Clinical Studies 2018-01-18T11:45:55+00:00

MEDITATION

Clinical Studies

Evidence from multiple Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) studies shows meditation has a positive effect on PTSD, depression, stress, anxiety, and insomnia. According to The PTSD Research Quarterly, “Several types of meditation-based approaches have demonstrated efficacy in open trials, compared to alternative treatments, and as an adjunct to other treatments.” In particular, mantram repetition and breathing-based meditation practices, the cornerstone of AMI Meditation, appear to be effective coping tools for veterans.

AMI has received Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval through the Berkshire Medical Center to conduct a research study that will examine the impact of a basic daily mantra-based AMI MEDITATION practice on the symptoms of burnout, compassion fatigue and stress in healthcare providers. The first participants in this study will be among those who receive their training in Yoga Science as holistic mind/body medicine at AMI’s ninth annual Heart and Science of Yoga CME conference October 24-28, 2017 at the Cranwell Resort and Spa in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Experts agree, meditation can actually change – even reverse – the molecular reactions in our DNA which cause ill-health and depression. This groundbreaking research, published in Frontiers in Immunology, is based on over a decade of studies analyzing how the behavior of genes is affected by mind-body interventions (MBIs) such as meditation, yoga and Tai Chi. According to Lead investigator Ivana Buric from the Brain, Belief and Behaviour Lab in Coventry University’s Centre for Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement, “MBIs cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our wellbeing.”

Meditation can shift gene expression and even boost mood over time, according to a study conducted by a team of researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, University of California at San Francisco, and Harvard Medical School. Two groups of women who had no experience meditating were sent to a resort for a six-day meditation or relaxation retreat. A third group of women who were experienced meditators were also studied. All three groups showed shifts in the expression of genes related to stress, inflammation, and healing. However, experienced meditators gained the greatest benefits. They experienced shifts in genes related to fighting viral infection, aging, and dementia and depression. They also showed the most pronounced boost in mood, which lasted long after the retreat ended.

A survey published in the American Psychological Association revealed that millennials, individuals between 18 and 35 years old, are the most stressed out generation in history. The good news is that millennials are turning to meditation to resolve stress from the work day before it negatively impacts their lives, health and relationships. According to a Pew Research Center study, 42% of millennials have meditated at least once in the past year and 27% at least once a week.

Meditation helps fight insomnia and improves sleep, according to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine. Half of the participants completed a mindfulness awareness program that included meditation, while the other half completed a sleep education class that taught them ways to improve their sleep habits. Those in the meditation group had less insomnia, fatigue, and depression at the end of six sessions.

In an ongoing effort to scientifically validate the age-old belief that mind-body interventions have a beneficial impact on the health of patients, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has been awarded more than $4.5 million to study the efficacy of incorporating yoga into the treatment program of women with breast cancer. The grant, the largest ever awarded by the National Cancer Institute for the study of yoga in cancer, will allow researchers to conduct a Phase III clinical trial in women with breast cancer to determine the improvement in physical function and quality-of-life during and after radiation treatment. It will also investigate if such stress reduction programs result in economic and/or work productivity benefit. Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor and director of M.D. Anderson’s integrative medicine program, will be the study’s principal investigator. “Research has shown that yoga and other types of mind-body practices, when incorporated into the standard of care, can help improve patient outcomes—particularly quality-of-life,” said Cohen. “However, none have become standard of care, or are on the clinical care pathway for cancer patients. This funding will allow us to definitively determine the benefit of incorporating yoga into the treatment plan for women with breast cancer.” A secondary aim of the trial, but one of great importance, stressed Cohen, is assessing cost efficiency analysis for the hospital, and health care utilization costs in general, as well as examining work productivity of patients. “In this age of health care reform, it’s very important to determine the cost savings, not only to the hospital, but to also to women’s lives and their ability to engage in their work in a productive fashion, whether that’s the work of being a mother and running a household or working outside the home,” said Cohen. “By including such data as cost-effectiveness analyses, we may be able to change the standard of care and the way women with breast cancer are treated in this country.”

Meditation can build a bigger brain. That’s the finding from a group of researchers at UCLA who used high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of people who meditate. A study in the NeuroImage journal claims that certain regions in the brains of long-term meditators were larger than in a similar control group. Specifically, meditators showed significantly larger volumes of the hippocampus and areas within the orbito-frontal cortex, the thalamus and the inferior temporal gyrus—all regions known for regulating positive emotions.

During intense exercise (like running) the body’s immune system can become compromised because the body believes it’s in a dangerous “fight or flight” situation. The body gears up for a perceived threat and the mind prepares for potential injuries by releasing stress hormones (such as adrenaline) into the bloodstream. These hormones produce a burst of energy, but also increase the body’s immune suppressor T cells in an effort to reduce inflammation. The British Journal of Sports Medicine reports that meditation can actually enhance the immune system of athletes by preventing a large increase in suppressor cell activity during exercise.

Meditation lowers blood pressure without the side effects that can come from medication, according to Dr. James Anderson of the University of Kentucky, who reviewed nine separate studies and found meditation lowered blood pressure an average of 4.7 points on the systolic number and 3.2 points on the diastolic. Anderson claims such reductions could significantly reduce the chances of coronary heart disease.

NaturalNews.com recently reported on two important new studies. The first, published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, found that Yoga postures and meditation improve blood pressure, blood sugar and triglyceride levels and reduced waist circumference. In the second study, University of Karlstad, Sweden researchers concluded that the daily yogic breathing practices of pranayama significantly lowered levels of anxiety, depression and stress in those individuals participating.

Writing in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, UCLA researchers concluded that meditation as a stress-management technique can have a direct impact on slowing the progression of HIV while boosting the quality of life for people living with an HIV-positive condition. Researchers found that the more often the volunteers meditated, the higher were their CD4 T-cell counts—the standard measure of how well the immune system is combatting HIV.

For years, psychotherapists have worked to relieve suffering by reframing the content of patients’ thoughts, directly altering behavior or helping people gain insight into the unconscious sources of their emotional pain. According to Zindel Segal, a psychologist at the Center of Addiction & Mental Health in Toronto, meditation therapies have become useful psychotherapy techniques over the past decade because they help patients successfully catch-and-release their emotions.

Robert Schneider, M.D., of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention, recently announced the results of a new study that claims when patients with high blood pressure meditated regularly, they had a 23% lower death rate from all causes and a 30% lower rate of cardiovascular disease mortality (such as heart attacks and strokes).

Dr. Yi-Yuan Tang from the University of Oregon reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that regular meditation can improve attention and lower stress. The study of 40 undergraduates found that participation in twenty-minute meditation sessions over five days showed greater improvement in attention and lower levels of anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue, as compared with students in a control group who participated in relaxation training.

Reporting on an article in Arthritis Care & Research, CBS News announced that new research indicates meditation may help people cope with rheumatoid arthritis. In a new study, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients reported less psychological distress after practicing meditation for six months, compared with RA patients who did not receive meditation training. Meditation didn’t cure RA or erase the physical symptoms, but it appeared to help the patients deal with those symptoms.

Many people know that meditation can strengthen areas of the brain involved in attention and sensory processing, and that it is more energizing than a nap. But now a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine finds that meditation also significantly lowers blood lactate levels. This is good news for athletes. It means that after a workout, athletes who meditate are less prone to physical soreness and injury.

A new study conducted by the Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation in India indicates that a daily yoga and meditation practice during a woman’s pregnancy appears to improve birth weight, reduce prematurity and diminish overall medical complications for newborn babies.

A study in The Journal of the North American Menopause Society suggests that a regular meditation practice may ease hot flashes and improve the quality of life among menopausal women. The stress-reduction program included mindful yoga stretching, seated meditation and body scan visualization. At the conclusion of the study, participants reported that the rate of hot flashes was diminished by 39% while the severity of discomfort decreased by 40%. The women also reported a 28% improvement in the over-all quality of life.

A San Diego Veterans Affairs study found that a majority of participants using a mantra could cope better with stressful issues including traffic, work, insomnia, and undesirable thoughts. According to project researcher Jill Bormann, PhD, RN, “Mantras are nonsectarian, portable, invisible, always available, inexpensive, non-pharmacological, and nontoxic.”

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine’s Center for Spirituality and the Mind in Philadelphia are examining the effectiveness of meditation on early cognitive impairment. The study, led by Andrew Newberg, M.D., will try to determine if meditation can lessen, or even help to prevent, cognitive decline in early Alzheimer’s disease patients. According to Dr. Newberg, investigators will prescribe a daily meditation practice as an “exercise for the brain. We hope to strengthen the brain and to battle the unknown processes working to weaken it.”

Dr. Alarik Arenander, of the Brain Research Institute claims that (TM) meditation can reduce hyperactivity. The Seattle Times reports that children who practice it twice a day have shown marked improvement almost immediately. Arenander claims “Children don’t have to rely on a pill to improve behavior. They realize they now have a tool in meditation that makes them who they want to be.”

A Massachusetts General Hospital study indicates that meditation thickens the brain’s cerebral cortex. This reshaping of the brain’s outer layer enhances sensory, auditory and visual perceptions, slows aging and retards memory loss. Participants in the study were average, working people who meditated 40 minutes daily.

A British research study presented at the Society for Neuroscience indicates that meditation improves a person’s attention levels and that a daily meditation practice can actually be restorative–helping to reduce the harmful effects of sleeplessness.

According to Stephanie Oakes, an editor for USA Weekend magazine, the National Institutes of Health claims that 80 to 90 percent of all illnesses are caused by stress. In addition, NIH research has found that daily meditation is more than twice as effective at reducing stress than any other form of relaxation. Commenting on the meditation findings, Ms. Oakes observes “Something more than positive thinking, counseling, morale boosters or traditional exercise is needed.”

New medical research indicates that daily meditation can extend the human lifespan. During long-term clinical trials conducted at the Medical College of Wisconsin, in comparison to non-meditators, meditators experienced 23 percent fewer deaths from all causes, 30 percent fewer deaths from cardiovascular disease, and a 49 percent lower rate of death from cancer. According to Dr. Robert Schneider, Dean of Vedic Medicine at the Maharishi University, “Meditation benefits affect lifespan by strengthening the immune system, improving nervous system activity, reducing stress hormones, and enhancing the individual’s capacity to make healthier choices.”

According to the Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, men and women who practiced meditation were able to significantly lower their blood pressure. The findings, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, revealed that women meditators were able to lower their blood pressure more consistently than male meditators. Although the discrepancy is unexplained, researchers noted that “the women [in the study] did meditate more regularly than the men.”

ABC television’s World News Tonight recently reported that the University of Massachusetts Medical School is conducting a study on a new, alternative therapy for men who have had surgery or irradiation to remove prostate cancer, but who still show signs of the disease. Preliminary findings indicate that when spouses and their husbands meditated together regularly and both ate a mostly vegetarian diet, PSA numbers slowed down their level of increase––and some actually went down. “In eight out of ten patients we had a response,” said urologist Dr. Robert Blute Jr. “In two of the patients it was dramatic.” All the participants of the study indicated that they felt better about themselves, were less anxious and suffered significantly less depression.

YOGA

Clinical Studies

Yoga and meditation programs could translate into health care savings from $640 to as much as $25,500 per patient each year, according to a recent study conducted by Dr. James E. Stahl and his team of Harvard researchers. They found that people who took an eight week mind-body relaxation program offered through the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital used 43% fewer medical services than they did the previous year, saving on average $2,360 per person in emergency room visits alone.

Although health insurers don’t currently reimburse individuals for yoga and meditation instruction, mounting clinical evidence may convince insurers that these mind/body practices provide significant therapeutic benefits in the treatment of chronic disease. In a recent 410-participant study reported by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, hatha yoga stretching and breathing exercises improved sleep, reduced dependence on sedatives and helped cancer patients resume their routine activities. “Clinicians should now feel pretty comfortable prescribing gentle hatha yoga or restorative yoga for their patients,” said Karen Mustian, lead author of the study and assistant professor in the department of radiation oncology and preventive medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “The data from this study is one of the first steps in the direction toward insurance coverage.” In the Rochester study, half of the patients were assigned to yoga classes twice a week for one month. By the end of the trial, 31 percent of yoga patients no longer had sleep disruptions, twice the recovery rate of patients who didn’t take classes. Yoga practitioners also reported a 42 percent reduction in fatigue, compared with a 12 percent reduction for the control group. Yoga users decreased the use of sleep medication by 21 percent, while the control group actually increased reliance on sleeping drugs by 5 percent.

A recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that women who practiced hatha yoga reported improvements in their sexual relationships. Mindfulness played a key role in the study, which also cited research that found yoga to be beneficial in the sex lives of men as well. Have you noticed any changes in habit patterns since you began practicing yoga?

A new study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, recommends regular, moderate exercise such as walking, strength training, and Hatha Yoga to alleviate pain caused by fibromyalgia and arthritis. The study observed 135 women exercising three times a week for four months, initially for 30 minutes and increasing to 60 minutes. Pain was reduced by 45 percent after 16 weeks.

Nancy Portuga Jamello teaches Hatha Yoga to teenage students at the California School for the Blind in Fremont. Many of the students slouch because the constant fear of running into objects and losing their balance can produce an over-arching spine. Yoga gives them the chance not only to work on their posture and balance, but also to get helpful exercise without worrying about the space around them. “Although the students can’t necessarily play a sport or go for a run in the park, they can benefit from the Yoga postures,” Jamello told The Mercury News.

A recent pilot study in the Arab Emirates revealed that as little as 12 sessions of meditation and hatha yoga significantly improved the conditions of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. Out of a total of 47 patients enrolled in the study, 26 undertook Yoga sessions, while a control group of 21 remained on regular treatment. Some patients in the yoga group were able to decrease or discontinue RA medications. The study was funded by the Emirates Arthritis Foundation.

The Journal of Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice reports that new Swedish and Indian studies show that Yoga Science can reverse high blood pressure, obesity, and high blood sugar. In the study triglycerides were significantly lower and “good” HDL cholesterol levels were higher in the Yoga group as compared to a control group.

In a recent article on newindpress.com, Dr. Sejal Shah, M.D. states that a consistent Yoga Science practice can produce a healthier maternal environment for pregnancy and a significantly gentler and more harmonious birthing experience for both mother and child. Easy-gentle yoga stimulates the reproductive organs to ensure a relatively easy childbirth, ensures optimum blood supply and nutrients to the developing fetus, enhances correct posture, establishes balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic system, improves blood circulation, tones the muscles of spine, abdomen and pelvis, which help to support the added weight of the uterus, and prevents common ailments such as backache, leg cramps, breathlessness and edema in the feet. Pranayama (breath work) ensures the abundant supply of oxygen and prana (life force) for both mother and child. It induces tranquility and a feeling of wellbeing. It tunes up the nervous system, improves emotional stability, helps to eliminate anxiety, relieves insomnia, high blood pressure and breathlessness, while improving breathing capacity, stamina and vitality—promoting an easy delivery with minimum distress and fatigue. Meditation provides the necessary insight, will power and discrimination for making sound lifestyle choices during and after pregnancy. As a therapeutic tool, meditation helps resolve neuroses, fears and conflicts common during pregnancy.

Researchers from the Boston University Medical School have found that a regular yoga practice may increase levels of certain brain substances, low levels of which are linked to depression and anxiety. Currently, pharmaceutical treatment of mood disorders elevates the level of neurotransmitters called gamma-aminobutyric (GABA). The new findings, appearing in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, suggest that Yoga Science be explored as a possible treatment for depression and anxiety disorders associated with low GABA levels.

A recent study published in Head & Face Medicine, London, England showed that computer workers who practiced Yoga for 60 days reported experiencing improved visual comfort and reduced “dry eye.” Previous research also has shown the effectiveness of Yoga in reducing eyestrain among people with progressive nearsightedness.

A new study conducted by the Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation in India indicates that a daily yoga and meditation practice during a woman’s pregnancy seems to improve birth weight, and reduce prematurity and reduce overall medical complications for newborn babies.

In one of the first studies of its kind, the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas has announced that women going through treatment for breast cancer felt better when they practiced yoga. “Our belief is that something as simple and brief as a short (yoga) program would be very useful,” at combating side effects from cancer treatment, said Dr. Lorenzo Cohen, a psychologist who led the pilot study. Yoga incorporates meditation, controlled breathing, imagery, stretching, relaxation and physical movements. According to study participant and breast cancer patient Teresita Ladrillo, “There’s something to be said for being still.” The National Cancer Institute recently awarded M.D. Anderson a $2.4 million grant to study the effects of Tibetan yoga on women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy.

The Maharishi University reports that mantra meditation (TM) reduces hospitalization rates. Compared to the national average, for the 2000 meditating patients observed in the study, there was 87% less hospitalization for cardiovascular disease, 55% less for cancer, 87% less for nervous system diseases and 73% less for nose, throat, and lung problems.

A study in the Psychology of Women Quarterly reports that daily yogic exercise produces greater body satisfaction and fewer symptoms of eating disorders than traditional aerobic exercise like jogging or using cardio machines. In yoga class, individuals develop sensitivity to bodily sensations and learn how to listen to their body’s feedback.

According to WebMD, a new research study shows that adults of normal weight (ages 45 to 55) who practiced yoga regularly gained an average of 3 pounds less than those who didn’t practice yoga. Meanwhile, overweight adults who practiced yoga lost an average of 5 pounds, while those who didn’t, gained about 14 pounds during the same time period.

According to Dr. Mehmet Oz, a cardiac surgeon at New York Presbyterian Hospital, a regular practice of yoga can massage the lymph system. Lymph is the body’s dirty dishwater. A network of lymphatic vessels and storage sacs crisscross the entire body, in parallel with the blood supply, carrying a fluid composed of infection-fighting white blood cells and the waste products of cellular activity. Daily yoga, like AMI’s Easy-Gentle Yoga, activates the flow of lymph through the body, speeds up the filtering process and promotes efficient drainage of the lymph.

According to the Chicago Daily Herald, Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton, Illinois, regularly uses both meditation and hatha yoga to accelerate patient recovery. Under the guidance of Dr. Gouri Chaudhuri, stroke patients who meditate have shortened their hospital stay by four days and reduced sleep medication by 45 percent. Functions such as bladder control, speech and muscle movement also improved.