Improve the Physical and Psychological Symptoms of Covid-19 with Yoga

Improve the Physical and Psychological Symptoms of Covid-19 with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

If there are threats to humanity, yoga often gives us a way of holistic health. Yoga also gives us a happier way of life. I am sure, Yoga will continue playing its preventive, as well as promotive role in healthcare of masses,” – Narendra Modi

 

Mindfulness training and yoga practices have been shown to improve health and well-being in healthy individuals. They have also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the mental and physical health of the population. It has created intense stress both for frontline workers but also for people simply isolating at home. Mindfulness is known to decrease the psychological and physical responses to stress and yoga practice also produces similar improvements. So, yoga practice may be helpful in coping with the mental and physical challenges resulting from the lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. The evidence has been accumulating. So, it makes sense to summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “A narrative review on yoga: a potential intervention for augmenting immunomodulation and mental health in COVID-19.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9289356/ ) Basu-Ray and colleagues review and summarize the published research on the effectiveness of yoga practice for the treatment of the psychological and physical symptoms of Covid-19.

 

They note that the published research suggests that yoga practice improves the immune response and decreases inflammation. The research also found that yoga decreases responses physical and psychological responses to stress and decreases anxiety and depression. They found that yoga practice improves the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. It has been shown to improve cardiac arrhythmia, congestive cardiac failure, ischemic heart disease, and hypertension, reducing blood pressure.

 

All these benefits of yoga practice should improve the individual’s ability to combat Covid-19.

 

“Meditation can turn fools into sages but unfortunately, fools never meditate.” Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Vivekananda

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Indranill Basu-Ray, Kashinath Metri, Dibbendhu Khanra, Rishab Revankar, Kavitha M. Chinnaiyan, Nagaratna Raghuram, Mahesh Chandra Mishra, Bhushan Patwardhan, Manjunath Sharma, Ishwar V. Basavaraddi, Akshay Anand, Shrinath Reddy, K. K. Deepak, Marian Levy, Sue Theus, Glenn N. Levine, Holger Cramer, Gregory L. Fricchione, Nagendra R. Hongasandra. A narrative review on yoga: a potential intervention for augmenting immunomodulation and mental health in COVID-19, BMC Complement Med Ther. 2022; 22: 191. Published online 2022 Jul 18. doi: 10.1186/s12906-022-03666-2

 

Abstract

Background

The ongoing novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has a significant mortality rate of 3–5%. The principal causes of multiorgan failure and death are cytokine release syndrome and immune dysfunction. Stress, anxiety, and depression has been aggravated by the pandemic and its resultant restrictions in day-to-day life which may contribute to immune dysregulation. Thus, immunity strengthening and the prevention of cytokine release syndrome are important for preventing and minimizing mortality in COVID-19 patients. However, despite a few specific remedies that now exist for the SARS-CoV-2virus, the principal modes of prevention include vaccination, masking, and holistic healing methods, such as yoga. Currently, extensive research is being conducted to better understand the neuroendocrinoimmunological mechanisms by which yoga alleviates stress and inflammation. This review article explores the anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating potentials of yoga, along with its role in reducing risk for immune dysfunction and impaired mental health.

Methods

We conducted this narrative review from published literature in MEDLINE, EMBASE, COCHRANE databases. Screening was performed for titles and abstracts by two independent review authors; potentially eligible citations were retrieved for full-text review. References of included articles and articles of major non-indexed peer reviewed journals were searched for relevance by two independent review authors. A third review author checked the excluded records. All disagreements were resolved through discussion amongst review authors or through adjudication by a fourth review author. Abstracts, editorials, conference proceedings and clinical trial registrations were excluded.

Observations

Yoga is a nonpharmacological, cost-effective, and safe intervention associated with several health benefits. Originating in ancient India, this vast discipline consists of postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), meditation (dhyana/dharana), and relaxation. Studies have demonstrated yoga’s ability to bolster innate immunity and to inhibit cytokine release syndrome. As an intervention, yoga has been shown to improve mental health, as it alleviates anxiety, depression, and stress and enhances mindfulness, self-control, and self-regulation. Yoga has been correlated with numerous cardioprotective effects, which also may play a role in COVID-19 by preventing lung and cardiac injury.

Conclusion and relevance

This review paves the path for further research on yoga as a potential intervention for enhancing innate immunity and mental health and thus its role in prevention and adjunctive treatment in COVID-19.

Conclusions

The aggregation of pathophysiological aberrations, both psychological and somatic, secondary to COVID-19 pandemic and its resultant restrictions, may increase the severity of the infection. Accumulated evidence leads us to hypothesize that, for many, yoga practice may attenuate the ill effects of COVID-19–induced immune dysfunction at different stages.

From a public health perspective, yoga represents a low-cost, noninvasive strategy for alleviating the physical and emotional toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. The aforementioned yoga practices can be performed at home, in adherence to social distancing guidelines. Outcomes from an 8-week yoga intervention (asanas, pranayama, and meditation) indicated that medical treatment plus yoga is more effective than medical treatment alone in reducing anxiety [90]. Relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation helps in managing chronic or long term stress by regulating the cytokines, thus assisting people to overcome co-morbidities associated with diseases and improving the quality of life; which is important in COVID-19 and post-COVID illness [221]. Notwithstanding, appropriate clinical trials are required to document the efficacy of this strategy.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9289356/

Improve Immune function with a Meditation Retreat

Improve Immune function with a Meditation Retreat

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“meditative practice enhanced immune function without activating inflammatory signals. This suggests that meditation, as a behavioral intervention, may be an effective component in treating diseases characterized by increased inflammatory responsiveness with a weakened immune system.” – Vijayendran Chandran

 

The immune system is designed to protect the body from threats like stress, infection, injury, and toxic chemicals. One of its tools is the Inflammatory response. This response works quite well for short-term infections and injuries. But when inflammation is protracted and becomes chronic, it can itself become a threat to health. It can produce autoimmune diseases such as colitis, Chron’s disease, arthritis, heart disease, increased cancer risk, lung disease, sleep disruption, gum disease, decreased bone health, psoriasis, and depression.

 

When the immune system attacks the liver, it produces autoimmune hepatitis which damages the liver. It is rare but affects women four times more often than men. Mind-body techniques such as yoga, Tai Chi and meditation have been shown to adaptively reduce the inflammatory response. So, it would seem reasonable that mindfulness training may be effective in treating autoimmune hepatitis.

 

In today’s Research News article “). Large-scale genomic study reveals robust activation of the immune system following advanced Inner Engineering meditation retreat.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8713789/ ) Chandran and colleagues recruited healthy participants in an 8-day meditation, yoga, and vegan diet retreat. Blood was drawn for genomic analysis 5 weeks before, immediately before and after the retreat and 3 months later.

 

They found that there was lessened activity in genes associated with oxidative stress, detoxification, and cell cycle regulation and increased activity in genes associated with the immune response but no change in genes associated with inflammation. Hence, participation in the meditation, yoga, and vegan diet retreat produced genetic expressions representative of improved immune response without inflammation.

 

So, improve immune function with a meditation retreat.

 

multiple genes related to the immune system were activated — dramatically — when you do Inner Engineering practices,” – Vijayendran Chandran

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Chandran, V., Bermúdez, M. L., Koka, M., Chandran, B., Pawale, D., Vishnubhotla, R., Alankar, S., Maturi, R., Subramaniam, B., & Sadhasivam, S. (2021). Large-scale genomic study reveals robust activation of the immune system following advanced Inner Engineering meditation retreat. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(51), e2110455118. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2110455118

 

SIGNIFICANCE

Several studies on the impact of yoga and meditation on mental and physical health have demonstrated beneficial effects. However, the potential molecular mechanisms and critical genes involved in this beneficial outcome have yet to be comprehensively elucidated. This study identified and characterized the transcriptional program associated with advanced meditation practice, and we bioinformatically integrated various networks to identify meditation-specific core network. This core network links several immune signaling pathways, and we showed that this core transcriptional profile is dysfunctional in multiple sclerosis and severe COVID-19 infection. Very importantly, we demonstrated that the meditative practice enhanced immune function without activating inflammatory signals. Together, these results make meditation an effective behavioral intervention for treating various conditions associated with a weakened immune system.

Keywords: meditation, immune, Isha yoga, Inner Engineering, COVID-19

Go to:

ABSTRACT

The positive impact of meditation on human well-being is well documented, yet its molecular mechanisms are incompletely understood. We applied a comprehensive systems biology approach starting with whole-blood gene expression profiling combined with multilevel bioinformatic analyses to characterize the coexpression, transcriptional, and protein–protein interaction networks to identify a meditation-specific core network after an advanced 8-d Inner Engineering retreat program. We found the response to oxidative stress, detoxification, and cell cycle regulation pathways were down-regulated after meditation. Strikingly, 220 genes directly associated with immune response, including 68 genes related to interferon signaling, were up-regulated, with no significant expression changes in the inflammatory genes. This robust meditation-specific immune response network is significantly dysregulated in multiple sclerosis and severe COVID-19 patients. The work provides a foundation for understanding the effect of meditation and suggests that meditation as a behavioral intervention can voluntarily and nonpharmacologically improve the immune response for treating various conditions associated with excessive or persistent inflammation with a dampened immune system profile.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8713789/

 

Improve Teacher Well-Being and Immune Function with Mindfulness

Improve Teacher Well-Being and Immune Function with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

learning and cultivating skills of mindfulness . . .can help us to promote the calm, relaxed, but enlivened classroom environment that children need to learn. Mindfulness can also help us to be more effective at reducing conflict and developing more positive ways of relating in the classroom, which can help us feel more job satisfaction.” – Patricia Jennings

 

Stress is epidemic in the workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This often produces burnout; fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, and professional inefficacy. In a school setting, this burnout and exhaustion not only affects teachers personally, but also the students and schools, as it produces a loss of enthusiasm, empathy, and compassion. Hence, there is a need to identify methods of reducing stress and improving teachers’ psychological health. Mindfulness has been demonstrated to be helpful in reducing the psychological and physiological responses to stress and for treating and preventing burnout. This suggests that mindfulness would improve the psychological and physiological well-being of teachers,

 

In today’s Research News article “Fostering emotional self-regulation in female teachers at the public teaching network: A mindfulness-based intervention improving psychological measures and inflammatory biomarkers.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8881415/ ) Wilson and colleagues recruited public school teachers and provided them with either 8 weeks of mindfulness training or neuroscience education. Measurements were taken before and after training of reactivity, emotions, stress, resilience, and psychological well-being as well as blood inflammatory markers.

 

Compared to controls, the teachers who received mindfulness training had significant decreases in stress levels and negative emotions and significant increases in resilience, positive emotions and psychological well-being. Blood inflammatory markers also showed significant improvements. These results suggest that mindfulness training improves immune function, reduces stress, and increases psychological well-being in teachers.

 

This suggests that teachers should receive mindfulness training to make them better able to withstand the stresses of the job.

 

In the last decade, many professional development programs have sprung up that use mindfulness as a key tool to alleviate teacher stress.” – Catherine Gewertz

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Wilson, D., Rodrigues de Oliveira, D., Palace-Berl, F., de Mello Ponteciano, B., Fungaro Rissatti, L., Piassa Pollizi, V., Sardela de Miranda, F., D’Almeida, V., & Demarzo, M. (2022). Fostering emotional self-regulation in female teachers at the public teaching network: A mindfulness-based intervention improving psychological measures and inflammatory biomarkers. Brain, behavior, & immunity – health, 21, 100427. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbih.2022.100427

 

Abstract

Objective

To examine the effect of a mindfulness-based program specifically designed for teachers in reducing perceived stress and improving the quality of experienced emotion in female active working teachers. A second outcome evaluated is the associated change in cellular inflammatory activity, measured by peripheral blood levels of cytokines.

Method

Eighty-eight female active teachers from public schools from São Paulo Municipality were recruited, and randomly allocated to an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Health Program for Educators (MBHP-Educa) or to Neuroscience for Education Program (Neuro-Educa: active control group). The venue of both programs were several public school facilities, where many of the teachers actually worked. Both groups received activities during eight weeks in a 2 ​h/week regimen, totalizing 16 ​h. Sixty-five participants completed the program and pre- and post-interventions measures were taken from the following scales: Interpersonal Multidimensional Reactivity Scale (IRI), Positive-and-Negative Affects Scale (PANAS), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC), and a primary outcome in Ryff’s Psychological Well-Being Scale (PBWS). At pre-and post-intervention, blood samples were collected for the measurement of several important inflammatory biomarkers, Tumor Necrosis Factor – α (TNF-α), Interleukin 1β (IL-1β), Interleukin 6 (IL-6), Interleukin 8 (IL-8), Interleukin 10 (IL-10) and Interleukin 12p70 (IL-12P70) through flow cytometry assay. Intervention effects were analyzed via Generalized mixed models (GLMM).

Results

According to the GLMM, MBHP-Educa significantly reduced the scores of perceived stress (p ​< ​0.0001), and negative affect (p ​< ​0.0001) compared to active control group (Neuro-Educa). Conversely, an increase was observed on Psychological Well Being Scale in dimensions of Self-acceptance (p ​< ​0.0001), and Autonomy (p ​= ​0.001), as well as improvements in Resilience (p ​< ​0.0001), and Positive Affect (p ​< ​0.0001). MBHP-Educa also promoted a reduction in the levels of IL-6 (p ​= ​0.003), IL-8 (p ​= ​0.036), and increase in the levels of IL-10 (p ​< ​0.0001) and IL-12p70 (p ​< ​0.044). TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-10p70 showed results below theoretical limit of detection accepted for CBA kit.

Conclusions

Our data suggest that mindfulness-based interventions introduced as a strategy for reducing stress, promoting well-being and improve immune function can be a useful asset in promoting psychological health among teachers in Basic Education.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8881415/

 

Improve Physical and Mental Health during Aging with Mindfulness

 

Improve Physical and Mental Health during Aging with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The healthier and more active one’s lifestyle, the more likely he or she will maintain cognitive performance over time. And meditation may be a key ingredient for ensuring brain health and maintaining good mental performance.“ – Grace Bullock

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. The elderly frequently have problems with attention, thinking, and memory abilities, known as mild cognitive impairment. An encouraging new development is that mindfulness practices such as meditation training and mindful movement practices can significantly reduce these declines in cognitive ability. In addition, it has been found that

mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue. Indeed, the brains of practitioners of meditation have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners.

 

In today’s Research News article “Long-Term Physical Exercise and Mindfulness Practice in an Aging Population.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00358/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1832518_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20220317_arts_A&utm_source=sfmc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Article+Alerts+V4.1-Frontiers&utm_term=%%%3d+++++++REDIRECTTO(+++++CONCAT(%27http%3a%2f%2fjournal.frontiersin.org%2farticle%2f%27%2c+TreatAsContent(field(%40article%2c+%27DOI__c%27))%2c+%27%2ffull%3futm_source%3dF-AAE%26utm_medium%3dEMLF%26utm_campaign%3dMRK_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(JobID)%2c+%27_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(%40FieldId)%2c+%27_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(Substring(Replace(Field(%40field%2c+%27Name%27)%2c+%27+%27%2c+%27%27)%2c+0%2c+6))% ) Tang and colleagues compared older adults (average age of 64 years) who were either experienced (> 10 years) meditators or exercisers on physical, mental, immune, stress, and brain plasticity measures.

 

They report that the older adults who exercised had superior cardiovascular and respiratory fitness. But the older adults who meditated had superior physiological relaxation, quality of life, immune response, stress response, and brain plasticity. They conclude that the optimum results for older adults would be produced by combining meditation and exercise. Regardless, it is clear that meditation restrains the physical and mental deterioration with aging.

 

it’s heartening to know that age may not only bring wisdom or sore knees, but also more mindfulness.” – Jenn Director Knudsen 

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Tang Y-Y, Fan Y, Lu Q, Tan L-H, Tang R, Kaplan RM, Pinho MC, Thomas BP, Chen K, Friston KJ and Reiman EM (2020) Long-Term Physical Exercise and Mindfulness Practice in an Aging Population. Front. Psychol. 11:358. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00358

 

Previous studies have shown that physical exercise and mindfulness meditation can both lead to improvement in physical and mental health. However, it is unclear whether these two forms of training share the same underlying mechanisms. We compared two groups of older adults with 10 years of mindfulness meditation (integrative body-mind training, IBMT) or physical exercise (PE) experience to demonstrate their effects on brain, physiology and behavior. Healthy older adults were randomly selected from a large community health project and the groups were compared on measures of quality of life, autonomic activity (heart rate, heart rate variability, skin conductance response, respiratory amplitude/rate), immune function (secretory Immunoglobulin A, sIgA), stress hormone (cortisol) and brain imaging (resting state functional connectivity, structural differences). In comparison with PE, we found significantly higher ratings for the IBMT group on dimensions of life quality. Parasympathetic activity indexed by skin conductance response and high-frequency heart rate variability also showed more favorable outcomes in the IBMT group. However, the PE group showed lower basal heart rate and greater chest respiratory amplitude. Basal sIgA level was significantly higher and cortisol concentration was lower in the IBMT group. Lastly, the IBMT group had stronger brain connectivity between the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and the striatum at resting state, as well as greater volume of gray matter in the striatum. Our results indicate that mindfulness meditation and physical exercise function in part by different mechanisms, with PE increasing physical fitness and IBMT inducing plasticity in the central nervous systems. These findings suggest combining physical and mental training may achieve better health and quality of life results for an aging population.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00358/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1832518_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20220317_arts_A&utm_source=sfmc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Article+Alerts+V4.1-Frontiers&utm_term=%%%3d+++++++REDIRECTTO(+++++CONCAT(%27http%3a%2f%2fjournal.frontiersin.org%2farticle%2f%27%2c+TreatAsContent(field(%40article%2c+%27DOI__c%27))%2c+%27%2ffull%3futm_source%3dF-AAE%26utm_medium%3dEMLF%26utm_campaign%3dMRK_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(JobID)%2c+%27_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(%40FieldId)%2c+%27_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(Substring(Replace(Field(%40field%2c+%27Name%27)%2c+%27+%27%2c+%27%27)%2c+0%2c+6))%

 

Alter the Genes for Better Health with Meditation

Alter the Genes for Better Health with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“meditation practices seem . . . promote endocrinal, neuronal, and behavioral functions. This suggests that the achievement of a state of inner silence through the practice of meditation can prevent or reverse the detrimental effects of a stressful environment.“ – Sabrina Venditti

 

Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that the development of mindfulness has positive benefits for the individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual life. Mindfulness appears to be beneficial both for healthy people and for people suffering from a myriad of illnesses. It appears to be beneficial across ages, from children to the elderly. And it appears to be beneficial across genders, personalities, race, and ethnicity. The breadth and depth of benefits is unprecedented.

 

Meditation practice has been shown to improve health and longevity. One way it appears to act is by altering the genes which govern cellular processes in our bodies. The genes dictate all of the chemical processes in our bodies including immune and inflammatory responses. The ability of outside influences to affect gene expression is known as epigenetics. Hence, it is important to study the epigenetic alterations in gene expressions produced by meditation practice to determine if these effects are the intermediary between meditation and health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Transcriptomics of Long-Term Meditation Practice: Evidence for Prevention or Reversal of Stress Effects Harmful to Health.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8001870/ ) Wenuganen and colleagues recruited older (> 60 years of age) healthy adult experienced practitioners of Transcendental Meditation and matched non-practitioners. Blood was drawn and analyzed for gene expression with microarrays and polymerase chain reaction.

 

They found that the genes of the Transcendental Meditation practitioners were in general significantly downregulated (lower expression) than the non-practitioners. “Sixty-two genes were related to hematologic diseases, 26 to coronary artery disease, 34 to diabetes complications, 49 to inflammation, and 64 to CVD. All these disease-related genes were downregulated in the TM group relative to the control group.” The genes found to have lower expression in the Transcendental Meditation practitioners were related to inflammatory responses and suppressed energy efficiency, while those upregulated (higher expression) were related to immune system function.

 

These epigenetic findings suggest that Transcendental Meditation practice over years of practice improve the immune system and energy efficiency while reducing inflammation in older individuals. These epigenetic changes suggest that Transcendental Meditation practice improves the physiology’s ability to maintain health by being better prepared to respond to disease and stress. This suggests a mechanism by which meditation practice improves health and longevity.

 

So, alter the genes for better health with meditation.

 

meditation, yoga, and Tai Chi . . . all seem to have a beneficial effect on the expression of a slew of different genes. And, as you might expect, the affected genes are generally those involved in stress and inflammation.” – Alice Walton

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are a

Alter the Genes for Better Health with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“meditation practices seem . . . promote endocrinal, neuronal, and behavioral functions. This suggests that the achievement of a state of inner silence through the practice of meditation can prevent or reverse the detrimental effects of a stressful environment.“ – Sabrina Venditti

 

Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that the development of mindfulness has positive benefits for the individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual life. Mindfulness appears to be beneficial both for healthy people and for people suffering from a myriad of illnesses. It appears to be beneficial across ages, from children to the elderly. And it appears to be beneficial across genders, personalities, race, and ethnicity. The breadth and depth of benefits is unprecedented.

 

Meditation practice has been shown to improve health and longevity. One way it appears to act is by altering the genes which govern cellular processes in our bodies. The genes dictate all of the chemical processes in our bodies including immune and inflammatory responses. The ability of outside influences to affect gene expression is known as epigenetics. Hence, it is important to study the epigenetic alterations in gene expressions produced by meditation practice to determine if these effects are the intermediary between meditation and health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Transcriptomics of Long-Term Meditation Practice: Evidence for Prevention or Reversal of Stress Effects Harmful to Health.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8001870/ ) Wenuganen and colleagues recruited older (> 60 years of age) healthy adult experienced practitioners of Transcendental Meditation and matched non-practitioners. Blood was drawn and analyzed for gene expression with microarrays and polymerase chain reaction.

 

They found that the genes of the Transcendental Meditation practitioners were in general significantly downregulated (lower expression) than the non-practitioners. “Sixty-two genes were related to hematologic diseases, 26 to coronary artery disease, 34 to diabetes complications, 49 to inflammation, and 64 to CVD. All these disease-related genes were downregulated in the TM group relative to the control group.” The genes found to have lower expression in the Transcendental Meditation practitioners were related to inflammatory responses and suppressed energy efficiency, while those upregulated (higher expression) were related to immune system function.

 

These epigenetic findings suggest that Transcendental Meditation practice over years of practice improve the immune system and energy efficiency while reducing inflammation in older individuals. These epigenetic changes suggest that Transcendental Meditation practice improves the physiology’s ability to maintain health by being better prepared to respond to disease and stress. This suggests a mechanism by which meditation practice improves health and longevity.

 

So, alter the genes for better health with meditation.

 

meditation, yoga, and Tai Chi . . . all seem to have a beneficial effect on the expression of a slew of different genes. And, as you might expect, the affected genes are generally those involved in stress and inflammation.” – Alice Walton

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available at the Contemplative Studies Blog http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/

They are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Wenuganen, S., Walton, K. G., Katta, S., Dalgard, C. L., Sukumar, G., Starr, J., Travis, F. T., Wallace, R. K., Morehead, P., Lonsdorf, N. K., Srivastava, M., & Fagan, J. (2021). Transcriptomics of Long-Term Meditation Practice: Evidence for Prevention or Reversal of Stress Effects Harmful to Health. Medicina (Kaunas, Lithuania), 57(3), 218. https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina57030218

 

Abstract

Background and Objectives: Stress can overload adaptive mechanisms, leading to epigenetic effects harmful to health. Research on the reversal of these effects is in its infancy. Early results suggest some meditation techniques have health benefits that grow with repeated practice. This study focused on possible transcriptomic effects of 38 years of twice-daily Transcendental Meditation® (TM®) practice. Materials and Methods: First, using Illumina® BeadChip microarray technology, differences in global gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were sought between healthy practitioners and tightly matched controls (n = 12, age 65). Second, these microarray results were verified on a subset of genes using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and were validated using qPCR in larger TM and control groups (n = 45, age 63). Bioinformatics investigation employed Ingenuity® Pathway Analysis (IPA®), DAVID, Genomatix, and R packages. Results: The 200 genes and loci found to meet strict criteria for differential expression in the microarray experiment showed contrasting patterns of expression that distinguished the two groups. Differential expression relating to immune function and energy efficiency were most apparent. In the TM group, relative to the control, all 49 genes associated with inflammation were downregulated, while genes associated with antiviral and antibody components of the defense response were upregulated. The largest expression differences were shown by six genes related to erythrocyte function that appeared to reflect a condition of lower energy efficiency in the control group. Results supporting these gene expression differences were obtained with qPCR-measured expression both in the well-matched microarray groups and in the larger, less well-matched groups. Conclusions: These findings are consistent with predictions based on results from earlier randomized trials of meditation and may provide evidence for stress-related molecular mechanisms underlying reductions in anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cardiovascular disease (CVD), and other chronic disorders and diseases.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8001870/

 

re also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Wenuganen, S., Walton, K. G., Katta, S., Dalgard, C. L., Sukumar, G., Starr, J., Travis, F. T., Wallace, R. K., Morehead, P., Lonsdorf, N. K., Srivastava, M., & Fagan, J. (2021). Transcriptomics of Long-Term Meditation Practice: Evidence for Prevention or Reversal of Stress Effects Harmful to Health. Medicina (Kaunas, Lithuania), 57(3), 218. https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina57030218

 

Abstract

Background and Objectives: Stress can overload adaptive mechanisms, leading to epigenetic effects harmful to health. Research on the reversal of these effects is in its infancy. Early results suggest some meditation techniques have health benefits that grow with repeated practice. This study focused on possible transcriptomic effects of 38 years of twice-daily Transcendental Meditation® (TM®) practice. Materials and Methods: First, using Illumina® BeadChip microarray technology, differences in global gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were sought between healthy practitioners and tightly matched controls (n = 12, age 65). Second, these microarray results were verified on a subset of genes using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and were validated using qPCR in larger TM and control groups (n = 45, age 63). Bioinformatics investigation employed Ingenuity® Pathway Analysis (IPA®), DAVID, Genomatix, and R packages. Results: The 200 genes and loci found to meet strict criteria for differential expression in the microarray experiment showed contrasting patterns of expression that distinguished the two groups. Differential expression relating to immune function and energy efficiency were most apparent. In the TM group, relative to the control, all 49 genes associated with inflammation were downregulated, while genes associated with antiviral and antibody components of the defense response were upregulated. The largest expression differences were shown by six genes related to erythrocyte function that appeared to reflect a condition of lower energy efficiency in the control group. Results supporting these gene expression differences were obtained with qPCR-measured expression both in the well-matched microarray groups and in the larger, less well-matched groups. Conclusions: These findings are consistent with predictions based on results from earlier randomized trials of meditation and may provide evidence for stress-related molecular mechanisms underlying reductions in anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cardiovascular disease (CVD), and other chronic disorders and diseases.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8001870/

 

Movement-Based Therapies are Affective for Rehabilitation from Disease

Movement-Based Therapies are Affective for Rehabilitation from Disease

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Tai chi is often described as “meditation in motion,” but it might well be called “medication in motion.” There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice, which originated in China as a martial art, has value in treating or preventing many health problems.” – Havard Health

 

Mindful movement practices such as yoga and Tai Chi and Qigong have been used for centuries to improve the physical and mental health and well-being of practitioners. But only recently has the effects of these practices come under scientific scrutiny. This research has been accumulating. So, it makes sense to pause and examine what has been learned about the effectiveness of these practice for rehabilitation from disease.

 

In today’s Research News article “Movement-Based Therapies in Rehabilitation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7476461/ ) Phuphanich and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the effects of mindful movement practices on rehabilitation from disease.

 

They report that published research has found that yoga practice reduces fatigue, sleep disturbances, depression, and anxiety and improves the immune system in cancer patients. Yoga has been found to be an effective treatment for mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Yoga has been found to reduce pain levels, fear avoidance, stress, and sleep disturbance and increases self-efficacy and quality of life in chronic pain patients. Yoga has been found to improve the symptoms of traumatic brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, Parkinson disease, dementia, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and neuropathies. In addition, yoga has been found to improve systolic and diastolic blood pressures, heart rate, respiratory rate, waist circumference, waist/hip ratio, cholesterol, triglycerides, hemoglobin A1c, and insulin resistance in cardiopulmonary diseases.

 

They report that the published research has found that Tai Chi and Qigong practices reduce falls in the elderly. Tai Chi and Qigong has been found to reduce pain levels and increase quality of life in chronic pain patients. In addition, there is evidence that Tai Chi and Qigong practices improves depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, sleep disturbance, schizophrenia, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and immune disorders.

 

These are remarkable findings. The range of disorders that are positively affected by yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigong practices is breathtaking. These practices are also safe and can be widely implemented at relatively low cost and can be performed alone or in groups and at home or in a therapeutic setting. This suggests that these practices should be routinely implemented for rehabilitation from disease.

 

So,  movement-based therapies are affective for rehabilitation from disease.

 

Being mindful through any physical activity can not only improve performance in the activity such as yoga, tennis, swimming, etc, but it can also increase flexibility, confidence in movement and generate a sense of body and mind connection that has the potential for improving your overall sense of well-being.“- Anupama Kommu

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Phuphanich, M. E., Droessler, J., Altman, L., & Eapen, B. C. (2020). Movement-Based Therapies in Rehabilitation. Physical medicine and rehabilitation clinics of North America, 31(4), 577–591. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmr.2020.07.002

 

Abstract

Movement therapy refers to a broad range of Eastern and Western mindful movement-based practices used to treat the mind, body, and spirit concurrently. Forms of movement practice are universal across human culture and exist in ancient history. Research demonstrates forms of movement therapy, such as dance, existed in the common ancestor shared by humans and chimpanzees, approximately 6 million years ago. Movement-based therapies innately promote health and wellness by encouraging proactive participation in one’s own health, creating community support and accountability, and so building a foundation for successful, permanent, positive change.

Key Points – Movement-based therapies

  • Decrease fear avoidance and empower individuals to take a proactive role in their own health and wellness.
  • Can benefit patients of any ability; practices are customizable to the individual’s needs and health.
  • Are safe, cost-effective, and potent adjunct treatments used to supplement (not replace) standard care.
  • Deliver patient-centered, integrative care that accounts for the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of health and illness.
  • Have diverse, evidence-based benefits, including reduction in pain, stress, and debility, and improvements in range of motion, strength, balance, coordination, cardiovascular health, physical fitness, mood, and cognition.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7476461/

 

Improve Stress Responding, Health, and Well-Being with Qigong

Improve Stress Responding, Health, and Well-Being with Qigong

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Qigong is an extraordinary tool for reducing the harmful effects of stress. The three pillars of qigong practice are body, breath, and mind. If your body is relaxed your breathing will slow down. When your breath is slow, you feel more centered, more calm, and more in touch with yourself” – Kenneth Cohen

 

Tai Chi and Qigong are ancient mindfulness practices involving slow prescribed movements. They are gentle and completely safe, can be used with the elderly and sickly, are inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility or even public park, and can be quickly learned. In addition, they can also be practiced in social groups without professional supervision. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice.

 

Tai Chi and Qigong are both mindfulness practices and gentle exercises. They have been shown to be beneficial for the health and well-being of individuals of a variety of ages, but particularly the elderly. They also improve the symptoms of a variety of diseases. One way that these practices may improve health and well-being is by reducing stress. The studies of the benefits for health of Tai Chi and Qigong are accumulating and so it makes sense to take a moment to summarize what has been learned about the benefits of Qigong practice.

 

In today’s Research News article “Individual Stress Prevention through Qigong.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7579037/ )  van Dam reviews and summarizes the published research studies of the effects of Qigong practice on stress. She reports that the published studies found that Qigong practice improves the cardiovascular system including a significant reduction in blood pressure and an increase in heartrate variability, an indicator of parasympathetic relaxation. It improves the respiratory system including increased lung capacity, oxygen intake and breathing patterns. It improves immune function and reduces inflammatory responses. It improves both psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves sleep quality and reduces fatigue. It reduces depression and both acute and chronic anxiety.

 

These findings are remarkable and suggest that this gentle safe practice markedly improves the physical and mental well-being and health of the practitioners. Many of these benefits may result from the ability of Qigong practice to improve stress responding. Stress impairs health and well-being and Qigong practice appears to counteract these effects.

 

So, improve stress responding, health, and well-being with Qigong.

 

Qi Gong helps you develop a crystal clear mind as you connect with the present moment, letting go of the stress of daily life and relaxing deeply.”- Nick Jankel

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

van Dam K. (2020). Individual Stress Prevention through Qigong. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(19), 7342. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17197342

 

Abstract

Owing to work intensification and an accelerated pace of life in general, individuals in many Western countries are often overactivated and find it difficult to switch off. However, recovery from physiological and mental activation is critical to prevent stress symptoms and maintain one’s physiological and mental well-being. Extensive research evidence indicates that Qigong, a traditional Chinese movement practice for promoting health, provides an effective means to recover from work and off-work demands. The main objective of this paper is to offer a comprehensive, narrative review of the effects of Qigong and its core components. Attention is first paid to the outcomes of work and off-work demands and stress, and the role of recovery for individuals’ well-being. Then, Qigong and its components are explained, followed by the results of scientific research. Finally, limitations and implications for research and practiced are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7579037/

 

Improve the Immune System with Tai Chi and Qigong Practice

Improve the Immune System with Tai Chi and Qigong Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Tai chi might have a strong effect on the immune system because it manages to bring exercise, relaxation, and meditation together in “one behavioral intervention.” – Havard Health

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. Techniques such as Mindfulness Training, Yoga practice and Tai Chi or Qigong practice have been demonstrated to be effective. An important benefit of mindfulness practices that may be responsible for the improved health may be that it strengthen the immune system, the body’s primary defense against disease. Through a series of steps called the immune response, this system attacks organisms and substances that invade body systems and cause disease.

 

Tai Chi and Qigong have been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevity. Tai Chi and Qigong trainings are designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. Tai Chi and Qigong are not strenuous, involving slow gentle movements, and are safe, having no appreciable side effects, they are appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion.

 

Tai Chi and Qigong practice have been found to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues. It appears to strengthen the immune systemreduce inflammationincrease the number of cancer killing cells in the bloodstream and improve cardiovascular function. So, with the research accumulating, it makes sense to step back and review the research on the effects of Tai Chi and Qigong practice on the immune system.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Tai Chi and Qigong on Immune Responses: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7400467/) Oh and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the effects of Tai Chi and Qigong practice on immune system function. They identified 19 published research randomized controlled trials that included a total of 1686 participants, including both healthy participants and participants with illnesses.

 

They report that the published randomized controlled trials found that Tai Chi and Qigong practice produced a small but significant increase in innate immune cells, including dendritic cells, eosinophils, monocytes, and neutrophils. They also produced a small but significant increase in adaptive immune cells including the Th1/Th2 ratio and the Tc1/Tc2 ratio, B lymphocytes, and VZV-cell-mediated immunity. Tai Chi and Qigong practice also produced a small but significant decrease in inflammatory C-reactive protein, interleukin 6, 12, and 18, Interferon-γ, and Nuclear Factor-κB.

 

The meta-analysis revealed that the safe and gentle practice of Tai Chi and Qigong results in beneficial enhancements of the immune system. The practices increase the numbers of innate and adaptive immune system cells and a decrease in proinflammatory molecules. They both strengthen immunity and reduce inflammation. These effects would tend to make the practitioners of Tai Chi and Qigong more resistant to disease and thereby healthier.

 

The practice of Tai Chi and Qigong can be easily learned inexpensively by large numbers of people of a wide variety of ages and health conditions. This would make these practices highly scalable and ideal for improving public health. This includes an improved ability to fend off a viral pandemic such as Covid-19. It’s amazing that such a simple practice could have such a beneficial impact on health.

 

So, improve the immune system with Tai Chi and Qigong practice.

 

Your health is only as good as your immune system is strong. Numerous studies demonstrate Tai Chi’s positive effect on the immune system. However, Tai Chi does require practice and discipline and strengthening your immune system will not happen overnight.”  – Balanced Life

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Oh, B., Bae, K., Lamoury, G., Eade, T., Boyle, F., Corless, B., Clarke, S., Yeung, A., Rosenthal, D., Schapira, L., & Back, M. (2020). The Effects of Tai Chi and Qigong on Immune Responses: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Medicines (Basel, Switzerland), 7(7), 39. https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines7070039

 

Abstract

Background: Effective preventative health interventions are essential to maintain well-being among healthcare professionals and the public, especially during times of health crises. Several studies have suggested that Tai Chi and Qigong (TQ) have positive impacts on the immune system and its response to inflammation. The aim of this review is to evaluate the current evidence of the effects of TQ on these parameters. Methods: Electronic searches were conducted on databases (Medline, PubMed, Embase and ScienceDirect). Searches were performed using the following keywords: “Tai Chi or Qigong” and “immune system, immune function, immunity, Immun*, inflammation and cytokines”. Studies published as full-text randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in English were included. Estimates of change in the levels of immune cells and inflammatory biomarkers were pooled using a random-effects meta-analysis where randomised comparisons were available for TQ versus active controls and TQ versus non-active controls. Results: Nineteen RCTs were selected for review with a total of 1686 participants and a range of 32 to 252 participants within the studies. Overall, a random-effects meta-analysis found that, compared with control conditions, TQ has a significant small effect of increasing the levels of immune cells (SMD, 0.28; 95% CI, 0.13 to 0.43, p = 0.00), I2 = 45%, but not a significant effect on reducing the levels of inflammation (SMD, −0.15; 95% CI, −0.39 to 0.09, p = 0.21), I2 = 85%, as measured by the systemic inflammation biomarker C-reactive protein (CRP) and cell mediated biomarker cytokines. This difference in results is due to the bidirectional regulation of cytokines. An overall risk of bias assessment found three RCTs with a low risk of bias, six RCTs with some concerns of bias, and ten RCTs with a high risk of bias. Conclusions: Current evidence indicates that practising TQ has a physiologic impact on immune system functioning and inflammatory responses. Rigorous studies are needed to guide clinical guidelines and harness the power of TQ to promote health and wellbeing.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7400467/

 

Meditation Alters a Variety of Biological Mechanisms and Improves Mental Disorders

Meditation Alters a Variety of Biological Mechanisms and Improves Mental Disorders

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Meditation-which come in many variations-has long been acknowledged as a tool to master the mind and cope with stress. Science is increasingly validating those claims, especially for depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).” – Mental Health America

 

Meditation training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. There are a number of ways that meditation practices produce these benefits, including changes to the brain and physiology. It is useful to review and summarize what has been discovered regarding the mechanisms by which meditation practice improves mental disorders.

 

In today’s Research News article “Biological mechanism study of meditation and its application in mental disorders.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7359050/) Shen and colleagues review and summarize the published scientific research studies on the mechanisms by which meditation practice improves mental disorders.

 

They report that the published research has found complex and widespread changes in the nervous system occur as a result of meditation. In the central nervous system these are relatively long lasting changes in the amount and connectivity of the brain tissue, termed neuroplastic changes, and these may underlie the beneficial changes in the meditators. In addition, meditation appears to alter the peripheral nervous system, in particular, the autonomic nervous system. Meditation increases parasympathetic activity that underlies vegetative functions and relaxation. This may be one mechanism by which meditation improves stress responses.

 

They further report that the published research found that meditation improves the functions of the immune and inflammatory systems. These effects also improve stress responses and fighting off disease. Hence, the effects of meditation on these biological process may underlie meditations ability to improve health. Since inflammatory responses often accompany mental illnesses, this may also be a mechanism by which meditation improved mental disease.

 

On a genetic, microbiological, level meditation has been found to alter the expression of genes that promote health. This may be the underlying reason that meditation improves the immune and inflammatory systems. Also, on the genetic level the research has found that meditation promotes the preservation of telomeres. These are the ends of the chromosomes that shorten throughout the lifetime and are thought to perhaps underlie cellular aging. This mechanism may underlie meditation’s ability to slow the aging process.

 

Meditation has been found through systematic controlled research to improve a wide array of mental illnesses. These include depression, including major depressive disorders, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Schizophrenia. In addition, meditation has been found to aid in recovery from substance abuse disorders and to help prevent relapse.

 

It is clear from the published scientific research that meditation alters a wide array of physiological processes and improves and improves an equally wide array of mental illnesses. It will be important in the future to link the two to begin to understand what physiological changes underlie which improvements in mental illness. Regardless it is clear that meditation has many beneficial effects that promote physical and mental well-being.

 

So, practice meditation to alter a variety of biological mechanisms and improve mental disorders.

 

Mindfulness exercises are valuable and useful for anyone, but most especially for people who are struggling with mental illness or addictions. “ – Sarah Levin

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Shen, H., Chen, M., & Cui, D. (2020). Biological mechanism study of meditation and its application in mental disorders. General psychiatry, 33(4), e100214. https://doi.org/10.1136/gpsych-2020-100214

 

Abstract

In recent years, research on meditation as an important alternative therapy has developed rapidly and been widely applied in clinical medicine. Mechanism studies of meditation have also developed progressively, showing that meditation has great impact on brain structure and function, and epigenetic and telomere regulation. In line with this, the application of meditation has gradually been expanded to mental illness, most often applied for major depressive disorders and substance-related and addictive disorders. The focus of this paper is to illustrate the biological mechanisms of meditation and its application in mental disorders.

Conclusions

Over the past two decades, meditation has been used in a great variety of fields to relieve stress, regulate emotions and promote physical and mental health. In recent years, the application of meditation in the psychiatric field has gradually received attention. It has become an adjunctive and alternative therapy for depression, PTSD and ADHD and has been carried out for the acute and remission stages of treatment for severe schizophrenia. Additionally, it can ameliorate emotional distress, craving and withdrawal symptoms in substance addiction. However, the current researchers adopt different meditation methods and diverse training durations, which leads to the inability to systematically evaluate which type of meditation is more beneficial to which populations or diseases, and to completely elucidate the biological mechanism of meditation. In the future, further targets for selective meditation subtypes along with prescribed training time, and randomised controlled studies with sufficient samples are required to determine the efficacy of meditation on the one hand, and simultaneously study the mechanisms behind meditation on the mind–body interaction, which can better display the positive function of meditation as an ancient physical and mental healing method in promoting human health.

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7359050/

 

Yoga improves the Immune Response and Chronic Diseases

Yoga improves the Immune Response and Chronic Diseases

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

yoga can be a helpful way to boost your immune system and decrease inflammation in the body.” – Marlynn Wei

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. Techniques such as Mindfulness Training, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) as well as Yoga practice and Tai Chi or Qigong practice have been demonstrated to be effective. This has led to an increasing adoption of these mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals.

 

One important benefit of mindfulness practices appears to strengthen the immune system, the body’s primary defense against disease. Through a series of steps called the immune response, this system attacks organisms and substances that invade body systems and cause disease. It is important that it be properly tuned as too weak of an immune response can allow diseases to develop while too strong of a response can result in autoimmune diseases. Much has been learned and it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been discovered.

 

In today’s Research News article “Molecular Signature of the Immune Response to Yoga Therapy in Stress-related Chronic Disease Conditions: An Insight.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6937878/), Venkatesh and colleagues review and summarize the published research on the effects of yoga practice on chronic diseases and the immune system.

 

They report that the research finds that Yoga therapy is effective for the treatment of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, schizophrenia, autism, learning disorders, obesity, heart diseases, attention deficit disorder, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems, asthma, headaches, hypertension, chronic low back pain, ulcers, and multiple sclerosis. It appears to have these wide-ranging positive effects by affecting the immune system. It reduces the biological mechanisms that produce inflammation. Many chronic diseases result from or are exacerbated by inflammation. So, the reduction of inflammation reduces the symptoms of these chronic diseases improving for health and well-being.

 

Hence, they conclude that yoga improves mental and physical health by improving the biochemical mechanisms involved in the immune response particularly the response to stress. This in turn reduces the inflammatory response that contributes to many chronic diseases. The practice of yoga is seen as a safe and effective method to modulate the biological mechanisms of the immune system that respond to stress.

 

So, yoga improves the immune response and chronic diseases.

 

Proper hygeine and healthy eating habits can reduce the risk of common sicknesses, but we don’t have to stop there. Yoga can also help us fight infections by boosting our immune system, reducing stress and strengthening our body’s functions and systems.” – Anna Roberts McMurray

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.

Study Summary

 

Venkatesh, H. N., Ravish, H., Wilma Delphine Silvia, C. R., & Srinivas, H. (2020). Molecular Signature of the Immune Response to Yoga Therapy in Stress-related Chronic Disease Conditions: An Insight. International journal of yoga, 13(1), 9–17. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_82_18

 

Abstract

The world Health Organization defines health as complete well-being in terms of physical, mental and social, and not merely the absence of disease. To attain this, individual should adapt and self-mange the social, physical and emotional challenges of life. Exposure to chronic stress due to urbanization, work stress, nuclear family, pollution, unhealthy food habits, lifestyle, accidental death in the family, and natural calamities are the triggering factors, leading to hormonal imbalance and inflammation in the tissue. The relationship between stress and illness is complex; all chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and asthma have their root in chronic stress attributed by inflammation. In recent times, yoga therapy has emerged as an important complementary alternative medicine for many human diseases. Yoga therapy has a positive impact on mind and body; it acts by incorporating appropriate breathing techniques and mindfulness to attain conscious direction of our awareness of the present moment by meditation, which helps achieve harmony between the body and mind. Studies have also demonstrated the important regulatory effects of yoga therapy on brain structure and functions. Despite these advances, the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which yoga therapy renders its beneficial effects are inadequately known. A growing body of evidence suggests that yoga therapy has immunomodulatory effects. However, the precise mechanistic basis has not been addressed empirically. In this review, we have attempted to highlight the effect of yoga therapy on immune system functioning with an aim to identify important immunological signatures that index the effect of yoga therapy. Toward this, we have summarized the available scientific evidence showing positive impacts of yoga therapy. Finally, we have emphasized the efficacy of yoga in improving physical and mental well-being. Yoga has been a part of Indian culture and tradition for long; now, the time has come to scientifically validate this and implement this as an alternative treatment method for stress-related chronic disease.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6937878/