Mounting scientific evidence has shown that meditation can affect a person’s mood by making them more relaxed and at ease; it can create real changes in the body and the mind; and it might even help some people get over their addictions. So it’s not surprising that for some time many researchers have been wondering if meditation can affect our genes. A new international study being worked on by researchers in Spain, France, and Wisconsin may have just answered the question.
The researchers’ data suggests that mindfulness meditation does affect our genes by limiting the expression of certain genes. “Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs,” said the first author of the article, Perla Kaliman who is also a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, Spain (IIBB-CSIC-IDIBAPS), where the results were analyzed.
What this means is that the scientist think they can do further research to find ways meditation can be used to treat patients with chronic inflammation. Kaliman went on to say, “Our findings set the foundation for future studies to further assess meditation strategies for the treatment of chronic inflammatory conditions.”
The results of the study were obtained by observing and testing two groups: A group of experienced meditators who were told to practice mindfulness for eight hours, and another group who were told to do quiet activities for the same amount of time. At the beginning of the study, the researchers compared the genes of the two groups and found no notable differences; however, at the end of the study, they noticed a “down-regulation” of genes associated with inflammation in the participants of the mindfulness group.
The study was only designed to test the effects after one day of meditation, so it is still too early to tell what the long-term effects might be, but so far the results seem very positive.
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