. Here is the reference:

    Perla Kaliman, María Jesús Álvarez-López, Marta Cosín-Tomás, Melissa A. Rosenkranz, Antoine Lutz, Richard J. Davidson. Rapid changes in histone deacetylases and inflammatory gene expression in expert meditators, Psychoneuroendocrinology, Volume 40, February 2014, Pages 96-107, ISSN 0306-4530, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.11.004.

  26. charlie jacksion says:

    The only way to respond to this article is to relate it to yourself and be open to it. If it doesn’t work for you so be it. It does not mean it is not true. I have been exploring and moving through my sub-conscious beliefs for many years and can honestly say that they have controlled my life. This article makes total sense to me.

    It is said one has to go in to come out. In my own exploration and understanding it is the subconscious that one has to go into and experience to release its control over one. Going in means entering fear, the absoluteness of the subconscious beliefs one holds and allow that energy and emotion to move through you. It has to be experienced through feeling it and recognizing what exactly the belief. It is dense and powerful energy.

    Rumi says ” the light enters through the wound”. We hold all our wounds and the powerful beliefs attached to those wounds within our sub-conscious. Te article is scientific and so limited in that it works with the mind and the limitations of the mind.

    I have found it is feeling and an inner sense that brings the light in to shine on that which is hidden within. The proof shown in the research is only looking at the physical body but we are much more than our body. Yes the body is a doorway into one’s inner intelligence and if one allows it, it can show you what is happening in your sub-conscious.

    It is affirming to read this article as it is what I have understood for a long time.

    May awareness continue to expand in this area and deepen everyone’s awareness of their sub-conscious and move through it to come out into one’s own true being which is based in feeling/thought without conditioning, limitation, and fear.

    May we enter the place within us all where the spirit is free and the joy of being unfolds effortlessly.

    Charlie Jackson

  27. linkman says:

    The claim isn’t unfounded or preposterous. I’ve spent the past 25+ years researching & applying various theories to intentionally evolve in the best way and have had considerable & even unbelievable results. That makes my experiences anecdotal to everyone else except for those who confirm the same/similar outcomes. I can’t begin to list all the disciplines connected to this (& it is all connected) and their resources/research, but here is one of the latest from my social neuroscience classes: The Social Life of Genes by David Dobbs Sept. 3, 2013 ~~ Grandma”s Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes by Dan Hurley Apr. 23, 2013 (originally appeared as “Trait vs. Fate”) ~~ and Scientists Prove DNA Can Be Reprogrammed by Words and Frequencies by Grazyna Fosar & Franz Bludorf. The Maharishi Effect is also well documented. * Side note: I don’t need to wait until a particular scientist’s work is given approval by a particular body of individuals, or religiously accepted to confirm what I & many others already know, works. (The mainstream scientific community is not agenda or politics “free”.) The scientific inquiry & research that is finally being disseminated to show “how” is greatly appreciated though. Enjoy your journey … : )

  28. Hadas Av-Gay says:

    These ideas are relatively new to science. Mindfulness was perceived as esoteric or spiritual until not long ago. Science needs to catch up and finds ways to factor out the variables involved in this practice to be able to show data supporting effectiveness . Meanwhile, do your own experiment: designate one day to thinking horrible hate related thoughts and compare your state of being to another day in which you consciously shift all your thoughts to positive, fantastic and loving – in both cases- alter your thinking to hate or love ( depending on your designated day) regardless of your true feeling- prevent that this is how you think and feel. Try it!

  29. […] Scientists Finally Show How Your Thoughts Can Cause Specific Molecular Changes To Your Genes […]nn1