Intense meditation strongly boosts immune system

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In a new study from the University of Florida, researchers found eight days of intense meditation causes robust activation of the immune system.

At the heart of the research is Inner Engineering practices, which are meditation and yoga programs that emphasize inner well-being.

While the positive effects of meditation are well documented, far less is known about its molecular and genetic effects.

In the study, the team aimed to find how exactly Inner Engineering practices benefit the body.

They examined the genetic profiles of 388 samples obtained from 106 people before and after an April 2018 advanced Inner Engineering retreat in McMinville, Tennessee.

The retreat is tightly controlled: Participants remain silent for eight days, meditate more than 10 hours a day, eat vegan meals and follow a regular sleep schedule.

Blood samples from retreat participants were collected five to eight weeks in advance, then just before and after the retreat as well as three months later.

The team found several immune-related and other cellular pathways were altered after the meditation retreat. Strikingly, they found increased post-retreat activity in 220 genes directly related to the immune response.

That included heightened activity in 68 genes associated with interferon signaling, a key part of the body’s anti-virus and anti-cancer responses.

They also found that the enhanced immune system after the retreat is primarily due to meditation and not a diet, sleep patterns or gender differences.

The increased gene activity among interferon-signaling genes is particularly significant.

Interferon proteins rally other parts of the immune system to defend against viruses and several recent studies have shown that interferon signaling is imbalanced in patients with severe COVID-19.

Essentially, meditation uses a coordinated network of core genes and regulators to unleash a positive effect on the immune system.

This is the first time anyone has shown that meditation can boost your interferon signaling. It demonstrates a way to voluntarily influence the immune system without medication.

If you care about the immune system, please read studies about what happens to our immune systems when we get a booster, and findings that new cancer treatment may reawaken the immune system.

For more information about wellness, please see recent studies about new COVID vaccine for people with weak immune systems, and results showing that vaccines may not prevent severe COVID-19 in these people.

The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. One author of the study is Vijayendran Chandran, Ph.D.

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