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Can Meditation Switch on Genes That Fight Disease?


In a separate study conducted by Dr Dean Ornish and co-workers, men diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer were asked to incorporate positive lifestyle changes as a potential treatment for their disease, as they had opted not to undergo conventional treatment. The researchers conducted two prostate biopsies on each individual, one before and one three months after incorporation of changes such as following a plant-based diet, exercise, stress management techniques such as meditation, and participating in a support group. They reported that the biopsy samples collected post-lifestyle change had a different gene expression pattern with various disease-promoting genes switched off, and various protective genes turned on.

Conditions Affected by Meditation

  • Pain: There is a huge body of research work indicating that meditation can reduce chronic pain. One notable study conducted at the Texas Tech University found that meditation in conjunction with traditional medicine enhances the effectiveness of western medical treatment. In another study published in the Journal of Behavioural Medicine, patients sufferring from backache, chronich migraine and tension headaches, were able to lessen or even stop their pain medication.
  • Anxiety and Depression: Since the early sixties, scientists have speculated that meditation improves mental functioning. Dr Benson reports that “meditation decreases oxygen consumption, heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure, and increases the intensity of alpha, theta, and delta brain waves “the opposite of the physiological changes that occur during the stress response.”
  • Infertility: An Italian team of researchers found that increased levels of stress are associated with infertility. Meditation, by stimulating the pituitary gland that is responsible for regulating female reproductive hormones, was able to help with infertility issues.
  • Inflammation: Meditation has also been shown to slow the heart rate by sending signals through the vagus nerve. Those very signals, researchers speculate, can also dampen the immune response, helping individuals ease symptoms of inflammatory diseases like arthritis, asthma and eczema.
  • Diabetes: Meditation also aids in controlling blood sugar levels. Researchers at the University of Virginia have shown that following meditation, the reduced stress levels correlate with a decrease in blood glucose levels.
  • Hypertension: Besides its role as a stress buster, meditation also reduces blood pressure and contributes to the overall reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease.

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