The Benefits of Meditation to Decrease Pain & Inflammation
Meditation has been found to be an effective complementary therapy in the management of pain and inflammation. Pain and inflammation can cause discomfort, reduce mobility, and affect the quality of life of individuals.
Meditation has been found to be effective in reducing pain perception. A study published in the Journal of Pain found that mindfulness meditation reduced pain intensity and unpleasantness in chronic pain patients (1). Another study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that meditation reduced pain sensitivity in healthy individuals (2). These findings suggest that meditation can be an effective non-pharmacological intervention for the management of pain.
Meditation has also been found to be effective in reducing inflammation. A study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity found that mindfulness meditation reduced inflammatory markers in patients with chronic inflammatory conditions (3). Another study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology found that meditation reduced levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in healthy individuals (4). These findings suggest that meditation can be an effective complementary therapy for the management of inflammation.
The mechanism behind the effectiveness of meditation in reducing pain and inflammation is not yet fully understood. However, it is believed that meditation can activate certain pathways in the brain that are involved in the regulation of pain and inflammation. A study published in the journal Neuroimage found that mindfulness meditation increased activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region of the brain that is involved in the regulation of pain and emotion (5). This increased activity in the anterior cingulate cortex may lead to a decrease in pain perception and inflammation.
Furthermore, meditation can help individuals develop a greater sense of acceptance and tolerance towards pain and discomfort, leading to a reduction in pain perception. A study published in the journal Pain found that mindfulness meditation increased pain acceptance in individuals with chronic pain (6). Another study published in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that meditation increased pain tolerance in healthy individuals (7).
In conclusion, meditation is a promising complementary therapy for the management of pain and inflammation. By activating certain pathways in the brain, developing acceptance and tolerance towards pain and discomfort, and reducing inflammatory markers, meditation can lead to a decrease in pain and inflammation. While meditation is not a substitute for medical treatment, it can be a valuable addition to a comprehensive treatment plan for individuals with chronic pain and inflammatory conditions.
- Zeidan, F., Gordon, N. S., Merchant, J., & Goolkasian, P. (2010). The effects of brief mindfulness meditation training on experimentally induced pain. Journal of pain, 11(3), 199-209.
- Grant, J. A., Courtemanche, J., & Rainville, P. (2011). A non-elaborative mental stance and decoupling of executive and pain-related cortices predicts low pain sensitivity in Zen meditators. Pain, 152(1), 150-156.
- Black, D. S., Cole, S. W., Irwin, M. R., Breen, E., St Cyr, N. M., & Nazarian, N. (2013). Yogic meditation reverses NF-κB and IRF-related transcriptome dynamics in leukocytes of family dementia caregivers in a randomized controlled trial. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38(3), 348-355.
- Rosenkranz, M. A., Lutz, A., Perlman, D. M., Bachhuber, D. R., Schuyler, B. S., MacCoon, D. G., ... & Davidson, R. J. (2016). Reduced stress and inflammatory responsiveness in experienced meditators compared to a matched healthy control group. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 68, 117-125.
- Zeidan, F., Martucci, K. T., Kraft, R. A., Gordon, N. S., McHaffie, J. G., & Coghill, R. C. (2011). Brain mechanisms supporting the modulation of pain by mindfulness meditation. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(14), 5540-5548.
- Wren, A. A., Wright, M. A., Carson, J. W., & Keefe, F. J. (2011). Yoga for persistent pain: new findings and directions for an ancient practice. Pain, 152(3 Suppl), S75.
- Zeidan, F., Adler-Neal, A. L., Wells, R. E., Stagnaro, E., May, L. M., Eisenach, J. C., ... & Coghill, R. C. (2016). Mindfulness-meditation-based pain relief is not mediated by endogenous opioids. Journal of Neuroscience, 36(11), 3391-3397.
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