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Biohacker Inside - The Benefits of Meditation

Let's talk about the benefits and applications of meditation in your daily life. I have shown you the effects of meditation in its different practices in healthy subjects.

 

It turns out, meditation is very effective in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.

 

It has been shown to help women going through menopause and to help with smoking cessation. 

 

A lot of people practicing meditation have felt an increase

 in their cognitive abilities, as well. The mindfulness type of meditation has been incorporated into medical therapies.

 

For example, mindfulness based cognitive therapy is adapted from Jon Kabat-Zinn's Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. And has been used to treat chronic pain and relapsing chronic depression.

 

In a clinical study comparing mindfulness based cognitive therapy, or MBCT to medication, patients randomized to the MBCT were shown to sustain a decreased risk of depression relapse, even at 60 weeks in follow up. This was a very large study with 1,258 participants. The same author conducted a meta analysis, looking at multiple studies that considered the effect of MBCT, ranging from comparing MBCT to no intervention, all the way to comparing MBCT to antidepressants.

 

In every single study, MBCT ranked better than antidepressants, any active treatment, and no intervention at all.

 

Another randomized control trial study looked at the effects of mindfulness based intervention programs in patients suffering from schizophrenia, compared to conventional psychoeducational groups in the clinic setting. The patients undergoing the mindfulness based program reported a greater reduction in hallucinations and delusions.

 

It also showed that when patients did experience psychotic episodes they were milder and led to shorter hospital stays.

Patients also reported a bigger insight into their illness and a better level of functioning, which correlates with these patients ability to regain an independent life.

 

This effect was seen at one week post intervention and sustained at six months in follow up.

 

The effect of meditation and mindfulness is also significant in neuro degenerative disorders. We know that approximately 50% of people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, that is, the intermediate stage between the expected declines of normal aging and the more serious cognitive deterioration associated with dementia, may develop dementia within five years.

 

And unfortunately, we know there are currently no FDA approved medications that can stop that progression.

A study evaluated adults between the ages of 15 and 99 years of age, where adults diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment were included in the study. Participants were randomized two to one either to a group who participated in mindfulness stress based reduction, MBSR, using meditation and yoga, or a control who will receive normal care.

 

The study group met for two hours each week for eight weeks. They also participated in a day long mindfulness retreat and

were encouraged to continue their practice at home for 15 to 30 minutes per day. All participants underwent a functional MRI at baseline and then then again after eight weeks, to determine if there were any changes in the structures of the brain or in brain activity.

 

The results of fMRI imagining showed that the group engaged in MDSR had significantly improved functional connectivity in the areas of the default mode network.

 

Additionally, as expected, both groups experienced atrophy of the hippocampus, but those who practiced MBSR experienced less atrophy. This was a small study, so more research needs to be done to replicate the result, but these are very encouraging results in a disease that we currently have no treatment for.

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