Falun Gong can influence DNA?

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In summary: You'd want to measure it against other exercise disciplines as well as non-exercising controls. How do we know this isn't just the result of exercise generally?This is an important question. The authors should have included a comparison group that did not perform any type of exercise. If the gene expression patterns of the FLG practitioners are only different from the control group because of the exercise, then it would be reasonable to expect that the same results would be seen in a group of people who exercised without reading any books about the practice. However, if the gene expression changes are specific to the practice of FLG, then a control group of people who do not practice the Qigong would be necessary to
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PIT2
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Background and objectives:
The great similarity of the genomes of humans and other species stimulated us to search for genes regulated by elements associated with human uniqueness, such as the mindbody interaction. DNA microarray technology offers the advantage of analyzing thousands of genes simultaneously, with the potential to determine healthy phenotypic changes in gene expression. The aim of this study was to determine the genomic profile and function of neutrophils in Falun Gong (FLG, an ancient Chinese Qigong) practitioners, with healthy subjects as controls.

Subjects and design:
Six (6) Asian FLG practitioners and 6 Asian normal healthy controls were recruited for our study. The practitioners have practiced FLG for at least 1 year (range, 15 years). The practice includes daily reading of FLG books and daily practice of exercises lasting 12 hours. Selected normal healthy controls did not perform Qigong, yoga, t'ai chi, or any other type of mindbody practice, and had not followed any conventional physical exercise program for at least 1 year. Neutrophils were isolated from fresh blood and assayed for gene expression, using microarrays and RNase protection assay (RPA), as well as for function (phagocytosis) and survival (apoptosis).

Results:
The changes in gene expression of FLG practitioners in contrast to normal healthy controls were characterized by enhanced immunity, downregulation of cellular metabolism, and alteration of apoptotic genes in favor of a rapid resolution of inflammation. The lifespan of normal neutrophils was prolonged, while the inflammatory neutrophils displayed accelerated cell death in FLG practitioners as determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Correlating with enhanced immunity reflected by microarray data, neutrophil phagocytosis was significantly increased in Qigong practitioners. Some of the altered genes observed by microarray were confirmed by RPA.

Conclusion:
Qigong practice may regulate immunity, metabolic rate, and cell death, possibly at the transcriptional level. Our pilot study provides the first evidence that Qigong practice may exert transcriptional regulation at a genomic level. New approaches are needed to study how genes are regulated by elements associated with human uniqueness, such as consciousness, cognition, and spirituality.

http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2005.11.29?journalCode=acm


Does this imply the possibility that we can influence our DNA with our own consciousness and therefore influence our evolution at will?

Or is this 'just' another case of self-healing.
 
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  • #2
Some thoughts off the top of my head...

1. 12 people? Very small sample.

2. You'd probably want to measure the same people before and after practicing, to ensure the effect was due to the practice. How do we know the 6 controls didn't just have different gene expression?

3. You'd want to measure it against other exercise disciplines as well as non-exercising controls. How do we know this isn't just the result of exercise generally?

4. "The changes in gene expression of FLG practitioners in contrast to normal healthy controls were characterized by enhanced immunity, downregulation of cellular metabolism, and alteration of apoptotic genes in favor of a rapid resolution of inflammation." Need more info on how this correlation was deduced or measured.

I was going to add:
5. If it takes 12 hours/day, how exactly do you live a life?!? Benefits or not, I won't be taking up the practice any time soon.

but it's a typo! It should read "...reading of FLG books and daily practice of exercises lasting 1-2 hours." :smile:

In short, to really show that brain activity was influencing DNA would require more tests, as they say in the last paragraph. As for influencing our evolution, you'd have to show we can influence DNA in specific ways, as opposed to just the fact that it is affected, which is what this study purports to show.
 
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  • #3
Experiment Procedures

infidel said:
1. 12 people? Very small sample.

Since the authors say the results were significantly different, they probably used the t-test to verify that the difference in means between the two groups were statistically, and generalisably, different. The t-test may be meaningfully applied to sample sizes of 10.

However, small sample sizes are often the result of the budget available. As I am sure you know, researchers perforce do many experiments that will hopefully lead to larger-scale projects if the results warrant. They have to start somewhere. As is typical of so many "starter" projects, the authors end their report with the standard, disguised plea for more funds, so that they may do the research they need to.

infidel said:
2(a). You'd probably want to measure the same people before and after practicing, to ensure the effect was due to the practice.

This would be good. I am trying, however, to think of a way to control all other variables of the lives of the test subjects for the length of time required, so that you could test that it was the exercise, and only the exercise, that made the difference. Keeping these test subjects in a controlled environment, with controlled diet, etc., would be costly, especially if a large sample size is required. I am assuming that Falun Gong, like most disciplines, requires a significant amount of time to master sufficiently to make a difference. The control group could still be chosen at random from the general population.

infidel said:
2(b). How do we know the 6 controls didn't just have different gene expression?

From a research point of view, randomly choosing sample subjects from the population at large is supposed to ensure the control group does not already have a pre-set conditioning. I think it safe to conclude the experiment's write-up would have the typical background explanation to let the reviewer's ensure the test subjects and the control group were chosen randomly. It's a pretty standard part of research write-ups.

infidel said:
3. You'd want to measure it against other exercise disciplines as well as non-exercising controls. How do we know this isn't just the result of exercise generally?QUOTE]

I do not get the feeling that the researchers are proponents of Falun Gong specifically. They just wanted to test whether "consciousness, cognition, and spirituality" affect DNA. So it would be a happy occasion for them if they got valid results for any relevant type of exercise, don't you think?

infidel said:
4. "The changes in gene expression of FLG practitioners in contrast to normal healthy controls were characterized by enhanced immunity, downregulation of cellular metabolism, and alteration of apoptotic genes in favor of a rapid resolution of inflammation." Need more info on how this correlation was deduced or measured.QUOTE]

It seems clear from this summary of the paper they used statistics to measure mean differences of levels between the control group and the test group, with some double-checking by microarray and RPA. I am sure the full paper gives complete details. I am not a subscriber to that website, so I cannot access the full study. There is, however, nothing in the summary that tends to suspicion towards the validity of the study's methods.

infidel said:
4.(a)...to really show that brain activity was influencing DNA would require more tests...QUOTE]

Nevertheless, this is a significant study. We have no evidence on hand to invalidate it.

infidel said:
4.(a)As for influencing our evolution, you'd have to show we can influence DNA in specific ways, as opposed to just the fact that it is affected, which is what this study purports to show.QUOTE]

Well, no. All PIT2 asked was whether we can influence our DNA, and perhaps our evolution. PIT2 did not ask if we could influence our DNA in any targeted way. This study says, Yes, we can influence our DNA." To get SPECIFIC types of influence would take further study and correlation. Apparently, you will influence your DNA if you practice Falun Gong. So the answer to PIT2's questions seems to be yes. To get our species to acquire anyone specific attribute through "consciousness, cognition, and spirituality" may still be impossible, or may take years of research. We do not know anything about that as of now.
 

1. Can practicing Falun Gong really influence DNA?

There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that practicing Falun Gong can directly influence or change DNA. DNA is a complex molecule that is responsible for our genetic makeup and it is not affected by external factors such as meditation or qigong exercises.

2. How does Falun Gong claim to influence DNA?

Falun Gong followers believe that through meditation and qigong exercises, they can cleanse their bodies of impurities and improve their physical and mental well-being. They claim that this can indirectly influence DNA by promoting better health and reducing stress, which can have positive effects on gene expression.

3. Is there any scientific research on the effects of Falun Gong on DNA?

There have been some studies on the health benefits of Falun Gong practices, but none of them directly address the claim that it can influence DNA. The current scientific consensus is that there is no evidence to support this claim.

4. Are there any potential risks associated with Falun Gong's methods of influencing DNA?

There are no known risks associated with practicing Falun Gong. However, as with any form of exercise or meditation, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new routine, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions.

5. Can Falun Gong really reverse the effects of aging through DNA influence?

There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that Falun Gong can reverse the effects of aging through DNA influence. Aging is a complex process that is influenced by a variety of factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and environment. While Falun Gong may have some benefits for overall health and well-being, there is no proof that it can reverse aging.

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