Psychedelic Drugs are Theorized to have Aided in Human Social Evolution

Psychedelic Drugs are Theorized to have Aided in Human Social Evolution

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“psychedelics have profound cognitive, emotional, and social effects that inspired the development of cultures and religions worldwide.” – Michael J. Winkelman

 

Psychedelic substances such as peyote, mescaline, LSD, Bufotoxin, ayahuasca and psilocybin have been used almost since the beginning of recorded history to alter consciousness and produce spiritually meaningful experiences. Psychedelics produce effects that are similar to those that are reported in spiritual awakenings, a positive mood, with renewed energy and enthusiasm. It is easy to see why people find these experiences so pleasant and eye opening. They often report that the experiences changed them forever.

 

It is not known why the use of psychedelic substances have been so widely used throughout human evolution. Natural selection suggests that the use of these substances must confer some adaptive advantage, or their use would have ceased. What exactly are those advantages is a source of active debate in the scientific community. In today’s Research News article “Psychedelics, Sociality, and Human Evolution.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.729425/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1750137_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211012_arts_A ) Arce and colleagues provide an evidence backed theoretical argument regarding the role of psychedelic substances in the evolution of humankind.

 

There is substantial evidence that early hominids routinely ingested fungi including mushroom that contained psychedelic substances. Early recorded history includes description of psychedelic uses in Mesoamerican societies. Indeed, psychedelic use has been recorded in early societies in Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, South America, Artic and Subarctic, and Central America. This suggests that there must be some instrumental effect of these substances that enhances the survival of humans.

 

Psilocybin and related psychedelics do not have physically toxic side effects. So, they can be ingested safely. The only evident problem is a change in cognition that could open “the possibility for errors in judgment, false perceptions, distortions, and illusions that could undermine an individual’s capacity for alertness, strategic thinking, and decision-making”. But early humans learned to use these substances in particular circumstances, such as rituals,  where the consequences of altered cognition could be minimized.

 

In their favor, psychedelic substances have been shown to improve coping with stress which was likely high in early hominid development. In addition, psychedelic substances have been used throughout history for the treatment of diseases and in recent years have been found to be effective in promoting recovery from a cancer diagnosis, relieving depression, and even in smoking cessation.

 

Psychedelic substances have traditionally been used in groups particularly around rituals and religious ceremonies which would improve social bonds, group cohesion, and pro-social behavior. This would facilitate social cooperation that was essential for early hominid group survival. Psychedelic substances have also been shown to enhance creative thinking and problem solving which would be of great use in adapting to changing environments.

 

These findings and arguments suggest that ingesting psychedelic substances may have been adaptive for humans increasing their chances of survival and procreation. It seems counterintuitive that ingesting substances that for the short term may make the individual less responsive and capable in the environment could actually improve survival. But that is what psychedelic substances appear to do. In this way ingesting psychedelic substances may be adaptive and thus be promoted in evolution.

 

So, psychedelic drugs are theorized to have aided in human social evolution

 

psychedelic drugs. By simulating the effects of religious transcendence, they mimic states of mind that played an evolutionarily valuable role in making human cooperation possible – and with it, greater numbers of surviving descendants.” – James Carney

 

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

 

Rodríguez Arce JM and Winkelman MJ (2021) Psychedelics, Sociality, and Human Evolution. Front. Psychol. 12:729425. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.729425

 

Our hominin ancestors inevitably encountered and likely ingested psychedelic mushrooms throughout their evolutionary history. This assertion is supported by current understanding of: early hominins’ paleodiet and paleoecology; primate phylogeny of mycophagical and self-medicative behaviors; and the biogeography of psilocybin-containing fungi. These lines of evidence indicate mushrooms (including bioactive species) have been a relevant resource since the Pliocene, when hominins intensified exploitation of forest floor foods. Psilocybin and similar psychedelics that primarily target the serotonin 2A receptor subtype stimulate an active coping strategy response that may provide an enhanced capacity for adaptive changes through a flexible and associative mode of cognition. Such psychedelics also alter emotional processing, self-regulation, and social behavior, often having enduring effects on individual and group well-being and sociality. A homeostatic and drug instrumentalization perspective suggests that incidental inclusion of psychedelics in the diet of hominins, and their eventual addition to rituals and institutions of early humans could have conferred selective advantages. Hominin evolution occurred in an ever-changing, and at times quickly changing, environmental landscape and entailed advancement into a socio-cognitive niche, i.e., the development of a socially interdependent lifeway based on reasoning, cooperative communication, and social learning. In this context, psychedelics’ effects in enhancing sociality, imagination, eloquence, and suggestibility may have increased adaptability and fitness. We present interdisciplinary evidence for a model of psychedelic instrumentalization focused on four interrelated instrumentalization goals: management of psychological distress and treatment of health problems; enhanced social interaction and interpersonal relations; facilitation of collective ritual and religious activities; and enhanced group decision-making. The socio-cognitive niche was simultaneously a selection pressure and an adaptive response, and was partially constructed by hominins through their activities and their choices. Therefore, the evolutionary scenario put forward suggests that integration of psilocybin into ancient diet, communal practice, and proto-religious activity may have enhanced hominin response to the socio-cognitive niche, while also aiding in its creation. In particular, the interpersonal and prosocial effects of psilocybin may have mediated the expansion of social bonding mechanisms such as laughter, music, storytelling, and religion, imposing a systematic bias on the selective environment that favored selection for prosociality in our lineage.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.729425/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1750137_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211012_arts_A

 

Relieve Cancer-Related Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients with Mind-Body Exercise

Relieve Cancer-Related Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients with Mind-Body Exercise

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness has both direct and indirect effects on the fatigue of breast cancer survivors and that mindfulness can be used to more effectively reduce their fatigue.” – Kaori Ikeuchi

 

Receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But breast cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with breast cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But surviving breast cancer carries with it a number of problems. Anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia are common symptoms in the aftermath of surviving breast cancer. These symptoms markedly reduce the quality of life of the patients.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to relieve chronic pain. It can also help treat the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including stress, sleep disturbancefear, and anxiety and depression. Mind-body practices such as Tai Chi or Qigong, and yoga have been shown to be effective in improving the psychological symptoms occurring in breast cancer patients. The research has been accumulating. So, it makes sense to review and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Meta-Analysis: Intervention Effect of Mind-Body Exercise on Relieving Cancer-Related Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8275388/ ) Liu and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials on the effectiveness of mind-body practices in relieving the chronic fatigue that occurs in breast cancer survivors. They identified 17 published randomized controlled trials that included a total of 1133 breast cancer patient. The mind-body practices employed in the published trials were yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigon.

 

They report that the published research found that mind-body practices significantly reduced the fatigue of patients with breast cancer. They further found that Tai Chi practice produced significantly greater reductions in fatigue than yoga practice and that practicing for over 40 minutes duration produces greater reductions in fatigue than shorter practice durations. Hence, the published research to date suggests that practicing yoga and particularly Tai Chi can successfully reduce cancer-related fatigue in patients with breast cancer. This is important as fatigue greatly interferes with the quality of life of the patients and their ability to reengage in normal daily activities. Mind-body practices, then, can improve the lives of breast cancer patients.

 

So, relieve cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer patients with mind-body exercise.

 

Mindfulness-and in particular nonreactivity, nonjudging, and describing-may be a personal resource for women with metastatic breast cancer in coping with complex symptoms of this life-threatening illness.” – Lauren A 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

 

Liu, C., Qin, M., Zheng, X., Chen, R., & Zhu, J. (2021). A Meta-Analysis: Intervention Effect of Mind-Body Exercise on Relieving Cancer-Related Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2021, 9980940. https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/9980940

 

Abstract

Objective

This paper aims to systematically evaluate the intervention effect of mind-body exercise on cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer patients.

Methods

Databases including PubMed, the Cochrane Library, Embase, Web of Science, CNKI, Wanfang Data, and SINOMED were retrieved to collect randomized controlled trials on the effects of mind-body exercise on relieving cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer patients. The retrieval period started from the founding date of each database to January 6, 2021. Cochrane bias risk assessment tools were used to evaluate the methodological quality assessment of the included literature, and RevMan 5.3 software was used for meta-analyses.

Results

17 pieces of researches in 16 papers were included with a total of 1133 patients. Compared with the control group, mind-body exercise can improve cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer patients. The combined effect size SMD = 0.59, 95% CI was [0.27, 0.92], p < 0.00001. Doing Tai Chi for over 40 minutes each time with an exercise cycle of ≤6 weeks can improve cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer patients more significantly. Sensitivity analysis shows that the combined effect results of the meta-analysis were relatively stable.

Conclusion

Mind-body exercise can effectively improve cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8275388/

 

Mindfulness Practice at Home is Related to Improved Distress in Cancer Survivors

Mindfulness Practice at Home is Related to Improved Distress in Cancer Survivors

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Cancer and its treatment can be stressful for people with cancer and their caregivers. Relaxation techniques and other mind/body practices can help calm your mind and sharpen your ability to focus. These techniques offer creative ways to reduce stress caused by cancer and maintain inner peace.” Rachel Barnhart

 

A cancer diagnosis has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing experience. These feeling can result from changes in body image, changes to family and work roles, feelings of grief at these losses, and physical symptoms such as pain, nausea, or fatigue. People might also fear death, suffering, pain, or all the unknown things that lie ahead. So, coping with the emotions and stress of a surviving cancer is a challenge and there are no simple treatments for these psychological sequelae of cancer.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including fatiguestress,  sleep disturbancefear, and anxiety and depression. Most mindfulness training programs include daily practice at home. Although it is assumed that home practice is important for the effectiveness of the intervention, it is not known how important home practice is to the effects of mindfulness practice on the physical and psychological well-being of cancer survivors.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Interventions in Cancer Survivors: A Systematic Review of Participants’ Adherence to Home Practice.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8200136/ ) Baydoun and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the relationship of home practice to the physical and psychological effects of mindfulness practice on cancer survivors.

 

They identified 21 published research studies that included a total of 1811 participants. They report that these published studies found that on average participants reported 23.5 minutes of daily home mindfulness practice, which was about 60% of what was recommended in the studies. They also report that the greater the amount of home practice by cancer survivors the greater the reduction in psychological distress.

 

These results suggest that adherence to recommended home practice is substantially less than recommended in the studies. But adherence is related to the psychological benefits obtained by cancer survivors. It has been assumed that home practice was important and this study suggests that it is indeed important. This suggests that future research protocols should include methods to optimize the amount of home mindfulness practice.

 

In addition, the results are correlative and as such causation cannot be determined. It is possible that people who tend to adhere to home practice recommendations are also the types of people who benefit the most from mindfulness-based interventions. So, future studies should manipulate the amount of home practice to determine causal relationships between this practice and the benefits obtained.

 

So, mindfulness practice at home is related to improved distress in cancer survivors.

 

Cancer and its treatment can be stressful—for you and your caregivers. Practicing mindfulness and relaxation can help calm your mind, reduce stress, and sharpen your ability to focus.” – American Cancer Society

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Baydoun, M., Moran, C., McLennan, A., Piedalue, K. L., Oberoi, D., & Carlson, L. E. (2021). Mindfulness-Based Interventions in Cancer Survivors: A Systematic Review of Participants’ Adherence to Home Practice. Patient preference and adherence, 15, 1225–1242. https://doi.org/10.2147/PPA.S267064

 

Abstract

Background

Although mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) have demonstrated efficacy for alleviating psychological distress in cancer survivors, little is known about the extent to which participants adhere to assigned home practice. The purpose of this systematic review was to summarize and appraise the literature on rates and correlates of adherence to mindfulness home practice among cancer survivors.

Methods

Four databases (PubMed, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, PsycInfo, and CINAHL) were searched for studies published before October 15, 2020. Articles were included if they evaluated the benefits of an MBI program for adults with cancer.

Results

Twenty-one studies (N=1811 participants) meeting the inclusion criteria were identified (randomized controlled trials (n=13), non-randomized controlled designs (n=2), single-group studies (n=6)). The pooled adherence rate for participants’ home practice was 60% of the assigned amount, which equated to 27 min per day during the intervention period. There was some evidence for a relationship between home practice of mindfulness techniques and improvements in mood, stress, anxiety, depression, and fear of cancer recurrence (correlation coefficients ranged from 0.33 to 0.67). Factors including marital status, mood disturbance at baseline, intervention modality, and personality traits were evaluated in relation to adherence to home practice, but the current literature was inadequate to evaluate whether a relationship exists.

Conclusion

Adherence to mindfulness home practice among cancer survivors is suboptimal, and most of the correlates of adherence studied to date are non-modifiable. More research is warranted to scrutinize the role of home practice in mindfulness-based interventions, including assessment of modifiable factors influencing adherence to improve benefits for this population.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8200136/

 

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Caregivers with Self-Compassion and Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Caregivers with Self-Compassion and Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Being more aware of our present moment experience also helps with self-care, something that caregivers often overlook. With a mindfulness practice you can notice sooner when you feel tired, or are having an emotional experience, and make sure you stop and look after yourself.” – Naomi Stoll

 

There is a tremendous demand for caregiving in the US. It is estimated that over 65 million (29% of the adult population) provides care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged, averaging 20 hours per week spent caring for their loved ones. This caregiving comes at a cost exacting a tremendous toll on caregivers’ health and well-being. Caregiving has been associated with increased levels of depression and anxiety as well as higher use of psychoactive medications, poorer self-reported physical health, compromised immune function, and increased mortality. Mindfulness practice for caregivers has been shown to help them cope with the physical and psychological demands of caregiving.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Short- and Long-term Causal Relationships Between Self-compassion, Trait Mindfulness, Caregiver Stress, and Depressive Symptoms in Family Caregivers of Patients with Lung Cancer.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8096886/)  Hsieh and colleagues recruited family caregivers of patients diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer.  To investigate longitudinal changes, they were administered questionnaires initially and 2, 5, and 8 months later. They were measured for mindfulness, depression, perceived stress, and self-compassion.

 

They found that over time depressed caregivers had significant declines in their depression levels. They also found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of depression and perceived stress, and the higher the levels of self-compassion and the higher the levels of depression the lower the levels of self-compassion and the higher the levels of perceived stress. Further they found that over the 4 measurements self-compassion at time 1 was associated with higher mindfulness at time 2 which was associated with lower perceived stress at time 3 which was associated with lower depression at time 4.

 

It has been well established that mindfulness is associated with greater self-compassion and lower stress and depression. The present study found that depression tends to decrease over time associated with self-compassion and mindfulness. In particular self-compassion appears to be important for lowering caregiver depression levels over time and it does so by being associated with higher mindfulness which is associated with lower stress levels which, in turn, are associated with lower depression.

 

The present study is correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. But, in combination with prior manipulative research it can be suggested that training in self-compassion and mindfulness should be very beneficial for caregivers of lung cancer patients lowering their stress and depression.

 

So, improve the psychological well-being of caregivers with self-compassion and mindfulness.

 

The big open secret is that the key to reducing caregiver burnout and compassion fatigue lies in what can be construed to some as the seemingly counterintuitive wisdom of mindfulness.“ – Audrey Meinertzhagen

 

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

 

Hsieh, C. C., Lin, Z. Z., Ho, C. C., Yu, C. J., Chen, H. J., Chen, Y. W., & Hsiao, F. H. (2021). The Short- and Long-term Causal Relationships Between Self-compassion, Trait Mindfulness, Caregiver Stress, and Depressive Symptoms in Family Caregivers of Patients with Lung Cancer. Mindfulness, 1–10. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-021-01642-4

 

Abstract

Objectives

Using a prospective longitudinal design, this paper examines a serial mediation model of the associations between self-compassion, trait mindfulness, caregiver stress, and depressive symptoms among the family caregivers of patients with lung cancer.

Methods

A four-wave design was used, with initial assessment (T1) and three follow-ups, at the 2nd month (T2), the 5th month (T3), and the 8th month (T4). A total of 123 family caregivers completed the baseline measurements, including caregiver stress, self-compassion, trait mindfulness, and depressive symptoms. Data were analyzed by serial mediation models to determine the causal ordering of these variables.

Results

Nearly one-quarter of the family caregivers suffered from clinically significant depressive symptoms and the severity of their depression remained unchanged throughout the 8-month follow-up period. Both cross-sectional and longitudinal path analyses revealed that the relationship between self-compassion and depressive symptoms was mediated sequentially by trait mindfulness and caregiver stress. The subscale analysis indicated that the association of higher compassionate action with fewer depressive symptoms was through chain-mediating effects of higher mindful awareness and lower caregiver stress.

Conclusions

Family caregivers who have higher levels of self-compassion tend to have more mindfulness; greater mindfulness leads to lower levels of perceived caregiving stress which, in turn, links to fewer symptoms of depression. Both self-compassion and mindfulness could be regarded as protective factors for caregivers to reduce caregiving stress and depression.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8096886/

 

Mindfulness Improves Physical and Mental Well-Being

Mindfulness Improves Physical and Mental Well-Being

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“scientists have found that practicing mindfulness is associated with changes in the structure and function of the brain as well as changes in our body’s response to stress, suggesting that this practice has important impacts on our physical and emotional health.” –  University of Minnesota

 

Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that the development of mindfulness has positive benefits for the individual’s mentalphysical, and spiritual life. Mindfulness 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 adolescents, to the elderly. And it appears to be beneficial across genders, personalitiesrace, 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.

 

Research on mindfulness effects on mental and physical health has exploded over the last few decades. So, it makes sense to pause and examine what has been learned. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based interventions: an overall review” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8083197/ )  Zhang and colleagues reviewed and summarized the randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses of the effects of mindfulness-based practices on mental and physical health.

 

They report that the published research studies and meta-analyses found that mindfulness-based practices produced significant improvements in mental health including anxiety, depression, anger, prosocial behavior, loneliness, physiological and psychological indicators of stress, insomnia, eating disorders, addictions, psychoses, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism. They also report that mindfulness-based practices produced significant improvements in physical health including pain, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), aggression, and violence.

 

In addition, mindfulness-based practices produced safe, cost-effective improvements in professional and healthcare settings, in schools, and in the workplace. Further they report that mindfulness-based practices produced significant changes in the structure and activity of the nervous system, improvements in immune functioning and physiological markers of stress.

 

The review of the published research has provided a compelling case for the utilization of mindfulness-based practices for a myriad of psychological and physical problems in humans of all ages with and without disease. The range and depth of effects are unprecedented making a strong case for the routine training in mindfulness for the improvement of their well-being.

 

So, mindfulness improves physical and mental well-being.

 

engaging in mindfulness meditation cultivates our ability to both focus and broaden our attention, which is a practical way to elicit psychological well-being.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

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

 

Zhang, D., Lee, E., Mak, E., Ho, C. Y., & Wong, S. (2021). Mindfulness-based interventions: an overall review. British medical bulletin, ldab005. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1093/bmb/ldab005

 

Abstract

Introduction

This is an overall review on mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs).

Sources of data

We identified studies in PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, AMED, Web of Science and Google Scholar using keywords including ‘mindfulness’, ‘meditation’, and ‘review’, ‘meta-analysis’ or their variations.

Areas of agreement

MBIs are effective for improving many biopsychosocial conditions, including depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, addiction, psychosis, pain, hypertension, weight control, cancer-related symptoms and prosocial behaviours. It is found to be beneficial in the healthcare settings, in schools and workplace but further research is warranted to look into its efficacy on different problems. MBIs are relatively safe, but ethical aspects should be considered. Mechanisms are suggested in both empirical and neurophysiological findings. Cost-effectiveness is found in treating some health conditions.

Areas of controversy

Inconclusive or only preliminary evidence on the effects of MBIs on PTSD, ADHD, ASD, eating disorders, loneliness and physical symptoms of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and respiratory conditions. Furthermore, some beneficial effects are not confirmed in subgroup populations. Cost-effectiveness is yet to confirm for many health conditions and populations.

Growing points

Many mindfulness systematic reviews and meta-analyses indicate low quality of included studies, hence high-quality studies with adequate sample size and longer follow-up period are needed.

Areas timely for developing research

More research is needed on online mindfulness trainings and interventions to improve biopsychosocial health during the COVID-19 pandemic; Deeper understanding of the mechanisms of MBIs integrating both empirical and neurophysiological findings; Long-term compliance and effects of MBIs; and development of mindfulness plus (mindfulness+) or personalized mindfulness programs to elevate the effectiveness for different purposes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8083197/

Improve the Respiratory Symptoms of Lung Cancer Patients with Qigong Practice

Improve the Respiratory Symptoms of Lung Cancer Patients with Qigong Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Studies show that qigong practice can have many positive effects, particularly among patients with cancer, chronic illnesses, and breathing problems, as well as older adults. Benefits include improved lung function, mood, sleep, and quality of life, as well as reduced stress, pain, anxiety, and fatigue.” – Sloan Kettering Institute

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia are common symptoms in the aftermath of surviving cancer. These symptoms markedly reduce the quality of life of the patients.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including stress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depressionTai Chi or Qigong practice has been shown to improve quality of life, reduce fatigue, and lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. They are very gentle and safe practices. The research on the effectiveness of Qigong training for lung cancer patients is sparse. So, it makes sense to Investigate the ability of Qigong training to improve the symptoms of lung cancer.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effectiveness of Qigong in Managing a Cluster of Symptoms (Breathlessness-Fatigue-Anxiety) in Patients with Lung Cancer: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8047940/ )  Molassiotis and colleagues recruited patients who had complete treatment for lung cancer and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control group or to engage in Qigong practice. They were trained in Qigong in 2 weekly 90-minute practices for 2 weeks and then practiced Qigong at home for 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week, for 4 weeks. They were measured before and after training and at 12 weeks for disease status, fatigue, dyspnea (difficulty with breathing), anxiety, depression, cough frequency intensity and bothersomeness, and quality of life.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline the group that practiced Qigong had significant reductions in fatigue, dyspnea (difficulty with breathing), anxiety, and cough score that were maintained at the 12-week follow-up. These effects were significantly greater in men than in women. Hence, Qigong practice appeared to improve the symptoms in lung cancer patients.

 

It should be noted that 2 weeks of Qigong training followed by 4 weeks of home practice is a rather low amount of practice relative to what is usually prescribed in other controlled research, as much as 6 months of practice. In addition, only 62% of the Qigong group completed the practice with a 62% adherence rate. So, the effective dose of Qigong was low. This suggests that if practice was extended over longer periods of time greater effectiveness would have been observed. Nevertheless, Qigong practice, even in low dose, had positive benefits for lung cancer patients.

 

So, improve the respiratory symptoms of lung cancer patients with Qigong practice.

 

Qigong improved physical and mental well-being as well as quality-of-life in patients with lung cancer.” – Patient Power

 

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

 

Molassiotis, A., Vu, D. V., & Ching, S. (2021). The Effectiveness of Qigong in Managing a Cluster of Symptoms (Breathlessness-Fatigue-Anxiety) in Patients with Lung Cancer: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Integrative cancer therapies, 20, 15347354211008253. https://doi.org/10.1177/15347354211008253

 

Abstract

Background and Purpose:

Qigong is used by cancer patients, but its effect is not adequately evaluated to date. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of Qigong for the management of a symptom cluster comprising fatigue, dyspnea, and anxiety in patients with lung cancer.

Methodology:

A total of 156 lung cancer patients participated in this trial, and they were randomized to a Qigong group (6 weeks of intervention) or a waitlist control group receiving usual care. The symptom cluster was assessed at baseline, at the end of treatment (primary outcome), and at 12 weeks, alongside measures of cough and quality of life (QOL).

Results:

There was no significant interaction effect between group and time for the symptom cluster overall and for fatigue and anxiety. However, a significant trend towards improvement was observed on fatigue (P = .004), dyspnea (P = .002), and anxiety (P = .049) in the Qigong group from baseline assessment to the end of intervention at the 6th week (within-group changes). Improvements in dyspnea and in the secondary outcomes of cough, global health status, functional well-being and QOL symptom scales were statistically significant between the 2 groups (P = .001, .014, .021, .001, and .002, respectively).

Conclusion:

Qigong did not alleviate the symptom cluster experience. Nevertheless, this intervention was effective in reducing dyspnea and cough, and improving QOL. More than 6 weeks were needed, however, for detecting the effect of Qigong on improving dyspnea. Furthermore, men benefited more than women. It may not be beneficial to use Qigong to manage the symptom cluster consisting of fatigue, dyspnea, and anxiety, but it may be effective in managing respiratory symptoms (secondary outcomes needing further verification in future research). Future studies targeting symptom clusters should ensure the appropriateness of the combination of symptoms.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8047940/

 

Improve Lymphedema Symptoms Among Breast Cancer Survivors with Yoga Therapy

Improve Lymphedema Symptoms Among Breast Cancer Survivors with Yoga Therapy

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Research in breast cancer patients has shown that yoga may be able to help: improve physical functioning, reduce fatigue, reduce stress, improve sleep, improve quality of life.” – Vicki Flannery

 

Because of great advances in treatment, many patients today are surviving cancer. But cancer survivors frequently suffer from a range of persistent psychological and physical residual symptoms that  impair their quality of life. A common side effect of cancer treatment is breast cancer-related lymphedema. It “comprises of a set of pathological conditions, in which protein-rich fluid accumulates in soft tissues because of lymphatic flow interruption. BCRL is an agglomeration of symptoms such as swelling of arm, decreased physical functioning and body motion, altered sensation in limbs, and fatigue accompanied by psychological stress.” A safe and effective treatments for Lymphedema is needed.

 

Mindfulness training and exercise have been shown to help with general cancer recovery. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve the residual symptoms in cancer survivors.  Yoga is both an exercise and a mindfulness practice that has also been shown to be helpful with the residual symptoms in cancer survivors, the psychological and physical ability to deal with cancer treatment and improves sleep. The research on yoga practice as a treatment for patients recovering from breast cancer with Lymphedema has been accumulating. It is thus reasonable to take a step back and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Managing Lymphedema, Increasing Range of Motion, and Quality of Life through Yoga Therapy among Breast Cancer Survivors: A Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8023442/ )  Saraswathi and colleagues review and summarize the published research of the effects of yoga practice on the Lymphedema with breast cancer survivors. They identified 7 published studies.

 

They report that the published studies used a variety of yoga styles and found that yoga therapy was safe and produced positive benefits for the symptoms of Lymphedema with breast cancer survivors. In particular, there were significant improvements in the patients’ quality of life, range of motion, musculoskeletal symptoms, and survival. This suggests that yoga therapy is a safe and effective means of reducing the suffering of these cancer survivors. The authors note, though, that the studies were in general small and a large randomized control trial with an active control condition is needed.

 

So, improve lymphedema symptoms among breast cancer survivors with yoga therapy.

 

When you’re in recovery or treatment for breast cancer, the medication and treatments come with many side effects that can take an unwanted toll on your body and spirit. . . One such therapy has already been proven to help breast cancer survivors and patients — yoga.” – Rocky Mountain Cancer Center

 

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

 

Saraswathi, V., Latha, S., Niraimathi, K., & Vidhubala, E. (2021). Managing Lymphedema, Increasing Range of Motion, and Quality of Life through Yoga Therapy among Breast Cancer Survivors: A Systematic Review. International journal of yoga, 14(1), 3–17. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_73_19

 

Abstract

Lymphedema is a common complication of breast cancer treatment. Yoga is a nonconventional and noninvasive intervention that is reported to show beneficial effects in patients with breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL). This study attempted to systematically review the effect of yoga therapy on managing lymphedema, increasing the range of motion (ROM), and quality of life (QOL) among breast cancer survivors. The review search included studies from electronic bibliographic databases, namely Medline (PubMed), Embase, and Google Scholar till June 2019. Studies which assessed the outcome variables such as QOL and management of lymphedema or related physical symptoms as effect of yoga intervention were considered for review. Two authors individually reviewed, selected according to Cochrane guidelines, and extracted the articles using Covidence software. Screening process of this review resulted in a total of seven studies. The different styles of yoga employed in the studies were Iyengar yoga (n = 2), Satyananda yoga (n = 2), Hatha yoga (n = 2), and Ashtanga yoga (n = 1). The length of intervention and post intervention analysis ranged from 8 weeks to 12 months. Four studies included home practice sessions. QOL, ROM, and musculoskeletal symptoms showed improvement in all the studies. Yoga could be a safe and feasible exercise intervention for BCRL patients. Evidence generated from these studies was of moderate strength. Further long-term clinical trials with large sample size are essential for the development and standardization of yoga intervention guidelines for BCRL patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8023442/

 

Spirituality Improves Posttraumatic Growth with Mothers of Children with Cancer

Spirituality Improves Posttraumatic Growth with Mothers of Children with Cancer

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“spirituality can play a critical role in the way traumas are understood, how they are managed, and how they are ultimately resolved.” – Kenneth Pargamen

 

Modern living is stressful under the best of conditions. But dealing with the trauma of having a child with cancer the levels of stress and anxiety are markedly increased. It is important for people to engage in practices that can help them control their responses to the stress and their levels of anxiety. Spirituality, a sense of inner peace and harmony, and religiosity are known to help with a wide range of physical and psychological problems. It is not known if spirituality affects the symptoms or posttraumatic growth produced by the trauma of having a child with cancer.

 

In today’s Research News article “Posttraumatic Growth and Spirituality in Mothers of Children with Pediatric Cancer.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7999482/ ) Czyżowska and colleagues recruited mothers of children (average age of 6.4 years) who were in the hospital being treated for cancer. They completed measures of post-traumatic growth, including changes in self-perception, changes in relationships with others, appreciation of life, and spiritual changes; and spirituality including religious attitudes, ethical sensitivity, and harmony.

 

They found that the higher the levels of spirituality, including ethical sensitivity, and harmony, the higher the levels of post-traumatic growth including relationships with others, and spiritual changes. The highest levels of post-traumatic growth that the mothers had were in in appreciation of life. In addition, the mothers with the greatest changes in post-traumatic growth had significantly higher levels of spirituality.

 

These results suggest that mothers of children with pediatric cancer demonstrate post-traumatic growth, especially in appreciation of life. In addition, they found that this post-traumatic growth was associated with spirituality. It is interesting that religious attitudes were not associated with growth. Hence, having inner peace and harmony (spirituality) and not religiosity is associated with growth. This raises the possibility that treating mothers’ spirituality may assist them in coping with pediatric cancer. Being better able to cope with the stresses should allow the mothers to better work with their children, promoting their health and well-being.

 

So, spirituality improves posttraumatic growth with mothers of children with cancer.

 

positive religious coping, religious openness, readiness to face existential questions, religious participation, and intrinsic religiousness are typically associated with posttraumatic growth.” – Annick Shaw

 

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

 

Czyżowska, N., Raszka, M., Kalus, A., & Czyżowska, D. (2021). Posttraumatic Growth and Spirituality in Mothers of Children with Pediatric Cancer. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(6), 2890. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18062890

 

Abstract

A child’s cancer, as a life-threatening illness, is classified as a traumatic event both for the child him-/herself and for his/her relatives. Struggling with a traumatic experience can bring positive consequences for an individual, which is referred to as posttraumatic growth. The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between posttraumatic growth and spirituality understood as a personal resource in mothers of children with pediatric cancer. In total, 55 mothers whose children were in the phase of treatment and who had been staying with them in the hospital filled in a Posttraumatic Growth Inventory, Self-description Questionnaire of Spirituality, and the author’s short questionnaire on demographic variables and information on the child and his/her disease. A high level of posttraumatic development, especially in the area of life appreciation, was observed in the examined mothers. Spirituality was positively related to the emergence of positive change, in two particular components, ethical sensitivity and harmony. It seems that taking into account the area of spirituality when planning interventions and providing support in this group could foster coping with the situation and emergence of posttraumatic growth.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7999482/

 

Tai Chi Practice Improves the Symptoms of Multiple Diseases

Tai Chi Practice Improves the Symptoms of Multiple Diseases

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“In addition to easing balance problems, and possibly other symptoms, tai chi can help ease stress and anxiety and strengthen all parts of the body, with few if any harmful side effects.” Peter Wayne

 

Tai Chi is an ancient mindfulness practice involving slow prescribed movements. It is gentle and completely safe, can be used with the elderly and sickly, is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility or even public park, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can also be practiced in social groups without professional supervision. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. Indeed, studies have shown that Tai Chi practice is effective in improving the symptoms of many different diseases. The evidence is accumulating. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned about the effectiveness of different Tai Chi practices for different disease conditions.

 

In today’s Research News article “.Clinical Evidence of Tai Chi Exercise Prescriptions: A Systematic Review” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7972853/ ) Huang and colleagues review and summarize the published randomized controlled trials on the effectiveness of different Tai Chi practices for different disease conditions. They identified 139 published randomized controlled trials utilizing a number of different Tai Chi styles and numbers of forms. Yang style was by far the most frequent style and 24 forms was the most frequent number of forms employed.

 

They report that the published research found that Tai Chi practice produced significant improvement in the symptoms of musculoskeletal system or connective tissue diseases such as osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic low back pain.; on circulatory system diseases such as hypertension, stroke, coronary heart disease, and chronic heart failure; on mental and behavioral disorders such as depression, cognitive impairment, and intellectual disabilities; on nervous system diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and sleep disorders; on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); on endocrine, nutritional, or metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome; on the physical and mental state of cancer patients, and on traumatic brain injury and urinary tract disorders; on balance control and flexibility and falls in older adults.

 

These are remarkable findings. Tai Chi practice appears to be a safe and effective treatment for the symptoms of a wide variety of diseases. It doesn’t cure the disease. Rather if alleviates the symptoms. It is not known the mechanisms by which Tai Chi has these benefits. Future research needs to further explore what facets or effects of Tai Chi practice are responsible for the disease symptom improvements.

 

So, Tai Chi practice improves the symptoms of multiple diseases.

 

Tai Chi and Qigong are evidence-based approaches to improve health-related quality of life, and they may be effective for a range of physical health conditions.” – Ryan Abbott

 

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

 

Huang, J., Wang, D., & Wang, J. (2021). Clinical Evidence of Tai Chi Exercise Prescriptions: A Systematic Review. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 2021, 5558805. https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/5558805

 

Abstract

Objectives

This systematic review aims to summarize the existing literature on Tai Chi randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and recommend Tai Chi exercise prescriptions for different diseases and populations.

Methods

A systematic search for Tai Chi RCTs was conducted in five electronic databases (PubMed, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, EBSCO, and Web of Science) from their inception to December 2019. SPSS 20.0 software and Microsoft Excel 2019 were used to analyze the data, and the risk of bias tool in the RevMan 5.3.5 software was used to evaluate the methodological quality of RCTs.

Results

A total of 139 articles were identified, including diseased populations (95, 68.3%) and healthy populations (44, 31.7%). The diseased populations included the following 10 disease types: musculoskeletal system or connective tissue diseases (34.7%), circulatory system diseases (23.2%), mental and behavioral disorders (12.6%), nervous system diseases (11.6%), respiratory system diseases (6.3%), endocrine, nutritional or metabolic diseases (5.3%), neoplasms (3.2%), injury, poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes (1.1%), genitourinary system diseases (1.1%), and diseases of the eye and adnexa (1.1%). Tai Chi exercise prescription was generally classified as moderate intensity. The most commonly applied Tai Chi style was Yang style (92, 66.2%), and the most frequently specified Tai Chi form was simplified 24-form Tai Chi (43, 30.9%). 12 weeks and 24 weeks, 2-3 times a week, and 60 min each time was the most commonly used cycle, frequency, and time of exercise in Tai Chi exercise prescriptions.

Conclusions

We recommend the more commonly used Tai Chi exercise prescriptions for different diseases and populations based on clinical evidence of Tai Chi. Further clinical research on Tai Chi should be combined with principles of exercise prescription to conduct large-sample epidemiological studies and long-term prospective follow-up studies to provide more substantive clinical evidence for Tai Chi exercise prescriptions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7972853/

 

The Well-Being and Quality of Life in Cancer Patients are Related to Spirituality

The Well-Being and Quality of Life in Cancer Patients are Related to Spirituality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Many patients with cancer rely on spiritual or religious beliefs and practices to help them cope with their disease. This is called spiritual coping.” – National Cancer Institute

 

A cancer diagnosis has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing experience. These feeling can result from changes in body image, changes to family and work roles, feelings of grief at these losses, and physical symptoms such as pain, nausea, or fatigue. People might also fear death, suffering, pain, or all the unknown things that lie ahead. So, coping with the emotions and stress of a surviving cancer is a challenge and there are no simple treatments for these psychological sequelae of cancer.

 

Religion and spirituality become much more important to people when they survive cancer. It is thought that people take comfort in the spiritual when facing mortality. Hence, spirituality may be useful for cancer patients to cope with their illness and the psychological difficulties resulting from the disease. Thus, there is a need to study the relationships of spirituality on the well-being and quality of life of cancer patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “Association between spiritual well-being, quality of life, anxiety and depression in patients with gynecological cancer in China.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7793354/) Chen and colleagues recruited women with primary gynecological cancer and had them complete measures of quality of life with cancer, global health, spiritual well-being, anxiety, and depression.

 

They found that the higher the levels of spiritual well-being the higher the levels of global health and quality of life and the lower the levels of depression and anxiety. Multiple regression analysis revealed that religion, depression, anxiety and quality of life were the strongest predictors of spiritual well-being.

 

These findings are correlational and as a result causation cannot be determined. Regardless, the results clearly show that spiritual well-being is significantly related to better health and quality of life and lower psychological problems in women with primary gynecological cancer. These findings are similar to those seen with other forms of cancer that spirituality is associated with the patient’s quality of life and well-being. This raises the possibility that promoting spirituality in cancer patients may improve their physical and psychological well-being. It remains for future research to explore this possibility.

 

So, the well-being and quality of life in cancer patients are related to spirituality.

 

Consistent associations between spirituality, spiritual well-being, and health outcomes found in published studies highlight the importance of providing spiritual care to enhance cancer patients’ spiritual well-being and address their spiritual needs.” – Yi-Hui Lee

 

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

 

Chen, J., You, H., Liu, Y., Kong, Q., Lei, A., & Guo, X. (2021). Association between spiritual well-being, quality of life, anxiety and depression in patients with gynaecological cancer in China. Medicine, 100(1), e24264. https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000024264

 

Abstract

The physical and psychological condition of patients with gynaecological cancer has received much attention, but there is little research on spirituality in palliative care. This study aimed to investigate spiritual well-being and its association with quality of life, anxiety and depression in patients with gynaecological cancer. A cross-sectional study was conducted in China in 2019 with 705 patients diagnosed with primary gynaecological cancer. European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer quality of life instruments (EORTC QLQ-SWB32 and EORTC QLQ-C30) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale were used to measure spiritual well-being, quality of life, anxiety and depression. Univariate and multiple linear regression analyses were performed to examine associations between spiritual well-being, quality of life, anxiety and depression. Functioning scales and global health status were positively correlated with spiritual well-being (P < .05). Anxiety and depression were negatively correlated with spiritual well-being (P < .05). Depression (−0.362, P < .001) was the strongest predictor of Existential score. Anxiety (−0.522, P < .001) was the only predictor of Relationship with self. Depression (−0.350, P < .001) and Global health (0.099, P = .011) were the strongest predictors of Relationship with others. Religion (−0.204, P < .001) and Depression (−0.196, P < .001) were the strongest predictors of Relationship with someone or something greater. Global health (0.337, P < .001) and Depression (−0.144, P < .001) were the strongest predictors of Global-SWB. Well spiritual well-being is associated with lower anxiety and depression, and better quality of life. Health providers should provide more spiritual care for non-religious patients and combine spiritual care with psychological counselling to help patients with gynaecological cancer, especially those who have low quality of life or severe symptoms, or experience anxiety or depression.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7793354/