More Studies on Meditation as a Healing Therapy.

Meditation as Healing Therapy

A recent issue of Science Digest reports that more studies are looking at meditation as an effective therapy for cognitive impairment, migraine headache, and pain. In their first study subjects were between age 55 and 90 with mild cognitive impairment (problem with memory or other faculties without yet having dementia) and found that those who practiced MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction consisting of meditation and yoga) for 8 weeks had significantly improved functional connectivity in their brain network that is active during introspective thought such as retrieving memories and less atrophy in the hippocampus (area of brain responsible for emotions. learning, and memory) when compared with controls who received conventional care.  Researchers concluded that the findings indicate meditation may positively affect the area of the brain most impacted by Alzheimer’s and thus may be capable of slowing the progress of the disease.

In their second study researchers found that adults with migraine headaches who practiced MBSR for eight weeks had shorter and less debilitating migraines than those in the control group receiving standard care. The subjects also tended to have less frequent and less severe attacks of migraine and reported having a greater sense of self-control over their migraines.

Another studied carried out by a colleague found that as little as three 20-minute training sessions in mindfulness meditation can reduce pain and everyday anxiety in healthy individuals with no previous meditation experience. Subjects rated the pain they felt while meditating  as 40 percent less intense and 57 percent less unpleasant than when they tested with their eyes closed only.  At the same time the brain imaging showed decreased neural activity in the area of the brain involved with feeling the location and intensity of pain and increased activity in regions of the brain associated with attention and the ability to regulate emotions.  In the anxiety research, subjects reported decreases in everyday anxiety by as much as 39 percent during meditation. At the same time scans of the brain showed increased activity in areas associated with regulating thinking, emotions and worrying. More research by the team on meditation and worry or migraine headaches are ongoing.

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