Wednesday, May 09, 2018 by Vicki Batts
Meditation is often thought of as a simple way to relax and clear your mind — and no one would ever try to argue that point. But, it turns out that the benefits afforded by practicing meditation extend far beyond the ephemeral. Indeed, long-term health benefits can be had, by just taking a few minutes a day to spend on your inner self. The impact of meditation on patients struggling with hypertension (high blood pressure) has recently shed light on how beneficial taking that time for yourself can really be.
While it’s well-documented that meditation and other relaxation techniques have effects at both the physiological and psychological level, little is known about how they exact these actions.
Researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at MGH worked together to analyze the genes associated with responding to relaxation techniques and their findings “sheds light on the molecular mechanisms by which these interventions may work to lower blood pressure.”
Co-senior author Randall Zusman, M.D., Director of the Division of Hypertension at MGH commented, “Traditionally, hypertension is treated with pharmacologic therapy, but not all patients respond to drug therapy, and many experience treatment-limiting side effects.”
“In these patients, alternative strategies are invaluable. In this study, we found that the relaxation response can successfully help reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients who are not taking medication,” he contended further.
Co- first author John Denninger,M.D., Ph.D., Director of Research at the Benson-Henry Institute stated,”Our results suggest that the relaxation response reduced blood pressure – at least in part – by altering expression of genes in a select set of biological pathways.” [emphasis added]
“Importantly, the changes in gene expression associated with this drop in blood pressure are consistent with the physical changes in blood pressure and inflammatory markers that one would anticipate and hope to observe in patients successfully treated for hypertension,” he explained.
Harvard scientists also recently came to similar conclusions with a small study of 24 hypertensive people. They found that meditating for just 15 minutes a day produced changes in the way genes work — paving the way for a substantial drop in their blood pressure.
This is great news for people struggling with high blood pressure, but are skeptical of the pharma industry’s so-called medicines. As reported, almost 90 percent of hypertension patients treat their condition with medicine — but only one out of every three actually managed to get their blood pressure under control. There are at least 200 different combinations of blood pressure medicines to be had, but as sources note, many of them come with side effects that discourage patients from actually taking their medicine.
All of this should be raising questions about the actual efficacy and necessity of pharmaceutical “solutions,” but at least there is a growing interest in alternative therapies like meditation. Many studies have shown that relaxation therapies can be immensely beneficial for a variety of patients, but only now have researchers found that meditation’s benefits reach down to a genetic level. The genes affected by relaxation include immune regulatory pathways, inflammation, metabolism and glucose metabolism, cardiovascular system development and circadian rhythm — certainly nothing to sneeze at.
Last year, research even showed that meditation could alter the structure of your brain, reducing stress by incredible amounts. You can learn more about natural remedies and therapies at AlternativeMedicine.news.
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