Grandma’s Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes

Here is a fascinating article from Discover Magazine on behavioral epigenetics, a brand-new field in neuroscience. It is surprising many, including geneticists, who until recently didn’t believe that epigenetic changes could be passed down from parent to child, one generation after the next, but could only happen during fetal development. But it gets better. Two neuroscientists were recently pondering a hypothesis as improbable as it was profound over a few beers in a bar in Barcelona, Spain: If diet and chemicals can cause epigenetic changes, could certain experiences — child neglect, drug abuse or other severe stresses — also set off epigenetic changes to the DNA inside the neurons of a person’s brain? And just like that, behavioral epigenetics was born. This puts a whole new spin on the age-old “nature vs. nurture” debate!

According to the new insights of behavioral epigenetics, traumatic experiences in our past, or in our recent ancestors’ past, leave molecular scars adhering to our DNA. Jews whose great-grandparents were chased from their Russian shtetls; Chinese whose grandparents lived through the ravages of the Cultural Revolution; young immigrants from Africa whose parents survived massacres; adults of every ethnicity who grew up with alcoholic or abusive parents — all carry with them more than just memories.

This highlights the importance of dealing with emotional trauma and stress through bodywork such as Jin Shin Jyutsu and therapeutic massage, both of which are highly effective for this purpose.

Read the entire article here.

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