Many of you who read this blog and my books already have a good understanding of how important mind/body integration is to the healing process.
Well, here’s a study from researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Beth Isreal Deaconess Medical Center showing how the relaxation response (meditation) can not just alleviate pain, anxiety and reduce symptoms – but ALSO results in changes in gene expression of the genes linked to inflammatory pathways!
Meditation “altered expression of more genes in IBD (1059 genes) than in IBS (119 genes). In IBD, reduced expression of RR-MBI response genes was most significantly linked to inflammatory response, cell growth, proliferation, and oxidative stress-related pathways.”
So for those of you who have been downplaying the importance of using relaxation practice in your Healing Journey, now is the time to sweep aside all excuses with this bit of hard science to get you going!
Now in the interests of fair research – although you can tell from these photos that I am a big fan of stillness and connecting the earth and nature – I did ask a friend who is a Medical Geneticist what he thought of this research. I wanted to know if it was exciting or meaningful from a geneticist’s point of view and he replied:
“I don’t put much store by large scale gene expression studies. In general, in good science, if you confirm the same point using 3 different approaches (that are not correlated), then you can have some faith in the conclusions. Usually gene expression studies use one method and sometimes two. This paper only used one method and had a very low cut off score of a 20% change in gene expression; usually 75% is the minimum to avoid noise. They only sampled subjects once so they do not know the reproducibility of their findings in each subject. They used white blood cells as their source material but did not do flow cytometry to account for differing proportions of white blood cell subsets between patients. This is all fine as this was an uncontrolled pilot study so it is designed to raise questions rather than reach conclusions.”
Of course, you can wait for the research, or you can just go test it yourself! I can safely say, from my own experience, that dropping into stillness and openness to source energy is healing in many ways.