Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: March 2011

I was just born this way ... wasn't I?

We all know that we're born with our own DNA - the unique genes that make us each who we are. What you probably don't know is that the development of gene activity doesn't stop at birth, but rather continues to be influenced by our parents, our environment, and possibly even the behavior of ancestors!

"That's outrageous," I hear you say, "That would change everything we know about genetics!" The truth is, though our DNA blueprints remain constant, there can be alteration in gene activity that can, in fact, get passed down from generation to generation.

Dr. Lars Olov Bygren, a preventative-health specialist, was interested in research showing that an adult's health can be traced back to conditions in the womb. It was discovered, for example, "that if a pregnant woman ate poorly, her child would be at significantly higher than average risk for cardiovascular disease as an adult." Byrgen took it even further, questioning whether the health of the child could be affected even before conception, based on their parent's life experiences. In other words, can we actually change the traits we pass on to our children?

This leads us to the new science of epigenetics, "the study of changes in gene activity that do not involve alterations to the genetic code but still get passed down to at least one successive generation." If the DNA is the hardware, than the epigenome is the software, telling genes to switch on and off. The epigenomes are affected by environmental factors like stress, overeating, and smoking. And it's possible that these affected epigenomes will be passed down to multiple generations. That means that the decisions we make in our lives could have significant consequences for our children, grandchildren, and more. No pressure.

One recent study showed that fruit flies exposed to a drug called geldanamycin had unusual outgrowths on their eyes. And so did at least 13 successive generations of offspring - even though the subsequent generations were not exposed to the drug, and there was no change in DNA.

Another study took mice with genetic memory problems and provided them with an environment filled with exercise, toys, and lots of attention. Not only did these mice show significant improvement in memory formation, but their offspring's memories were also greatly improved even though they didn't get all the extra attention.

It is important to understand that epigenetics is not evolution. "Epigenetic changes represent a biological response to an environmental stressor. That response can be inherited through many generations via epigenetic marks, but if you remove the environmental pressure, the epigenetic marks will eventually fade ..." What can you do with this information? Take excellent care of yourself and your children! Surround yourself with a positive environment, get massage regularly, exercise, stretch, eat a healthy diet, and practice relaxation. Your future generations will thank you for it!

Source - John Cloud, Time

Ouch - my second brain hurts!

Did you know you have a brain in your gut? It's called the enteric nervous system and it's sometimes referred to as a "second brain." Just like the one in your head, it sends and receives impulses, responds to emotions, and records experiences. The nerve cells in this "lower brain" are even influenced by the same neurotransmitters. The upper and lower brains are always communicating to each other and, like siblings, sometimes argue and upset each other. But a balanced nervous system requires the two to get along. The cranial brain can overwhelm the enteric system with life stress, repressed feelings and disruptive emotions, creating negative effects on digestion and overall physical health. You know how you always seem to get that awful stomach ache when you're stressed out?

But we can help our two brains work together harmoniously by getting regular massage therapy, which helps awaken the communication between the systems. Daily exercise, stretching, and breathing exercises also help to open the body and create balance among the organs. So get massaged regularly and practice good self-care daily, and I'm sure your two brains will get along just fine.

Source - Massage Magazine

What's new with me ...

My husband and I went to see Spiderman: Turn off the Dark on Broadway. It was wild watching Spiderman and the Green Goblin flying around the theatre and battling it out right above our heads! Luckily, everyone survived the matinee without injury. No one had to ask for an emergency massage therapist in the house!

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Swedish InstituteCertified Myoskeletal TherapistNational Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

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