People suffering from conditions in which chronic stress appears to play a major role, may benefit from mindfulness meditation. Rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and asthma all may have a chronic inflammatory component directly related to psychological stress.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction was originally developed to help patients suffering with chronic, unrelenting pain, and involved focusing on breathing, body sensations and mental state when engaged in sitting, walking or yoga. Until recently, there was little science to support the specific benefits of mindfulness meditation.
The study looked at mindfulness meditation versus another stress-reduction approach that was designed to enhance health without mindfulness as a component, using techniques like nutrition, physical activity, and music therapy.
So for example mindfulness meditation while walking was compared to “just walking.” The researchers induced inflammatory reactions in participants by using capsaicin cream, and other techniques to induce psychological stress. Then the 2 “treatment methods’ were compared.
The results showed that using mindfulness meditation appeared to have an enhanced therapeutic effect on inflammatory conditions, compared to the other therapies used in the study.
Researchers caution that it’s not a cure-all but mindfulness meditation can help as part of a therapeutic formulary for certain diseases and conditions.