Meditation helps boost immunity, says study

Hyderabad: Heartfulness meditation improves immunity against infections and cancer and is an effective adjunct in the treatment of several autoimmune disorders, a study said.

In the current context of the Covid-19 pandemic, with no vaccines available, it has been advocated strongly by medical and other research fraternities that the fundamental defence against the virus is to have strong immunity.

In an article published in the International Journal of Recent Scientific Research, authors Raja Amarnath, Director, Critical Care Services, Sree Balaji Medical College, Chennai, Natwar Sharma, Pediatrics in-charge, Saveetha Medical College, Chennai, Prasanthi J., Diabetologist, Chennai, Sugirtha Jenitha, Critical Care, Sree Balaji Medical College, Chitra Rajan, Consultant, Environmental Sustainability, IIT Chennai, and Subbulakshmi Balasubramanian, RRT, Michigan, USA, have drawn a comparison between stress and immunity.

According to the authors, when stress becomes chronic, many organ systems in the body get affected. Persistent stress results in excessive levels of cortisol and other corticosteroids circulating in the blood for a longer period that produces irregularities in the immune responses.

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This results in increased susceptibility to infections, increased risk of cancer, tendency to develop an allergy, increased gastrointestinal problems and an increased risk of autoimmune disorders. Chronic stress also leads to anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

The authors say that managing stress through relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, positive thinking and moulding a healthy lifestyle can dramatically improve mood and strengthen the immune system.

They cited studies which revealed that the relaxation produced after meditation reduces the levels of IL-6, a proinflammatory cytokine produced by T cells, that plays a major role in the pathophysiology of several autoimmune diseases, different types of cancers and Alzheimer’s disease.

Regular practice of Heartfulness Meditation can aid in stress reduction and general well-being. Shifting the autonomic balance towards parasympathetic from sympathetic and reducing the secretion of stress hormones are the key reasons.

Relaxation response produced by meditation reduces metabolic rate, reduces breathing and heart rate (HR), lowers blood pressure, brings cortisol and lactate levels down, and elevates blood flow to the key internal organs.

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Modified Raja Yoga systems like Heartfulness Meditation, which is simple and practised by the majority of spiritual seekers around the world for the last several decades, needs to be explored much deeper through large and controlled trials.

“Meditation should be made an integral part of life. It acts as a silent regulator for all systems in our being — physical, mental, emotional and spiritual — to function in harmony. The impact of this is the ability of the body and mind to respond to internal and external stress with extreme effectiveness. Scientific backing forms the core of the offerings at Heartfulness,” said Kamlesh Patel, a guide of Heartfulness.

“The recent study that shows Heartfulness Meditation helps in improving immunity should be motivating for many to embrace the practice, to help deal with situations like we are facing now as well as to strengthen oneself internally for the future challenges,” he added.

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