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Meditation and yoga also work against inflammation on a genetic level
The positive effects of meditation, yoga, tai chi and comparable methods on health and stress have been reported many times. Now British scientists from Coventry University, together with colleagues from the Netherlands and Belgium, have shown that yoga and the like also reduce the activity in certain genes that play an essential role in inflammation.
Meditation, yoga and tai chi not only seem to calm the mind, but apparently also have an impact on the activity of DNA. Overall, it has been shown that these practices were associated with a down-regulation of the so-called “Kappa B pathway”, which corresponds to the opposite effect of chronic stress on gene expression, the scientists report in the specialist magazine “frontiers in Immunology”. The study results show that yoga, tai chi and the like can lead to a reduced risk of inflammation-related diseases, according to the research team led by Ivana Buric from Coventry University.
Effects on gene activity examined
Practices such as yoga or tai chi have long been known as methods for reducing stress. Using an evaluation of previous studies, the scientists have now checked whether the relaxation techniques also have an effect on the activity of the genes. A total of 18 studies with 846 participants were considered. Systematic review of the study data showed that most studies (81%) had a significantly reduced activity of inflammation-related genes and / or the key transcription factor NF-κB, which controls the expression of genes that are relevant to inflammatory processes, the report Researcher.
Reversing the effects of chronic stress
The evaluation of the 18 studies that had used a gene expression analysis showed an overall “reversal of the effects on the molecular signature that are triggered by chronic stress,” explain the scientists. Although the quality of the studies evaluated was very different, it became clear overall that some of the psychological and physical benefits of yoga and the like were supported by the biological changes in the NF-κB genes.
According to the researchers, the current results must now be checked in larger samples and with better study designs. This also opens the door for the development and testing of a multi-level theory on the effect of special meditation and relaxation techniques, which "integrates the biological, psychological and ecological levels", the scientists conclude. (fp)