Bruce Lipton, scientist, researcher, teacher, and author, is driven by a passion to bring scientific evidence directly to the people his information could best assist: everyone.
His journey of discovery began as a cell biologist cloning stem cells to understand their control mechanism. This research was undertaken while teaching cell anatomy to medical school students at the University of Wisconsin. Further research conducted at Stanford’s School of Medicine revealed that genes were turned on and off, not by the genes themselves, but through external, environmental stimuli. These radical findings ran contrary to the long-held assumptions of genetic determinism and became one of the early heralds of an emerging scientific understanding called epigenetics.
Scientific theorems are slow to evolve and these new concepts have not yet been fully integrated into the mainstream of academia, partly due to the fact that the training of health professionals is deeply vested by the pharmaceutical industry and the even greater promise of lucrative gene therapies. Thus, valuable knowledge that reinforces our innate ability to impact gene expression has not found its way into contemporary medical textbooks or clinical practice. To make this evidence accessible to everyone, Dr. Lipton made the difficult decision to leave his financial and professional security and take the road less traveled. He trusted that bringing such knowledge directly to non-scientific audiences could greatly impact people’s lives, just as it had transformed his own.
We asked Dr. Lipton to share his insights into how the science of epigenetics is an empowering model for life and creating our own destinies.
SC: The century old model of genetic determinism is slowly being replaced with the new model of epigenetics. What is epigenetics and what is the distinction between them?
BL: When DNA was found to be the hereditary material in the mid-20th century, the belief system of that time was that our genes were like blueprints and that those blueprints self-regulate and lead to the assembly and function of the human being. This is the model of genetic determinism or ‘control by genes,’ and it has been thought for the last 100 years that life was controlled by genetics.
Epigenetics is a new model of gene expression. “Epi” means above, so the literal translation of epigenetic control reads, “controlled above the genes.”
SC: Why is this distinction between genetic determinism and epigenetics important?
BL: The difference between these two is significant because this fundamental belief called genetic determinism literally means that our lives, which are defined as our physical, physiological and emotional behavioral traits, are controlled by the genetic code. This kind of belief system provides a visual picture of people being victims: If the genes control our life function then our lives are being controlled by things outside of our ability to change them. This leads to victimization that the illnesses and diseases that run in families are propagated through the passing of genes associated with those attributes. Laboratory evidence shows this is not true.
When we buy into being a victim, we automatically buy into needing a rescuer, meaning we accept that somebody else is going to save us from ourselves. This is the unfortunate situation where the medical community has inserted itself.
Also, even though the genetic determinism belief system has been revised over the past fifteen years, the problem is that the revisions are being recognized only at the level of the biomedical research scientists; these ideas are not making their way to the public. In the meantime, the mass media continues to portray that ‘a gene controls this’ and ‘a gene that controls that.’
SC: You are saying then that when newspaper and magazine journalists report on published cell biology and genetics research from leading science journals like Nature and Science, they are still interpreting those research findings through the model of determinism, reinforcing the erroneous idea that science will rescue us from our own genetics.
“The medical industry wants to sell genes, they want to sell gene cards: ‘buy a gene card and read your future’ when in actuality, that technology has no more scientific value, maybe even less value, than going to a palm reader or an astrologer”
BL: In fact, advanced, ancient systems of astrology are probably more accurate than gene reading cards.
SC: So if gene cards are not capable of revealing our destiny, that would mean that our gene expressions are not static, correct?
BL: Yes. Epigenetic control reveals that environmental information alters the read-out of the genes without changing the underlying DNA sequenced code. That’s the difference. From a single gene, epigenetic regulation can provide for 30 thousand different variations of expression.
Scientists undertook the “Genome Project” thinking they were going to discover 150,000 genes because their model was based on genetic determinism that each gene controlled a character of the human. Since proteins build our physical and behavioral traits and there were over 150,000 known proteins, they expected to find 150,000 genes: One gene for each protein was their model.
Instead, they found only 23,000 genes. Since then, we have come to understand that each gene can produce over 30,000 variations. To understand the potential variations of genetic expression you could multiply each gene by 30,000 possibilities.
Here’s a simple analogy: Decades ago, television stations used to broadcast a circular test pattern after regular programming had ended for the day. Let’s say that our genes are like that test pattern that is being broadcast. The model of epigenetics, then, allows for control through all the dials and buttons on the television set. I can turn the television on and off. I can raise volume. I can change the color, the tint, the contrast, the horizontal, the vertical – I can change every one of those, yet in doing so, I did not change the original broadcast. No, I only changed the readout of the broadcast, and those variations are potentially unlimited. The distinction between what is controlled by our genes and epigenetic selection is defined early in human development.
Human development is divided up into two phases – the first is the embryo phase, followed by the fetal phase. The fetal phase is recognized when the embryo acquires human characteristics and looks like a human. It is then called a fetus. The embryological stage extends from the single fertilized egg cell through all the early little morphings and shape changes until it reaches the fetal stage. Our genes are the fundamental programmers that take the fertilized egg to the stage when the developing cells begin to look like a human. By then, the gene program has laid out the human body plan with two arms, two legs and nose, eyes, etc. From the fetal stage on, the modifications are now epigenetically controlled, meaning, they are influenced by the environment.
For example, once the human form is made then development could become anything from big strong muscles and arms for fighting to a bigger brain for thinking. Those decisions are made from the environmental information at the time that the fetus is developing. Sperm and eggs are generic. They form a human but they don’t determine if that human is going to be born in Bosnia or Zimbabwe or Iowa. Each of those environments requires a different physiology to survive in. For instance, if survival is threatened, then the physiology of the body changes to create a body that will withstand that threat. Information from the environment is very critical in shaping the expression of the genes that have already directed the construction of the human body.
SC: How do we trigger our gene expressions, not as victims of our genes but as masters of our fate?
BL: The brain is a transducer device; it reads environmental signals, interprets the signals and then regulates the body’s chemistry that controls the genetic expression of the cells. Interpretation by the mind is critical because the brain reads environmental images but has no opinion as to what those images mean. The mind interprets the environmental signals based upon our learning experiences. For example, if as children we learned that X is threatening, then whenever X comes into our environment, the mind’s interpretation will stimulate the brain to release neurochemicals that control cell behavior and gene activity to coordinate a protection response.
“The brain perceives images of our world and if those images are threatening, it will release different regulatory chemicals into the body versus if it perceives a love image”
SC: What you are saying seems cyclic: Our environment impacts gene selection, which then impacts the selection of proteins our bodies use to build tissue which then impacts our health and the quality of our lives, which then impacts our environment. Yet, sometimes we get stuck in cycles that seem to control our lives. How does having knowledge of how our bodies operate and how we instruct genetic selection empower us to make different choices?
BL: Firstly, the new knowledge of how perception controls biology reveals that we are active participants in controlling the character of our health and behavior. Our ability to consciously control our perceptions and environment has a profound influence on our lives, versus the old belief system where we are victims of forces outside our control. Secondly, when we live in the here and now, present all the time, and actively exercise our consciousness to run the show, we create the life we want. It becomes heaven on earth.
SC: You came to understand the implications of this knowledge in your own life. What was your experience?
BL: There was an early phase when I intellectually became aware of the mechanism. I thought, “Oh my God, I can create this magnificent life.” The first thing I did was find anybody that would sit long enough to let me tell them about the meaning of the new science. Upon finishing my presentation, they’d look at me cock their heads and reply, “For a guy who says he knows this, your life doesn’t look that good.” That was my wakeup call. While I consciously understood the new science, I wasn’t employing it in my life. When you’re not walking your talk, it doesn’t mean anything.
I realized I had to make this knowledge a part of my life before telling other people about it. And the beautiful part was, once I actually acted upon that intention, it transformed my life almost instantaneously.
SC: Can you explain how cells respond to chemical and energy signals?
BL: When a chemical signal is sent to a cell, it must first bind with a receptor molecule on the cell. The coupling of chemicals is always associated with “heat of reaction” meaning heat is given off by the chemical bonding reaction. Heat is disorganized or wasted energy. When a chemical is used as a signal, 98% or more of the chemical’s available energy is wasted as heat of reaction.
On the other hand, electromagnetic vibrational energy can also be used to convey information to the cell. Vibrational or frequency signals are one hundred times more efficient than chemical signals because they do not give off heat when bonding with a cell’s receptor. Energy signals are ultra efficient: single photon of light can hit a receptor molecule in the cell membrane and cause the cell to respond.
Cells process both chemical and energetic information. Survival is based upon an organism’s ability to respond to environmental signals. This is the physical foundation for the emerging field of energy medicine.
Signal-receiving molecules (receptors) in the cell membrane act as an information processor. They are programmable and can read and write information the same way that a computer reads and edits files. The cell’s behavior and gene activity can be reprogrammed as fast as one can type on the keyboard.
SC: Could this be related to spontaneous healing? Is spontaneous healing the result of an ‘in the moment’ reprogramming of the cells?
BL: Absolutely, the cells can reprogram virtually instantaneously. In my culture experiments, some of the changes can start to occur in half a second (500 milliseconds). If I put 1000 cells in a culture dish and expose them to a broadcast energy signal, 1000 cells will respond instantaneously. However, if I expose them to a chemical signal, it will take longer for the chemical to reach and bind to the cells, creating a lag phase between the stimulus and the response.
SC: Is there standard acceptance in the medical profession that our cells respond more efficiently to vibrational frequency than to chemistry?
BL: There is a common parallel in regard to today’s world energy crisis. For instance, there are other ways of creating energy that are more efficient and effective than burning fossil fuels. The fact is that it is not in the interest of the fossil fuel industry to recommend other technologies. This is the same situation in the medical industry. Since energy medicine does not serve the financial interests of the chemical-selling pharmaceutical industry, conventional medicine has no interest in endorsing energy healing modalities.