Epigenetics! Everyone’s talking about the interaction of our genes with the environment, and how it affects our health.

The power to change the future – and the present, for that matter! – is in our hands. Epigenetics and pain go together just like epigenetics and all other health issues.

We know genes influence our susceptibility to all kinds of health issues. But what about pain? Is pain any exception?

Clearly, the answer is “no”! Susceptibility to pain – and pain syndromes, with complex names and even more complex explanations – is just as much influenced by your genes as anything else. And the concept of epigenetics –how the environment influences your genetic expression, and hence your health – tells us that once you know about it, you have the opportunity to do something about it.

Everyone knows someone that doesn’t seem to feel pain. We also know people who seem unaffected by medications – people for whom it takes a super-powered dose to have an effect. These are two simple characteristics that tell us something about the variation in the ways in which pain works in people’s lives.

We know that the role of genes in migraine is up to 58%, the role of genes in lower back pain is up to 67% and the role of genes in menstrual pain (painful periods) is up to 55%.

Genes affect your likelihood of injury.

For example, genes that code for collagen type have an influence on how likely you are to injure tendons or cartilage.

Genes also have a role in how you perceive sensation, and the pain experience your system has.

The enzyme COMT influences your body’s production of neurotransmitters involved in sensation and pain, and the MAO enzyme influences your body’s metabolism of these neurotransmitters.

Genes certainly influence how you will respond to pain medications.

The CYP450 enzymes are involved in metabolism of hormones and how you metabolise medications. They influence the detoxification of various substances through the liver.

Knowledge is power! Once you know where the weak links are in your chain, you can work on fortifying them.

Genetic testing is now widely available to the general public – and is relatively affordable. I work with people who have various symptoms (including chronic pain) who want to work out how nutritional biochemistry is contributing – and how to use this knowledge to their advantage. Working out how epigenetics and pain are linked is very empowering.

Get in touch with me if you would like advice on where to go for genetic testing, and how to get the ball rolling.

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