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Lower Body Stress With Mindfulness Meditation

Update Date: Jan 26, 2017 08:00 AM EST

A new study has found that meditation can help the body respond to stress. Mindfulness meditation lowers stress hormones and decreases inflammation in the body, and works better than stress management courses.

During an eight-week course of mindfulness meditation, researchers studied people with anxiety disorders. They were trained to focus on the present moment and to accept thoughts and feelings that they find difficult.

After the course, the participants showed lower levels of stress hormones and markers of inflammation. They compared stress levels after the stressful event and when their bodies reacted before the course. It decreased by around 15 percent. The findings were published on Tuesday in the journal Psychiatry Research.

"Mindfulness meditation training is a relatively inexpensive and low-stigma treatment approach, and these findings strengthen the case that it can improve resilience to stress," said Dr. Elizabeth A. Hoge, professor at Georgetown University Medical Center.

Telegraph reported 89 participants with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) were randomly divided into two groups. The first group was assigned to take the mindfulness meditation course. The second group took a stress-management education course.

A lab test called Trier Social Stress Test was designed to make people feel stressed before and after the course. With little time to prepare they were asked to give a speech in front of evaluators dressed in white coats and do mental arithmetic.

Live Science reported blood samples were collected before and after the test. Researchers analyzed the blood for biological markers of stress, such as the stress hormone adrenocroticotropic (ACTH), proteins markers of inflammationIL-6 and TNF-alpha.

The meditation group showed reduced levels of ACTH, IL-6 and TNF-alpha after the course. The stress management group showed increased levels on the second stress test compared to the first showing they became more anxious during the second test.

There are psychological and physical benefits to mindfulness meditation. It has been used by some therapists to treat people with anxiety.

In the article, researchers suggested that the mindfulness meditation strategy may be helpful to decrease biological stress reactivity, especially in people with anxiety disorder.

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