Washington, DC (PRWEB) January 24, 2014
A new study of meditation confirms that this ancient practice aimed at achieving wellbeing can also reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression and even pain.
The research, conducted at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, was published January 6 in JAMA Internal Medicine.
“The findings are very encouraging for those of use who believe in integrating the best of modern and traditional medicine to relieve pain. It’s clear that some patients experience a clinical benefit from the inner peace that comes from meditation,” says pain management specialist Reza Ghorbani, MD, ABIPP, FIPP.
While meditation is widely used as an alternative therapy, the technique hasn’t been applied as a treatment in modern medicine. However, the Johns Hopkins researchers say practicing meditation just 30 minutes a day can make a real difference.
“Meditation appeared to provide as much relief from anxiety and depression symptoms as what other studies have found from antidepressants,” says Madhav Goyal, MD, MPH, the lead investigator. It also benefits those suffering from insomnia, fibromyalgia and other pain symptoms.
Specifically, the study looked at what’s called “mindfulness meditation”. This is a Buddhist approach that involves suspending judgment and focusing attention on the moment.
While it’s not clear how meditation works, Dr. Goyal says that mindfulness programs may dampen the body’s response to negative emotions. On the other hand, meditation isn’t known to cause side effects and can be combined with other treatments.
An 8-week mindful meditation course ranges from $200 to $500.
The study evaluated 47 clinical trials of 3,515 participants over a period of 3 weeks to 5.4 years. They used meditation for a variety of conditions including anxiety, heart disease and chronic pain. Those who meditated over an eight-week span showed a moderate health boost compared to a similar group that didn’t use the technique.
“It may seem surprising to many that a special form of contemplation could have a real medical effect. However, meditation in one form or another has been used for centuries to enhance the mind and body. It’s only now that scientists are able to quantify that effect,” says Dr. Ghorbani.
The study was funded by the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.