New research suggests that meditation done at an intense level could help to strengthen the immune system. These findings come after researchers analyzed blood samples from pre- and post-meditation genetic activity among more than 100 men and women.
The study involved 106 men and women with an average age of 40. All participants had enrolled in a meditation retreat conducted at the Isha Institute of Inner Sciences in McMinnville, Tennessee.
Blood samples were taken from all participants multiple times. The first samples were taken 5 to 8 weeks before the retreat, then just before the retreat began, and three months after the retreat was completed.
The retreat lasted for eight days and provided all participants with vegan cuisine, and they all followed a regular sleep schedule. Meditation sessions lasted 10 hours a day and were all conducted in silence.
After analyzing the blood samples, researchers found an uptick in activity involving 220 immune-related genes, including 68 genes engaged in “interferon signaling.” This type of signaling can be the key to mounting an effective defense against various health conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, and even COVID-19.
The impact of molecular activity seen among retreat participants held up even after accounting for sleep and diet patterns.
Researchers note that the findings do not prove that meditation actually caused gene changes to occur. They also stress that their study involved 10-hour daily marathon meditation sessions in total silence for eight straight days.
In the real world, most people could not replicate these methods. However, they suggest that meditation could someday be used for newly developed behavioral therapies to maintain brain health and treat neurological diseases.
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