Grounded in Science

Embracing life at the molecular level.

Miraculous Molecules of Life

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Our bodies are unmatched in maintaining our health, and healing from injury.  When a change is detected in our body – such as a rise in blood sugar after eating a donut or the arrival of a flu virus – our bodies respond rapidly and precisely through an elegant dance of  molecular workers.  Insulin ushers sugar from that donut out of your blood and into your cells.  Another molecule – called interferon – sounds the alert that a foreign invader is on the scene and triggers the protective defenses of the immune system that helps eradicate pathogens such as that flu virus you caught on the commute home tonight..

Clearly these life molecules are heroes, but what makes me call them elegant?  For starters, the constellation of molecules in our bodies – including proteins, vitamins, hormones – are not static, but are wiggling, vibrating structures made up of atoms. These atomic dancers are finely choreographed in their actions – delivering the right materials or information to the right spot at exactly the right time. They can also halt delivery precisely.  The result is a dynamic system that communicates information about what’s happening in and between our cells and tissues, and administers an accurate dosage of biological materials needed to live and thrive.  Try as they might, pharmaceutical approaches (i.e. drugs) simply can’t match this efficiency.

Information to share, work to be done — molecules do it all. In the nervous system, neurons transmit signals through electrical impulses, but the specific message is communicated to other neurons and cells through the release and binding of small molecules.  A striking example are  the molecules that enable crosstalk between the nervous system and the immune system.  These hormones and other biochemicals that convey messages among nerve cells can also “speak” to the cells of the immune system. Moreover, the brain can send messages directly down nerve cells to the immune system. In turn, certain immune cells can produce biochemicals that transmit information to the nervous system.  This astounding molecular communication loop is excellent evidence of the mind-body connection.

Modern pharmacology uses knowledge about these molecular systems to mimic or correct the body’s functions when they go awry due to disease, but due to the complexity of the body’s own molecular ballet, these approaches are incomplete.  I advocate for a another solution – through an understanding of how our bodies protect and promote our health, we need to embrace a holistic, prevention-based approach to support our bodies inherent genius and enable our own optimal health, wellness and healing.  This integrative health approach complements modern advancements in medicine and moreover, embraces a life of VITALITY!

In this blog I will share stories about this invisible world to reveal the beauty and power behind the science of health.  I hope that these tales and science tidbits will inspire wonder, but also motivate each one of us to listen better to the language of our bodies and support this marvelous system to achieve optimal health.

This blog is for you, so let me hear from you!

Author: DHannemann

Diane Hannemann, PhD is biochemist-biophysicist with a passion for understanding how the body communicates at the molecular level and how these systems can be supported to optimize health. In 1996, these questions inspired her to leave her career in marketing communications to return to college for a BA in Chemistry from Purdue University followed by a PhD in Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry from Yale University where she studied how a motor protein uses chemical energy to transport materials along tracks inside a cell. Her commitment to translating science to the public and policymakers brought her to Washington, DC in 2007 to work as a regional science advisor in the East Asian & Pacific bureau in the State Department and then as a health science policy analyst at the National Institutes of Health. On her path for personal transformation and wellness, she is intrigued by the potential of energy therapies to promote healing and well-being as part of an integrated medical system. She is a committed volunteer for Animal Allies - a feline rescue organization – and further fuels her spirit with yoga, trips to the Eastern Shore, Feldenkrais and Reiki.

5 thoughts on “Miraculous Molecules of Life

  1. Great work!

  2. So excited to read your thoughts and learn from you. This is good stuff!

  3. I LOVE that you have started this blog Diane! You have such a brilliant mind and I am so grateful to have you as my friend. Chat soon and keep up with the good news!

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