A new University of Wisconsin-Madison study shows that meditation, a proven reducer of psychological stress, can also lessen stress-caused inflammation and thereby relieve the symptoms and pain of certain diseases. Long-term stress has long been linked to inflammation, an underlying cause of many diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, bowel disease, asthma, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Meditation study volunteers were divided into two groups—an eight-week mindfulness meditation course or a stress reduction program of supportive nutrition, exercise and music therapy that did not include meditation. The meditation group focused attention on the breath, bodily sensations and mental content while seated, walking or practicing yoga.
Immune and endocrine data was collected before and after training in the two methods and meditation proved to be more effective. Melissa Rosenkranz, a neuroscientist with the university’s Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and lead author of the report, concludes that, “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 needed.”