How Meditation Can Lower Bodily Inflammation? Today, many diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, memory impairment, chronic pain, anxiety and depression are associated with a physiological basis: Chronic inflammation! Inflammation, which is one of the body’s defence mechanisms, has a vital function under normal conditions, but when it is experienced for a long time and severely, it can cause the body to become an enemy to itself.
This is precisely why inflammation, which works intertwined with hormone secretion and the nervous system, needs to be controlled. Meditation is one of the most powerful lifestyle changes that we can see the effect against inflammation. So how meditation, which is mostly practised for mental and mental health, can reduce physical inflammation, we have researched for you!
How does stress trigger bodily inflammation?
The immune system, one of the body’s defence mechanisms, works very closely with the nervous system and hormone secretion. Whenever the body is under some kind of stress, the nervous system switches from parasympathetic to sympathetic mode and immediately begins to secrete the hormone cortisol.
Cortisol hormone has a stimulating effect on the immune system and energy synthesis, which are the systems that ensure the continuation of life, and a stopping effect on other “secondary” systems such as digestion, detoxification and excretion. Energy levels increase, focus improves and digestion slows down. The immune system becomes ready to fight stress and starts to activate cytokine cells.
Since these cells, which have the task of fighting harmful pathogens, are naturally inflammatory, bodily inflammation begins to rise. Although this process is vital for maintaining holistic health, the problem starts when the stress is prolonged and chronic.
In other words, while cortisol and increased inflammation secreted by the body while protecting itself against a sudden and severe threat (for example, when running away from a dog) can be coped with, cortisol and increased inflammation secreted during a 2-hour traffic can disrupt bodily functions. Chronically high cortisol levels push the immune system to overwork. This causes chronic inflammation in the body.
What is the relationship between bodily inflammation and meditation?
Meditation, a mindfulness practice, is traditionally practised in a quiet, calm atmosphere where the focus is on breathing. Its purpose is to keep the mind in the moment, to calm the spirit and to reveal inner peace. Thanks to all these components, physiological systems calm down while meditating; breathing and heart rhythm slow down, the body remains in parasympathetic mode and cortisol secretion decreases.
The fact that meditation reduces cortisol secretion also helps to reduce bodily inflammation through the relationship between the immune and nervous systems. People who meditate regularly spend their daily lives in a calmer, parasympathetic mode, while people living with high cortisol levels spend their daily lives in a more tense state, that is, in the sympathetic nervous system.
This increases the levels of bodily inflammation. According to research, regular meditation can lower Interleukin-6 and CRP, which are biological markers of inflammation. The good news is that it is enough to spend only 10 minutes every day to benefit from this effect of meditation. The important thing is to create a regular interval during the day where we can slow down, turn inward and listen to our body.
Can meditation be a kind of “painkiller”?
Some diseases in which chronic inflammation is a part; asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatism can easily be triggered by environmental factors. In such cases where mental and psychological resilience to stress is weak, cortisol-induced inflammation may increase. This means exacerbation or exacerbation of disorders. In a small-scale study, it is pointed out that meditation practice can prevent this triggering due to environmental factors, that is, it can take part in the treatment processes of such disorders.
In addition, research suggests that regular meditation practice is very useful in reducing pain and the anxiety that comes with pain. By keeping the focus only on the present moment, the mind is prevented from experiencing imaginary pain before a more tangible pain arrives. Keeping a non-judgemental attention on the breath allows the same perspective to be reflected on pain and pain, that is, the sentence “It didn’t hurt as much as I thought!” can occur spontaneously, naturally. This makes meditation not only a mental or spiritual but also a physical well-being practice.