Since time immemorial, humans have utilized natural products and therapies for their healing properties. Even now, in the age of genomics and on the cusp of regenerative medicine, the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches represents a popular branch of health care. Furthermore, there is a trend towards a unified medical philosophy referred to as Integrative Medicine (IM) that represents the convergence of CAM and conventional medicine.
The IM model not only considers the holistic perspective of the physiological components of the individual, but also includes psychological and mind-body aspects. Justification for and validation of such a whole-systems approach is in part dependent upon identification of the functional pathways governing healing, and new data is revealing relationships between therapies and biochemical effects that have long defied explanation.
We review this data and propose a unifying theme: IM's ability to affect healing is due at least in part to epigenetic mechanisms. This hypothesis is based on a mounting body of evidence that demonstrates a correlation between the physical and mental effects of IM and modulation of gene expression and epigenetic state. Emphasis on mapping, deciphering, and optimizing these effects will facilitate therapeutic delivery and create further benefits.
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Source: Kanherkar RR, Stair SE, Bhatia-Dey N, Mills PJ, Chopra D, Csoka AB. Epigenetic Mechanisms of Integrative Medicine. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:4365429. doi: 10.1155/2017/4365429. Epub 2017 Feb 21.