Meditation can lead to some impressive health benefits. We recently wrote an article about how meditation can even physically restructure the brain. But, it might go even farther than that. A study also found that meditation can improve your immune system and help prevent you from becoming ill!
The study put participants through an 8 week Mindfullness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program (the control group remained on the wait list for the study). The MSBR program
consisted of a class that met weekly for 2.5 to 3 hours per class, along with a silent seven-hour retreat that was held during week 6 of the course. In addition, subjects were assigned home practice that consisted of formal and informal meditative practices that they were instructed to perform for 1 hour per day, 6 days per week, with the aid of guided audiotapes.
Participants (and everyone in the control group) were vaccinated with the influenza virus at the end of the 8 week program. Afterwards, blood was drawn 3 to 5 weeks later and 8 to 9 weeks later to document the antibody response in each participant. Impressively, the researchers found that the meditation group had a significantly greater rise in antibodies, indicating a strengthened immune system.
The researchers also found that the meditation group experienced significant declines in anxiety.
This likely explains the at least part of the immune findings given that previous studies have associated stress with immune system functioning.
So, meditation can have some impressive benefits! It could be especially beneficial if you experience chronic stress and/or are constantly sick. Here‘s a link to the class that the participants took if you’re interested. Otherwise, try it out on your own.
Davidson, Richard J., et al. “Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation.” Psychosomatic medicine 65.4 (2003): 564-570.Kiecolt-
Glaser, Janice K., et al. “Chronic stress alters the immune response to influenza virus vaccine in older adults.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 93.7 (1996): 3043-3047.