Meditation Boosts Immune System

Those who did it for eight weeks had more antibodies to flu vaccine

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FRIDAY, Aug. 29, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Meditation may strengthen your immune system.

University of Wisconsin researchers found that people who did eight weeks of meditation training produced more antibodies to a flu vaccine. They also showed signs of increased activity in brain areas related to positive emotion than people who didn't meditate.

The study, which appears in the current issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, is the first to link meditation to changes in brain activity associated with positive feelings. It's also the first to demonstrate that meditation can affect immune function.

The study included 48 people. Half of them received weekly meditation training and were encouraged to meditate at home for an hour a day, six days a week, with the help of instructive audiotapes. All the people in the study received a flu vaccine.

The researchers recorded electrical activity in the left and front portions of the brains of the study participants. These areas of the brain become more active when a person experiences certain forms of positive emotion and reductions in anxiety.

Brain activity was measured at several points through the study as the subjects rested or wrote about positive and negative emotional experiences from their lives.

The researchers also tracked immune responses among the people in the study by measuring the level of antibodies produced by the flu vaccination.

The study found the people who did the meditation had more electrical activity in the targeted brain areas and also had higher levels of antibodies than those who didn't receive the meditation training.

"Our findings indicate that a short training program in mindful meditation has demonstrable effects on brain and immune function and underscores the need for additional research on the biological consequences of this intervention," researcher Richard J. Davidson says in a news release.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about the immune system.

SOURCE: Health Behavior News Service, news release, August 2003

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