There has been a dramatic increase in the past 15 years or so of studies on the impact of meditation upon one’s health. Meditation has entered the mainstream of health care as a method of stress and pain reduction. But recent studies may persuade even more doctors to try this alternative route to heal stress-induced conditions, including chronic skin conditions.
Meditation reduces the expression of genes linked to stress
Stress is not only a frequently unpleasant experience, but also has been shown to wear the body down, leading to increased biological age and likely to lead to long-term illness. John Denninger, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, is leading a study on how the ancient practices affect genes and brain activity in the chronically stressed.
Physiological changes have been measured and John Denninger came to the conclusion that meditating do have effects throughout the body, not just the brain. The study published in May in the medical journal PloS One showed that one session of relaxation-response practice was enough to enhance the expression of genes involved in energy metabolism and insulin secretion and reduce expression of genes linked to inflammatory response and stress.
Meditation decreases the levels of the hormone cortisol
Even more research is drawing a clear link between mindfulness meditation and lowered stress. A study in the journal Health Psychology shows an association between increased mindfulness and decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. “This is the first study to show a direct relation between resting cortisol and scores on any type of mindfulness scale,” study researcher Tonya Jacobs, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis Center for Mind and Brain, said in a statement.
Other researchers, Schoormans and Nyklicek, compared well-being measures for two groups that had each practiced a different meditation—mindfulness meditation (MM) or transcendental meditation (TM). The results showed that MM and TM practitioners had very similar mindfulness and well-being outcomes. In fact, lots of research on meditation and stress have shown that nearly all the varieties of meditation styles combat stress. The only predictor of higher mindfulness and reduced stress was the number of days meditated per week, with more days associated with higher mindfulness and reduced stress.
Meditation helps the mind help the skin!
There are a lot of diseases that one can use meditation to heal. Although the mechanisms by which mediation fight disease or promote healing aren’t fully understood, some form of a connection has been established between meditation and healing.
In terms of chronic skin diseases, relaxation techniques have been used along with conventional medical care in treating acne, eczema, hives and psoriasis. Although cause and effect can be difficult to pin down and not everyone responds emotionally through the skin, considerable data suggest that at least in some people, stress and other psychological factors can lead to inflammation and activate or worsen certain skin conditions. In this way, regular meditation can improve the symptoms of many skin conditions and be a powerful remedy to cure unhealthy emotional states.
Some studies also showed that stress reduction methods based on mindfulness meditation can positively influence the rate at which skin diseases clear up. Thirty seven people with psoriasis were studied in a trial led by John Kabat-Zin PhD, a pioneer of clinical research into mindfulness. The skin of patients listening to a guided mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction technique recording while receiving UVB or PUVA light treatments cleared at about four times the rate of participants who had phototherapy by itself.
Because psychological issues often intersect with skin physiology, treating both may offer the best chance for improvement!
Meditation is considered to be safe for most people, but there have been rare reports that meditation could cause or worsen symptoms in people who have certain psychiatric problems. Individuals with existing mental or physical health conditions should speak with their health care providers prior to starting a meditative practice and make their meditation instructor aware of their condition.