The Codes of Life

In the beginning was the Word " And the Word was made Flesh. "

Is the ancient Scriptural passage referring to the genetic code? That's debatable. But one thing is clear: the language of DNA, the Holy Writ shared by all living things, does indeed become flesh. The quaternary code of the nucleotides contains blueprints for health, as well as recipes for illness.

The emerging science of genomics—analysis of an individual's specific genotype—is telling us much about how an individual's unique genetic "name" is made flesh. Is it shouted or whispered? Stated clearly or mumbled? Are some syllables mispronounced? Over-emphasized? Barely audible? Genomics tells us that far more than previously thought, genetic expression is dependent on the signals—food, climate, environmental conditions, cultural influences—an individual receives from the "outside" world.

Health, then, is a state of dynamic harmony between a person's inherent genetic predispositions and the environmental and nutritional signals he or she takes in. Predictive genomics, rapidly finding its way into day-to-day clinical practice, can bring to light a person's genetic predispositions. It is up to that individual, working with knowledgeable health care practitioners, to tailor his or her environment for optimal, healthy gene expression.

One could say that life itself is the outcome of multiple orders of interacting code sets. Genetics is just one piece. On a far more mundane level, another set of codes—insurance reimbursement codes—governs much of what you and your colleagues can and cannot do as healers.

Since 1966, the AMA has controlled the codes that determine who and what is reimbursable in medicine. AMA is now being pushed by the federal government to address the glaring absence of codes for natural medicine and services given by non-MDs. How AMA will respond to this task remains to be seen. But the challenge itself is a watershed moment.

With this issue of Holistic Primary Care, I would like to welcome members of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians to our dialog, and the association's president, Michael Traub, ND, to our editorial advisory board. AANP members are graduates of the nation's 4-year naturopathic medical schools, and they practice a comprehensive synthesis of the best in patient centered natural health care. It is our hope that Holistic Primary Care can serve as an interdisciplinary meeting place for all physicians concerned with primary preventive health care.

I welcome your feedback and your suggestions.

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