Meditation found to speed up stress recovery

Meditation not only makes you feel calmer, but it may also biologically calm your body. Researchers discovered that practicing mindful meditation affects genes that control the body’s response and recovery from stress. This is the first study connecting mindful meditation to gene expression.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, Spain, published a report in Psychoneuroendocrinology documenting how meditation affects the body on a molecular level.  The study compared two groups: experienced meditators and untrained meditators.

After eight hours of meditation, the participants showed reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which relates to a quicker physical recovery from stress. Molecular analysis showed that several histone deacetylase (HDAC) genes, which remove the chemical tags of other genes to control their activity, were also affected.

When participants underwent a social stress test afterward, their cortisol recovery was faster. There were no differences in the genes between the groups beforehand and the effects were only observed after the meditation session. One researcher concluded that calming the mind can potentially alter the expression of genes.

The researchers suggested that meditation may be used in the future to treat chronic inflammation and Alzheimer’s disease.

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