“MEDITATION doesn’t just calm the mind – it may affect our DNA too.
“Mind-body practices” such as mindfulness meditation are claimed to protect against stress-related
diseases, but how these might improve physical health is unclear.
Ivana Buric of Coventry University, UK, and her colleagues [(2017)] have now conducted the first systematic review of studies that have examined gene activity in people who are nurturing inner peace. They analysed 18 trials involving 846 participants, ranging from a 2005 study of qigong to a 2014 trial of tai chi.
The quality of studies was mixed, but Buric says there was an overall pattern: genes related to inflammation became less active in people practising mind-body interventions (Frontiers in
Immunology, doi.org/b8qq). This suggests doing so might help reduce the risk for inflammation-related disorders, says Buric.
So far, evidence suggests that various practices may all be working in a similar way. If you want to reduce inflammation to improve health, says Buric, “it seems it really doesn’t matter which one you choose”. (New Scientist, 2017, p.20).
New Scientist (2017) In Brief: Yoga May Relax Inflammation Genes. New Scientist. 24 June 2017.
Buric, I., Farias, M., Jong, J., Mee, C. & Brazil, I.A. (2017) What Is the Molecular Signature of Mind–Body Interventions? A Systematic Review of Gene Expression Changes Induced by Meditation and Related Practices. Frontiers in Immunology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2017.00670.