|Home > East Asia >
An ancient cultivation practice Falun Gong improves neutrophil functions and causes system-level gene regulation
Quan-Zhen Li, Gabriela E.Garcia, Ping Li, Richard J. Johnson, Tongwen Wang, and Lili Feng
Background: Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, was a very popular Qigong practice in China between 1992-1999 and now is known and practiced by nearly 100 million people throughout the world. Among all of the different Qigong practices that exhibit effects on improving one’s health, Falun Gong had the fastest growth rate and the most far-reaching influence among the Chinese people. The effect of Falun Gong on health appears not to be dependent upon age, sex, or cultural background, as indicated by the large-scale health survey carried out in 1998 in China. To better understand the healing effects of Falun Gong, we carried out a series of studies on polymorphonuclear leukocytes (neutrophils; PMNs) of Falun Gong practitioners and compared them with PMNs from randomly chosen non-practitioners.
Results: We here report the cellular and molecular changes in Falun Gong practitioners’ PMNs that may attribute to enhanced immunity, alteration of apoptotic properties in favor of a rapid resolution of inflammation, as well as PMNs longevity based upon a much more economical balance of protein synthesis and degradation.
Conclusions: Our studies suggest that Falun Gong practice alters immunity, cell death, and protein metabolic rate in a systemic fashion. Our findings further suggest that a new paradigm is urgently needed to understand the holistic link between human mind, body and spirit.
Such practices include both religious and non-religious cultivation practices. In Western societies, faith-based religious practices are predominant while the Eastern culture emphasizes the practice of physical and mental disciplines, such as yoga, meditation, tai qi (tai ji quan), karate and most recently, an ancient cultivation practice, Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa ( www.falundafa.org). While the health benefits of yoga, meditation and prayer have been documented and partly recognized by the general public, the mechanisms that underlie such apparent effects are not well understood at the physiological level. Very little has been documented and systematically studied at the cellular or molecular level. On the other hand, major technological progress has been made in the area of biological research that now allows rapid and precise monitoring of many of the detailed molecular events inside of a single cell. Many diseases can now be traced to the level of individual molecular defects in cells. Thus, it is now feasible to tackle the phenomena that are consistently associated with spiritual practices by mapping the physical manifestations of the effects of these practices at the cellular and molecular level.
There are several well-recognized difficulties in conducting research on mind-body subject. First, it is commonly observed that there is a wide range of variability among practitioners of the same practice. Second, there also has been the lack of a large number of practitioners who consistently practicing one type of practice. Because of these factors, the results of such studies are frequently questioned for not being generally representative or applicable. The practice of Falun Gong, however, exhibits unique features that allow more systematic studies of mind-body relationships. These features are:
These features of Falun Gong suggest that modern biological or biophysical technologies can be applied here to reach a deeper level of confirmation or understanding of the molecular manifestation of spiritual practice on our human body. Since the immune system has been previously shown to be highly sensitive to environmental and psychological changes, we carried out studies to examine the effect of Falun Gong practice on the polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs), which are relatively short-lived but are produced in large quantity during the immune responses and play critical roles in innate immunity. Studies at the cellular level reveal increased bactericidal activities of PMNs from Falun Gong practitioners. Furthermore, Falun Gong practitioners’ PMNs exhibit increased life span in the absence of stimulation from agents such as bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS), but increased apoptosis upon LPS stimulation. Such changes in apoptotic responses of PMNs suggest an alteration of PMN functions in favor of a rapid resolution of inflammation.
We also applied micro-array technology to examine changes in levels of gene expression in PMNs. Drastic system-level changes in gene expression were detected in PMNs of Falun Gong practitioners, while little changes were detected among non-practitioners, despite the differences in age and gender.
Most interestingly, the genes that are regulated in a consensus fashion among the practitioners can be grouped into several functional clusters, which are directly linked to PMN functions in anti-viral immunity, apoptotic property and possibly longevity based upon a much more economical balance of protein synthesis and degradation.
Figures: [Not received]
Recognizing the unique communication signals that regulate the biology of a human body, we also need to find a way to combine the studies of these human signals, which belong to separate fields of the social sciences, with studies of human biology. In this sense, human biology is at a very unique position to unify many areas of modern sciences, which have been fragmented and considered un-related throughout history. While such studies were not possible due to limited knowledge of the basic components of the human body, we are, however, facing an important revolution in this area, due to the recent development in the areas of genomics, proteomics, nanotechnology and computational biology. These technologies will provide us the ability to make “snap shots” of the molecular communication patterns occurring inside of a cell in a living organism. It is based upon one such technology that we now observe how a spiritual practice can profoundly influence a genome-wide gene expression pattern and shift cell functions to a more economical state.
A thorough verification and expansion of the studies of the impact of Falun Dafa to population health and to gene expression/cell function of human cells will provide a solid proof of concept in this new area of human biology and lay the foundation for future human system studies of a similar nature.
Some surveys on health benefits of practicing Falun Gong:
North America: http://www.pureinsight.org/pi/articles/2003/3/24/1533.html
|© Copyright 2002-2007 AFAR|