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Posts Tagged ‘immune system’

12 November 2012 Meditation Boosts Mood, Eases Pain & Stress

by Michelle Schoffro Cook
November 2, 201

While most people associate meditation with religion, this simple and powerful practiced transcends religious beliefs. Meditation is like a short vacation away from the stresses of everyday life to allow you to center your mind and create a peaceful feeling. And, the research is showing that meditation is great for your health.

In one study published in Health Behavior News Service, scientists found that brain scans and blood tests showed positive effects of meditation. In this study of 48 employees at a biotechnology company, half were trained in meditation and practiced it for one hour a day, six days a week using guided meditations that had been prerecorded. The other half of the participants did not meditate. Dr. Richard J. Davidson at the University of Wisconsin found that the meditators had greater electrical activity in their brains than the non-meditators. Some of the effects of meditation continued for up to four months after the participants discontinued their meditative practice.

Other research shows improvements in mood, pain threshold, immune system activity, and bronchial and arterial smooth muscle tone. The studies also show a decrease in stress hormones and a reversal in the effects of chronic stress.

Daily practice offers the greatest benefits. Over time it becomes easier. By meditating on a regular basis you can train your mind to relax and release stress.

There are several ways to meditate: breathing meditation, walking meditation, sitting meditation, mindfulness meditation, guided meditation, and visualization. Choose the type that has the most appeal for you and best fits with your lifestyle and health goals.

Breathing meditation is one of the easiest and most convenient forms of meditation. It can be done anywhere at almost any time, even if you only have several minutes. It requires no special equipment other than your lungs. You can do a breathing meditation while you are waiting in a doctor’s office, grocery store lineup, or at your desk. You can use a regular reminder throughout the day to help you remember to breathe deeply. You could choose to take deep breaths on commercial breaks while watching television or at red lights while you are traveling.

Make time for meditation, even if it is on the bus ride home from work, or while you are sitting in your office, but try to practice it daily. The rewards are far greater than the time and effort it takes to meditate. Soon you will discover that meditation requires little or no effort at all.

Adapted from The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan by Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD. Subscribe to my free e-mag World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow me on Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook. Copyright Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD.




19 July 2011 Role of the Vagus Nerve at the Neural-Immune Interface

Friday, 20 August 2010
K Ondicova & B Mravec
Ja Teline

timthumbEvidence shows that the central nervous system monitors and modulates the activity of both circulating and tissue immune cells via the neuroendocrine system and autonomic nerves. Furthermore, findings over the last decade have demonstrated that the vagus nerve represents an important bi-directional link between the brain and immune system.

Afferent vagal pathways transmit information to the brain related to peripheral inflammation so as to participate in the activation of adaptive reactions, including fever and sickness behavior. On the other side, efferent vagal pathways inhibit the synthesis and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines by peripheral immune cells. Because activation of afferent vagal pathways by immune stimuli leads to suppression of immune reactions, the term inflammatory reflex was introduced. The inflammatory reflex adjusts the intensity and duration of inflammatory reactions according to actual needs, thus protecting an organism from tissue damage induced by excessive inflammation. Both experimental and clinical studies suggest that inappropriate activation of the inflammatory reflex participates in the development of diseases characterized by excessive production of cytokines.’, ‘


Regulation of immune system activity by the central nervous system plays an important role in both physiological and pathological conditions. This is shown by several studies demonstrating that the vagus nerve represents one of the key brain structures participating in monitoring immune system activity. The vagus nerve is involved in the transmission of information from inflamed peripheral tissues to the brain, and participates in both homeostatic and behavioral adaptation reactions, including the induction of fever and sickness behavior. Vagal afferent pathways are activated by immune stimuli either directly or indirectly via vagal paraganglia cells. These paraganglia cells possess receptors for immune signaling molecules (e.g. IL-1) and transmit signals from immune cells to the afferent vagal pathways. The importance of afferent vagal pathways in the transmission of immune-related signals is demonstrated by the inhibitory effect of subdiaphragmatic vagotomy on the development of fever responses induced by intraperitoneal injection of low doses of IL-1beta [1,2].

Although the role of afferent vagal pathways in the transmission of immune signals to the brain has been demonstrated over time, the role of efferent vagal pathways in the modulation of immune cells activity has only recently been shown. This occurred during the search for a new compound for the treatment of excessive inflammatory reactions (e.g. sepsis) with the synthesis of CNI-1493 (tetravalent guanyl-hydrazone). This compound was shown to inhibit the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines from macrophages, significantly prolonging the survival of animals in experimental models of sepsis induced by endotoxin [3]. Moreover, it was found that application of CNI-1493 increased the activity of efferent vagal pathways and that its anti-inflammatory effects were blocked by vagotomy [4]. Later studies demonstrated that CNI-1493 inhibits both the synthesis and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines from immune cells through activation of efferent vagal pathways at the level of central nervous system. Later, this inhibitory effect of the vagus nerve on immune cells activity was found to be mediated by acetylcholine, and the term cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway was introduced [5,6].

Inflammatory reflex and cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway

The synthesis and release of cytokines represents one of the most basic activities during immune reactions. However, inappropriate cytokine synthesis may stimulate excessive inflammatory reactions causing damage to peripheral tissues and organs. It is therefore not surprising that organisms have several mechanisms regulating the intensity of inflammation, including the inflammatory reflex of the vagus nerve.

The pathways of the vagus nerve that participate in the monitoring and modulation of immune reactions in the periphery of an organism make up the sensory arm of the inflammatory reflex. This “arm” consists of afferent vagal pathways transmitting signals to the brain generated in inflammation-affected tissues. The motor arm of this reflex consists of the efferent vagal pathways that constitute the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway (Fig. 1).


Fig. 1 | Inflammatory reflex of the vagus nerve
Infection or injury induces production of cytokines by immune cells. Stimulation of paraganglia cells by tissue or circulating cytokines leads to activation of afferent vagal pathways. Immune-related signals are transmitted to the nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS). Consequently, the activated dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus may inhibit immune cell activity either directly or indirectly by activation of sympathetic postganglionic neurons innervating the spleen.

As a result of activating the motor arm, acetylcholine released from vagal nerve endings potently inhibits the production of cytokines by macrophages, thus protecting peripheral tissues from inflammatory injury [7]. As a result of these observations, it was concluded that the inflammatory reflex represents a crucial neural mechanism controlling the synthesis and release of cytokines [5,6].

Either pharmacological or electrical stimulation of efferent vagal pathways significantly inhibits the release of TNF-alpha in animals given a lethal dose of endotoxin. Furthermore, studies have shown that stimulation of the efferent pathways of the vagus nerve has beneficial effects such as inhibiting the development of pathological consequences in animal models of ischemia-reperfusion injury, myocardial ischemia, hemorrhagic shock, shock induced by occlusion of splanchnic artery, ileus, experimental arthritis, pancreatitis, and burn-induced organ dysfunction [8-12].

The inhibition of cytokine biosynthesis by the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway is caused by cholinergic neurotransmission acting on alpha7 subtype acetylcholine receptors (alpha7nAChR) located on macrophages and other cytokine synthesizing cells [13,14]. As evidence of this, both direct electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve and the application of alpha7nAChR agonists inhibit synthesis of TNF-alpha, IL-1beta, IL-6, IL-8, and HMGB1. This binding of acetylcholine and acetylcholine analogues to the alpha7nAChR of immune cells also induces a reduction in the nuclear translocation of NF-kappaB, a pro-inflammatory gene regulatory protein. Furthermore, as other immune cells, including lymphocytes and microglia express alpha7nAChR, this suggests that the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway may have wide effects across various immune cells [14]. This assumption is supported by the finding of increased proliferation and cytokine secretion by CD4+ T cells in mice that have undergone subdiaphragmatic vagotomy. Furthermore, administration of nicotine restored the reactivity of immune cells in these animals, while administration of nicotine receptor antagonists induced an effect similar to subdiaphragmatic vagotomy. These findings suggest that efferent vagal pathways modulate a tonic inhibition of macrophage and T cell activity. Regardless of the whatever else is learned about this system, it can be agreed that the involvement of the vagus nerve in regulation of immune function is highly complex [15].

The role of the spleen

The spleen plays a key role in the regulation of immune function by the vagus nerve. During their passage through the spleen, circulating immune cells are exposed to vagus nerve endings [16]. Moreover, as the spleen is a prominent source of circulating TNF-alpha during endotoxemia and stimulation of the vagus nerve inhibits endotoxin-induced increases in plasma TNF-alpha, it is possible that lymphoid compartments of the spleen represent a target for vagal anti-inflammatory action [17]. However, the role of direct vagal fibers innervating the spleen in the regulation of inflammation remains questionable. In fact, anatomical and physiological studies indicate that the vagus nerve modulates the activity of immune cells within the spleen indirectly via activation of sympathetic postganglionic neurons localized in the coeliac ganglia. It is therefore possible that the vagus nerve modulates immune system activity in the spleen indirectly through regulation of norepinephrine release from sympathetic nerve endings [18].

The importance of cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway in human medicine

The majority of data related to anti-inflammatory effects of the vagus nerve have been obtained in animal studies. However, several clinical studies on the role of cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway in humans were published recently. In one study administration of nicotine before activation of the immune system by lipopolysaccharide attenuated increases in body temperature and increased plasma IL-10 and corticosterone levels [19].
Anti-inflammatory effect of the vagus nerve may explain several clinical findings. For example, increased plasma levels of C reactive protein, IL-6, and TNF-alpha were found in patients with insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus type 2, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, metabolic syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease; all conditions characterized by low-grade inflammation. Interestingly, increased plasma and tissue activity of butyrylcholinesterase and acetylcholinesterase were found in these patients. Since increased activation of these enzymes leads to decreased transmission of cholinergic signals and acetylcholine represents a key molecule in the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway, increased degradation of acetylcholine may participate in exaggerated inflammatory reactions [20]. Moreover, the beneficial effects of nicotine treatment in patients with ulcerative colitis suggests that inappropriate activity of cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway may participate in its development as well [18].

Several methods can be used to stimulate the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway. For example, it is possible to activate the afferent and/or efferent arm of inflammatory reflex by stimulating the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway at the central level by administration of muscarine receptor agonists, ACTH, ghrelin, or centrally acting acetylcholinesterase inhibitors [5,21,22]. Ingestion of polyunsaturated fatty acids also increases vagal anti-inflammatory activity [23] and therefore may represent a potent and simple therapeutic method for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. Moreover, decreased pro-inflammatory immune cell responses were found in patients with epilepsy treated by electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve [24].

Based on published data it is suggested that activation of cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway may represent a useful therapeutic approach. However, exaggerated activation of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway may excessively suppress immune function, thereby inducing unfavorable consequences [25]. Therefore, it is necessary to consider two consequences of activating the cholinergic-anti-inflammatory pathway: 1) inhibition of inflammation that has beneficial effects during septic or hemorrhagic shock, ischemia-reperfusion injury, and other situations related to excessive stimulation of immune functions; 2) inhibition of immune functions may negatively influence defense mechanisms against invading pathogens, such as during the early stages of bacterial pancreatitis. Furthermore, the consequences of activating the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway may depend on not only the pathological situation, but the stage of disease as well. This is seen during the early stages of inflammatory reaction where induced activation of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway will produce negative effects; while in later stages it may be beneficial, protecting organisms from injury induced by excessive inflammatory reaction.


Animal studies have unambiguously shown that the vagus nerve plays an important role in the regulation of immune reactions in various animal models of inflammatory diseases. While several studies in humans also indicate the importance of the vagus nerve in the regulation of immune function, it is necessary to take into consideration the fact that these studies used mainly ex vivo approaches, using heart rate variability as a marker of cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway activity. Therefore, further experimental and clinical studies will be necessary to elucidate the role of the vagus nerve in the modulation of inflammatory reactions in humans.

This work was supported by the Slovak Research and Development Agency under the contract No. APVV-0045-06, VEGA grants (1/0258/10, 1/0260/10, 2/0010/09) and European Regional Development Fund Research and Development Grant No. NFP26240120024.


K Ondicova // Institute of Pathophysiology, Faculty of Medicine, Comenius University, 811 08 Bratislava
B Mravec // Institute of Experimental Endocrinology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, 833 06 Bratislava, Slovak Republic

Nonstandard Abbreviations: alpha7nAChR, alpha7 subtype acetylcholine receptors; HMGB1, high-mobility group box 1; IL, interleukin; LPS, lipopolysaccharide; TNF-alpha, tumor necrosis factor alpha


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1 April 2011 Study shows meditation is powerful medicine to conquer fears

By Denise Dador
Link to original, view video: Meditation Reduces Fear

What do you do if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer but you’re scared of the treatment? Studies show meditation can be powerful medicine when it comes to overcoming fears.

Sore tonsils led 44-year-old Danilo Ramirez’s doctor to suspect he had more than just a sore throat.

“He did surgery and a week later, ‘Mr. Ramirez you got lymphoma,'” said Ramirez.

Stage Two Lymphoma. Those words sent the Burbank father of two into a tailspin. But the specialized radiation treatment he faced scared him even more. Danilo is claustrophobic. Even though his life depended on it, he refused to wear the required mask.

“Mentally it was really hard on me,” said Ramirez. “There were nights I couldn’t sleep at all knowing I had to face that.”

“So he almost was willing to refuse treatment for a potentially curable cancer,” said Dr. Rex Hoffman. “Without treatment he would die.”

Sedatives didn’t help, so his doctor recommended visual guided imagery.

Raking in a zen garden is one form of relaxation, but visual guided imagery is a specialized form of meditation that teaches a patient to focus on their breath and different muscle groups.

“Even learning for a short period of time could teach you how to reduce stress, reduce anxiety in different situations,” said clinical psychologist Dr. Susan Harden.

After a few weeks, Ramirez gained the skills to undergo treatment.

“The body didn’t control me,” said Ramirez. “My mind was strong enough to deal with it, and say you know what? I’m going to be all right.”

“It can be really helpful for people in terms of increasing immune functioning, helping to deal with daily stress levels,” said Dr. Harden.

“Now he knows to take deep breaths,” said Dr. Hoffman. “And practice stress relaxation in other parts of his life, that really helped him to be a much happier person.”

“I’m using all this to an advantage to fight cancer,” said Ramirez.

Danilo finished his radiation treatments in December. Tests show he is cancer free. He said the calming effects of meditation continue to help him in all aspects of his life, including dealing with Los Angeles traffic.

Meditation and yoga are regular programs offered to patients at the Disney Family Cancer Center.

28 February 2011 Meditative breathing enhances pain relief and may help in fibromyalgia

by Matthew Hogg BSc (Hons) , EiR

Breathing techniques such as those used in various forms of meditation may aid pain relief both directly and by enhancing the effectiveness of drugs according to the lead researcher of a new study.

Mind-body techniques such as meditation and focusing attention on the breath are becoming increasingly popular as medical research results continue to break down the supposed barriers between the functioning and health of mind and body.

It is now well established that the mind and body are not two seperate entities that function independently of one another but are in fact in constant bidirectional communication and each is dependent on the other. Research has shown for example that our state of mind can have a significant impact on how effectively our immune systems function.

Now researchers at Arizona State University (ASU) in cooperation with the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix are looking at how breathing techniques influence pain perception and are interested in finding out if such interventions which are easy to learn and essentially free may help those struggling with fibromyalgia.

An ongoing study by the group is looking specifically at how meditative breathing affects the way women with fibromyalgia respond to pain in the form of heat pulses.

The team led by Alex Zautra, a Professor of Psychology at ASU have conducted previous studies on the effects of meditation and breathing techniques on the physiology of the body and pain perception. Professor Zautra in an interview with the College Times explained:

One of the methods by which a person can regain a kind of physiological balance and homeostatic state is through a relaxation method, and some are more valuable than others. One of the methods people have been doing since ancient times in the Eastern world is meditation, whether it’s local or mindfulness meditation, and breathing is a big part of that; slowing down your breathing rate. And that’s what we tried to put into the laboratory.

Professor Zautra and colleagues have demonstrated that when breathing rate is slowed it activates the parasympathetic nervous system – the branch of the autonomic nervous system that is dominant during relaxation. As a result deep breathing slows the heart, reduces blood pressure and leads to greater heart-rate variability, which is a greater sense of capacity to be both alert and relaxed.

The last effect may seem paridoxical and difficult to comprehend but Professor Zautra explains that “…what we teach with chronic pain patients is, ‘Yes, you’re in pain, but that’s not all you feel. What else are you feeling at the time?’ It expands their horizons to allow themselves to do more than be embattled with the pain they have and to see many other emotions; some they can appreciate more if they can allow themselves a greater latitude to understand their own feelings.”

A five-year study is now underway to examine whether meditative practices could benefit patients with fibromyalgia. Unfortunately the team have not released any data on this as yet but anecdotal evidence from patients who already meditate and the previous physiological changes already demonstrated by this research group and others suggest such practices hold promise as part of coping with the pain of fibromyalgia.

Professor Zautra takes a pragmatic perspective suggesting that having spoken with rheumatologists who struggle to help their fibromyalgia patients with medications alone, a combination of meditative practices and medication may be the most beneficial solution for many with the condition and would offer physicians another way to help their patients.

25 January 2011 On Vagus Nerve, Meditation & Health

By Dr Mark Hyman


“The mind has great influence over the body, and maladies often have their origin there.” — Moliere

What were Dean Ornish, Mehmet Oz, Dan Brown, the Dalai Lama, and I all doing in Woodstock, New York, last week?

We — along with an assortment of Tibetan monks and doctors, Buddhist scholars, meditation researchers, and prize-winning biomedical scientists in the field of aging, the immune system, stem cells, genetics, brain aging, stress physiology, and more from MIT, Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Duke, and UCSF — were all part of a special conference at the Menla Center.

The subject of this conference: Longevity and Tibetan medicine.

If that seems intriguing, it was!

The goal of the conference might sound complex — but it was quite simple.

We were there to investigate the relationship between the science of longevity and wellness and the ancient Indo-Tibetan practices of meditation and training the mind.

The point wasn’t to learn how to treat disease, but to learn what we know about regeneration of the body, protection from illness, and optimization of our function and wellbeing.

The convergence of “post-modern biology” — the new science of “systems” thinking and medicine — and the ancient wisdom and practices of Tibetan medicine and Buddhism was startling.

So what did we talk about?

Well, for one thing, we explored the relationship between the nervous system and health and aging, and the connection between the immune system and health.

As you get older, your immune system produces more inflammatory molecules, and your nervous system turns on the stress response, promoting system breakdown and aging.

That’s not just talk. It’s backed by scientific studies.

For example, Kevin Tracey, the director of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, discovered how the brain controls the immune system through a direct nerve-based connection.

He describes this as the inflammatory reflex (i). Simply put, it is the way the immune system responds to the mind.

Let me explain.

You immune system is controlled by a nerve call the vagus nerve.

But this isn’t just any nerve.

It is the most important nerve coming from the brain and travels to all the major organs.

And you can activate this nerve — through relaxation, meditation, and other ancient practices.

What’s the benefit of that?

Well, by activating the vagus nerve, you can control your immune cells, reduce inflammation, and even prevent disease and aging!

It’s true. By creating positive brain states — as meditation masters have done for centuries — you can switch on the vagus nerve and control inflammation.

You can actually control your gene function by this method. Activate the vagus nerve, and you can switch on the genes that help control inflammation.

And, as you know from my books Ultraprevention and UltraMetabolism, inflammation is one of the central factors of disease and aging.

But that’s not all we learned at the conference.

Even more fascinating was the discovery that our bodies can regenerate at any age.

Diane Krause, MD, PhD, from Yale University discovered that our own innate adult stem cells (cells that can turn into any cell in the body from our bone marrow) could be transformed into liver, bowel, lung, and skin cells. (ii)

This is a phenomenal breakthrough.

Here’s why.

It means that we have the power to create new cells and renew our own organs and tissues at any age.

And how are these stem cells controlled?

You guessed it: the vagus nerve.

So relaxation — a state of calm, peace, and stillness — can activate the vagus nerve.

And the vagus nerve, in turn, activates your stem cells to regenerate and renew your tissues and organs.

Scientists have even shown how meditation makes the brain bigger and better.

They’ve mapped out the brain function of “professional meditators” by bringing Tibetan lamas trained in concentration and mental control into the laboratory.

The result? They found higher levels of gamma brain waves and thicker brain cortexes (the areas associated with higher brain function) in meditators. (iii)

Relaxation can have other powerful effects on our biology.

In biology, being a complex system that can adapt to its environment and that is resilient and flexible is critical to health.

The same is true for us.

The more complex and resilient we are, the healthier we are.

Take, for example, our heartbeat.

Its complexity is called heart rate variability (HRV) or beat-to-beat variability. The more complex your HRV, the healthier you are.  The least complex heart rate is the worst — a flat line.

So what does this have to do with relaxation?

The HRV is also controlled by the vagus nerve.

As you can see, turning on the relaxation response and activating that vagus nerve is critical to health.

Let me review what we learned at the conference.

By learning to create positive brain states through deep relaxation or meditation, you can:

* Reduce inflammation
* Help regenerate your organs and cells by activating stem cells
* Increase your heart rate variability
* Thicken your brain (which normally shrinks with aging).
* Boost immune function
* Modulate your nervous system
* Reduce depression and stress
* Enhance performance
* Improve your quality of life

Not bad for just learning to chill out!

Think you’re too stressed out to relax?

Not so fast. We learned that it’s not always outside stressors that are the most important, but our responses to those stressors.

In fact, the Dalai Lama told a story of a Tibetan monk he met who had been in a Chinese gulag, where he was tortured, placed in solitary confinement, and prohibited from practicing his traditions for more than 20 years.

The Dalai Lama asked him what his greatest stress was.

The monk replied that it was his fear that he would lose compassion for his Chinese jailers!

I have met a number of these old monks, who spent the better part of their lives imprisoned and tortured.  What is remarkable is that they didn’t suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome — that they emerged intact, peaceful, happy, smiling, and giving back to the world.

Perhaps stress is more about the stories we tell ourselves about our lives.

On the other hand, the damaging effects of stress are clear.

As we learned at the conference, one of the leading theories of aging is that the protective ends of our DNA (called telomeres) shorten as we age.

Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD, who discovered telomeres, explained that, ultimately, they become so short that the end of our DNA unravels and we can no longer replicate our cells, so they die.

Remarkably, mental stress produces a more rapid shortening of the telomeres — and leads to faster aging.

What’s even more remarkable?

In a study of caregivers of sick patients, the health of the caregivers’ telomeres was determined by their attitude!

It sounds impossible, but it’s true.

The caregivers who felt the care to be a burden had shorter telomeres, while those who saw their work as an opportunity to be compassionate had no shortening. (iv)

In closing, the Dalai Lama said that the seat of compassion is actually biological and — necessary for survival.

Perhaps the development of compassion and wisdom in coping with unfavorable life conditions is the true key to longevity.

It just may be that working to understand our true nature through the cultivation of our minds and hearts with positive practices like meditation or similar techniques is critical to health and longevity.

The ways we can change our bodies through changing our minds is not longer a theory.

There is a new scientific language to understand how the qualities of the mind control the body through effects on the vagus nerve, immune cells, stem cells, telomeres, DNA, and more.

Remember, your body has all the resources and infinitely adaptable systems to self-regulate, repair, regenerate, and thrive.

You simply have to learn how to work with your body, rather than against it.  Then you can have a healthy, thriving life — and live out your full lifespan, which can be as high as 120+ years!

So here are a few tips to activate your vagus nerve and prevent aging:

1) Learn to meditate.

Find a teacher or check out tapes or CDs  [Practice the Éiriú Eolas Program!]

2) Stretch it out.

Try a yoga class in your area. Yoga can be a great way to release tension and deeply relax.

3) Get some energy.

Learn qi gong, a relaxing ancient system of energy treatment and balancing.

4) Get rubbed the right way.

Massage has been proven to boost immunity and relaxes the body deeply.

5) Make love.

The only way you can do it is if you are not stressed!

6) Get back to nature.

Climb a mountain and watch a sunrise, which will calm your nervous system.

7) Express yourself.

Write in your journal about your inner experience — this has been shown to boost immunity and reduce inflammation.

Now I’d like to hear from you…

Have you noticed how stress affects you?

Have you noticed people looking older after significant life stressors?

Have you noticed how people who seem to have a happy disposition or compassionate attitude toward life don’t seem  to age as quickly as people who are angry and miserable?

Do you have any other suggestions for how to reduce stress, or better yet, how to better your manage your own response to stressful events?


To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD


i Kevin J. Tracey, The inflammatory reflex, Nature 420, 853 – 859 (19 Dec 2002)

ii Krause DS. Plasticity of marrow-derived stem cells. Gene Ther. 2002 Jun;9(11):754-8. Review.

iii Lazar SW, Kerr CE, Wasserman RH, Gray JR, Greve DN, Treadway MT, McGarvey M, Quinn BT, Dusek JA, Benson H, Rauch SL, Moore CI, Fischl B. Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness. Neuroreport. 2005 Nov 28;16(17):1893-7.

iv Epel ES, Blackburn EH, Lin J, Dhabhar FS, Adler NE, Morrow JD, Cawthon RM. Accelerated telomere shortening in response to life stress. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Dec 7;101(49):17312-5. Epub 2004 Dec 1.

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