Many things are known to trigger Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Fibromyalgia, including bacterial infections, viral infections, fungal infections, parasitic infections, chemical exposure, surgery, and stressful events such as an automobile accident. That is quite a few triggers, and as you can imagine, based on this, almost everyone in the world should have one of these diseases. But they don’t.
Why is it that some people get Fibromyalgia or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis when the vast majority of people do not? And why, after decades of research, haven’t medical researchers discovered what these diseases are, what causes them, and why they generally last for life?
I believe we are on the eve of learning that ME and Fibromyalgia are caused by damaged DNA. Not the DNA that comprises our genes, but the DNA in our cells that controls the genes – the ‘epigenetic regions’ of the chromosomes, which is the DNA directly above and below each of our 21,000 genes. Until just recently, science has lacked the tools to understand these ‘epigenes’ and how they – and not the genes – may be responsible for countless diseases including Fibromyalgia and ME.
While our 21,000 genes take up space on our DNA chromosomes, the fact is that 98% of our genetic material is in fact not composed of genes – it is composed of what scientists had previously called ‘junk DNA’. They called it ‘junk’ because they did not know it had any biological function. The average length of the DNA in each of our cells is six feet. Of that, the genes take up slightly less than two inches. This incredible length offers plenty of opportunity for damage and consequential gene dysfunction.
Scientists have now learned that epigenetic DNA is actually the ‘software’ that completely controls our genes, which are the ‘hardware’. It turns out that epigenes consist of some 5 million ‘switches’ that control genetic expression, and that inappropriate switching results in genetic and biological dysfunction.
The study of this ‘junk’ DNA is called epigenetics, and it is the hottest thing in the science of genetics since the discovery of genes themselves.
This is exciting for patients, because if the mechanism that controls the genes isn’t functioning correctly, an organism cannot live the way it was designed to live, and a permanent disequilibrium can take place in the form of a chronic disease such as Fibromyalgia or ME. Patients have so many physical abnormalities that it is not difficult to see that something as complex and far reaching as malfunctioning genes could be at the heart of the pathogenesis of FM and ME, and possibly other neurogenic / immunogenic diseases such as Autism, Gulf War Syndrome, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, and others.
As we now know, having our genes turn on and off at exactly the right times is a big deal when it comes to how our bodies handle everything from pathogens to stresses of life. If an organism doesn’t have an appropriate immune response to a pathogen or some other stressor because of faulty gene expression, the organism could die, malfunction, or suffer from a chronic disease.
Several leading ME researchers are turning their attention to epigenetics, and I believe it is here that we will find the answers to the mysteries of ME, Fibromyalgia, and other neuro-immune diseases. Research in this area has already started, and numerous gene function abnormalities have already been discovered in ME.
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If I may offer an optimistic perspective on the miserable way the government and medical world has perceived and scientifically pursued ME and Fibromyalgia, consider this: It is possible that medical science has not had the knowledge or tools necessary to even begin to understand how and why these diseases exist until just the last few years, because the answer could only be found in something they’d never imagined – our damaged genetic software: our ‘junk DNA.’
If this is the case, the answers could not have been found until now, because the tools that researchers had in their arsenal were too crude and primitive to delve into the complexities of the genetic malfunctions that may cause ME and Fibromyalgia.
It may be that only now, with the powerful new technology driving the science called epigenetics (and its sister science, proteomics, which measures the activity of genes), that we can finally begin to understand what Fibromyalgia and ME are, why they exist, and how they can be treated and cured.
I believe this new science will lead to a cure for ME, Fibromyalgia, and many other diseases including many cancers. Control the genes, and you control the body.
Take a moment to learn more about epigenetics and the potential it may offer ME, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Lyme disease, Autism, and a host of other neuro-immune diseases. A great place to start is with the articles and videos below.
What is your opinion? Please let me and others know what you think about epigenetics’ potential to solve Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Fibromyalgia.
Time Magazine article: “Junk DNA – Not So Useless After All”
New York Times article: “Bits of Mystery DNA, Far From ‘Junk,’ Play Crucial Role”
Scientific American article: “‘Junk’ DNA Holds Clues to Common Diseases”
Lively, informative video: “Epigenetics”
Dr. David Crews video: “Interview with author of Epigenetic Transgenerational Inheritance Paper”