Improve Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with Tai Chi

Improve Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Tai chi does not mean oriental wisdom or something exotic. It is the wisdom of your own senses, your own mind and body together as one process.” – Chungliang Al Huang

 

Myalgic encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) occurs in about 0.2% of the population. It produces a profound, prolonged, and debilitating tiredness that is not corrected by rest. 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. Tai Chi is a mindfulness practice that includes movement and balance training. The ability of Tai Chi to improve Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) needs investigation.

 

In today’s Research News article “Altered Effective Connectivity of Resting-State Networks by Tai Chi Chuan in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Patients: A Multivariate Granger Causality Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9203735/  ) Li and colleagues recruited adult patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and a group of healthy adults who had never practiced Tai Chi and provided them with 2 weekly 1 hour sessions of Tai Chi for 4 weeks. They were measured before and after training for health-related quality of life and had their brains scanned with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

 

They found that in comparison to the healthy adults before Tai Chi the patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) had significantly lower health-related quality of life and lower connectivity between the Sensorimotor Network (SMN) and the Default Mode Network (DMN). After Tai Chi training the patients with CFS had significant increases in health-related quality of life and improved connectivity between the SMN and DMN.

 

These findings demonstrate that Tai Chi practice can improve the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) potentially by strengthening connectivity in the brain. This is important as CFS is a mysterious disorder and these findings suggest that a lower level of brain connectivity may underlie the disorder. In addition, they show that Tai Chi practice may at least partially reverse these symptoms.

 

Tai Chi Chuan, the great ultimate, strengthens the weak, raises the sick, invigorates the debilitated, and encourages the timid.” – Cheng Man-ch’ing

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Li Y, Wu K, Hu X, Xu T, Li Z, Zhang Y, Li K. Altered Effective Connectivity of Resting-State Networks by Tai Chi Chuan in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Patients: A Multivariate Granger Causality Study. Front Neurol. 2022 Jun 3;13:858833. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2022.858833. PMID: 35720086; PMCID: PMC9203735.

 

Abstract

Numerous evidence has shown that patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) have changes in resting brain functional connectivity, but there is no study on the brain network effect of Tai Chi Chuan intervention in CFS. To explore the influence of Tai Chi Chuan exercise on the causal relationship between brain functional networks in patients with CFS, 21 patients with CFS and 19 healthy controls were recruited for resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) scanning and 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) scale assessment before and after 1month-long training in Tai Chi Chuan. We extracted the resting brain networks using the independent component analysis (ICA) method, analyzed the changes of FC in these networks, conducted Granger causality analysis (GCA) on it, and analyzed the correlation between the difference causality value and the SF-36 scale. Compared to the healthy control group, the SF-36 scale scores of patients with CFS were lower at baseline. Meanwhile, the causal relationship between sensorimotor network (SMN) and default mode network (DMN) was weakened. The above abnormalities could be improved by Tai Chi Chuan training for 1 month. In addition, the correlation analyses showed that the causal relationship between SMN and DMN was positively correlated with the scores of Role Physical (RP) and Bodily Pain (BP) in CFS patients, and the change of causal relationship between SMN and DMN before and after training was positively correlated with the change of BP score. The findings suggest that Tai Chi Chuan is helpful to improve the quality of life for patients with CFS. The change of Granger causality between SMN and DMN may be a readout parameter of CFS. Tai Chi Chuan may promote the functional plasticity of brain networks in patients with CFS by regulating the information transmission between them.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9203735/

 

Improve Psychological Well-Being and Labor Duration with Pregnancy Yoga

Improve Psychological Well-Being and Labor Duration with Pregnancy Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Prenatal yoga is a great way to stay active during pregnancy. It’s both gentle and low impact, while offering physical and mental benefits.” – Karisa Ding

 

The period of pregnancy is a time of intense physiological and psychological change. Anxiety, depression, and fear are quite common during pregnancy. More than 20 percent of pregnant women have an anxiety disorder, depressive symptoms, or both during pregnancy. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve anxiety and depression normally and to relieve maternal anxiety and depression during pregnancy and to relieve postpartum depression. Yoga has been shown to relieve maternal anxiety and depression during pregnancy. The research is accumulating. So, it makes sense to review and summarize what has been learned regarding the effects of yoga during pregnancy.

 

In today’s Research News article “The characteristics and effectiveness of pregnancy yoga interventions: 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/PMC8957136/ ) Corrigan and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research studies of the effects of yoga during pregnancy. They identified 31 published research studies including 2413 pregnant women.

 

They report that the published research found that practicing yoga during pregnancy produces significant psychological benefits including decreases in perceived stress, anxiety, and depression and significant increases in physical, psychological, and social quality of life. They also report that practicing yoga reduced the duration of labor.

 

The findings of the published research to date suggests that practicing yoga during pregnancy improves the psychological well-being of the women and reduces the amount of labor.

 

Women who do yoga — including breathing exercises, posture positions and meditation — for one hour a day have been shown to have a lower preterm labor rate, as well as lower risk of pregnancy-reduced hypertension, compared with women who spent the same amount of time walking.” – Maura Hohman

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Corrigan, L., Moran, P., McGrath, N., Eustace-Cook, J., & Daly, D. (2022). The characteristics and effectiveness of pregnancy yoga interventions: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC pregnancy and childbirth, 22(1), 250. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-022-04474-9

 

Abstract

Background

Yoga is a popular mind-body medicine frequently recommended to pregnant women. Gaps remain in our understanding of the core components of effective pregnancy yoga programmes. This systematic review and meta-analysis examined the characteristics and effectiveness of pregnancy yoga interventions, incorporating the FITT (frequency, intensity, time/duration and type) principle of exercise prescription.

Methods

Nine electronic databases were searched: MEDLINE, PsycINFO, EMBASE, CINAHL, WHOLiS, AMED, ScieLo, ASSIA and Web of Science. Randomised control trials and quasi-experimental studies examining pregnancy yoga interventions were eligible. Covidence was used to screen titles, abstracts, and full-text articles. Outcomes of interest were stress, anxiety, depression, quality of life, labour duration, pain management in labour and mode of birth. The Cochrane Collaboration’s Risk of Bias Assessment tool was used to assess methodological quality of studies and GRADE criteria (GRADEpro) evaluated quality of the evidence. Meta-analysis was performed using RevMan 5.3.

Results

Of 862 citations retrieved, 31 studies met inclusion criteria. Twenty-nine studies with 2217 pregnant women were included for meta-analysis. Pregnancy yoga interventions reduced anxiety (SMD: -0.91; 95% CI: − 1.49 to − 0.33; p = 0.002), depression (SMD: -0.47; 95% CI: − 0.9 to − 0.04, P = 0.03) and perceived stress (SMD: -1.03; 95% CI: − 1.55 to − 0.52; p < 0.001). Yoga interventions also reduced duration of labour (MD = − 117.75; 95% CI − 153.80 to − 81.71, p < 0.001) and, increased odds of normal vaginal birth (OR 2.58; 95% CI 1.46–4.56, p < 0.001) and tolerance for pain. The quality of evidence (GRADE criteria) was low to very low for all outcomes. Twelve or more yoga sessions delivered weekly/bi-weekly had a statistically significant impact on mode of birth, while 12 or more yoga sessions of long duration (> 60 min) had a statistically significant impact on perceived stress.

Conclusion

The evidence highlights positive effects of pregnancy yoga on anxiety, depression, perceived stress, mode of birth and duration of labour.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8957136/

 

Improve Quality of Life with Yoga and Meditation

Improve Quality of Life with Yoga and Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Though the benefits of a yoga practice initially arrive on our mats, a regular practice expands those benefits as they permeate into our daily lives beyond the four corners of our mats.” – Crystal Borup-Popenoe

 

Yoga practice has been shown to have a myriad of benefits for psychological and physical health, social, and spiritual well-being. It is both an exercise and a mind-body practice those stresses both mental attention to present moment movements, breath control, and flexibility, range of motion, and balance.

 

In today’s Research News article “Health-Related Quality of Life Outcomes With Regular Yoga and Heartfulness Meditation Practice: Results From a Multinational, Cross-sectional Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9116454/  ) Thimmapuram and colleagues recruit participants in the International Day of Yoga 100 day Yoga and heartfulness meditation practice online from countries around the world and had them complete measures of yoga practice, health-related quality of life, relaxation, nervousness, and stress.

 

Both regular yoga practitioners and also heartfulness meditation practitioners in comparison to those who were not had significantly higher health-related quality of life, healthy lifestyle, ability to cope with stress, workplace productivity, relaxation, and staying healthy during Covid-19 and lower levels of stress. Hence, regular practitioners of yoga or heartfulness meditation were associated with greater health and well-being.

 

The study does not establish causation but provide evidence that the relationship of the practices to health and well-being occur regardless of country.

 

Moderate‐quality evidence supports the recommendation of yoga as a supportive intervention for improving health‐related quality of life and reducing fatigue and sleep disturbances when compared with no therapy, as well as for reducing depression, anxiety and fatigue, when compared with psychosocial/educational interventions. “ – Holger Cramer

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Thimmapuram, J., Patel, K., Madhusudhan, D. K., Deshpande, S., Bouderlique, E., Nicolai, V., & Rao, R. (2022). Health-Related Quality of Life Outcomes With Regular Yoga and Heartfulness Meditation Practice: Results From a Multinational, Cross-sectional Study. JMIR formative research, 6(5), e37876. https://doi.org/10.2196/37876

 

Abstract

Background

Although the benefits of yoga are well established across the world, there are limited studies exploring the long-term interrelation between yoga, meditation, and health. Specifically, there is limited research exploring the differences in health-related quality of life (HRQOL) among regular meditators and nonmeditators.

Objective

This study explored the differences in 7 domains of HRQOL (including quality of life, ability to adopt a healthy lifestyle, ability to relax, frequency of nervousness and stress, coping with day-to-day stress, workplace productivity, and staying healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic) among practitioners of yoga and meditation.

Methods

A cross-sectional, online survey was distributed to all members who participated in a 100-day yoga and meditation program, culminating in the International Day of Yoga event, organized by the Heartfulness Institute in partnership with the Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy, Ministry of Ayush, SVYASA Yoga University, and Patanjali Yoga Institute, India. The program consisted of daily virtual yoga, meditation, and speaker sessions. The data were analyzed by nonparametric Mann-Whitney U test and Kruskal-Wallis tests for continuous variables and chi-square test for categorical variables.

Results

A total of 3164 participants from 39 countries completed the survey. Mean age was 33.8 (SD 13.6) years. The majority of the participants were female (n=1643, 52%) and students (n=1312, 41.5%). Regular yoga and meditation practice was associated with a positive impact on all 7 domains of HRQOL (Mann-Whitney P<.05 and χ2 P<.05). Notably, experienced Heartfulness (≥2 years) meditators reported better outcomes in all the domains of HRQOL as compared to those not currently practicing this form of meditation and participants with ≤1 year of Heartfulness meditation experience (P<.05).

Conclusions

This is one of the first cross-sectional studies to explore HRQOL outcomes among participants of a 100-day virtual yoga and meditation program. Overall, a yoga and meditation practice was found to be an effective tool for promoting HRQOL. Regular yoga and meditation practice was associated with factors promoting health and well-being, with long-term meditation practice associated with increased benefits.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9116454/

Improve College Student Psychological Well-Being with Mindfulness and Relaxation

Improve College Student Psychological Well-Being with Mindfulness and Relaxation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness helps focus by tuning out distractions, improving memory, decision-making and attention skills. . . It is not a panacea; it is not for everyone. However, it is very worth trying. It may be the next evolution in health care and well-being.” – Affordable Colleges

 

In the modern world education is a key for success. There is a lot of pressure on college students to excel so that they can get the best jobs after graduation. The pressure can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression which can impede the student’s mental health, well-being, and school performance. So it is important that methods be found to reduce the college students’ responses to stress; to make them more resilient.

 

Contemplative practices including meditationmindfulness training, exercise, Tai Chi and Qigong, and yoga practice have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stressrelieve anxiety, and reduce depression .  A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes. This suggests that ACT may be effective in improving the psychological well-being of college students.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Combined with Music Relaxation Therapy on the Self-Identity of College Students.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8853795/ ) Yin recruited college students and assigned them to receive either  a 2-month program of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) plus systematic muscle relaxation with music, or conventional self-identity intervention, including health education, regular communication, and regular follow-up. They were measured before and after the treatments for anxiety, depression, resilience, and quality of life.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control condition Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) plus relaxation produced significant reductions in anxiety and depression and significant increases in resilience and quality of life. It cannot be determined if the combination of ACT and relaxation was necessary for the benefits or is each individually may have been effective.

 

So, improve college student psychological well-being with mindfulness and relaxation.

 

mindfulness . . . can also be a great tool for students, reducing stress and increasing well-being and productivity.” – Rebecca Enderby

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Yin J. (2022). Effect of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Combined with Music Relaxation Therapy on the Self-Identity of College Students. Journal of healthcare engineering, 2022, 8422903. https://doi.org/10.1155/2022/8422903

 

Abstract

This paper analyzes various effects of acceptance and commitment therapy combined with music relaxation therapy on the self-identity of the college students. Through open recruitment and following the principle of voluntary and confidential, 80 college students were selected from our school, and then they were divided into two groups: the control group (40 cases) and the observation group (40 cases). The observation group received acceptance and commitment therapy combined with music relaxation therapy. For the control group, conventional mental health interventions were administered. Two months after intervention, psychological status, mental resilience, and quality of life scores were compared between the two groups. Before intervention, there was no significant difference in SAS and SDS scores between the two groups (P > 0.05). After intervention, SAS and SDS scores were significantly higher than those in the control group, and the difference between the two groups was statistically significant (P < 0.05). Before intervention, there was no significant difference in the scores of toughness, strength, and optimism between the two groups (P > 0.05). After intervention, the scores of toughness, strength, and optimism in the two groups were all improved, and the scores of mental resilience in the observation group were higher than those in the control group, with statistical significance (P < 0.05). Before intervention, there was no significant difference in the quality of life scores between the observation group and the control group (P > 0.05). After intervention, the quality of life score of the observation group was higher than that of the control group, and the difference between the two groups was statistically significant (P < 0.05). The combined application of acceptance and commitment therapy and music relaxation therapy can help college students to improve their mental state, improve their mental resilience, enhance their evaluation of life quality, improve their sense of self-identity, and reduce the probability of the occurrence of unhealthy emotions such as depression.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8853795/

 

Improve Psychological Health During Addiction Recovery with Qigong

Improve Psychological Health During Addiction Recovery with Qigong

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

For people in the early stages of recovery whose emotions may be all over the map, Tai Chi can help stabilize moods, provide mental focus and clarity, and smooth out the rough spots. “ – Pinnacle

 

Substance abuse is a major health and social problem. There are estimated 22.2 million people in the U.S. with substance dependence. It is estimated that worldwide there are nearly ¼ million deaths yearly as a result of illicit drug use which includes unintentional overdoses, suicides, HIV and AIDS, and trauma. Obviously, there is a need to find effective methods to prevent and treat substance abuse. There are a number of programs that are successful at stopping the drug abuse, including the classic 12-step program emblematic of Alcoholics Anonymous. Unfortunately, the majority of drug and/or alcohol abusers relapse and return to substance abuse. Hence, it is important to find an effective method to both treat substance abuse disorders and to prevent relapses.

 

Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve recovery from various addictionsTai Chi is a mindfulness practice that has documented benefits for the individual’s psychological and physical health and well-being. Tai Chi and Qigong are ancient mindfulness practices involving slow prescribed movements. Since Tai Chi and Qigong are both mindfulness practices and gentle exercises, that may be an acceptable and effective treatment for patients recovering from addictions. Studies on the use of Tai Chi and Qigong practices to treat substance abuse have been accumulating and there is a need to pause and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Impact of Qigong and Tai Chi Exercise on Drug Addiction: 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/PMC8957847/ ) Cui and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research studies on the effects of Tai Chi and Qigong practice during substance abuse treatment. They identified 11 studies including a total of 1072 participants.

 

They report that the published research found that Tai Chi and Qigong practices during substance abuse treatment produced significant reduction in depression, and anxiety, and significant improvements in quality of life, and sleep quality. Qigong practice appears to be superior to Tai Chi practice in producing these benefits.

 

Hence, the published research suggests that Tai Chi and Qigong practices improve the psychological health of the patients during addiction recovery.

 

 

Tai chi can also be continued in life following treatment. It can serve as an important part of an aftercare plan that enhances well-being and reduces the likelihood of relapse.” – Footprints to Recovery

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Cui, J., Liu, F., Liu, X., Li, R., Chen, X., & Zeng, H. (2022). The Impact of Qigong and Tai Chi Exercise on Drug Addiction: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in psychiatry, 13, 826187. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2022.826187

 

Abstract

Background

Previous preliminary studies have found that qigong exercises produced significant effects in healthy people and in various clinical populations. The purpose of this study was to systematically review the effects of qigong and tai chi exercise on individuals with drug addiction.

Methods

A systematic search of seven English databases and three Chinese databases was conducted to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and non-randomized comparative studies (NRS) assessing the effects of qigong and tai chi on drug addiction. Study quality was assessed using the Checklist for the Evaluation of Non-Pharmaceutical Trial Reports (CLEAR-NPT).

Results

Two RCTs and nine NRS studies were included in this study, including a total of 1072 patients with drug addiction (age range, 27–43 years). The results showed that qigong and tai chi exercise had a significant overall effect on depression (SMD = −0.353, 95%CI [−0.548, −0.159]), anxiety (SMD = −0.541, 95%CI [−0.818, −0.264]), quality of life (SMD = 0.673, 95%CI [0.438, 0.907]), and sleep quality (SMD = −0.373, 95%CI [−0.631, −0.116]). The subgroup analysis found that qigong outperformed tai chi on the improving depression, anxiety, and sleep quality.

Conclusion

Existing studies suggest that qigong and tai chi are effective at improving depression, anxiety, and quality of life in drug users; however, the evidence from rigorous randomized controlled group trials is lacking.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8957847/

 

Improve Mental Health with Mantra-Based Meditation

Improve Mental Health with Mantra-Based Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Many people find that using a mantra can boost awareness and improve concentration. Since it helps you stay focused, it could lead to improved results from meditation.” – Timothy Legg

 

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. But many people have difficulty quieting the mind and maintaining concentration during meditation. Repeating a mantra during meditation has been thought to help prevent intrusive thoughts and improve concentration and focus during meditation. There have been a number of studies of the psychological benefits of mantra-based meditations. It makes sense then to summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effectiveness of Mantra-Based Meditation on Mental Health: 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/PMC8949812/ ) Álvarez-Pérez and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the effects of mantra-based meditations on mental health. They found 51 published research studies.

 

They report that the published research studies found that mantra-based meditations produced significant reduction in anxiety, depression, perceived stress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and psychopathology, and significant increases in health-related quality of life. All of these effects had small to moderate effect sizes.

 

So, the published research demonstrate that mantra-based meditations produce significant improvements in mental health.

 

Mantra meditation is not magic, but the results can be magical.”— Thomas Ashley-Farrand”

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Álvarez-Pérez, Y., Rivero-Santana, A., Perestelo-Pérez, L., Duarte-Díaz, A., Ramos-García, V., Toledo-Chávarri, A., Torres-Castaño, A., León-Salas, B., Infante-Ventura, D., González-Hernández, N., Rodríguez-Rodríguez, L., & Serrano-Aguilar, P. (2022). Effectiveness of Mantra-Based Meditation on Mental Health: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International journal of environmental research and public health, 19(6), 3380. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19063380

 

Abstract

Background: Meditation is defined as a form of cognitive training that aims to improve attentional and emotional self-regulation. This systematic review aims to evaluate the available scientific evidence on the effectiveness and safety of mantra-based meditation techniques (MBM), in comparison to passive or active controls, or other active treatment, for the management of mental health symptoms. Methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, and PsycINFO databases were consulted up to April 2021. Randomised controlled trials regarding meditation techniques mainly based on the repetition of mantras, such as transcendental meditation or others, were included. Results: MBM, compared to control conditions, was found to produce significant small-to-moderate effect sizes in the reduction of anxiety (g = −0.46, IC95%: −0.60, −0.32; I2 = 33%), depression (g = −0.33, 95% CI: −0.48, −0.19; I2 = 12%), stress (g = −0.45, 95% CI: −0.65, −0.24; I2 = 46%), post-traumatic stress (g = −0.59, 95% CI: −0.79, −0.38; I2 = 0%), and mental health-related quality of life (g = 0.32, 95% CI: 0.15, 0.49; I2 = 0%). Conclusions: MBM appears to produce small-to-moderate significant reductions in mental health; however, this evidence is weakened by the risk of study bias and the paucity of studies with psychiatric samples and long-term follow-up.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8949812/

Mindfulness Improves Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as well as Drug Treatment

Mindfulness Improves Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as well as Drug Treatment

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“most OCD sufferers I know who practice mindfulness find it very helpful in fighting their disorder. To be able to focus on what is really happening in any given moment, as opposed to dwelling on the past or anticipating the future, takes away the power of OCD.” – Janet Singer

 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) sufferers have repetitive anxiety producing intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that result in repetitive behaviors to reduce the anxiety (compulsions). In a typical example of OCD, the individual is concerned about germs and is unable to control the anxiety that these thoughts produce. Their solution is to engage in ritualized behaviors, such as repetitive cleaning or hand washing that for a short time relieves the anxiety. The obsessions and compulsions can become so frequent that they become a dominant theme in their lives. Hence OCD drastically reduces the quality of life and happiness of the sufferer and those around them. About 2% of the population, 3.3 million people in the U.S., are affected at some time in their life.

 

Fortunately, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can be treated. Mindfulness training including Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) has been shown to be effective in treating OCD.  A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes. This suggests that ACT may be an effective treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD),

 

In today’s Research News article “A randomized clinical trial: Comparison of group acceptance and commitment therapy with drug on quality of life and depression in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8943588/ ) and colleagues recruited patients with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and either treated them with drugs (SSRIs) or with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) twice weekly for 1 hour for 4 weeks. They were measured before and after treatment and 3 months later for depression, anxiety, perceived stress, and quality of life.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline both groups had significant decreases in depression and significant increases in quality of life and these improvements were maintained the 3-month follow-up. Hence, Mindfulness training is as effective as drugs in treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

 

Since mindfulness training, unlike drugs, doesn’t have significant side effects, it would appear to be the preferred treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD),

 

The struggle of the OCD sufferer is one in which certain internal experiences (thoughts, etc.) are viewed as unacceptable, whereas others are allowed to pass by without critique. Mindfulness suggests a different perspective on the presence of these internal experiences, that they be simply noticed, not judged or pushed away.” – Sheppard Pratt

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Ebrahimi, A., Nasre Esfahan, E., Akuchekian, S., Izadi, R., Shaneh, E., & Mahaki, B. (2022). A randomized clinical trial: Comparison of group acceptance and commitment therapy with drug on quality of life and depression in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of research in medical sciences : the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 27, 9. https://doi.org/10.4103/jrms.jrms_449_21

 

Abstract

Background:

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is one of the newest treatment strategies that has been developed rapidly to improve the treatment of patients with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). The aim of this study was to evaluate and compare the effect of ACT and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) drugs on the severity of depression symptoms and quality of life (QOL) in obsessive–compulsive patients.

Materials and Methods:

A randomized clinical trial with a control group was conducted including 27 patients with OCD. Based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 criteria for OCD diagnosis, participants were recruited from Tamasha Counseling Center and obsessive–compulsive clinic in the Psychosomatic Research Center in Isfahan, Iran. Selected patients were allocated to two groups (14 in ACT the group and 13 in the drug group with SSRI with a simple random sampling method. ACT group was treated by an ACT therapist in eight 1-h sessions. Data were collected by the World Health Organization QOL Questionnaire (WHOQOL-BREF) and Depression subscale of DASS-42 at admission, after the intervention, and 3 months thereafter. Therapists and evaluators were blind to each other’s work. Data were analyzed using analysis of variance with repeated measures method using IBM SPSS Statistics software (V 23, IBM Corporation, Armonk, NY, USA).

Results:

Results revealed that both treatments (ACT and SSRIs drug therapy) had significant impacts on reducing depression subscales scores and increasing WHOQOL-BREF scores at posttreatment (P < 0.05). There were no significant differences in QOL scores between the two groups after the intervention and follow-up (P > 0.05). Nevertheless, drug therapy presented a significantly greater improvement in depression scores of patients than those resulting from ACT (P = 0.005). The persistence of treatment effects continued after 3 months (follow-up) in both groups.

Conclusion:

ACT is equal to SSRIs drug therapy in terms of improving QOL in patients with OCD. However, SSRIs are more effective in treating depression in obsessive–compulsive patients. It may be presumed that ACT without any chemical side effect is equal to drug and is preferred for patients who either cannot use drugs or prefer not to have a drug treatment.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8943588/

 

Improve Sexual Function in Women with Breast Cancer with Mindfulness

Improve Sexual Function in Women with Breast Cancer with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness is extraordinary; it is as if they replace you with someone else. Positive thinking increased my willingness to return to life.” – International Society for Sexual Medicine

 

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. 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 practices have been shown to improve the residual symptoms in cancer survivors. The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program is a mindfulness training program that includes meditation practice, body scan, yoga, and discussion along with daily home practice. MBSR has been shown to be beneficial for cancer patients in general and also specifically for the symptoms of breast cancer survivors. So, it makes sense to further explore the effectiveness of MBSR training for the treatment of sexual function in breast cancer survivors.

 

In today’s Research News article “Impact of mindfulness-based stress reduction on female sexual function and mental health in patients with breast cancer.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8799961/ ) Chang and colleagues recruited breast cancer survivors and provided them with either a 6-weeks of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program or treatment as usual. They were measured before and after for sexual function, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and quality of life.

 

They found that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) produce significant increases in sexual arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and satisfaction and significant reductions in anxiety and perceived stress.

 

Because of the nature of the treatments for breast cancer, sexual confidence and performance may be challenged. It is very important to these women’s well-being that they return to normal engagement in sex. It is very encouraging that mindfulness training appears to improve sexual satisfaction in these women after treatment. This, in turn, markedly improves their mental health.

 

Mindfulness-based stress reduction interventions are highly beneficial for reducing depression, fatigue, and stress in the short term. . . Breast cancer survivors are recommended to practice MBSR as part of their daily care routine.” – Yun-Chen Chang

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Chang, Y. C., Lin, G. M., Yeh, T. L., Chang, Y. M., Yang, C. H., Lo, C., Yeh, C. Y., & Hu, W. Y. (2022). Impact of mindfulness-based stress reduction on female sexual function and mental health in patients with breast cancer. Supportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer, 30(5), 4315–4325. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-021-06540-y

 

Abstract

Purpose

There have been few studies using mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) to improve sexual function in Asian women with breast cancer. This study aimed to evaluate the impact of mindfulness intervention on female sexual function, mental health, and quality of life in patients with breast cancer.

Methods

Fifty-one women with breast cancer were allocated into 6-week MBSR (n=26) sessions or usual care (n=25), without differences in group characteristics. The research tools included the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales-21 (DASS-21), and the EuroQol instrument (EQ-5D). The Greene Climacteric Scale (GCS) was used to verify the foregoing scale. The effects of MBSR were evaluated by the differences between the post- and pre-intervention scores in each scale. Statistical analyses consisted of the descriptive dataset and Mann-Whitney ranked-pairs test.

Results

Although MBSR did not significantly improve sexual desire and depression in patients with breast cancer, MBSR could improve parts of female sexual function [i.e., Δarousal: 5.73 vs. -5.96, Δlubrication: 3.35 vs. -3.48, and Δsatisfaction: 8.48 vs. 1.76; all p <.005], with a range from small to medium effect sizes. A significantly benefits were found on mental health [Δanxiety: -10.92 vs.11.36 and Δstress: -10.96 vs.11.40; both p <.001], with large effect sizes, ranging from 0.75 to 0.87.

Conclusion

Our study revealed that MBSR can improve female sexual function and mental health except for sexual desire and depression in women with breast cancer. Medical staff can incorporate MBSR into clinical health education for patients with breast cancer to promote their overall quality of life.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8799961/

Meditation is an Effective Treatment for a Variety of Medical Conditions

Meditation is an Effective Treatment for a Variety of Medical Conditions

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness is not a cure-all. . . . There have been thousands of studies showing that there are psychological and physical benefits to mindfulness meditation, but the intention . . . is not to cure the disease or fully treat the symptoms, but to treat the whole person — and that includes their mental and emotional well-being — so they can live in greater health and joy.” – Men’s Health

 

Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that meditation has positive benefits for the individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual life. Meditation appears to be beneficial both for healthy people and for people suffering from a myriad of mental and physical illnesses. It appears to be beneficial across ages, from children to the elderly. And it appears to be beneficial across genders, personalities, race, and ethnicity. The breadth and depth of benefits is unprecedented. There is no other treatment or practice that has been shown to come anyway near the range of mindfulness’ positive benefits.

 

Over the last few decades, a vast amount of research has been published on the benefits of meditation on the mental and physical health of the practitioners. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Systematic Review for the Medical Applications of Meditation in Randomized Controlled Trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8834867/ ) Kim and colleagues review and summarize the 104 published randomized controlled trials on the benefits of meditation practices on mental and physical well-being.

 

They report that the published research found that different studies report varying results but the most common significant benefits of meditation practice were improvements in fatigue, sleep quality, quality of life, stress, PTSD symptoms, blood pressure, intraocular pressure, and depression. In general yoga-based practices produced slightly better results than mindfulness based techniques,

 

Hence, meditation practices have been found to help improve mental and physical well-being.

 

meditation can improve mental health and reduce symptoms associated with chronic conditions.” – Ashley Welch

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Kim, D. Y., Hong, S. H., Jang, S. H., Park, S. H., Noh, J. H., Seok, J. M., Jo, H. J., Son, C. G., & Lee, E. J. (2022). Systematic Review for the Medical Applications of Meditation in Randomized Controlled Trials. International journal of environmental research and public health, 19(3), 1244. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031244

 

Abstract

Background: Meditation has been increasingly adapted for healthy populations and participants with diseases. Its beneficial effects are still challenging to determine due to the heterogeneity and methodological obstacles regarding medical applications. This study aimed to integrate the features of therapeutic meditation in randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Methods: We conducted a systematic review of RCTs with meditation for populations with diseases using the PubMed database through June 2021. We analyzed the characteristics of the diseases/disorders, participants, measurements, and their overall benefits. Results: Among a total of 4855 references, 104 RCTs were determined and mainly applied mindfulness-based (51 RCTs), yoga-based (32 RCTs), and transcendental meditation (14 RCTs) to 10,139 patient-participants. These RCTs were conducted for participants with a total of 45 kinds of disorders; the most frequent being cancer, followed by musculoskeletal and connective tissue diseases and affective mood disorder. Seven symptoms or signs were frequently assessed: depressive mood, feeling anxious, quality of life, stress, sleep, pain, and fatigue. The RCTs showed a higher ratio of positive outcomes for sleep (73.9%) and fatigue (68.4%). Conclusions: This systematic review produced the comprehensive features of RCTs for therapeutic meditation. These results will help physicians and researchers further study clinical adaptations in the future as reference data.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8834867/

 

Improve Physical and Mental Health during Aging with Mindfulness

 

Improve Physical and Mental Health during Aging with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

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

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