Study: Meditation Has Immediate Effect on Gene Activity
Researchers may have found a mechanism by which meditation produces the physical benefits it has been known for. The study has found that practicing meditation has an almost instantaneous effect on gene activity, activating the beneficial genes in particular associated with cellular energy production, blood sugar control, and prevention of cellular aging. More on the story here…
A growing body of scientific evidence shows that mindful-based therapies, such as meditation, can lower psychological stress and boost both mental and physical health. Now findings recently published in PLoS One suggest that such practices may also change gene activity.
In the small study, researchers recruited individuals who had no prior meditation experience and examined participants’ genetic profile prior to their adoption of a basic daily relaxation practice. The 10- to 20-minute routine included reciting words, breathing exercises and attempts to exclude everyday thought. The New Scientist reports:
After eight weeks of performing the technique daily, the volunteers gene profile was analyzed again. Clusters of important beneficial genes had become more active and harmful ones less so.
The boosted genes had three main beneficial effects: improving the efficiency of mitochondria, the powerhouse of cells; boosting insulin production, which improves control of blood sugar; and preventing the depletion of telomeres, caps on chromosomes that help to keep DNA stable and so prevent cells wearing out and ageing.
Clusters of genes that became less active were those governed by a master gene called NF-kappaB, which triggers chronic inflammation leading to diseases including high blood pressure, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease and some cancers.
Even more interesting was that researchers found evidence to suggest that such changes can occur quickly and that regularly meditating can have lasting health effects:
By taking blood immediately after before and after performing the technique on a single day, researchers also showed that the gene changes happened within minutes.
For comparison, the researchers also took samples from 26 volunteers who had practiced relaxation techniques for at least three years. They had beneficial gene profiles even before performing their routines in the lab, suggesting that the techniques had resulted in long term changes to their genes.
See full story on stanford.edu (Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
For more stories (and videos), check out the many ways meditation benefits the body, mind and spirit.
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