Reduce Inflammatory Responses and Reduce Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms with Yoga

Reduce Inflammatory Responses and Reduce Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“yoga practice significantly decreases the severity of physical and psychological symptoms in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis.” – Science Daily

 

Arthritis is a chronic disease that most commonly affects the joints. Depending on the type of arthritis, symptoms may include pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, and decreased range of motion. It affects an estimated 52.5 million adults in the United States. It is associated with aging as arthritis occurs in only 7% of adults ages 18–44, while 30% adults ages 45–64 are affected, and 50% of adults ages 65 or older. Due to complications associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the lifespan for people with RA may be shortened by 10 years. This is due to a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, with the risk more than double that of non-RA individuals.

 

Obviously, there is a need to explore alternative treatments for rheumatoid arthritis. One possibility is contemplative practice. A variety of which have been shown to have major mental and physical benefits including a reduction in the inflammatory response and have been shown to improve arthritis. Indeed, yoga practice has been shown to be effective in treating arthritis. So, it makes sense to investigate the effects of yoga practice on the inflammatory response in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of an 8-Week Yoga-Based Lifestyle Intervention on Psycho-Neuro-Immune Axis, Disease Activity, and Perceived Quality of Life in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7492675/ ) Gautam and colleagues recruited adult patients with rheumatoid arthritis and continued with their usual care. They were randomly assigned to either no-treatment or ashtanga yoga practice modified for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. They practiced 5 times per week for 2 hours for 8 weeks. The practice included postures, breathing exercises, meditation, relaxation, and personal lifestyle management. They were measured before and after training for disease activity and quality of life. They also had blood drawn and assayed for biochemical markers of inflammation.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment group, the yoga group had a significant decrease in rheumatoid arthritis disease activity and a significant increase in their psychological and social quality of life, with greater effects occurring in women than in men. In addition, they found that yoga practice decreased the gene expressions of and levels of pro-inflammatory biochemical markers IL-6, TNF-α, and CTLA4, and a significant increase in TGF-β, an anti-inflammatory marker, suggesting reduced inflammation in the yoga group.

 

This study did not have an active control condition or a long-term follow-up and as such the results must be interpreted with caution. Future studies should include long-term follow-up and an active control condition such as aerobic exercise to determine if the results were due to exercise in general or specifically to yoga practice and whether the benefits were lasting. Nevertheless, the results replicate the findings of other research that yoga practice improves arthritis symptoms and reduces inflammatory responses. The results suggest that yoga practice reduces the inflammatory responses that promote the disease and thereby reduce the disease symptoms which in turn improves the patient’s quality of life. This is good news for these patients signaling that practicing yoga may help relieve their suffering and retard disease progression.

 

So, reduce inflammatory responses and reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms with yoga.

 

People with various types of arthritis who practice yoga regularly can reduce joint pain, improve joint flexibility and function, and lower stress and tension to promote better sleep.“ – Susan Bernstein

 

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

 

Gautam, S., Kumar, M., Kumar, U., & Dada, R. (2020). Effect of an 8-Week Yoga-Based Lifestyle Intervention on Psycho-Neuro-Immune Axis, Disease Activity, and Perceived Quality of Life in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 2259. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.02259

 

Abstract

Various external stressors and environmental challenges lead to the provocation of the immune system in autoimmune diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The inappropriate immune response further triggers the cascade of inflammatory changes resulting in precipitation of symptoms and hampers quality of life (QOL). The underlying psycho-somatic component of the disease requires a holistic approach to its treatment dimension rather than the use of pharmacotherapy. The applicability of mind-body interventions has become essential in today’s fast-paced life. Yoga, a mind-body technique, alters the mind’s capacity to facilitate systemic functioning at multiple organ system levels. Hence, we conducted this study to evaluate the impact of 8 weeks of a yoga-based lifestyle intervention (YBLI) on psycho-neuro-immune markers, gene expression patterns, and QOL in RA patients on routine medical therapy. A total of 66 patients were randomized into two groups: yoga group or non-yoga group and were assessed for a panel of inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-17A, TNF-α, and TGF-β), mind-body communicative markers (BDNF, DHEAS, β-endorphin, and sirtuin) and transcript levels of various genes (IL-6, TNF-α, NFKB1, TGF-β, and CTLA4). We assessed disease activity and QOL using the DAS28-ESR and WHOQOL-BREF questionnaire, respectively. Yoga group observed significant improvements in the levels of markers, which influenced the psycho-neuro-immune axis (p < 0.001) with an estimated effect size from small to medium range. In the yoga group, there was a significant reduction in DAS28-ESR (p < 0.001) and improvement seen in the physical health, psychological, social relationships domains (p < 0.001) of QOL, except environmental (p > 0.05). The yoga group showed downregulation of IL-6, TNF-α, and CTLA4 and upregulation of TGF-β. These results suggest that a decrease in disease activity after yoga practice is associated with a significant reduction in inflammatory cytokines, the elevation of mind-body communicative markers, and normalization of various transcript levels, which improved QOL. Thus the adoption of YBLI improves clinical outcome in RA, and decreases systemic inflammation by its beneficial effects on psycho-neuro-immune axis and normalization of dysregulated transcripts. Thus YBLI may be used for RA patients as an adjunctive therapy.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7492675/

 

Improve Inflammation and Depression with Mild Cognitive Impairment with Mindfulness

Improve Inflammation and Depression with Mild Cognitive Impairment with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“adults with mild cognitive impairment who practice mindfulness meditation could experience a boost in cognitive reserve.” – Monica Beyer

 

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, 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.

 

Intervening early in patients with mild cognitive impairment may be able to delay or even prevent full blown dementia. So, it is important to study the effectiveness of mindfulness training on older adults with mild cognitive impairment to improve their psychological and physical well-being and cognitive performance.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on Depression, Cognition, and Immunity in Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Pilot Feasibility Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7429186/ ) Marciniak and colleagues recruited older adults, over 55 years of age, who were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and randomly assigned them to receive 8 weekly 2.5-hour sessions of either Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or to cognitive training. Weekly training was accompanied by daily home practice. MBSR consisted in training of body scan, sitting meditation, mindful movement, working with difficulties, meditation with imagination, and discussion. Cognitive training focused on specific cognitive domains including memory, attention, and logical thinking. They were measured before and after training and 6 months later for cognitive functions, anxiety, depression and spiritual well-being. Blood was drawn before and after training and assayed for immune system cells.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the cognitive training group, the participants who received Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training had significantly lower depression levels both after training and 6 months later. The MBSR group also had improvements in psychomotor speed and significant decreases in resting monocyte activation immediately after training.

 

These are somewhat disappointing results as neither Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or cognitive training produced significant improvements in cognitive function. The study was rather small, however, with only 12 and 9 participants in the groups respectively. statistical power was lacking to detect differences. These results suggest that large changes in cognitive abilities are not produced in these patients by either MBSR or cognitive training.

 

Nevertheless, MBSR training did significantly improve depression in these elderly with mild cognitive impairment. MBSR has been shown to improve depression in a variety of different types of healthy and sick individuals. So, this result is not surprising but important as depression is a serious problem in the elderly, especially those with diminished cognitive capacity and that depression can produce further physical and psychological deterioration in the patients.

 

Importantly, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) appears to reduce immune monocyte activation. This suggests that MBSR may reduce inflammation. It has been previously shown to reduce inflammation in other groups. This is potentially important in that levels of inflammation are generally high in patients with mild cognitive impairment and chronic inflammation is a threat to the health and well-being of these patients. Reducing it with MBSR training may have long-term consequences for improved health in elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment.

 

So, improve inflammation and depression with mild cognitive impairment with mindfulness.

 

A mindfulness intervention reduces inflammatory biomarkers that are associated with cognitive decline and dementia in older adults.” – Eric Dolan

 

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

 

Marciniak, R., Šumec, R., Vyhnálek, M., Bendíčková, K., Lázničková, P., Forte, G., Jeleník, A., Římalová, V., Frič, J., Hort, J., & Sheardová, K. (2020). The Effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on Depression, Cognition, and Immunity in Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Pilot Feasibility Study. Clinical interventions in aging, 15, 1365–1381. https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S249196

 

Abstract

Background

Mindfulness-based programs have shown a promising effect on several health factors associated with increased risk of dementia and the conversion from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to dementia such as depression, stress, cognitive decline, immune system and brain structural and functional changes. Studies on mindfulness in MCI subjects are sparse and frequently lack control intervention groups.

Objective

To determine the feasibility and the effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) practice on depression, cognition and immunity in MCI compared to cognitive training.

Methods

Twenty-eight MCI subjects were randomly assigned to two groups. MBSR group underwent 8-week MBSR program. Control group underwent 8-week cognitive training. Their cognitive and immunological profiles and level of depressive symptoms were examined at baseline, after each 8-week intervention (visit 2, V2) and six months after each intervention (visit 3, V3). MBSR participants completed feasibility questionnaire at V2.

Results

Twenty MCI patients completed the study (MBSR group n=12, control group n=8). MBSR group showed significant reduction in depressive symptoms at both V2 (p=0.03) and V3 (p=0.0461) compared to the baseline. There was a minimal effect on cognition – a group comparison analysis showed better psychomotor speed in the MBSR group compared to the control group at V2 (p=0.0493) but not at V3. There was a detectable change in immunological profiles in both groups, more pronounced in the MBSR group. Participants checked only positive/neutral answers concerning the attractivity/length of MBSR intervention. More severe cognitive decline (PVLT≤36) was associated with the lower adherence to home practice.

Conclusion

MBSR is well-accepted potentially promising intervention with positive effect on cognition, depressive symptoms and immunological profile.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7429186/

 

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/

 

Reduce Biochemical Stress Responses in Hispanic Breast Cancer Patients with Mindfulness

Reduce Biochemical Stress Responses in Hispanic Breast Cancer Patients with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness is a state of mind which we can all acquire and use to support our wellbeing physically, emotionally and mentally.  . . Having cancer, or specifically breast cancer. . . experiences take up a lot of energies, mental focus and can drain us emotionally. It is important to have a few tools to help us create ‘down’ and ‘out’ times, and to replenish and reconnect with who we are.“ – Karin Sieger

 

Because of great advances in treatment, many patients today are surviving cancer. But cancer survivors frequently suffer from anxiety, depression, mood disturbance, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep disturbance, fatigue, sexual dysfunction, loss of personal control, impaired quality of life, and psychiatric symptoms which have been found to persist even ten years after remission. Also, cancer survivors can have to deal with a heightened fear of reoccurrence. This is particularly true with metastatic cancer. So, safe and effective treatments for the symptoms in cancer and the physical and psychological effects of the treatments are needed.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with general cancer recovery . Mindfulness practice have been shown to improve the residual symptoms in cancer survivors. Most research, however, examines women from affluent western populations and may not be sensitive to the unique situations, cultures, and education levels of diverse populations. There are indications that mindfulness therapies may be effective in diverse populations. But there is a need for further investigation with different populations.

 

In today’s Research News article “). A Large Randomized Trial: Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Breast Cancer (BC) Survivors on Salivary Cortisol and IL-6.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6700883/), Lengacher and colleagues recruited adult breast cancer survivors and randomly assigned them to receive either usual care of a once a week for 2 hours, 6 week program of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) modified for breast cancer patients. The program included meditation, body scan, yoga practices, and discussion along with daily home practice. At baseline, before and after the MBSR session at weeks 1 1nd 6, and after treatment the participants provided saliva samples that were assayed for cortisol and IL-6 levels. They also completed questionnaires measuring fear of cancer recurrence, depression, anxiety, perceived stress, sleep, fatigue, and quality of life.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the usual care group, the group that received Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) had significant reductions in both cortisol and IL-6 levels. In addition, both cortisol and IL-6 levels decreased significantly over the course of the MBSR sessions at weeks 1 1nd 6. They also found that the higher the levels of IL-6 at baseline and the end of treatment the higher the levels of fear of cancer recurrence, sleep problems and fatigue and the lower the levels of quality of life and physical health. After MBSR they found that the higher the levels of IL-6 the higher the levels of fear of cancer recurrence, depression, pain, perceived stress, sleep disturbance and fatigue and the lower the levels of quality of life and physical health.

 

Cortisol and IL-6 levels are markers of stress and inflammation. So, these results suggest that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) reduces the biochemical markers of stress and inflammation in breast cancer survivors and that the levels of IL-6, an inflammatory cytokine, are related to their health and well-being. These findings lend support to prior findings that mindfulness training is an effective treatment for the psychological health of breast cancer survivors and demonstrate that this may, at least in part, be due to the effects of mindfulness training on stress hormones and inflammatory biomarkers. The ability of mindfulness training to reduce stress and inflammatory responses is thought to be a primary mechanism by which it improves health and well-being.

 

The results also demonstrate that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) treatment is effective in Hispanic breast cancer survivors. This suggests that MBSR is an effective treatment across ethnic groups. MBSR appears to effectively reduce stress and inflammatory responses regardless of ethnicity and produce improvements in health and well-being.

 

So, reduce biochemical stress responses in Hispanic breast cancer patients with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness is a good resource for dealing with the physical and psychological symptoms of metastatic disease. Women who were more mindful tended to have lower symptoms of metastatic breast cancer, including pain severity and interference, fatigue, psychological distress, and sleep disturbance.” – Lauren Zimmaro

 

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

 

Lengacher, C. A., Reich, R. R., Paterson, C. L., Shelton, M., Shivers, S., Ramesar, S., Pleasant, M. L., Budhrani-Shani, P., Groer, M., Post-White, J., Johnson-Mallard, V., Kane, B., Cousin, L., Moscoso, M. S., Romershausen, T. A., & Park, J. Y. (2019). A Large Randomized Trial: Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Breast Cancer (BC) Survivors on Salivary Cortisol and IL-6. Biological research for nursing, 21(1), 39–49. https://doi.org/10.1177/1099800418789777

 

Abstract

Breast cancer survivors (BCS) often experience psychological and physiological symptoms after cancer treatment. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), a complementary and alternative therapy, has reduced subjective measures of stress, anxiety, and fatigue among BCS. Little is known, however, about how MBSR affects objective markers of stress, specifically the stress hormone cortisol and the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6). In the present study, BCS (N = 322) were randomly assigned to a 6-week MBSR program for BC or usual-care control. Measurements of cortisol, IL-6, symptoms, and quality of life were obtained at orientation and 6 weeks. Cortisol and IL-6 were also measured prior to and after the MBSR(BC) class Weeks 1 and 6. The mean age of participants was 56.6 years and 69.4% were White non-Hispanic. Most had Stage I (33.8%) or II (35.7%) BC, and 35.7% had received chemotherapy and radiation. Cortisol levels were reduced immediately following MBSR(BC) class compared to before the class Weeks 1 and 6 (Wilcoxon-signed rank test; p < .01, d = .52–.56). IL-6 was significantly reduced from pre- to postclass at Week 6 (Wilcoxon-signed rank test; p < .01, d = .21). No differences were observed between the MBSR(BC) and control groups from baseline to Week 6 using linear mixed models. Significant relationships with small effect sizes were observed between IL-6 and both symptoms and quality of life in both groups. Results support the use of MBSR(BC) to reduce salivary cortisol and IL-6 levels in the short term in BCS.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6700883/

 

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

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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/

 

Reduce Inflammation in Psychiatric Patients with Mindfulness

Reduce Inflammation in Psychiatric Patients with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness practice was not directly linked to lower inflammation levels, but that it may have bolstered stress resilience among at-risk adults by preventing an increase in inflammatory biomarker levels.” – Grace Bullock

 

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. In the elderly it is associated with the onset of dementia.

 

Needless to say, chronic inflammation can create major health problems. Indeed, the presence of chronic inflammation is associated with reduced longevity. So, it is important for health to control the inflammatory response, allowing it to do its job in fighting off infection but reducing its activity when no external threat is apparent. Of course, it is far better to prevent chronic inflammation in the first place than to treat it later. Mind-body techniques such as yoga, Tai Chi and meditation have been shown to adaptively reduce the inflammatory response. In addition, mindfulness training, has been shown to be effective in treating psychiatric disorders. It is possible that mindfulness acts, in part, to improve psychiatric disorders by decreasing inflammation in these patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Mindfulness-Based Interventions on Biomarkers and Low-Grade Inflammation in Patients with Psychiatric Disorders: A Meta-Analytic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7177919/), Sanada and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions in reducing biomarkers of the inflammatory response in psychiatric patients. They discovered 10 published research studies with a total of 998 participants. They included patients diagnosed with anxiety disorders, depression, alcohol abuse, sleep disorders, PTSD, and ADHD.

 

They report that the published research studies found that mindfulness-based interventions improved the levels of a variety of biomarkers of inflammation with a variety of psychiatric problems. These included event-related potentials, methylation of serotonin transporter genes, IL-6, TNF-α, and adrenocorticotropic hormone. These biomarkers suggest that psychiatric disorders are associated with mild levels of inflammation and that mindfulness-based interventions reduce the levels of these biomarkers.

 

Hence the published research literature suggests that mindfulness-based interventions are effective in reducing the levels of inflammation in psychiatric patients and improving their health status. These results provide an explanation for the effectiveness of mindfulness for the improvement of anxiety disorders, depression, alcohol abuse, sleep disorders, PTSD, and ADHD. They did not report on the mechanisms by which mindfulness reduces inflammation. But high on the list of possibilities has to be the ability of mindfulness training to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress as stress can increase inflammatory responses.

 

So, reduce inflammation in psychiatric patients with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness techniques may be more effective in relieving inflammatory symptoms than other activities that promote well-being.” – ScienceDaily

 

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

 

Sanada, K., Montero-Marin, J., Barceló-Soler, A., Ikuse, D., Ota, M., Hirata, A., Yoshizawa, A., Hatanaka, R., Valero, M. S., Demarzo, M., Campayo, J. G., & Iwanami, A. (2020). Effects of Mindfulness-Based Interventions on Biomarkers and Low-Grade Inflammation in Patients with Psychiatric Disorders: A Meta-Analytic Review. International journal of molecular sciences, 21(7), 2484. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21072484

 

Abstract

Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) present positive effects on mental health in diverse populations. However, the detailed associations between MBIs and biomarkers in patients with psychiatric disorders remain poorly understood. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of MBIs on biomarkers in psychiatric illness used to summarise the effects of low-grade inflammation. A systematic review of PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO, and the Cochrane Library was conducted. Effect sizes (ESs) were determined by Hedges’ g and the number needed to treat (NNT). Heterogeneity was evaluated. A total of 10 trials with 998 participants were included. MBIs showed significant improvements in the event-related potential amplitudes in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, the methylation of serotonin transporter genes in post-traumatic stress disorder, the salivary levels of interleukin 6 (IL-6) and tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) in depression, and the blood levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), IL-6, and TNF-α in generalised anxiety disorder. MBIs showed low but significant effects on health status related to biomarkers of low-grade inflammation (g = −0.21; 95% confidence interval (CI) –0.41 to −0.01; NNT = 8.47), with no heterogeneity (I2 = 0; 95% CI 0 to 79). More trials are needed to establish the impact of MBIs on biomarkers in psychiatric illness.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7177919/

 

Reduce Inflammation in Mildly Cognitive Impaired Elderly with Mindfulness

Reduce Inflammation in Mildly Cognitive Impaired Elderly with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness practice was not directly linked to lower inflammation levels, but may have bolstered stress resilience among at-risk adults by preventing an increase in inflammatory biomarker levels.” – Grace Bullock

 

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. In the elderly it is associated with the onset of dementia.

 

Needless to say, chronic inflammation can create major health problems. Indeed, the presence of chronic inflammation is associated with reduced longevity. So, it is important for health to control the inflammatory response, allowing it to do its job in fighting off infection but reducing its activity when no external threat is apparent. Of course, it is far better to prevent chronic inflammation in the first place than to treat it later. Mind-body techniques such as yoga, Tai Chi and meditation have been shown to adaptively reduce the inflammatory response. Mindfulness training, then, may reduce the prospect of the development of dementia by reducing the inflammatory response.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness improves inflammatory biomarker levels in older adults with mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7026149/), Ng and colleagues recruited elderly (> 60 years of age) who had mild cognitive impairment but not dementia and randomly assigned them to receive once a week for 1 hour for 12 weeks of either health education or mindfulness awareness practice. For the next 6 months they received monthly booster sessions. The mindfulness awareness practice was based upon the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program adapted for the elderly. The participants were also instructed to practice daily at home. Before and after training and 6 months later the participants contributed blood samples that were assayed for inflammatory biomarkers of high-sensitivity (hs)-CRP, BDNF, and DHEA-S. They also contributed salivary samples that were assayed for the inflammatory biomarkers of cortisol, IL-1β, and IL-6.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the health education group, the elderly participants who received mindfulness training had significantly lower blood levels of high-sensitivity (hs)-CRP at the end of training and 6 months later. This effect was particularly strong in female participants. Male participants had significantly reduced IL-6 and IL-1β levels at the end of training.

 

These findings are potentially very important. high-sensitivity (hs)-CRP has been associated with the onset of dementia. Hence, mindfulness training may significantly reduce this risk factor for dementia. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve the symptoms of dementia. The present findings suggest that mindfulness training may work to improve dementia by lowering high-sensitivity (hs)-CRP. It remains for future research to investigate this tantalizing prospect.

 

The results suggest that mindfulness training reduce biomarkers of inflammation in the elderly with mild cognitive impairment. Inflammation is characteristic of dementia. The results suggest that mindfulness training may reduce the likelihood that mild cognitive impairment develops into full-fledged dementia by reducing inflammation in the elderly. Regardless, the reduction in inflammation would be predicted to improve the overall health and longevity of the elderly.

 

So, reduce inflammation in mildly cognitive impaired elderly with mindfulness.

 

Meditation is associated with many psychological and physical benefits. “In general, it’s been shown to decrease blood pressure and inflammation.” – Heidi Goldman

 

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

 

Ng, T., Fam, J., Feng, L., Cheah, I. K., Tan, C. T., Nur, F., Wee, S. T., Goh, L. G., Chow, W. L., Ho, R. C., Kua, E. H., Larbi, A., & Mahendran, R. (2020). Mindfulness improves inflammatory biomarker levels in older adults with mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial. Translational psychiatry, 10(1), 21. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-020-0696-y

 

Abstract

Few randomized controlled trials investigated the effects of mindfulness intervention on older adults diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Furthermore, there have been hypotheses and theoretical mechanisms on the benefits of mindfulness intervention on biomarkers of stress, inflammation, and neuroplasticity implicated in MCI that warrant empirical evidence. We conducted a pilot randomized controlled trial to examine whether Mindful Awareness Practice (MAP) improved biomarker levels in older adults with MCI. Fifty-five community-dwelling older adults aged 60 and above were randomized into either the treatment arm, MAP, or the active control arm, the health education program (HEP). Researchers who were blinded to treatment allocation assessed the outcomes at baseline, 3-month, and 9-month follow-ups. Linear-mixed models were used to examine the effect of MAP on biomarker levels. MAP participants had significantly decreased high-sensitivity c-reactive protein (hs-CRP) levels at 9-month (β = −0.307, 95% CI = −0.559 to −0.054 P = 0.018). Exploratory sub-group analyses by sex showed significantly decreased hs-CRP in females only (β = −0.445, 95% CI = −0.700 to −0.189, P = 0.001), while stratification by MCI subtype showed hs-CRP decreased only in amnestic-MCI (aMCI) (β = −0.569, 95% CI = −1.000 to −0.133, P = 0.012). Although total sample analyses were not significant, males had significantly decreased interleukin (IL)−6 (β = −1.001, 95% CI = −1.761 to −0253, P = 0.011) and IL-1β (β = −0.607, 95% CI = −1.116 to −0.100, P = 0.021) levels at 3-month and non-significant improvements at 9-month time-point. MAP improved inflammatory biomarkers in sex- and MCI subtype-specific manners. These preliminary findings suggest the potential of mindfulness intervention as a self-directed and low-cost preventive intervention in improving pathophysiology implicated in MCI.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7026149/

 

Reduce Inflammation with Yoga

Reduce Inflammation with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Yoga is an incredible resource to combat stress and promote healthy habits in body and mind. Many people cite stress reduction as their reason to practice yoga, and research has their back – reducing stress helps reduce inflammation.” – Amy Tenney

 

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.

 

Needless to say, chronic inflammation can create major health problems. Indeed, the presence of chronic inflammation is associated with reduced longevity. So, it is important for health to control the inflammatory response, allowing it to do its job in fighting off infection but reducing its activity when no external threat is apparent. Of course, it is far better to prevent chronic inflammation in the first place than to treat it later. Mind-body techniques such as yoga have been shown to reduce the inflammatory response. The research is accumulating, so it is reasonable to summarize what has been discovered.

 

In today’s Research News article “Impact of Yoga on Inflammatory Biomarkers: A Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6700894/), Djalilova and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the effects of yoga practice on biomarkers of inflammation in adults. They found 15 published studies with 10 randomized controlled trials, including a total of 957 participants. Yoga practice was majority Hatha yoga and occurred from 8 weeks to 6 months.

 

They found that 11 of the 15 studies reported significant decreases in inflammatory biomarkers IL-6, CRP, and TNF-α. These reductions occurred in patients with cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic stress, arthritis, and hypertension. The studies that did not see improvements included less than 1000 minutes of practice. All but 1 study with practice between 1000 to 4500 minutes found significant improvements in inflammation.

 

Hence, the published research found yoga to be a safe and effective treatment to reduce the inflammatory response in patients with a wide variety of medical conditions. It appears that at least a total of 1000 minutes of practice is required for effectiveness. It is not known what the mechanisms might be by which yoga practice reduces inflammation. But, it can be speculated that it may do so by reducing stress effects, as stress is known to promote inflammation, or it may work by improving autonomic nervous system activity that is also known to promote inflammation.

 

Regardless of the mechanism, the published research to date supports the use of yoga practice to reduce inflammation in patients with a wide variety of diseases. Since, inflammation generally exacerbates the symptoms of their diseases, yoga practice may then improve their symptoms, reduce their suffering, increase longevity, and improve their quality of life.

 

So, reduce inflammation with yoga.

 

A number of studies have suggested that yoga and meditation – along with other mind/body activities – can reduce inflammation as well as influence some immunological markers of stress.” – Andrew Weil

 

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

 

Djalilova, D. M., Schulz, P. S., Berger, A. M., Case, A. J., Kupzyk, K. A., & Ross, A. C. (2019). Impact of Yoga on Inflammatory Biomarkers: A Systematic Review. Biological research for nursing, 21(2), 198–209. https://doi.org/10.1177/1099800418820162

 

Abstract

Background:

Many chronic conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis, are associated with underlying chronic inflammatory processes. Literature reviews have analyzed a variety of integrative therapies and their relationships with chronic inflammation. This systematic review is unique in reporting solely on yoga’s relationship with inflammation. Its purpose was to synthesize current literature examining the impact of yoga interventions on inflammatory biomarkers in adults with chronic inflammatory–related disorders.

Method:

Searches of several electronic databases were conducted. Inclusion criteria were (a) English language, (b) sample age >18 years old, (c) yoga interventions involving postures with or without yoga breathing and/or meditation, and (d) measured inflammatory biomarkers.

Results:

The final review included 15 primary studies. Of these, seven were rated as excellent and eight as average or fair. There was considerable variability in yoga types, components, frequency, session length, intervention duration, and intensity. The most common biomarkers measured were interleukin-6 (n = 11), C-reactive protein (n = 10), and tumor necrosis factor (n = 8). Most studies reported positive effects on inflammatory biomarkers (n = 11) from baseline to post yoga intervention. Analysis of the dose showed higher total dose (>1,000 min) resulted in greater improvements in inflammation.

Conclusion:

This review suggests that yoga can be a viable intervention to reduce inflammation across a multitude of chronic conditions. Future studies with detailed descriptions of yoga interventions, measurement of new and well-established inflammatory biomarkers, and larger sample sizes are warranted to advance the science and corroborate results.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6700894/

 

Spirituality is Associated with Better Mental and Physical Health and Cognitive Ability in African Americans

Spirituality is Associated with Better Mental and Physical Health and Cognitive Ability in African Americans

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

all black religious expression has most of the following attributes: It is animistic, or spirit-filled; anthropocentric, or human-centered; dynamic; expressionistic; shamanistic (believing in communicating with spirits); and thaumaturgic (belief in miracle working).” – Diana Hayes

 

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. Needless to say, chronic inflammation can create major health problems. Indeed, the presence of chronic inflammation is associated with reduced longevity. So, it is important for health to control the inflammatory response, allowing it to do its job in fighting off infection but reducing its activity when no external threat is apparent.

 

Depression is linked with increase inflammatory responses. Mind-body techniques such as yoga, Tai Chi and meditation have been shown to adaptively reduce the inflammatory response.  In addition, spirituality has been shown to be associated with reduced depression. African Americans have significantly greater incidences of disease. So, it is reasonable to investigate the relationships of spirituality, depression, inflammation and health in African Americans.

 

In today’s Research News article “Influence of Spirituality on Depression-Induced Inflammation and Executive Functioning in a Community Sample of African Americans.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6478044/), Herren and colleagues recruited healthy adult African Americans and measured them for depression, daily spiritual experiences, cognitive ability, and response inhibition. Blood was drawn and measured for inflammatory cytokines; IL-1a, TNF-a and IL-6.

 

They found that the higher the levels of depression the lower the levels of cognitive ability (executive function). This relationship was in part mediated by the levels of the inflammatory cytokine, IL-6, such that depression was associated with higher levels of IL-6 which in turn were associated with lower cognitive ability. Interestingly, they also found that the higher the frequency of daily spiritual experiences the lower the levels of depression and the higher the levels of cognitive ability and response inhibition. In addition, spirituality moderated the relationships of IL-6 with cognitive ability, such that the greater the frequency of spiritual experiences the smaller the negative relationship of IL-6 with cognitive ability.

 

These findings are interesting but they are correlational and causation cannot be determined. But they suggest that spirituality is associated with better physical and psychological health in African Americans. It is associated with lower depression levels and better cognitive performance. Additionally, it was associated with a lessened negative relationship between the inflammatory response and cognitive ability.

 

African Americans are generally more religious and spiritual than other groups. The present findings may help to explain why. Their spirituality is associated with better mental and physical health and cognitive ability. It remains for future research to determine if these relationships are causal and spirituality produces these benefits. It also remains to be seen if these relationships are present in other ethnic and racial groups.

 

Spirituality is associated with better mental and physical health and cognitive ability in African Americans.

 

Changing our thoughts, feelings and behaviour to positivity, optimism, hope, acceptance and love boosts immunity at the physical, cognitive, emotional and spiritual levels.” – Sunnyside

 

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

 

Herren, O. M., Burris, S. E., Levy, S. A., Kirk, K., Banks, K. S., Jones, V. L., … Campbell, A. L. (2019). Influence of Spirituality on Depression-Induced Inflammation and Executive Functioning in a Community Sample of African Americans. Ethnicity & disease, 29(2), 267–276. doi:10.18865/ed.29.2.267

 

Abstract

African Americans (AAs) are disproportionately affected by cerebrovascular pathology and more likely to suffer from premature cognitive decline. Depression is a risk factor for poorer cognitive functioning, and research is needed to identify factors that serve to mitigate its negative effects. Studies have demonstrated positive influences of spirituality within the AA community. Determining whether spirituality attenuates the effects of depressive symptoms on cognitive functioning and the pathophysiological mechanisms that explain these relationships in AAs is paramount. This study examines the influence of daily spiritual experiences on the relationship between depressive symptoms and cognitive functioning, and how inflammatory markers may partially explain these associations. A sample of 212 (mean age= 45.6) participants completed the Daily Spiritual Experience Scale (DSES), Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II), Trail Making Test A and B (TMT) and Stroop Color and Word Test (Stroop). Blood samples were collected to measure inflammatory mediators (IL-6, IL-1a, TNF-a). Linear regression analyses were used to evaluate associations. Higher BDI-II scores were associated with poorer psychomotor speed and visual scanning, measured by TMT A (B=1.49, P=.01). IL-6 explained a significant amount of variance in this relationship (B=.24, CI 95% [.00, .64]). IL-6 also significantly mediated the relationship between depressive symptoms and psychomotor speed and mental flexibility, measured by TMT B performance (B=.03, CI 95% [.003, .095]). Frequent spiritual experiences among AAs may ameliorate the negative influence of depressive symptoms on cognitive functioning.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6478044/