Mindfulness Research: Effect on the Brain and Immune System

MBSR has positive effects on moods and wellbeing

This 2003 study by Davidson, Kabat-Zinn, et al. is focused on the ability of an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program to effectively reduce anxiety and foster positive effects on mood and well-being, as well as improving the immune system, which are determined results of meditation and mindfulness practices as concluded by other studies. To prove this, they examined the left side frontal regions of the brains should show increased activity – the region of the brain responsible for regulating emotions. Increased activity in this part of the brain is often demonstrated as correlated specifically with positive experiences. This area of the brain is also responsible for immune function, so unsurprisingly; increased activity in this region can also lead to increased immune function. Which is to say, having a meditation practice can lead to increased positivity and increased immunity. Increased immune function as a byproduct of meditation is a focus of this article because it had scarcely been researched before.

This study was the first of its kind in terms of proving that meditation causes changes in brain function that is directly related to reduced anxiety and increased ‘positive effect’.

Mindfulness strengthens the immune system

Part of their research was to vaccinate a control group and a group of the 8-week MBSR program participants for the influenza virus. At the conclusion of the 8-week program, they were able to demonstrate a marked difference between the presence of antibodies in those who had meditated vs. those who had not. This was used as evidence to support further that increased immune function is a result of meditation. In other words, if you meditate consistently, you may be able to fend off illness more effectively, and avoid costly treatments and time out of work/away from those you love, which ultimately leads to a better quality of life. We can note that while the duration of this study’s examination was short, just two months, it produced amazing results. So, we could venture then that having a long-term practice can only be incredibly supportive of immunity and happiness.

Picture source: TZA.

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Latest update: July 3, 2017
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