Improve Autoimmune Hepatitis with Mindfulness

Improve Autoimmune Hepatitis with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Conventional medicine is great at taking test results and making recommendations based on those results, but it doesn’t really show you how to go about your day-to-day life with a chronic disease. Mindfulness is a practical coping tool and it’s always there when all else seems to fail.” – Shannon Harvey

 

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 “Mindfulness-based stress reduction may decrease stress, disease activity, and inflammatory cytokine levels in patients with autoimmune hepatitis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9011026/ ) Alrabadi and colleagues recruited adult patients with autoimmune hepatitis and treated them with 8 weekly 2 hour sessions of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). It involves meditation, yoga, body scan, group discussion, and homework. The patients were measured before and after training and 8 and 12 months later for perceived stress, emotion regulation, and self-control. In addition, blood was drawn and assayed for inflammatory cytokines.

 

They found that after Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) there was a significant reduction in perceived stress and the doses of the steroid prednisone that persisted 12 months later. In addition, plasma cytokine levels were significantly improved after treatment. This is an uncontrolled pilot study whose findings suggest that mindfulness training may be an effective treatment for patients with autoimmune hepatitis, reducing inflammation and stress levels.

 

Mindfulness training appears to be and effective treatment for autoimmune diseases in general including autoimmune hepatitis.

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Alrabadi, L. S., Dutton, A., Rabiee, A., Roberts, S. J., Deng, Y., Cusack, L., Silveira, M. G., Ciarleglio, M., Bucala, R., Sinha, R., Boyer, J. L., & Assis, D. N. (2022). Mindfulness-based stress reduction may decrease stress, disease activity, and inflammatory cytokine levels in patients with autoimmune hepatitis. JHEP reports : innovation in hepatology, 4(5), 100450. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhepr.2022.100450

 

Abstract

Background & Aims

Psychological and life stressors may impact autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) disease activity and increase relapse risk. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a validated course that reduces stress reactivity, and improves stress and emotion regulation. This single-arm exploratory pilot study of adult patients with AIH aimed to define the impact of an 8-week MBSR program on quality of life, disease activity, and cytokine mediators.

Methods

The perceived stress survey-10 (PSS) and the brief self-control scale (BSCS) measured subjective distress and self-control. Serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and cytokine levels were measured, and immunosuppressant doses recorded.

Results

Seventeen patients completed the MBSR program. Post-MBSR, 71% (n = 12) showed PSS score improvement at 8 weeks vs. baseline (median 15 vs. 21, p = 0.02). At 12 months, PSS improvement persisted vs. baseline (median 15 vs. 21, p = 0.02). Post-MBSR, 71% (n = 12) showed BSCS score improvement at 8 weeks vs. baseline (median 4.1 vs. 3.8, p = 0.03). At 12 months, the median BSCS score remained significant (3.9 vs. 3.8, p = 0.03). After the 8-week MBSR, the 35% of patients with ALT >34 U/L had a median ALT reduction (44.5 vs. 71.5 U/L, p = 0.06), whereas the 71% of patients on prednisone had significant dose reductions (5.75 vs. 10 mg, p = 0.02) which persisted at 12 months vs. baseline (3.75 vs. 10 mg, p = 0.02) without a compensatory increase in steroid-sparing dosing. Significant improvement was noted in peripheral blood cytokine levels (IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-17, IL-23, and sCD74/MIF ratio) from baseline to 8 weeks.

Conclusions

MBSR significantly improved perceived stress and self-control scores while decreasing ALT levels, steroid requirements, and inflammatory cytokine levels in this pilot study in adult AIH. Stress modification may impact quality of life and disease activity, and should be further evaluated as an intervention in AIH.

Lay summary

Autoimmune hepatitis can reduce quality of life and mental health, while stress may impact autoimmune hepatitis itself. We piloted mindfulness-based stress reduction as a strategy to reduce stress in adult patients with autoimmune hepatitis and found that the intervention reduced perceived stress and may have also impacted the disease by improving inflammation and medication needs. Stress reduction should be further studied to improve quality of life and possibly to impact disease activity in autoimmune hepatitis.

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9011026/

Improve Teacher Well-Being and Immune Function with Mindfulness

Improve Teacher Well-Being and Immune Function with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

learning and cultivating skills of mindfulness . . .can help us to promote the calm, relaxed, but enlivened classroom environment that children need to learn. Mindfulness can also help us to be more effective at reducing conflict and developing more positive ways of relating in the classroom, which can help us feel more job satisfaction.” – Patricia Jennings

 

Stress is epidemic in the workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This often produces burnout; fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, and professional inefficacy. In a school setting, this burnout and exhaustion not only affects teachers personally, but also the students and schools, as it produces a loss of enthusiasm, empathy, and compassion. Hence, there is a need to identify methods of reducing stress and improving teachers’ psychological health. Mindfulness has been demonstrated to be helpful in reducing the psychological and physiological responses to stress and for treating and preventing burnout. This suggests that mindfulness would improve the psychological and physiological well-being of teachers,

 

In today’s Research News article “Fostering emotional self-regulation in female teachers at the public teaching network: A mindfulness-based intervention improving psychological measures and inflammatory biomarkers.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8881415/ ) Wilson and colleagues recruited public school teachers and provided them with either 8 weeks of mindfulness training or neuroscience education. Measurements were taken before and after training of reactivity, emotions, stress, resilience, and psychological well-being as well as blood inflammatory markers.

 

Compared to controls, the teachers who received mindfulness training had significant decreases in stress levels and negative emotions and significant increases in resilience, positive emotions and psychological well-being. Blood inflammatory markers also showed significant improvements. These results suggest that mindfulness training improves immune function, reduces stress, and increases psychological well-being in teachers.

 

This suggests that teachers should receive mindfulness training to make them better able to withstand the stresses of the job.

 

In the last decade, many professional development programs have sprung up that use mindfulness as a key tool to alleviate teacher stress.” – Catherine Gewertz

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Wilson, D., Rodrigues de Oliveira, D., Palace-Berl, F., de Mello Ponteciano, B., Fungaro Rissatti, L., Piassa Pollizi, V., Sardela de Miranda, F., D’Almeida, V., & Demarzo, M. (2022). Fostering emotional self-regulation in female teachers at the public teaching network: A mindfulness-based intervention improving psychological measures and inflammatory biomarkers. Brain, behavior, & immunity – health, 21, 100427. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbih.2022.100427

 

Abstract

Objective

To examine the effect of a mindfulness-based program specifically designed for teachers in reducing perceived stress and improving the quality of experienced emotion in female active working teachers. A second outcome evaluated is the associated change in cellular inflammatory activity, measured by peripheral blood levels of cytokines.

Method

Eighty-eight female active teachers from public schools from São Paulo Municipality were recruited, and randomly allocated to an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Health Program for Educators (MBHP-Educa) or to Neuroscience for Education Program (Neuro-Educa: active control group). The venue of both programs were several public school facilities, where many of the teachers actually worked. Both groups received activities during eight weeks in a 2 ​h/week regimen, totalizing 16 ​h. Sixty-five participants completed the program and pre- and post-interventions measures were taken from the following scales: Interpersonal Multidimensional Reactivity Scale (IRI), Positive-and-Negative Affects Scale (PANAS), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC), and a primary outcome in Ryff’s Psychological Well-Being Scale (PBWS). At pre-and post-intervention, blood samples were collected for the measurement of several important inflammatory biomarkers, Tumor Necrosis Factor – α (TNF-α), Interleukin 1β (IL-1β), Interleukin 6 (IL-6), Interleukin 8 (IL-8), Interleukin 10 (IL-10) and Interleukin 12p70 (IL-12P70) through flow cytometry assay. Intervention effects were analyzed via Generalized mixed models (GLMM).

Results

According to the GLMM, MBHP-Educa significantly reduced the scores of perceived stress (p ​< ​0.0001), and negative affect (p ​< ​0.0001) compared to active control group (Neuro-Educa). Conversely, an increase was observed on Psychological Well Being Scale in dimensions of Self-acceptance (p ​< ​0.0001), and Autonomy (p ​= ​0.001), as well as improvements in Resilience (p ​< ​0.0001), and Positive Affect (p ​< ​0.0001). MBHP-Educa also promoted a reduction in the levels of IL-6 (p ​= ​0.003), IL-8 (p ​= ​0.036), and increase in the levels of IL-10 (p ​< ​0.0001) and IL-12p70 (p ​< ​0.044). TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-10p70 showed results below theoretical limit of detection accepted for CBA kit.

Conclusions

Our data suggest that mindfulness-based interventions introduced as a strategy for reducing stress, promoting well-being and improve immune function can be a useful asset in promoting psychological health among teachers in Basic Education.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8881415/

 

Improve Inflammatory and Stress Responses with Yoga

Improve Inflammatory and Stress Responses with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“yoga could slow the harmful physical effects of stress and inflammaging.” – Harvard Health

 

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. Indeed, the presence of chronic inflammation is associated with reduced longevity.

 

So, it is important for health to control the inflammatory response, allowing it to do its job in fighting off infection but reducing its activity when no external threat is apparent. Of course, it is far better to prevent chronic inflammation in the first place than to treat it later. Mind-body techniques such as yoga, Tai Chi and meditation have been shown to adaptively reduce the inflammatory response. The evidence is accumulating. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “The role of yoga in inflammatory markers. Brain, behavior, & immunity – health.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8842003/ ) Estevan and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the effects of yoga practice on the inflammatory response.

 

They report that the published research found that yoga practice reduces the inflammatory response and stress hormones in a wide variety of conditions such a COPD, obesity cancer, and depression. So, the research suggests that yoga practice is an effective treatment to reduce the chronic inflammation.

 

Often, the precursor to illness is chronic inflammation. . . . Yoga — of various styles, intensities, and durations — reduced the biochemical markers of inflammation across several chronic conditions.” – Sarah Ezrin

 

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Estevao C. (2022). The role of yoga in inflammatory markers. Brain, behavior, & immunity – health, 20, 100421. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbih.2022.100421

 

Abstract

Yoga is an ancient system for integrating the mind, body, and spirit. In the hatha yoga ashtanga tradition (the eight limb Patanjali Yoga), three of the limbs are meditation, breathwork (pranayama) and physical postures (asana), which are widely practised in yoga classes. The benefits of yoga for mental and physical health are rooted in the practice’s origins: in yoga, stress is said to be the root of all diseases.

The established fields of psychoneuroimmunology and immunopsychiatry study the interplay between the immune system and mood or mental states. This mini-review has shifted the emphasis from research that focuses on yoga’s benefits for stress, the most commonly studied outcome of yoga research, to a summary of the research on the effects of yoga practices on the immune system. The current literature bears strong evidence for the benefits of yoga on the levels of circulating cortisol and classical inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and cytokines such as interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β), interleukin 6 (IL-6), tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interferon-gamma (INF-γ). The evidence for other less studied markers, telomerase activity, β-endorphins, Immunoglobulin A (IgA) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is also growing. This mini-review centres around the interplay between yoga and these markers in stress management and depression, vascular and immune function in the older population, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, auto-immune diseases, breast cancer and pregnancy.

Overall, the literature examined reveals the novelty of this field of research and sheds light on methodological challenges; however, it uncovers the potential for yoga to be used as adjuvant therapy in conditions with an inflammatory component.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8842003/

 

Improve Teachers’ Physiological and Psychological Well-Being with Mindfulness

Improve Teachers’ Physiological and Psychological Well-Being with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness-based training can effectively reduce stress and burnout as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression at follow-up; it also shows promise in improving emotional regulation among teachers.” – Xiaolan Song

 

Stress is epidemic in the workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This often produces burnout; fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, and professional inefficacy. In a school setting, this burnout and exhaustion not only affects teachers personally, but also the students and schools, as it produces a loss of enthusiasm, empathy, and compassion. Hence, there is a need to identify methods of reducing stress and improving teachers’ psychological health. Mindfulness has been demonstrated to be helpful in reducing the psychological and physiological responses to stress and for treating and preventing burnout. This suggests that mindfulness would improve the psychological and physiological well-being of teachers,

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness meditation training effects on quality of life, immune function and glutathione metabolism in service healthy female teachers: A randomized pilot clinical trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8566766/ ) Rodrigues de Oliveira and colleagues recruited healthy teachers and randomly assigned them to receive 8 weekly 2-hour sessions of either mindfulness training or lectures on applied neuroscience for educators. Mindfulness training included “mindful breathing, compassionate communication, loving-kindness, self-compassion, mindful listening, dealing with difficulties, the 3 step meditation, walking meditation, body scan with progressive relaxation, thoughts, emotions, gratitude, sounds and breathing” and home practice. The teachers were measured before and after training and 12 months later for quality of life, perceived stress, resilience, and positive and negative emotions. In addition, blood was drawn and assayed for cytokine levels, homocysteine, cysteine, and glutathione.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the lecture group, the group that received mindfulness training had significantly greater increases in physical, psychological, social, and environmental quality of life, resilience, positive emotions, cysteine, and glutathione and a significantly greater decrease in perceived stress, negative emotions, and the cytokines of IL-6 and IL-8.

 

These results suggest that mindfulness training improves teacher’s quality of life, and psychological well-being. Physically, it also reduced markers of inflammation and improved antioxidant systems. This suggests that mindfulness training makes teachers healthier and happier. Although not measures, this surely will help to reduce the likelihood of burnout and improve the quality of the teacher’s work in the classroom.

 

So, improve teachers’ physiological and psychological well-being with mindfulness.

 

Teachers can use mindfulness as a resource to self-regulate emotions resulting from job stress, thereby increasing their ability to focus on the students and their performances in the classrooms.” – Kelsey Milne

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Rodrigues de Oliveira, D., Wilson, D., Palace-Berl, F., de Mello Ponteciano, B., Fungaro Rissatti, L., Sardela de Miranda, F., Piassa Pollizi, V., Fuscella, J. C., Mourão Terzi, A., Lepique, A. P., D’Almeida, V., & Demarzo, M. (2021). Mindfulness meditation training effects on quality of life, immune function and glutathione metabolism in service healthy female teachers: A randomized pilot clinical trial. Brain, behavior, & immunity – health, 18, 100372. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbih.2021.100372

 

Abstract

Background

Despite the crucial role of educators in encourage students’ academic learning, addressing educator stress inside the classroom remains a significant challenge in the educational context. Mindfulness Meditation training (MM) has been recommended as an environmental enrichment strategy in schools to help teachers cope with stress and cultivating a state of awareness in daily life. Although studies have shown that MM can improve immune system dynamics the biological mechanism underlying glutathione metabolism in a healthy human is unclear

Objective

The purpose of this study was to determine whether MM training benefits psychological and behavioral response, immunological functions and glutathione metabolism in service healthy female teachers from public schools

Methods

We randomly assigned 76 teachers to an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Health Program for Educators (MBHPEduca) or Neuroscience for Education program (Neuro-Educa; active control group). Using the quality of life as our primary outcome, perceived stress, negative affectivity, and resilience as our secondary outcome, and pro-inflammatory cytokines and glutathione levels as our third outcome at baseline and post-intervention that occurred in public schools. Blood samples were collected for the measurement of three proinflammatory markers, including interleukin-1β (IL-1β), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and interleukin-8 (IL-8) and three GSH metabolism, including Cysteine (Cys), Homocysteine (HCys) and GSH were conducted at pre-and post-intervention, with selfreported assessments over time. Treatment effects were analyzed using generalized estimating equations (GEE) with to intention to treat

Results

We observed statistically significant improvements to the MBHP-Educa group compared to active control in perceived stress, resilience, positive and negative affect, and quality of life after 8-weeks MM (p ​< ​0.0001). Further, the MBHP-Educa group exhibited lower circulating IL-6 production accompanied by high circulating GSH, and Cys (p ​< ​0.0001). Additional analyses indicated that enhancing quality of life through mindfulness meditation training was mediated by reducing perceived stress and serum levels of IL- 6 and increasing resilience and teachers ‘plasma GSH levels

Conclusions

The present study is a pilot trial with low-power and provides preliminary evidence that mindfulness meditation training help teachers to cope with stress in the school environment with an impact on the quality of life, immune function, and glutathione metabolism.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8566766/

 

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/

Improve Stress Responding, Health, and Well-Being with Qigong

Improve Stress Responding, Health, and Well-Being with Qigong

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Qigong is an extraordinary tool for reducing the harmful effects of stress. The three pillars of qigong practice are body, breath, and mind. If your body is relaxed your breathing will slow down. When your breath is slow, you feel more centered, more calm, and more in touch with yourself” – Kenneth Cohen

 

Tai Chi and Qigong are ancient mindfulness practices involving slow prescribed movements. They are gentle and completely safe, can be used with the elderly and sickly, are 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, they 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.

 

Tai Chi and Qigong are both mindfulness practices and gentle exercises. They have been shown to be beneficial for the health and well-being of individuals of a variety of ages, but particularly the elderly. They also improve the symptoms of a variety of diseases. One way that these practices may improve health and well-being is by reducing stress. The studies of the benefits for health of Tai Chi and Qigong are accumulating and so it makes sense to take a moment to summarize what has been learned about the benefits of Qigong practice.

 

In today’s Research News article “Individual Stress Prevention through Qigong.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7579037/ )  van Dam reviews and summarizes the published research studies of the effects of Qigong practice on stress. She reports that the published studies found that Qigong practice improves the cardiovascular system including a significant reduction in blood pressure and an increase in heartrate variability, an indicator of parasympathetic relaxation. It improves the respiratory system including increased lung capacity, oxygen intake and breathing patterns. It improves immune function and reduces inflammatory responses. It improves both psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves sleep quality and reduces fatigue. It reduces depression and both acute and chronic anxiety.

 

These findings are remarkable and suggest that this gentle safe practice markedly improves the physical and mental well-being and health of the practitioners. Many of these benefits may result from the ability of Qigong practice to improve stress responding. Stress impairs health and well-being and Qigong practice appears to counteract these effects.

 

So, improve stress responding, health, and well-being with Qigong.

 

Qi Gong helps you develop a crystal clear mind as you connect with the present moment, letting go of the stress of daily life and relaxing deeply.”- Nick Jankel

 

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

 

van Dam K. (2020). Individual Stress Prevention through Qigong. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(19), 7342. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17197342

 

Abstract

Owing to work intensification and an accelerated pace of life in general, individuals in many Western countries are often overactivated and find it difficult to switch off. However, recovery from physiological and mental activation is critical to prevent stress symptoms and maintain one’s physiological and mental well-being. Extensive research evidence indicates that Qigong, a traditional Chinese movement practice for promoting health, provides an effective means to recover from work and off-work demands. The main objective of this paper is to offer a comprehensive, narrative review of the effects of Qigong and its core components. Attention is first paid to the outcomes of work and off-work demands and stress, and the role of recovery for individuals’ well-being. Then, Qigong and its components are explained, followed by the results of scientific research. Finally, limitations and implications for research and practiced are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7579037/

 

Manage Symptoms in Cancer Survivors with Yoga

Manage Symptoms in Cancer Survivors with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“when it’s used alongside conventional medical treatment, yoga may help relieve some of the symptoms linked to cancer.” – American Cancer Society

 

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

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with general cancer recovery . 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. So, it’s reasonable to review what has been learned about the benefits of yoga practice to improve the residual symptoms of patients who have survived cancer.

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga for symptom management in oncology: A review of the evidence base and future directions for research.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6541520/ ) Danhauer and colleagues review and summarize the published randomized controlled studies of the effectiveness of yoga practice for the treatment of the symptoms of cancer survivors. They identified 29 published randomized controlled trials, 13 conducted during treatment, 12 after treatment, and 4 both before and after.

 

They report that the published research found that yoga during treatment for cancer significantly improved the patient’s quality of life, including physical, emotional social, and cognitive quality of life. They also report that yoga significantly reduced fatigue, distress, perceived stress, and biomarkers of stress and inflammation. Yoga after treatment completion was found to significantly reduce fatigue and sleep disturbance and improve quality of life. There were no serious adverse events resulting from yoga practice reported.

 

The published research then suggests that yoga practice is a safe and effective treatment both during and after cancer treatment for the relief of the patients’ residual physical and psychological symptoms. Yoga practice is a complex of practices that includes postures, breath control, and meditation. It has not been clearly established which of these components or which combination of components are required for the benefits. So, conclusions cannot be made regarding mechanisms of action by which yoga produces its benefits. But it can be concluded that yoga practice is very beneficial for cancer sufferers.

 

So, manage symptoms in cancer survivors with yoga.

 

yoga can combat fatigue and improve strength and range of motion for patients undergoing cancer treatment,” – Dr. Maggie DiNome

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Danhauer, S. C., Addington, E. L., Cohen, L., Sohl, S. J., Van Puymbroeck, M., Albinati, N. K., & Culos-Reed, S. N. (2019). Yoga for symptom management in oncology: A review of the evidence base and future directions for research. Cancer, 125(12), 1979–1989. https://doi.org/10.1002/cncr.31979

 

Abstract

As yoga is increasingly recognized as a complementary approach to cancer symptom management, patients/survivors and providers need to understand its potential benefits and limitations both during and after treatment. We reviewed randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of yoga conducted at these points in the cancer continuum (N=29; n=13 during treatment, n=12 post-treatment, n=4 with mixed samples). Findings both during and after treatment demonstrated efficacy of yoga to improve overall quality of life (QOL), with improvement in subdomains of QOL varying across studies. Fatigue was the most commonly measured outcome, and most RCTs conducted during or after cancer treatment reported improvements in fatigue. Results additionally suggest that yoga can improve stress/distress during treatment and post-treatment disturbances in sleep and cognition. A number of RCTs showed evidence that yoga may improve biomarkers of stress, inflammation, and immune function. Outcomes with limited or mixed findings (e.g., anxiety, depression, pain, cancer-specific symptoms such as lymphedema, positive psychological outcomes such as benefit-finding and life satisfaction) warrant further study. Important future directions for yoga research in oncology include: enrolling participants with cancer types other than breast, standardizing self-report assessments, increasing use of active control groups and objective measures, and addressing the heterogeneity of yoga interventions, which vary in type, key components (movement, meditation, breathing), dose, and delivery mode.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6541520/

 

Reduce Inflammatory Responses and Reduce Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms with Yoga

Reduce Inflammatory Responses and Reduce Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

Abstract

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

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

 

Improve Inflammation and Depression with Mild Cognitive Impairment with Mindfulness

Improve Inflammation and Depression with Mild Cognitive Impairment with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

Abstract

Background

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

Objective

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

Methods

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

Results

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

Conclusion

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

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