Updated: Nov 26, 2019
Over the last few years genetic testing and research on its applications has been growing rapidly. This is a result of the development of highly affordable sequencing (determining an individual’s gene structure) and strong interest amongst research groups in discovering relationships between gene variations and complex disease processes. In other words, it is all the rage to find out how your genetics affect your health.
More importantly, the newest area of research falls within how therapies can affect our genetics. It used to be that we thought our genes were fixed and we were doomed to experience whatever we had in store for us. With modern science, we know this not to be the case. The expression of genetic material can be functionally altered to diminish or eliminate their effects on our anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry (this is the field of epigenetics).
The focus of this article is exploring the current research on the effects of homeopathic medicines on genes and their resultant proteins. Current database searches have shown that the focus to date has been on genetic variants related to cancer. So let us start at the most well-known gene related to cancer risk:
This gene codes the p53 protein that has been implicated in the development of cancers such as pancreatic, breast, lung, kidney, cervix, and lymph. Although there is still debate over which cancers and to what extent this gene has an effect, it is well established that p53 is one protein responsible for maintaining genomic stability through DNA repair, cell cycle stabilization, and apoptosis induction. This means it helps cells stay healthy and helps destroy cells that can’t be repaired. Furthermore, this gene has been shown to interact with just over 100 other genes, many of which also have an effect on the development of cancer. As a result, TP53/p53 has been a focus for novel therapeutics for both treatment and prevention since its discovery in 1993.
Recent experiments on various homeopathic medicines and their effects on p53 expression have proved promising. To date, we have discovered that homeopathic Thuja (6), Calcarea Carbonica (7), Phytolacca (4), Carcinosin (5), and Chelidonium (1) all have an effect on the up regulation of the p53 protein and have shown to reduce cancerous tissues. These are amazing discoveries with far reaching implications. Fortunately, as genetic testing and lab procedures have developed there has been research on many more genes, proteins, and the effects of homeopathic medicines.
Newly Researched Genes and Resultant Proteins
Akt: Can cause tumors to proliferate, survive, and become more invasive. One of the most frequently activated genes in human cancer and tumor cells.
APAF1: This protein is essential for apoptosis regulation (the death of mutated/damaged/cancerous cells), in part by maturing Caspase 9 and the resultant caspase cascade. Also shown to interact with BCL2.
BCL-2: This family of proteins regulates apoptosis related to B-cell Lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, melanoma, and breast, prostate, and lung cancers. (genes: BAX, BCL2 series, and others)
Caspase 3 & 7: These are enzymes (proteins) that play another important part in apoptosis induction.
CDKN1B: This gene encodes the protein p27 which slows down cell growth.
CYCS: This gene encodes Cytochrome C which helps within the electron transport chain within mitochondria, the structures in cells that make energy. It also plays a role in regulating apoptosis.
DFFA: This gene encodes the ICAD protein which is a substrate for the enzyme caspase 3 (see above) and is another important apoptosis inducer.
EGFR: Overexpression of this gene can lead to lung and anal cancers as well as glioblastoma multiforme. Basically, it causes cells to grow out of control. Also shown to interact with over 30 other genes.
PARP: This family of proteins helps with DNA repair and initiating death of tumors.
Scientists continue to explore other genes that are related to cancer in order to find additional mechanisms of cancer development and novel treatments that address these causes. Typically, a single gene, single protein, or single biochemical pathway is explored when searching for treatments. This approach does help in finding patentable substances that can affect a single pathway, however, it fundamentally ignores the possibility of treatments that affect many of the genes and their pathways simultaneously. Here is a summary of research indicating the holistic and multi-faceted effects that homeopathic medicines have on gene expression:
Carcinosin, Conium, and Thuja have been shown to up regulat caspase 7, p27, and increase cleavage of PARP. (3)
Gymnema has been shown to increase apoptosis through up regulation of cytochrome c, caspase 3, PARP, and Bax while simultaneously decreasing expression of ICAD, EGFR, and Bcl2 genes. (2)
Lycopodium has been shown to reduce expression of Bcl2 and Apaf genes as well as decrease caspase 3 and Bax expression. (8)
Phytolacca has been shown to down regulate Akt, p27, and Bcl2 while up regulating p53, Bax, caspase 3, and caspase 7.(4)
Ruta has been shown to decrease Bcl2. (5)
Secale Cor has been shown to modulate expression of AhR, PCNA, Akt, Bcl2, BclxL, NfkB, Il-6, cytochrome c, Bax, Bad, Apaf, caspase 3, caspase 9, AhR, and PCNA. (9)
The fact that we have demonstrable evidence showing homeopathic medicines are capable of changing multiple gene expressions related to cancerous afflictions indicates that anyone suffering from cancer (or who would like to prevent its development) would be wise to seek professional homeopathic counseling. The evidence presented in this article is promising. However, we absolutely must continue this line of research. Furthermore, with the exponential growth of genetic data and other diseases, it would be wise to utilize genetics as a novel measurement of the effectiveness of homeopathic medicines.
Overall, as further research is done to illuminate the mechanisms and effects of homeopathic medicines, I am hopeful that long term critics and skeptics of this healing art will explore this information and use it to promote safe and effective treatments. I am confident we will continue to find that homeopathy is a valuable addition to anyone’s journey in seeking optimal health and well-being in life.
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