Sunday, February 17, 2013
MINDFULNESS CAN EASE CHRONIC INFLAMMATION
The study involved two groups of people who suffered from chronic inflammatory conditions including arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma.
One group was given instruction in mindfulness meditation (more specifically, an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction [MBSR] program) as a way to reduce stress.
The other group took part in a program of activities that have been shown to reduce stress including physical activities like walking, balance training, agility skills training, core strengthening and music therapy.
Each group was given the same amount of training and engaged in the same amount of home practice.
Each group was then exposed to psychological stress using the Trier Social Stress Test and then apply capsaicin cream to their skin. Capsaicin is the active ingredient of chillies and is known to cause local inflammation. Immune and endocrine measures of inflammation and stress were collected both before and after MBSR training.
Blood tests were then used to measure immune and hormonal markers of inflammation. Interestingly, each group had reduced stress levels by the end of the experiment, but the mindfulness meditation group was shown to have experienced much less inflammation than the other group---despite equivalent levels of stress hormones.
Other studies have already shown that the practice of mindfulness reduces inflammation. What is significant about this most recent study is that it has shown that mindfulness meditation appears to reduce inflammation to a greater degree than other effective behavioural therapies.
Resource: Rosenkranz M A, Davidson R J, Maccoon D G, Sheridan J F, Kalin N H, and Lutz A. ‘A comparison of mindfulness-based stress reduction and an active control in modulation of neurogenic inflammation.’ Brain Behav Immun. 2013 Jan;27(1):174-84. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2012.10.013. Epub 2012 Oct 22.