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BOMBSHELL NEW Study: Slash the risk of coronary artery disease by HALF with one SIMPLE act

Reproduced from original article:
www.naturalhealth365.com/benefits-of-meditation-3643.html
by:  | November 30, 2020

benefits-of-meditation(NaturalHealth365) Despite the tragic loss of life caused by diseases such as cancer, COPD, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes, the leading cause of death in the United States continues to be heart disease – claiming over 655,000 lives a year. And, the most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries that supply the heart with blood and oxygen.  Keep in mind, the risk factors for CAD include smoking; eating a poor diet; being overweight and physical inactivity, with family history playing a role as well.

Now, a bombshell (new) study published in The American Journal of Cardiology highlights a somewhat unusual hero in the battle against CAD – the ancient spiritual practice known as meditation. Let’s take a closer look at this intriguing study – and the unexpected benefits of meditation.

Seasoned researchers and scientists extol the benefits of  meditation

The study, a data analysis titled “Meditation and Cardiovascular Health in the US,” was conducted by Veterans Affairs researchers, and published in June in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Cardiology.

The team used data from the National Health Interview Survey – which involved more than 61,000 participants – and discovered that almost 6,000 reported practicing some form of meditation.  After taking into consideration a wide variety of factors – including cigarette smoking, weight, age, sex, race and marital status – the scientists came to a stunning realization.

Those who meditated were only 51 percent as likely to have CAD as those who didn’t – a very compelling statistic.  Just imagine if a pharmaceutical drug had achieved this result.  It would be headline news indeed!

And, that wasn’t all…

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The meditation group was only 65 percent as likely to have high cholesterol, 70 percent as likely to have diabetes and 76 percent as likely to have a stroke!

Important to note: the study didn’t show causality. In other words, the data did not prove that the meditation caused the lack of disease. But, the very strong association between meditation and better health speaks for itself.

Lead researcher Dr. Chayakrit Krittanawong, of Baylor College of Medicine and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, summed it up this way. “I believe in meditation, as it can give us a sense of calm, peace and stress reduction leading to improvement of our emotional well-being.”

How unusual – and refreshing – to hear these words from a veteran scientist.  Of course, the team noted that more study is needed to determine which types of meditation offer the most cardiovascular benefit.  Hopefully, clinical trials will soon follow.

Additional studies support the anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting benefits of meditation

Although the new study is certainly eye-opening, it is not the first to bring attention to the physical benefits of meditation.  Studies have shown that people under stress who meditate regularly can reduce production of an inflammatory marker known as interleukin-6.

Many scientists believe that inflammation is linked with heart disease, as well as with diabetes, cancer, autoimmune conditions and Alzheimer’s disease.  In addition, regular meditation may boost immune function.  In fact, one study showed that volunteers who did weekly meditations for 8 weeks had significantly higher levels of disease-fighting antibodies.

Thankfully, this has not gone unnoticed by medical authorities.

In 2017, the American Heart Association (AHA) issued a statement suggesting that meditation was associated with heart disease risk reduction – and advised that it be considered as an adjunct to standard risk-reduction interventions for heart disease.

The AHA went on to declare that meditation could benefit blood pressure, cholesterol levels, ability to quit smoking and overall heart health. The organization also noted that meditation could be particularly beneficial after a major cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack.

GREAT health news: Meditation increases functional connectivity in the brain, may slow cognitive decline

An unusual study published in 2018 in Journal of Cognitive Enhancement followed 60 participants who meditated for at least 6 hours a day while attending two 90-day meditation retreats in Colorado.  Already experienced meditators, the volunteers also received instruction and guidance from a noted Buddhist scholar.

Seven years after the study, the participants who still practiced meditation continued to enjoy the benefits, and to demonstrate improved sustained attention. In addition, meditation appeared to help ward off age-related cognitive decline.  As the researchers put it: “Aging-related decrements in measures of response inhibition … were moderated by levels of continued meditation practice.”

There is even evidence supporting meditation’s ability to improve neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to grow new neurons.

In addition, it increases production of serotonin – a neurotransmitter needed for stable mood – and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn helps to lower blood pressure and reduce levels of cortisol, the “stress” hormone.

Meditation has also been linked with increased psychological health, and with reduced risk of depression.  And, finally, regular meditation has been shown to reduce anxiety symptoms in those with generalized anxiety disorder.

Are you ready for a SIMPLE, 5-minute investment in your psychological and physical health?

Getting started with meditation is surprisingly simple.  Sit in a comfortable position, and focus on your own breathing, particularly the sensation and sound.

The goal is not to “banish” thought, but to non-judgmentally acknowledge thoughts and emotions as they arise – and then return your attention to breathing.

Meditation teachers generally recommend starting with five-minute intervals, which you can increase to 20 minutes a day if possible or practical.  By the way, even 20 minutes of meditation a few times a week is linked with improved resiliency to stress and lessened pain response.

While many of us blame our ever-present mobile devices for increasing stress and anxiety, they can serve as allies in the search for serenity.  Meditation apps, many of them free or low-cost, are available – and can be downloaded within seconds.

As the studies show, meditation is far more than a spacey, “New Age-y” fad.  It is a valuable technique that can promote relaxation, preserve health and potentially even prolong life. Maybe it’s time to give this soothing practice a try.

Sources for this article include:

CDC.gov
ScienceDaily.com
NaturalHealth365.com
Springer.com

Calm Your Mind and Lower Your Blood Pressure With This


Reproduced from original article:
https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2020/10/22/meditation-may-lower-blood-pressure.aspx
Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola     Fact Checked     October 22, 2020

meditation

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Meditation may play an important role in lowering blood pressure by favorably influencing a recently identified set of genes and biological pathways
  • One of the ways that meditation works to calm the body and mind is by triggering the relaxation response, which is the opposite of the fight-or-flight response that occurs due to stress
  • The relaxation response practice enhanced the expression of genes associated with energy metabolism, mitochondrial function and insulin secretion while reducing the expression of genes linked to inflammation and stress-related pathways
  • Mindfulness meditation led to a reduction in blood pressure that was related to genes involved in immune regulatory pathways, metabolism and glucose metabolism, cardiovascular system development and circadian rhythm
  • Lifestyle modification and mind-body interventions may be at least as effective as drug treatment for high blood pressure and are generally free of side effects

More than 1.13 billion people worldwide,1 including up to 100 million Americans, have high blood pressure. Among certain populations, particularly older Americans, the prevalence of high blood pressure rises to more than 50%, making it a significant burden for public health, as high blood pressure is a major risk factor for coronary, cerebrovascular and peripheral vascular disease, along with heart attack and stroke.2

Medications are the first line of treatment for high blood pressure in conventional medicine, but such drugs carry “burdensome” side effects that often cause people to stop taking them, researchers noted in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, adding — importantly — that lifestyle modification and mind-body interventions may be at least as effective as drug treatment and are generally free of side effects.3

Their study revealed, in fact, that mind-body practices that trigger your body’s relaxation response, such as meditation, play an important role in lowering blood pressure by favorably influencing a recently identified set of genes and biological pathways.4

The Power of Your Relaxation Response

One of the ways that meditation works to calm the body and mind is by triggering the relaxation response,5 which is the opposite of the fight-or-flight response that occurs due to stress.

By focusing on a word, phrase or repetitive prayer and disregarding everyday thoughts, the relaxation response is said to be activated,6 a process that’s similar to what occurs during mindfulness meditation, transcendental meditation and other meditative practices.

Once the relaxation response is elicited, biochemical changes are known to occur, including decreased oxygen consumption, blood pressure, heart and respiratory rate, and alterations in cortical and subcortical brain regions.7

In 2013, researchers revealed that relaxation response practice enhanced the expression of genes associated with energy metabolism, mitochondrial function and insulin secretion while reducing the expression of genes linked to inflammation and stress-related pathways,8 signaling its profound power within the body.

They also revealed, for the first time, that engaging in practices that evoke your body’s relaxation response, particularly when they’re done over the long term, “may evoke its downstream health benefits by improving mitochondrial energy production and utilization and thus promoting mitochondrial resiliency …”9

Meditation May Lower Blood Pressure by Altering Genetic Expression

As it relates to blood pressure, researchers with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at MGH revealed specific genes associated with the relaxation response that may reveal why it’s so beneficial for blood pressure.10

“In this study, we found that the relaxation response can successfully help reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients who are not taking medication,” study author Dr. Randall Zusman, director of the division of hypertension at MGH, said in a news release.11

The study involved 58 people with Stage 1 hypertension, which the study defined as having a systolic blood pressure between 140 and 159mm Hg and diastolic between 90 and 104mm Hg.

It should be noted that, in 2017, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association published new guidelines that changed what was officially considered “high” blood pressure, and via these guidelines, blood pressure at or above 140/90 mm Hg is considered Stage 2 hypertension.12

None of the patients was taking medications to control their blood pressure at the start of the study, during which participants attended eight weekly sessions of mind-body interventions designed to elicit the relaxation response.

This included mindfulness meditation along with mantra repetition and diaphragmatic breathing. The participants also used a guided audio CD to help invoke the relaxation response once a day while at home.

Of the 24 participants who completed the eight-week intervention, 13 had a significant drop in blood pressure, such that they were no longer considered to have Stage 1 hypertension.

The researchers then conducted a gene expression analyses to look for differences in gene expression among those who had responded to the mind-body intervention and those who had not. The expression of 1,771 genes differed among the two groups, and the study revealed that the reduction in blood pressure was related to genes involved in:13

  • Immune regulatory pathways
  • Metabolism and glucose metabolism
  • Cardiovascular system development
  • Circadian rhythm

The researchers noted that genes linked to the immune system appeared to be particularly critical for blood pressure reduction, and, according to study author Dr. John Denninger:14

“Our results suggest that the relaxation response reduced blood pressure — at least in part — by altering expression of genes in a select set of biological pathways.

Importantly, the changes in gene expression associated with this drop in blood pressure are consistent with the physical changes in blood pressure and inflammatory markers that one would anticipate and hope to observe in patients successfully treated for hypertension.”

Research Mounts That Meditation Works for High Blood Pressure

The calming effect of meditation has been shown in numerous studies to benefit blood pressure. In a 2019 study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension, mindfulness meditation was evaluated for its effects on not only blood pressure but also anxiety, stress and depression.

For an eight-week period, participants engaged in mindfulness training for two hours a week, or participated in a control group involving health education talks. The meditation group had lower blood pressure monitoring values after the intervention, and were also less judgmental, more accepting and less depressed than the control group.15

Practicing “mindfulness” means you’re actively paying attention to the moment you’re in right now. Rather than letting your mind wander, when you’re mindful, you’re living in the moment and letting distracting thoughts pass through your mind without getting caught up in their emotional implications.

Another group of researchers conducted a meta-analysis involving 13 studies on meditation and yoga for blood pressure health. Blood pressure decreased in response to both meditation and yoga, and meditation appeared to be particularly useful in decreasing the blood pressure of subjects older than 60 years.16

In another example, meditation exercises, particularly qigong, were useful for lowering diastolic blood pressure in people with elevated levels,17 while research shows meditation may also help lower blood pressure with just three months of practice, while at the same time decreasing psychological distress and increasing coping ability among young adults.18

More Reasons to Meditate

In addition to promoting your body’s relaxation response, meditation offers a host of additional benefits, including reducing stress via stress-reduction pathways in your body.19 As explained via a press release:20

“When an individual experiences stress, activity in the prefrontal cortex — responsible for conscious thinking and planning — decreases, while activity in the amygdala, hypothalamus and anterior cingulate cortex — regions that quickly activate the body’s stress response — increases.

Studies have suggested that mindfulness reverses these patterns during stress; it increases prefrontal activity, which can regulate and turn down the biological stress response. Excessive activation of the biological stress response increases the risk of diseases impacted by stress (like depression, HIV and heart disease).

By reducing individuals’ experiences of stress, mindfulness may help regulate the physical stress response and ultimately reduce the risk and severity of stress-related diseases.”

High blood pressure is just one such stress-related disease,21 and meditation offers a simple, inexpensive tool to help manage stress that can be practiced virtually anytime, anywhere.

Beyond stress, meditation can be a powerful pain reliever,22 and research from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) supports the notion that meditation acts as a form of “mental exercise” that can help regulate your attention and emotions while improving well-being.

It’s been found previously that meditation prompts changes in the amygdala, a region of your brain associated with processing emotion. The research suggests these beneficial brain changes persist even after the meditation session is over, resulting in enduring changes in mental function.23

Two Common Forms of Meditation

If you’re new to meditation, you may want to get started with one of two common forms, mindfulness meditation and self-induced transcendence. For mindfulness meditation, simply sit quietly, perhaps with some soothing music, breathe rhythmically, and focus on something such as your breathing, a flower, an image, a candle, a mantra, or even just being there, fully aware, in the moment.

At the same time, let distracting thoughts pass by without taking your focus. Transcendence-style meditation is another form, which strengthens your corpus callosum, the bridge between your two brain hemispheres, according to Emily Fletcher of @zivameditation, my friend and meditation teacher.

By strengthening the connection between your right and left hemispheres, you gain access to more creative problem solving, and increase your productivity without adding stress.

Fletcher’s book, “Stress Less, Accomplish More: Meditation for Extraordinary Performance,” is an excellent guide for people with busy minds and busy lives, and may help you stick with meditation for the long run, which is particularly important if you’re using it to help control your blood pressure. This is also key to triggering your body’s relaxation response. In an interview, Fletcher stated:24

“The point of meditation is not to stop your mind from thinking. The point of meditation is to be a stress relieving tool, and the way that we do that in this style is that we de-excite the nervous system which creates order and we give the body very deep rest. The body wants to thank us for that, and it thanks us by dissolving our stress.”

Healthy Blood Pressure Strategies

Meditation is only one component of maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Insulin resistance is another, because as your insulin and leptin levels rise, it causes your blood pressure to increase. Eventually, you may become insulin and/or leptin resistant.

With regard to insulin resistance, research shows intermittent fasting promotes insulin sensitivity and improves blood sugar management by increasing insulin-mediated glucose uptake rates,25 which is important for resolving high blood pressure.

Toward that end, KetoFasting, which combines a cyclical ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting with cyclical partial fasting, is an important strategy to optimize your blood pressure and can be combined with meditation and other relaxation-response triggering activities to help you achieve optimal health.

Yoga Therapy Can Help Alleviate Tinnitus-Linked Distress

© 28th December 2019 GreenMedInfo LLC. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of GreenMedInfo LLC. Want to learn more from GreenMedInfo? Sign up for the newsletter here www.greenmedinfo.com/greenmed/newsletter
Reproduced from original article:
www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/yoga-therapy-can-help-alleviate-tinnitus-linked-distress

Tinnitus is a buzzing or ringing in the ears that has become a chronic nightmare for millions of Americans, causing undue stress, trouble working and even sleeplessness. Research explores yoga — an age-old practice proven as a stress buster — as a sound option to help address the stress-related psychological symptoms that come with tinnitus

Researchers in Poland examined the beneficial effects of 12 weeks of yoga training on 25 patients with chronic tinnitus.[i] Affecting over 50 million adults in the U.S.,[ii] tinnitus can affect one or both ears and can stem from exposure to loud noises, ear and sinus infections, hearing loss in the elderly, heart or blood vessel problems, and Meniere’s disease.

Ten of the subjects underwent MRI before and after yoga training, while all participants were assessed using the Tinnitus Functional Index. A control group was made up of 13 persons reporting chronic tinnitus.

Following the 12-week yoga course, the researchers identified several areas that benefited most from yoga therapy, namely a sense of control of tinnitus, sleep, quality of life and intrusiveness. The MRI results also revealed that connections in the white matter of the brain appeared stronger as a result of the training.

“Yoga training has good potential to improve the daily functioning of patients with chronic tinnitus and can be considered a promising supporting method for tinnitus treatment,” reported the researchers writing in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.[iii]

What Remedies Can Make a Difference in Tinnitus?

Tinnitus treatment varies depending on the cause, yet there are patients who have found no lasting relief from hearing aids, sound-masking devices and medication.

Acupuncture, both in manual and electrical forms, has been shown to have therapeutic value in treating tinnitus. In a 2010 study,[iv] 50 patients who suffered from the disorder were investigated and assigned to either a manual acupuncture group, electrical acupuncture group or a placebo group.

After six treatments, the frequency of tinnitus occurrence as well as loudness appeared to be significantly reduced in the electrical acupuncture group, while quality of life improved at two post-treatment periods in both manual and electrical groups.

Improving levels of coenzyme Q10zinc, and vitamin B12 has also been linked with the improvement of tinnitus.[v],[vi],[vii]

Stress Management in Chronic Tinnitus Sufferers

Depending on its severity, chronic tinnitus can lead to distress and anxiety from trouble hearing, working or even catching sleep at night. Not everyone affected has successfully learned how to cope with the noise, which can come in the form of roaring, hissing, clicking or other common sounds.

Yoga, an ancient wellness practice, can help immensely in managing stress, whether from conditions like tinnitus or everyday stresses that you encounter. There’s mounting evidence that vouches for its favorable effects against stress and diseases — GreenMedInfo.com has an exhaustive list of studies vouching for yoga’s therapeutic actions. Other natural remedies against stress, which act as mental wellness tools, include:

  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Simple exercises such as getting outside for a walk
  • Solid support system composed of family, friends
  • Professional counseling, if necessary

Integrating yoga and other natural approaches with additional lifestyle and environmental changes can make a radical difference in your tinnitus experience — even more so in the lasting, life-disrupting distress that can come with it.


References

[i] Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2019 Aug;36:7-11. Epub 2019 Apr 13.

[ii] American Tinnitus Association, Understanding the Facts

[iii] Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2019 Aug;36:7-11. Epub 2019 Apr 13.

[iv] Complement Ther Med. 2010 Dec;18(6):249-55. Epub 2010 Oct 8.

[v] Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2007 Jan;136(1):72-7.

[vi] Otol Neurotol. 2003 Jan;24(1):86-9.

[vii] Am J Otolaryngol. 1993 Mar-Apr;14(2):94-9.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.