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Related Terms

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Background

  • The cell is the unit of life. It contains instructions for building and operating any organism it is a part of, whether a human cell, a plant cell, or a single-cell organism such as a bacterium. Every cell in that life form has the same instructions, but each group of cells uses only a few of those instructions. Brain cells build the brain, lung cells build lungs, and so on. When the building is done, the cells use a new set of instructions to perform their different functions.
  • Genes, which are located inside of cells, contain the information that controls an organism's development and functions by instructing cells to make new molecules, usually proteins. Genes are passed down from parents to their children.
  • The genes are carried in a large molecule called DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). DNA is a very long and complex chemical in the nucleus of the cell, and carries a four-letter code. The code directs the machinery of the cell to perform all the necessary functions in the body.
  • Much of the code spells out instructions for building every protein in the organism. Proteins are the workers in the body; they do all the construction, make up a good portion of what is built, and perform most of the operations that make up the activities of an organism. There are roughly 30,000 proteins in a human body. Many other codes in the DNA do not provide instructions for making proteins. Some turn genes on, some turn genes off, but most of them are poorly understood at this time. Some proteins make the other non-protein chemicals that the body needs to function.
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Methods

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Research

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Implications

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Limitations

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Safety

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Future Research

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.