July: The Seventh Feature in 2020 — The Year of Truth —
Focus: DNA — Telomeres and Terpenes
From an early Nature Research July 2020 publication by Karen Miga et.al.:
“After two decades of improvements [attempting to map human DNA], the current human reference genome (GRCh38) with hundreds of unresolved gaps [in sequencing, has been surpassed.]… [A] de novo human genome assembly … with the first gapless, telomere-to-telomere assembly of a human [X] chromosome … was enabled by … nanopore sequencing of the … CHM13 [human] genome.”
In other words, a couple of weeks ago scientists were successfully able to begin cloning homo sapiens.
Because this is more than I want to think about right now, I’ll just say that if you Google “clone female” you’ll get this:
Back in January when I thought about 2020 as the Year of Truth and mapped out twelve months of blog themes, I had thought about DNA as an inherited state of being and that chronic health conditions even chronic attitudes could be altered with present, conscious focus and repatterning. Years ago I did a series of reiki trainings and have continued body-mind practices that lift the spirit and build resilience. It’s hard to know what effect this has on DNA of course, but science is beginning to make the connections in mindfulness and health.
Today the scientific community is urgently studying the Coronavirus. I learned that estrogen has been helpful in treating male patients with COVID-19 and that the length of one’s telomeres — compound structures at the end of each chromosome that thwart deterioration or aging — may have a lot to do with immune deficiency and susceptibility to COVID-19. One’s ancestry may also have a lot to do with the demands placed on these hard working telomeres. For example, generations of people fighting off malaria may have longer, stronger telomeres whereas families contending with generations of cancer may have shorter, weaker telomeres.
From FASEB published in May 2020 by Abraham Aviv:
Then I found The Royal Society 2018 publication that studied 19 bird species which found that “bird species with longer lifespans lose fewer telomeric repeats” (the DNA strands that die off with cell division). And after a deep dive in biological weeds that are catalyzed by humans’ desire to reverse the aging process, I found these telomere tips by blogger Dave Asprey:
- Limit exposure to air pollution
- Get active
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Boost your NAD+ levels
- Load up on healthy fats and veggies
- Give TA-65 supplements a try
- Test your telomeres at home
But the most fascinating thing that has recently become a spiritual practice for me has to do with the other new and exciting T word, Terpenes. I attended a webinar about forest preservation and metabolic brain health by Harvard scientist Susan Masino who got me thinking about the essence of the forests in a new and entirely intoxicating way.
The peer reviewed research Masino shares was curated extensively and is directly related to the forest bathing practice in Japan for sustaining and restoring brain health called Shinrin Yoku.
Terpenes are hydrocarbons, or the essential oils, produced primarily by plants like conifers. The name “terpene” is derived from the word “turpentine” which does not smell pleasant like these familiar terpenes: limonene and citral (lemon), camphor and pinene (pine), eugenol (clove), anethol (fennel), geraniol (rose), and menthol.
The terpenes in conifers or herbs like rosemary and sage stimulate brain health by reducing inflammation and protecting our brain’s neurons, so taking a moment each day to breathe in these aromatics, especially in the forest, experiencing the peace and aliveness of the woods is an important and scientifically proven way to sustain and restore balance. If you are fortunate enough to have woods nearby, this is yet another motivating reason to get out there and walk and breathe — you just might lengthen your telomeres and your life!
I’m heading out now!