Improve Immune function with a Meditation Retreat

Improve Immune function with a Meditation Retreat

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

So, improve immune function with a meditation retreat.

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

SIGNIFICANCE

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

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

Go to:

ABSTRACT

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

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

 

Meditation Increases a Biological Marker that Protects Against Age-Related Decline

Meditation Increases a Biological Marker that Protects Against Age-Related Decline

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

meditation may have salutary effects on telomere length by reducing cognitive stress and stress arousal and increasing positive states of mind and hormonal factors that may promote telomere maintenance.” – Elissa Epel

 

One of the most exciting findings in molecular biology in recent years was the discovery of the telomere. This is a component of the DNA molecule that is attached to the ends of the strands. Recent genetic research has suggested that the telomere and its regulation is the biological mechanism that produces aging. As we age the tail of the DNA molecule called the telomere shortens. When it gets very short cells have a more and more difficult time reproducing and become more likely to produce defective cells. On a cellular basis, this is what produces aging. As we get older the new cells produced are more and more likely to be defective. The shortening of the telomere occurs each time the cell is replaced. So, slowly as we age it gets shorter and shorter.

 

Fortunately, there is a mechanism to protect the telomere. There is an enzyme in the body called telomerase that helps to prevent shortening of the telomere. It also promotes cell survival and enhances stress-resistance.  Research suggests that processes that increase telomerase activity tend to slow the aging process by protecting the telomere.  One activity that seems to increase telomerase activity and protect telomere length is mindfulness practice. Hence, engaging in mindfulness practices may protect the telomere and thereby slow the aging process.

 

In today’s Research News article “Impact of Meditation-Based Lifestyle Practices on Mindfulness, Wellbeing, and Plasma Telomerase Levels: A Case-Control Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.846085/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1827462_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20220308_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))%2c ) Dasanayaka  and colleagues examine the telomerase activity in long-term meditators in comparison to matched control participants.

 

They report that the long-term meditators have significantly higher levels of telomerase in their bloodstream, mindfulness, and quality of life. They also found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of telomerase.

 

These findings support the contention that meditation can help protect against the physical and mental deterioration that occurs with aging by increasing the levels of telomerase thereby protecting the telomere.

 

Meditation also helps to protect our telomeres, the protective caps at the end of our chromosomes. Telomeres are longest when we’re young and naturally shorten as we age. Shorter telomeres are associated with stress and higher risk for many diseases including cancer, and depend on the telomerase enzyme to enable them to rebuild and repair.” – Paula Watkins

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Dasanayaka NN, Sirisena ND and Samaranayake N (2022) Impact of Meditation-Based Lifestyle Practices on Mindfulness, Wellbeing, and Plasma Telomerase Levels: A Case-Control Study. Front. Psychol. 13:846085. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.846085

 

Meditation involves psychophysical training which can result in a range of benefits including creating a calm mind and increasing self-awareness, relaxation, and tranquility. Increasing evidence, mostly based on short-term focused interventions, suggests that meditation-based activities may also have favorable effects on physical wellbeing including cellular aging. Hence, the aim of this study was to investigate if continued practice of meditation benefited quality of life, state of mindfulness, and plasma telomerase level in healthy adults. 30 long-term and skilled meditators were recruited from meditation centers in different parts of the island following a two-tier screening process of 70 eligible participants and 30 age- and gender-matched healthy non-meditators were recruited from the community. Mindfulness level and the quality of life were measured using the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) and Quality of Life Questionnaire, respectively, while the levels of plasma telomerase enzyme were measured using Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay. Skilled meditators had a better mindfulness level (p < 0.001) and quality of life (QOL; p < 0.001) than those in the comparison group. Similarly, higher plasma telomerase levels were observed in skilled meditators compared to non-meditators (p = 0.002). Trait mindfulness level and plasma telomerase level showed a significant relationship with the duration of meditation practice (p = 0.046 and p = 0.011, respectively). Regression analysis indicated that trait mindfulness level (p < 0.001) significantly predicts the plasma telomerase level. The findings of this comparative study add to the evidence on sustained benefits of meditation on wellbeing and healthy aging and supports incorporating meditation-based activities into lifestyle practices.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.846085/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1827462_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20220308_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))%2c

 

Mindfulness Improves Cognitive Function in Older Adults by Altering Brain Gene Expression

Mindfulness Improves Cognitive Function in Older Adults by Altering Brain Gene Expression

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness may target inflammation, stress-related pathways, and neuroplasticity, thus reducing the risk of developing cerebrovascular disease and age-related neurodegeneration that could lead to the development of dementia.” – Ted Kheng Siang Ng

 

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. The mechanisms by which mindfulness affects the brain and reduces cognitive decline need to be investigated.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness intervention improves cognitive function in older adults by enhancing the level of miRNA-29c in neuron-derived extracellular vesicles.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8575875/ ) Hashizume and colleagues recruited healthy elderly adults aged 65 and over and administered either 4 weeks , 3 times per week for 60 minutes of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or a no-treatment wait-list condition. They were measured before and after treatment for cognitive function including delayed recall, visuospatial/executive function, attention, abstraction, language, naming, and orientation tasks. They also had blood drawn and assayed for extracellular vesicles and mRNA in the vesicles.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait list control, after Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) there were significant improvement in cognitive function including delayed recall, visuospatial/executive function, attention, naming, and orientation tasks. The blood assays revealed that in comparison to baseline and the wait list control, after MBSR there were significant reductions in miR-29c in the extracellular vesicles and decreased expression of the genes DNMT3A, DNMT3B, and BACE1 in in the extracellular vesicles. In another study with mice they found that injection into the brain ventricles of miR-29c prevented cognitive decline in the animals.

 

The results suggest that mindfulness training improves cognitive function in the elderly. These improvements in cognition have been previously observed by other researchers. The new findings in the present research are the changes in the extracellular vesicles found in the plasma. The expression of the mRNA miR-29c controls the gene expressions of DNMT3A, DNMT3B, and BACE1. These genes are associated with the loss of neurons in the brain. With aging there is a degeneration of the brain including losses of neurons. Reductions in the expression of the genes that tend to produce neuronal loss after Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) suggests that the training protects the brain from the loss of neurons. This may represent the mechanism by which mindfulness training protects the brain in aging individual which results in improved cognitive function. It may be how mindfulness training stops cognitive decline in the elderly.

 

So, mindfulness improves cognitive function in older adults by altering brain gene expression.

 

an 8-week mindfulness-based training program improved cognition . . . in cognitively normal older adults, and that these improvements were associated with increased intrinsic connectivity within the default mode network.” – Gunes Sevinc

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Hashizume, S., Nakano, M., Kubota, K., Sato, S., Himuro, N., Kobayashi, E., Takaoka, A., & Fujimiya, M. (2021). Mindfulness intervention improves cognitive function in older adults by enhancing the level of miRNA-29c in neuron-derived extracellular vesicles. Scientific reports, 11(1), 21848. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-01318-y

 

Abstract

Although mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) improves cognitive function, the mechanism is not clear. In this study, people aged 65 years and older were recruited from elderly communities in Chitose City, Japan, and assigned to a non-MBSR group or a MBSR group. Before and after the intervention, the Japanese version of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA-J) was administered, and blood samples were collected. Then, neuron-derived extracellular vesicles (NDEVs) were isolated from blood samples, and microRNAs, as well as the target mRNAs, were evaluated in NDEVs. A linear mixed model analysis showed significant effects of the MBSR x time interaction on the MoCA-J scores, the expression of miRNA(miR)-29c, DNA methyltransferase 3 alpha (DNMT3A), and DNMT3B in NDEVs. These results indicate that MBSR can improve cognitive function by increasing the expression of miR-29c and decreasing the expression of DNMT3A, as well as DNMT3B, in neurons. It was also found that intracerebroventricular injection of miR-29c mimic into 5xFAD mice prevented cognitive decline, as well as neuronal loss in the subiculum area, by down-regulating Dnmt3a  and Dnmt3b  in the hippocampus. The present study suggests that MBSR can prevent neuronal loss and cognitive impairment by increasing the neuronal expression of miR-29c.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8575875/

 

Improve Breast Cancer Survivors Physical and Psychological Health with Yoga

Improve Breast Cancer Survivors Physical and Psychological Health with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“physical activity after a breast cancer diagnosis has potentially “favorable influence on breast cancer incidence and outcome.” Yoga can not only be an effective, low-impact exercise, but it has also been shown in numerous studies to reduce fatigue, improve physical function and quality of sleep, and contribute to an overall better quality of life.” – Gretchen Stelter

 

Because of great advances in treatment, many breast cancer patients today are surviving. But breast cancer survivors frequently suffer from a range of persistent psychological and physical residual symptoms that impair their quality of life. 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 mechanisms of how yoga produces these benefits are unknown.

 

In today’s Research News article “The high dose of vitamin D supplementation combined with yoga training improve the leukocytes cell survival-related gene expression in breast cancer survivors.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8403369/ ) Zare and colleagues recruited adult survivors of breast cancer and randomly assigned them to receive a high dose of vitamin D (4000 IU), a high dose of vitamin D (4000 IU) plus 12 weeks of yoga practice, or a low dose of vitamin D (2000 IU) plus 12 weeks of yoga practice. Yoga practice consisted of postures, breathing exercises, and meditation and was practiced for 60-90 minutes twice a week for 12 weeks. The participants were measured before and after training for anxiety, body size, aerobic fitness (1-mile walk), shoulder range of motion, blood cortisol, and expression of leukocyte survival genes p53, NF-κB, Bcl2, and Bax.

 

They found that yoga practice resulted in a significant decrease in body fat percentage and anxiety levels and a significant increase in aerobic fitness and shoulder flexibility regardless of the vitamin D dosage. They also found that the high dose of vitamin D produced a significant up regulation of the leukocyte survival genes p53 and Bcl2 regardless of yoga practice.

 

These results suggest/that yoga practice is beneficial for breast cancer survivors improving their psychological and physical well being while high dose vitamin D supplementation improves their cell survival genes. It should be noted that there wasn’t an active comparison, control, condition for yoga practice such as another form of exercise. So, it is unclear if the effects were due to yoga practice per se or to the exercise provided by yoga practice. But previous controlled studies of the effects of yoga practice have shown that yoga practice reduces anxiety and body fat. So, the effects seen here are likely due to yoga practice. Hence the results suggest that the combination of yoga practice plus high dose vitamin D supplementation should be recommended for breast cancer survivors.

 

So, improve breast cancer survivors physical and psychological health with yoga.

 

Research suggests that there are real benefits to regularly practising yoga after a breast cancer diagnosis, particularly for emotional wellbeing, cancer-related fatigue and pain.” – Brest Cancer Now

 

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

 

Khedmati Zare, V., Javadi, M., Amani-Shalamzari, S., & Kaviani, M. (2021). The high dose of vitamin D supplementation combined with yoga training improve the leukocytes cell survival-related gene expression in breast cancer survivors. Nutrition & metabolism, 18(1), 80. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12986-021-00607-7

 

Abstract

Background

This study aimed to examine the effect of yoga training combined with vitamin D supplementation on the expression of survival-related genes in leukocytes and psycho-physical status in breast cancer survivors.

Methods

Thirty breast cancer survivor women (age, 48 ± 8 yrs) were randomly assigned into three groups: high dose (4000 IU) of vitamin D supplementation (HD) (n = 10); yoga training with a high dose of vitamin D (Y + HD); (n  = 10); yoga training with a low dose (2000 IU) of vitamin D (Y + LD) (n = 10). Participants performed the Hatha yoga style twice a week. Blood samples and a battery of psychological and physical tests were taken before and after the completion of interventions. Expression of p53, NF-κB, Bcl2, and Bax genes was measured in leukocytes.

Results

Body fat percentage (ηp2 = 0.36), shoulder flexibility (ηp2 = 0.38), Rockport walk tests (ηp2 = 0.49), and anxiety (ηp2 = 0.52) were significantly improved in both the Y + HD and Y + LD groups compared to the HD group (p < 0.05). P53 was significantly over-expressed in the Y + HD group while Bcl2 upregulated in both the Y + HD and Y + LD groups. NF-κB and Bax expression downregulated in all groups but were not statistically significant.

Conclusion

yoga training combined with low and high doses of VD improved physical fitness and psychological measures while only in combination with a high dose of VD positively modified the leukocytes cell survival-related gene expression.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8403369/

 

Alter the Genes for Better Health with Meditation

Alter the Genes for Better Health with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

So, alter the genes for better health with meditation.

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are a

Alter the Genes for Better Health with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

So, alter the genes for better health with meditation.

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

Abstract

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

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

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

Abstract

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

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

 

Improve Psychological, Physiological, and Epigenetic Markers of Type 2 Diabetes with Mind-Body Practices

Improve Psychological, Physiological, and Epigenetic Markers of Type 2 Diabetes with Mind-Body Practices

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Diabetes, like many other chronic diseases, can also affect the mind. Similarly the mind has great power to influence the body.” – Diabetes UK

 

Diabetes is a major health issue. It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States and nearly 600 million people worldwide have diabetes and the numbers are growing. Type II Diabetes results from a resistance of tissues, especially fat tissues, to the ability of insulin to promote the uptake of glucose from the blood. As a result, blood sugar levels rise producing hyperglycemia. Diabetes is heavily associated with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and circulatory problems leading to amputations. As a result, diabetes doubles the risk of death of any cause compared to individuals of the same age without diabetes.

 

Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. One of the reasons for the increasing incidence of Type 2 Diabetes is its association with overweight and obesity which is becoming epidemic in the industrialized world. A leading cause of this is a sedentary life style. Current treatments for Type 2 Diabetes focus on diet, exercise, and weight control. Recently, mindfulness practices have been shown to be helpful in managing diabetes. Mindful movement practices such as Tai Chi and Qigong  and yoga are mindfulness practices that are also gentle exercises. There is accumulating research on the effectiveness of these mind-body practices for the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes. So, it makes sense to examine what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Changes Induced by Mind-Body Intervention Including Epigenetic Marks and Its Effects on Diabetes.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7865217/ ) Yang and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the effects of mind-body practices on the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes including epigenetic markers.

 

They report that moving meditation practices such as Tai Chi and Qigong  and yoga have been shown to significantly improve blood glucose, HbA1c, postprandial blood glucose, total cholesterol, and both low-density and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to significantly improve HbA1c, diabetes-related distress, depression, and stress. In addition, mind-body interventions produce epigenetic changes reflected in DNA methylation modification. More study is needed but these epigenetic changes may underlie the improvements in Type 2 Diabetes produced by mind-body interventions.

 

Mind-body interventions have been repeatedly demonstrated to significantly reduce depression, anxiety and stress. These psychological states tend to aggravate Type 2 Diabetes. Since mind-mind-body practices reduce depression, anxiety and stress, they produce improvements in the symptoms of diabetes. In addition, mind-body practices produce physiological changes that can improve the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes. These include activation of the parasympathetic (relaxation) nervous system, lower stress hormone (cortisol) secretion, reduced inflammation, and even reduced age based physiological changes.

 

These are remarkable findings that suggest that mind-body practices are effective in producing psychological and physiological changes that are very beneficial for the relief of the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes. These benefits are reflected in changes on the epigenetic level that might ultimately be responsible for the benefits. Clearly, mind-body practices should be incorporated into Type 2 Diabetes treatment programs.

 

So, improve psychological, physiological, and epigenetic markers of type 2 diabetes with mind-body practices.

 

meditation strategies can be useful adjunctive techniques to lifestyle modification and pharmacological management of diabetes and help improve patient wellbeing.” Gagan Priya

 

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

Yang, H. J., Koh, E., Sung, M. K., & Kang, H. (2021). Changes Induced by Mind-Body Intervention Including Epigenetic Marks and Its Effects on Diabetes. International journal of molecular sciences, 22(3), 1317. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22031317

 

Abstract

Studies have evidenced that epigenetic marks associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D) can be inherited from parents or acquired through fetal and early-life events, as well as through lifelong environments or lifestyles, which can increase the risk of diabetes in adulthood. However, epigenetic modifications are reversible, and can be altered through proper intervention, thus mitigating the risk factors of T2D. Mind–body intervention (MBI) refers to interventions like meditation, yoga, and qigong, which deal with both physical and mental well-being. MBI not only induces psychological changes, such as alleviation of depression, anxiety, and stress, but also physiological changes like parasympathetic activation, lower cortisol secretion, reduced inflammation, and aging rate delay, which are all risk factors for T2D. Notably, MBI has been reported to reduce blood glucose in patients with T2D. Herein, based on recent findings, we review the effects of MBI on diabetes and the mechanisms involved, including epigenetic modifications.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7865217/

Mindfulness Improves Breast Cancer Symptoms in Women with Particular Genetic Polymorphisms

Mindfulness Improves Breast Cancer Symptoms in Women with Particular Genetic Polymorphisms

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness-based stress reduction can be effective in alleviating anxiety and depression, decreasing long-term emotional and physical side effects of treatments and improving the quality of sleep in breast cancer patients.” – BCRF

 

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 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 stresssleep disturbancefear of reoccurrence, and anxiety and depression. The genes are known to be highly involved in the development of cancer and mindfulness training has been shown to alter the genes. The genes differ considerably between different individuals. It is possible that mindfulness training may improve cancer symptoms in patients with particular genetic polymorphisms. Identifying these polymorphisms could then help in identifying patients who would respond best to mindfulness training.

 

In today’s Research News article “Translational genomic research: the role of genetic polymorphisms in MBSR program among breast cancer survivors (MBSR[BC]).” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7184864/ ) Park and colleagues recruited adult women who were at least 2 weeks since the end of treatment for breast cancer and randomly assigned them to a usual care wait-list control condition or to receive 6 weekly 2-hour sessions of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The program consists of discussion, meditation practice, body scan, and yoga along with daily home practice. They were measured before and after training and 6 weeks later for anxiety, depression, perceived stress, fatigue, pain, and quality of life.

 

At baseline blood was drawn for genetic analysis. They assayed the blood for 10 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that had been shown in the past to be associated with the symptoms of women recovering from breast cancer. They found that 3 SNPs, rs4680 in COMT, rs6314 in HTR2A, and rs429358 in APOE were associated with improvements in symptoms produced by the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The symptom improvements associated with these SNPs were depression, fatigue, pain, and quality of life.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve the residual symptoms present in women recovering from breast cancer. The present results suggest that the effectiveness of mindfulness training in improving these symptoms is different for women with different genetic profiles. These findings may prove useful in tailoring treatment for the women to maximize its impact. Women with single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), rs4680 in COMT, rs6314 in HTR2A, and rs429358 in APOE would be good candidates for treatment with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Women without these SNPs may be better treated with other treatments.

 

So, mindfulness improves breast cancer symptoms in women with particular genetic polymorphisms.

 

When used in a cancer setting, mindfulness can help patients cope with their disease and its treatment.” – Carrie Ernhout

 

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

 

Park, J. Y., Lengacher, C. A., Reich, R. R., Alinat, C. B., Ramesar, S., Le, A., Paterson, C. L., Pleasant, M. L., Park, H. Y., Kiluk, J., Han, H., Ismail-Khan, R., & Kip, K. E. (2019). Translational genomic research: the role of genetic polymorphisms in MBSR program among breast cancer survivors (MBSR[BC]). Translational behavioral medicine, 9(4), 693–702. https://doi.org/10.1093/tbm/iby061

 

Abstract

Genetic variations of breast cancer survivors (BCS) may contribute to level of residual symptoms, such as depression, stress, fatigue, and cognitive impairment. The objective of this study was to investigate whether particular single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) moderated symptom improvement resulting from the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Breast Cancer (MBSR[BC]) program. An overarching goal of personalized medicine is to identify individuals as risk for disease and tailor interventions based on genetic profiles of patients with diseases including cancer. BCS were recruited from Moffitt Cancer Center and University of South Florida’s Breast Health Program and were randomized to either the 6-week MBSR(BC) program (n = 92) or Usual Care (n = 93). Measures of symptoms, demographic, and clinical history data were attained at baseline, 6 weeks, and 12 weeks. A total of 10 SNPs from eight genes known to be related to these symptoms were studied using genomic DNA extracted from blood. Our results were examined for effect sizes, consistency, and statistical significance (p < .05). Three SNPs (rs4680 in COMT, rs6314 in HTR2A, and rs429358 in APOE) emerged as having the strongest (though relatively weak) and most consistent effects in moderating the impact of the MBSR program on symptom outcomes. Although effects were generally weak, with only one effect withstanding multiple comparisons correction for statistical significance, this translational behavioral research may help start the identification of genetic profiles that moderate the impact of MBSR(BC). The ultimate goal of this study is the development of personalized treatment programs tailored to the genetic profile of each patient.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7184864/

Meditation Alters a Variety of Biological Mechanisms and Improves Mental Disorders

Meditation Alters a Variety of Biological Mechanisms and Improves Mental Disorders

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

Abstract

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

Conclusions

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

 

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

 

Improve a Biological Marker of Aging, Telomeres, with Meditation

Improve a Biological Marker of Aging, Telomeres, with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“While we might expect our bodies and brains to follow a shared trajectory of development and degeneration over time, by actively practicing strategies such as meditation, we might actually preserve and protect our physical body and brain structure to extend our golden years and shine even more brightly in old age.” – Sonima Wellness

 

One of the most exciting findings in molecular biology in recent years was the discovery of the telomere. This is a component of the DNA molecule that is attached to the ends of the strands. Recent genetic research has suggested that the telomere and its regulation is the biological mechanism that produces aging. As we age the tail of the DNA molecule called the telomere shortens. When it gets very short cells have a more and more difficult time reproducing and become more likely to produce defective cells. On a cellular basis, this is what produces aging. As we get older the new cells produced are more and more likely to be defective. The shortening of the telomere occurs each time the cell is replaced. So, slowly as we age it gets shorter and shorter.

 

Fortunately, there is a mechanism to protect the telomere. There is an enzyme in the body called telomerase that helps to prevent shortening of the telomere. It also promotes cell survival and enhances stress-resistance.  Research suggests that processes that increase telomerase activity tend to slow the aging process by protecting the telomere.  One activity that seems to increase telomerase activity and protect telomere length is mindfulness practice. Hence, engaging in mindfulness practices may protect the telomere and thereby slow the aging process.

 

In today’s Research News article “Telomere length correlates with subtelomeric DNA methylation in long-term mindfulness practitioners.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7067861/), and Mendioroz colleagues recruited long-term meditators (greater than 10 years of experience) and non-meditators matched for gender, ethnic group, and age. They were measured for mindfulness, anxiety, depression, resilience, happiness, self-compassion, experiential avoidance, and quality of life. They also provided blood samples that were assayed for telomere length and DNA methylation.

 

They found that the long-term meditators were significantly higher in for mindfulness, resilience, happiness, self-compassion, and quality of life and significantly lower in for anxiety, depression, and experiential avoidance.

 

They also found that the meditators had significantly longer telomeres than the matched controls. Interestingly, while in the controls the greater the age of the participant the shorter the telomeres, in the long-term meditators, telomere length was the same regardless of age. In addition, they found that in the long-term meditators, telomere length was significantly associated with DNA methylation at specific regions but not for the matched controls.

 

This study found, as have others, that long-term meditation practice is associated with longer telomeres. The fact, that the telomere length was not associated with age in the meditators suggests that meditation practice may protect the individual from age-related erosion of telomeres. The results further suggest that meditation may do so through specific methylation of DNA. Stress has been shown to results in shortening the telomeres. Hence, a potential mechanism whereby meditation may protect telomeres may be by reducing the physiological and psychological responses to stress.

 

It is suspected, but not proven, that telomere length is related to health and well-being. The findings that the long-term meditators had significantly better mental health tends to support this notion. There is evidence that meditation practice increases longevity. It can be speculated that meditation practice may do so by affecting molecular genetic mechanisms that prevent the degradation of the telomeres with age.

 

So, improve a biological marker of aging, telomeres, with meditation.

 

Meditation also helps to protect our telomeres, the protective caps at the end of our chromosomes. Telomeres are longest when we’re young and naturally shorten as we age. Shorter telomeres are associated with stress and higher risk for many diseases including cancer, and depend on the telomerase enzyme to enable them to rebuild and repair.”- Paula Watkins

 

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

 

Mendioroz, M., Puebla-Guedea, M., Montero-Marín, J., Urdánoz-Casado, A., Blanco-Luquin, I., Roldán, M., Labarga, A., & García-Campayo, J. (2020). Telomere length correlates with subtelomeric DNA methylation in long-term mindfulness practitioners. Scientific reports, 10(1), 4564. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-61241-6

 

Abstract

Mindfulness and meditation techniques have proven successful for the reduction of stress and improvement in general health. In addition, meditation is linked to longevity and longer telomere length, a proposed biomarker of human aging. Interestingly, DNA methylation changes have been described at specific subtelomeric regions in long-term meditators compared to controls. However, the molecular basis underlying these beneficial effects of meditation on human health still remains unclear. Here we show that DNA methylation levels, measured by the Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip (Illumina) array, at specific subtelomeric regions containing GPR31 and SERPINB9 genes were associated with telomere length in long-term meditators with a strong statistical trend when correcting for multiple testing. Notably, age showed no association with telomere length in the group of long-term meditators. These results may suggest that long-term meditation could be related to epigenetic mechanisms, in particular gene-specific DNA methylation changes at distinct subtelomeric regions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7067861/

 

Increase Telomere Length and Decrease Cellular Aging with Meditation

Increase Telomere Length and Decrease Cellular Aging with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

some forms of meditation may have salutary effects on telomere length by reducing cognitive stress and stress arousal and increasing positive states of mind and hormonal factors that may promote telomere maintenance.” – Elissa Epel

 

One of the most exciting findings in molecular biology in recent years was the discovery of the telomere. This is a component of the DNA molecule that is attached to the ends of the strands. Recent genetic research has suggested that the telomere and its regulation is the biological mechanism that produces aging. It has been found that the genes, coded on the DNA molecule, govern cellular processes in our bodies. One of the most fundamental of these processes is cell replication. Cells are constantly turning over. Dying cells or damaged are replaced by new cells. The cells turn over at different rates but most cells in the body are lost and replaced between every few days to every few months. Needless to say, we’re constantly renewing ourselves.

 

As we age the tail of the DNA molecule called the telomere shortens. When it gets very short cells have a more and more difficult time reproducing and become more likely to produce defective cells. On a cellular basis, this is what produces aging. As we get older the new cells produced are more and more likely to be defective. The shortening of the telomere occurs each time the cell is replaced. So, slowly as we age it gets shorter and shorter. This has been called a “mitotic clock.” This is normal. But telomere shortening can also be produced by oxidative stress, which can be produced by psychological and physiological stress. This is mediated by stress hormones and the inflammatory response. So, chronic stress can accelerate the aging process. In other words, when we’re chronically stressed, we get older faster.

 

Fortunately, there is a mechanism to protect the telomere. There is an enzyme in the body called telomerase that helps to prevent shortening of the telomere. It also promotes cell survival and enhances stress-resistance.  Research suggests that processes that increase telomerase activity tend to slow the aging process by protecting the telomere.  One activity that seems to increase telomerase activity and protect telomere length is mindfulness practice. Hence, engaging in mindfulness practices may protect the telomere and thereby slow the aging process. There is accumulating evidence, so it makes sense to stop and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Meditation and telomere length: a meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2019.1707827 ), Schutte and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis on the effects of meditation practice on cellular aging as reflected in telomere lengths. They identified 12 controlled published research studies.

 

They found that the published research demonstrated that meditation practices produce longer telomere lengths. The effect sizes were moderate and indicated that the meditation practitioners had telomeres about a half of a standard deviation longer then controls. They also report that the greater the number of hours of meditation practice the longer the telomeres, but this relationship was not significant in studies where there was a random assignment of participants to groups.

 

These are exciting findings that suggest that meditation practice can lead to greater telomere length. This in turn suggests that meditation would improve health and longevity. It is suspected that meditation has these benefits as the result of the ability of meditation practice to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress, where stress is known to have a shortening effect on the telomeres. Regardless of the mechanism, the accumulating research suggests that meditation can reduce cellular aging and thereby improve health and longevity.

 

Increase telomere length and decrease cellular aging with meditation.

 

meditation and the like, which people can use to reduce stress and increase wellbeing, would be having their salutary and well-documented useful effects in part through telomeres.” – Elizabeth Blackburn

 

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

 

Nicola S. Schutte, John M. Malouff & Shian-Ling Keng (2020): Meditation and telomere length: a meta-analysis, Psychology & Health, DOI: 10.1080/08870446.2019.1707827

 

ABSTRACT Objective: Telomeres are the caps at the end of chromosomes. Short telomeres are a biomarker for worsening health and early death. Design: The present study consolidated research on meditation and telomere length through a meta-analysis of results of studies examining the effect of meditation on telomere length by comparing the telomere length of meditating participants with participants in control conditions. Results: A search of the literature identified 11 studies reporting 12 comparisons of meditating individuals with individuals in control conditions. An overall significant weighted effect size of g ¼.40 indicated that the individuals in meditation conditions had longer telomeres. When an outlier effect size was trimmed from the analysis, the effect size was smaller, g ¼.16. Across studies, a greater number of hours of meditation among participants in meditation conditions was associated with larger effect sizes. Conclusion: These findings provide tentative support for the hypothesis that participants in meditation conditions have longer telomeres than participants in comparison conditions, and that a greater number of hours of meditation is associated with a greater impact on telomere biology. The results of the meta-analysis have potential clinical significance in that they suggest that meditation-based interventions may prevent telomere attrition or increase telomere length.

https://doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2019.1707827