(NaturalNews) In order to determine how mindful meditation compares to other stress reducing activities, a study was set up to compare the efficacy of meditation to stress reducing exercises for both stress and chronic inflammation.
One group of subjects was trained and placed into the Health Enhancement Program (HEP). This program consisted of nutritional education, physical activities that included balance and agility training, core strengthening, which involves the body's whole trunk area, not just toning abs, were the activities expertly taught. Music therapy was included in the HEP group.
The other group of subjects were trained with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or meditation. Both the HEP and MBSR participants were trained by experts in each area to do their assigned activities at home.
This eight week trial, entitled "A comparison of mindfulness-based stress reduction and an active control in modulation of neurogenic inflammation," was monitored by University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientists with the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, all part of the Madison, Wisconsin campus.
The Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) was used on both groups to induce stress that could be measured by biochemical markers indicating activation of a core driver of physiological stress known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Cortisol is only one of those measurable serum and saliva markers.
Those levels were measured in each participant before beginning their specifically assigned practice and after to measure each individual's different levels. Not everyone reacts to the TSST stress the same, so the difference from before and after with each individual was monitored and analyzed to determine the effects of what they were doing to handle stress.
A capsaicin cream was used to create inflammation. Not exactly something to look forward to, but that was probably the price for being trained with stress and inflammation reduction methods they could use for life.
Markers showed similar stress reduction for both groups, but the MBSR meditation group showed a better inflammation response.
A similar conclusion from an earlier flu season study
Not only was the conclusion similar, the location was the same. Dr. Bruce Barrett of the University of Wisconsin-Madison led research to discover how employees could stay in their work stations more without taking as much time off for temporary sick leave during cold and flu seasons. Neither flu shots nor increased vitamin D were the focus of this study.
Instead, three groups were tracked with their work attendance during Madison, Wisconsin's long, yucky flu season of 2011-2012. One group meditated, another group did steady moderate exercise, and the third group did neither.
Although the training for the exercise and meditation groups was weekly for eight weeks, the work attendance tracking continued throughout the late fall, winter, and early spring.
The do-nothing group had 40 bouts of respiratory illness, averaging nine days missed for each. Both the moderate exercise and meditation groups had considerably fewer flu episodes and colds, 26 with the exercise group and 27 for the meditators.
Dr. Barrett attributed the faster recovery time to how the meditators seemed to suffer less from each bout of a flu or cold. Interesting how this corresponds with the other Madison, Wisconsin study cited earlier in this article. That meditation group showed fewer adverse reactions from induced inflammation.
Earlier studies from Southern California, Chicago, and elsewhere have demonstrated more rapid recovery from heart attacks and other ailments using transcendental meditation (TM).
The sickest industrialized nation in the world with the highest amounts spent on healthcare might get healthier if studies like these were publicized to promote meditation more instead of merely "encouraging further studies."