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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mindfulness reduces inflammation

People suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and asthma — in which psychological stress plays a major role — may benefit from mindfulness meditation techniques, according to a study by University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientists with the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds in the Waisman Center.

Mindfulness meditation consists of continuously focusing attention on the breath, bodily sensations, and mental content while seated, walking, or practicing yoga.

The results show that behavioral interventions designed to reduce emotional reactivity are beneficial to people suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions. The study also suggests that mindfulness techniques may be more effective in relieving inflammatory symptoms than other activities that promote well-being.

The mindfulness-based approach is not a magic bullet, said Melissa Rosenkranz, assistant scientist at the center and lead author of the paper, which was published recently in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

“The mindfulness-based approach to stress reduction may offer a lower-cost alternative or complement to standard treatment, and it can be practiced easily by patients in their own homes, whenever they need,” Rosenkranz says.