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/

 

Reduce Depression with Qigong Practice

Reduce Depression with Qigong Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

practice of the Chinese martial art tai chi led to significantly reduced symptoms of depression in Chinese-Americans not receiving any other treatments.” – Science Daily

 

Clinically diagnosed depression is the most common mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. Depression can be difficult to treat and is usually treated with anti-depressive medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs only about a third attained remission of the depression. After repeated and varied treatments including drugs, therapy, exercise etc. only about two thirds of patients attained remission. But drugs often have troubling side effects and can lose effectiveness over time. In addition, many patients who achieve remission have relapses and recurrences of the depression. Even after remission some symptoms of depression may still be present (residual symptoms).

 

Being depressed and not responding to treatment or relapsing is a terribly difficult situation. The patients are suffering and nothing appears to work to relieve their depression. Suicide becomes a real possibility. So, it is imperative that other treatments be identified that can relieve the suffering. Mindfulness training is an alternative treatment for depression. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs fail.  Mindful Movement practices such as Qigong and Tai Chi have been found to be effective for depression. Research has been accumulating. So, it is important to step back and examine what has been learned regarding the application of Qigong practice for depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Neurophysiological and Psychological Mechanisms of Qigong as a Treatment for Depression: 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/PMC6880657/?report=classic), So and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials of Qigong practice for depression. They identified 9 published trials that included depression and biological measures.

 

They report that the research found that Qigong practice resulted in a significant reduction in depression with small to moderate effect sizes. They also report that there was a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure produced by  Qigong practice. There were indications that Qigong practice also reduced inflammation and stress hormones and increased well-being but there were insufficient studies to conduct a meta-analysis.

 

The results suggest that Qigong practice is a safe and mildly effective treatment for depression. There is a need for more research on the effects of Qigong practice on the biological processes that may underlie its effectiveness and also of the psychological well-being of the depressed individuals.

 

It’s important to note that Qigong is a gentle and safe mindfulness practice. It is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. It is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can be practiced in social groups. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice.

 

So, reduce depression with Qigong practice.

 

Qi Gong is one path for overcoming depression that has no harmful side effects. Furthermore, it can coincide with any other course of intervention or treatment.” – Ian Drogin

 

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

 

So, W., Cai, S., Yau, S. Y., & Tsang, H. (2019). The Neurophysiological and Psychological Mechanisms of Qigong as a Treatment for Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in psychiatry, 10, 820. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00820

 

Abstract

Objective: An increasing number of studies have shown the anti-depressive effect of qigong. However, its underlying mechanism remains poorly understood. This study aims to systematically review and meta-analyze existing literature on the mechanism of qigong in reducing depression.

Method: The review process followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Randomized controlled trials of qigong were searched from PsycINFO, PubMed, Embase, ScienceDirect, and Academic Search Premier from inception to December 2018. Studies which involved depression and any neurophysiological or psychological mechanisms as outcomes were included. Publication bias was tested before conducting meta-analysis. Two independent raters were involved for the entire review process.

Results: A total of nine studies were identified which covered both neurophysiological and psychological mechanisms. Among these selected studies, seven were involved in meta-analysis, which suggested that qigong was effective in alleviating depression (standardized mean difference, SMD = −0.27, p < 0.05, I 2 = 27%). A significant effect was also found for diastolic blood pressure (SMD = −1.64, p < 0.05, I 2 = 31%). However, no significant effect was found for cortisol level and systolic blood pressure.

Conclusions: This review shows that qigong is effective in reducing depression through activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Future studies with higher quality of research methodology with less selection and attrition bias should be conducted to unravel the possible anti-depressive effect of qigong.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6880657/?report=classic

 

Meditation and Exercise Reduce Inflammation Through Different Pathways

Meditation and Exercise Reduce Inflammation Through Different Pathways

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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, Tai Chi and meditation have been shown to adaptively reduce the inflammatory response.

 

In today’s Research News article “Differential Reduction of IP-10 and C-Reactive Protein via Aerobic Exercise or Mindfulness-Based Stress-Reduction Training in a Large Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6777863/), Meyer and colleagues recruited healthy sedentary adults aged 30 to 60 years. They were randomly assigned to one of three conditions, exercise, meditation, or wait-list control. The exercise and meditation groups received 8 weekly 2.5-hour sessions and practiced daily for 20 to 45 minutes. The exercise condition consisted of warm-up, aerobic exercise, and cool down. The meditation group received the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program consisting of meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. The participants maintained weekly activity logs and were measured before and after the intervention and 17 weeks later for body size, exercise, and the blood inflammatory biomarkers Interleukin-6, Interferon gamma-inducible protein-10 (IP-10) and C-Reactive Protein.

 

They found that during the follow-up period both C-Reactive Protein and Interferon gamma-inducible protein-10 (IP-10)  levels were lower for all groups, but the meditation group had significantly lower levels of C-Reactive Protein at the 17 week follow-up while the exercise group had significantly lower levels of Interferon gamma-inducible protein-10 (IP-10) at the post training and 17 week follow-ups. As expected, during follow-up the exercise group had significantly more exercise practice while the meditation group had significantly more meditation practice, but these increases were not significantly related to the amount of change in the inflammatory biomarkers.

 

These results suggest that both exercise and mindfulness practice reduce the levels of biomarkers of inflammation. But they appear to do so through different anti-inflammatory mechanisms. It has been well-established that both exercise and mindfulness practice improves physical and psychological health, and reduce the physical reactions to stress. The present results suggest that these improvements in health may at least in part be accounted for by reduction in the inflammatory response.

 

It is clear from this study that engaging in either exercise or mindfulness practice is beneficial for the health and well-being of the practitioner. Since these practices appear to work via different mechanisms it would seem possible that they would have additive effects where engaging in both would have increased effectiveness in decreasing the inflammatory response and improving health and well-being. This remains for future research.

 

So, meditation and exercise reduce inflammation through different pathways.

 

mindfulness meditation training improves your brain’s ability to help you manage stress, and these changes improve a broad range of stress-related health outcomes, such as your inflammatory health,” – David Creswell.

 

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

 

Meyer, J. D., Hayney, M. S., Coe, C. L., Ninos, C. L., & Barrett, B. P. (2019). Differential Reduction of IP-10 and C-Reactive Protein via Aerobic Exercise or Mindfulness-Based Stress-Reduction Training in a Large Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of sport & exercise psychology, 41(2), 96–106. doi:10.1123/jsep.2018-0214

 

Abstract

Exercise and meditation improve health and well-being, potentially through decreasing systemic inflammation. In this study, healthy adults (N =413) were randomized to 8 weeks of training in aerobic exercise, matched mindfulness-based stress reduction, or wait-list control. Three inflammation-related biomarkers (C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and interferon-gamma-inducible protein-10) were assessed preintervention, directly postintervention, and 17 weeks later. Within-group analyses found that exercise participants had decreased serum interferon-gamma-inducible protein-10 postintervention and 17 weeks later, whereas C-reactive protein was lower in mindfulness-based stress-reduction participants 17 weeks postintervention only. Self-reported physical activity or amount of meditation practice did not predict biomarker changes. This study suggests that (a) training in aerobic exercise can lower interferon-gamma-inducible protein-10, a chemokine associated with interferon activity and illness, and (b) training in mindfulness meditation may have a delayed effect on C-reactive protein, an important inflammatory biomarker. The findings highlight the likelihood of multiple, distinct pathways underlying the health-promoting effects of these lifestyle interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6777863/

 

Improve Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with Seated Yoga

Improve Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with Seated Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The benefits of yoga, in general, include loosening up muscles, joints, and connective tissues, and improving strength and balance. But is it right for ME/CFS, with post-exertional malaise plus other problematic symptoms such as dizziness and muscle pain? We don’t have a lot of research on yoga for ME/CFS, but what we do have suggests that it just might be.” – Adrienne Dellwo

 

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) occurs in about 0.2% of the population. It produces a profound, prolonged, and debilitating tiredness. When severe, it can produce a chronic and extreme tiredness, so severe that sufferers can become bed-bound or need to use a wheel-chair. It produces muscle pain, brain fog and dizziness, poor memory, disturbed sleep and trouble with digestion. Unfortunately, there are no known cures for CFS. The usual treatments for fatigue are targeted at symptom relief and include exercise and drugs. As an alternative to these traditional treatments, mindfulness training has been shown to reduce fatigue. The mindfulness practice of Yoga also includes exercise and it has been shown to be an effective treatment for the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). But the mechanism is not known of how yoga may be affecting the symptoms of CFS.

 

In today’s Research News article “The longitudinal effects of seated isometric yoga on blood biomarkers, autonomic functions, and psychological parameters of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome: a pilot study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6836361/), Oka and colleagues recruited adults with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and randomly assigned them to receive either 20 minute, twice a week, for 2 months seated yoga practice with daily home practice or to no further treatment. Both groups continued to receive pharmacotherapy. They were measured before and after treatment for fatigue, anxiety, depression, and alexithymia. In addition, blood was drawn and assayed for DHEA-S, PRL, and TNF-α. Heart rate variability was also measured with and electrocardiogram (EKG).

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control group, the seated yoga group had a large and significant decrease in fatigue and depression. Further they found that the greater the decrease in fatigue for the seated yoga group, the greater the decrease in TNF-α, in the high frequency component of heartrate variability, and in alexithymia.

 

These results suggest that seated yoga is effective in reducing fatigue and depression in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). The correlation analysis suggests that the reduction in fatigue is associated with decreases in inflammation (TNF-α) and an increase in the ability to sense emotions (decreased alexithymia). The correlations do not indicate causation. So, it is not clear if the changes in fatigue produced the reductions in inflammation and alexithymia, or the reverse, or a third factor is responsible. But it is clear that seated yoga practice improves fatigue and depression in patients with CFS.

 

This is important as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is relatively common and debilitating and pharmacological treatments are most often ineffective. The fact that yoga practice can improve the symptoms of CFS is encouraging. In addition, the fact that the yoga practice was performed in a seated position makes it better suited to patients with fatigue who lack the energy for more intense yoga practice. The results of this small pilot study further provide justification for performing a large randomized controlled trial. Seated yoga practice may be able to at least in part reduce the physical and psychological problems produced by CFS.

 

So, improve chronic fatigue syndrome with seated yoga.

 

“isometric yoga together with conventional therapy was more effective in relieving fatigue than was conventional therapy alone in patients with CFS who did not respond adequately to conventional therapy.” – Takakazu Oka

 

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

 

Oka, T., Tanahashi, T., Lkhagvasuren, B., & Yamada, Y. (2019). The longitudinal effects of seated isometric yoga on blood biomarkers, autonomic functions, and psychological parameters of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome: a pilot study. BioPsychoSocial medicine, 13, 28. doi:10.1186/s13030-019-0168-x

 

Abstract

Background

In a previous randomized controlled trial, we found that practicing seated isometric yoga regularly for 2 months improved the fatigue of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) who are resistant to conventional therapy. The aim of this pilot study was to investigate the possible mechanisms behind this finding by comparing blood biomarkers, autonomic nervous function, and psychological indices before versus after an intervention period of seated isometric yoga practice.

Methods

Fifteen patients with CFS who did not show satisfactory improvements after at least 6 months of conventional therapy practiced seated isometric yoga (biweekly 20-min sessions with a yoga instructor and daily practice at home) for 2 months. The longitudinal effects of seated isometric yoga on fatigue, blood biomarkers, autonomic function, and psychological state were investigated by comparing the following parameters before and after the intervention period: Fatigue severity was assessed by the Chalder fatigue scale (FS) score. Levels of the blood biomarkers cortisol, DHEA-S, TNF-α, IL-6, prolactin, carnitine, TGF-β1, BDNF, MHPG, HVA, and α-MSH were measured. The autonomic nervous functions assessed were heart rate (HR) and HR variability. Psychological indices included the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS).

Results

Practicing seated isometric yoga for 2 months resulted in significant reductions in the Chalder FS (P = 0.002) and HADS-depression (P = 0.02) scores. No significant changes were observed in any other parameter evaluated. The change in Chalder FS score was not correlated with the change in HADS-depression score. However, this change was positively correlated with changes in the serum TNF-α levels (P = 0.048), the high frequency component of HR variability (P = 0.042), and TAS-20 scores (P = 0.001).

Conclusions

Regular practice of seated isometric yoga for 2 months reduced the fatigue and depressive symptom scores of patients with CFS without affecting any other parameters we investigated. This study failed to identify the markers responsible for the longitudinal fatigue-relieving effect of seated isometric yoga. However, considering that the reduced fatigue was associated with decreased serum TNF-α level and TAS-20 scores, fatigue improvement might be related to reduced inflammation and improved alexithymia in these patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6836361/

 

Improve the Symptoms of Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Patients with Online Yoga

Improve the Symptoms of Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Patients with Online Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Yoga classes specifically created for cancer patients offer more than a traditional support group. Yoga creates a sense of belonging, reduces feelings of stress and improves quality of life.” – Sara Szeglowski

 

“Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPNs) are blood cancers that occur when the body makes too many white or red blood cells, or platelets” (Cancer Support Community). It typically occurs in older adults and is fairly rare (1-2 cases/100,000 per year) and has a very high survival rate. It produces a variety of psychological and physical symptoms including fatigue, anxiety, pain, depression, and sleep disturbance, reduced physical, social, and cognitive functioning resulting. This produces a marked reduced in the patient’s quality of life.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health including fatigueanxietydepressionpain, and sleep disturbance, and improves physical, social, and cognitive functioning as well as quality of life in cancer patients. Yoga practice also improves the physical and mental health of cancer patients. The vast majority of the yoga practice, however, requires a trained instructor. It also requires that the participants be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may be difficult for myeloproliferative neoplasm patients to attend and may or may not be compatible with their schedules and at locations that may not be convenient.

 

As an alternative, online yoga trainings have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But the question arises as to the effectiveness of these online programs in relieving the psychological and physical symptoms of myeloproliferative neoplasm patients and improving their quality of life.

 

In today’s Research News article “Online yoga in myeloproliferative neoplasm patients: results of a randomized pilot trial to inform future research.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6556039/), Huberty and colleagues recruited adult myeloproliferative neoplasm patients and randomly assigned them to either receive online yoga training or to a wait-list control condition. Yoga training occurred via streamed videos for a total of 60 minutes training per week for 12 weeks. The individual training videos increased in duration from 5 minutes to 30 minutes over the 12 weeks. The participants were measured for adverse events and yoga participation by self-report and by clicking on the video links and over the training period. Before and after training they were measured for total symptoms, fatigue, pain intensity, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, sexual function, and quality of life. In, addition, blood was drawn and assayed for inflammatory cytokines.

 

They found that 79% of the patients in the yoga group completed participation averaging 42 minutes per week and there were no adverse events reported. Self-reports of yoga participation were over-reported by on average 10 minutes as assessed by actual clicks on the yoga video links. They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list group, the yoga group reported a moderate decrease in depression and small decreases in anxiety, pain intensity, sleep disturbance, and in TNF-α blood levels.

 

This was a pilot feasibility study and did not have a sufficient number of participants to detect small effects. It also lacked an active control, such as aerobic exercise. Nevertheless, the trial suggests that teaching yoga online is feasible and can successfully improve the psychological health of myeloproliferative neoplasm patients and reduce inflammation. This is potentially important as yoga treatment can be successfully employed remotely, inexpensively, and conveniently and can reduce the suffering of myeloproliferative neoplasm patients. A large randomized clinical trial with an active control condition is justified by these encouraging results.

 

So, improve the symptoms of myeloproliferative neoplasm patients with online yoga.

 

Some people with cancer say it helps calm their mind so that they can cope better with their cancer and its treatment. Others say it helps to reduce symptoms and side effects such as pain, tiredness, sleep problems and depression.” – Cancer Research UK

 

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

 

Huberty, J., Eckert, R., Dueck, A., Kosiorek, H., Larkey, L., Gowin, K., & Mesa, R. (2019). Online yoga in myeloproliferative neoplasm patients: results of a randomized pilot trial to inform future research. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 19(1), 121. doi:10.1186/s12906-019-2530-8

 

Abstract

Background

Myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) patients suffer from significant symptoms, inflammation and reduced quality of life. Yoga improves these outcomes in other cancers, but this hasn’t been demonstrated in MPNs. The purpose of this study was to: (1) explore the limited efficacy (does the program show promise of success) of a 12-week online yoga intervention among MPN patients on symptom burden and quality of life and (2) determine feasibility (practicality: to what extent a measure can be carried out) of remotely collecting inflammatory biomarkers.

Methods

Patients were recruited nationally and randomized to online yoga (60 min/week of yoga) or wait-list control (asked to maintain normal activity). Weekly yoga minutes were collected with Clicky (online web analytics tool) and self-report. Those in online yoga completed a blood draw at baseline and week 12 to assess inflammation (interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor-alpha [TNF-α]). All participants completed questionnaires assessing depression, anxiety, fatigue, pain, sleep disturbance, sexual function, total symptom burden, global health, and quality of life at baseline, week seven, 12, and 16. Change from baseline at each time point was computed by group and effect sizes were calculated. Pre-post intervention change in inflammation for the yoga group was compared by t-test.

Results

Sixty-two MPN patients enrolled and 48 completed the intervention (online yoga = 27; control group = 21). Yoga participation averaged 40.8 min/week via Clicky and 56.1 min/week via self-report. Small/moderate effect sizes were generated from the yoga intervention for sleep disturbance (d = − 0.26 to − 0.61), pain intensity (d = − 0.34 to − 0.51), anxiety (d = − 0.27 to − 0.37), and depression (d = − 0.53 to − 0.78). A total of 92.6 and 70.4% of online yoga participants completed the blood draw at baseline and week 12, respectively, and there was a decrease in TNF-α from baseline to week 12 (− 1.3 ± 1.5 pg/ml).

Conclusions

Online yoga demonstrated small effects on sleep, pain, and anxiety as well as a moderate effect on depression. Remote blood draw procedures are feasible and the effect size of the intervention on TNF-α was large. Future fully powered randomized controlled trials are needed to test for efficacy.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6556039/