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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 4365429, 19 pages
Review Article

Epigenetic Mechanisms of Integrative Medicine

1Epigenetics Laboratory, Department of Anatomy, Howard University, 520 W St. NW, Washington, DC 20059, USA
2Vision Genomics, LLC, 5725 North Capitol St. NE, Washington, DC 20011, USA
3Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive-0628, San Diego, CA 92093, USA
4The Chopra Foundation, 2013 Costa Del Mar, Carlsbad, CA 92009, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Antonei B. Csoka

Received 12 July 2016; Revised 13 November 2016; Accepted 15 January 2017; Published 21 February 2017

Academic Editor: Lisa A. Conboy

Copyright © 2017 Riya R. Kanherkar et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Since time immemorial humans have utilized natural products and therapies for their healing properties. Even now, in the age of genomics and on the cusp of regenerative medicine, the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches represents a popular branch of health care. Furthermore, there is a trend towards a unified medical philosophy referred to as Integrative Medicine (IM) that represents the convergence of CAM and conventional medicine. The IM model not only considers the holistic perspective of the physiological components of the individual, but also includes psychological and mind-body aspects. Justification for and validation of such a whole-systems approach is in part dependent upon identification of the functional pathways governing healing, and new data is revealing relationships between therapies and biochemical effects that have long defied explanation. We review this data and propose a unifying theme: IM’s ability to affect healing is due at least in part to epigenetic mechanisms. This hypothesis is based on a mounting body of evidence that demonstrates a correlation between the physical and mental effects of IM and modulation of gene expression and epigenetic state. Emphasis on mapping, deciphering, and optimizing these effects will facilitate therapeutic delivery and create further benefits.