Kirtan Kriva yoga may help fight inflammation and stress by helping the immune system. A new study of the holistic health uses of yoga to help reduce inflammation helps caregivers of people with dementia and anyone under the type of stress that can lead to inflammation.
The study from the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) is published in the journalPsychoneuroendocrinology. Researchers now know why yoga improves health. Researchers studied various types of yoga that included Kirtan Kriya. Some of the participant’s genes responded differently after Kirtan Kriya Meditation (KKM), resulting in reduced inflammation.
Researchers at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) have shown that practicing a form of yogic meditation for just 12 minutes daily for eight weeks led to a reduction in the biological mechanisms responsible for an increase in the immune system’s inflammation response. Inflammation, if constantly activated, can contribute to a multitude of chronic health problems.
Six months ago, researchers at UCLA published a study that showed using a specific type of yoga to engage in a brief, simple daily meditation reduced the stress levels of people who care for those stricken by Alzheimer’s and dementia. Now they know why. It’s because chanting yoga meditation for 12 minutes creates an immune system response that can help cut inflammation in your body. Check out the July 24, 2012 news release, “Yoga reduces stress; now it’s known why.”
As previously reported, practicing a certain form of chanting yogic meditation for just 12 minutes daily for eight weeks led to a reduction in the biological mechanisms responsible for an increase in the immune system’s inflammation response. Inflammation, if constantly activated, can contribute to a multitude of chronic health problems.
Reporting in the current online edition of the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, Dr. Helen Lavretsky, senior author and a professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and colleagues found in their work with 45 family dementia caregivers that 68 of their genes responded differently after Kirtan Kriya Meditation (KKM), resulting in reduced inflammation.
Yoga helps relieve the stress of dementia caregivers
Too much stress can lower your immunity. But a certain type of yoga increases your body’s ability to fight inflammation that can lead to conditions worsened by inflammation. In the UCLA study, researchers found that caregivers are the unsung heroes for their yeoman’s work.
Caregivers take care of loved ones that have been stricken with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, said Dr. Helen Lavretsky, according to the news release. Lavretsky also directs UCLA’s Late-Life Depression, Stress and Wellness Research Program. See, Later Life Depression, Stress and Wellness Research Program. For further information, also see the site, Yoga and Meditation in the News | Yoga For Beginners.
Caring for a frail or demented family member can be a significant life stressor
Older adult caregivers report higher levels of stress and depression and lower levels of satisfaction, vigor and life in general. Moreover, caregivers show higher levels of the biological markers of inflammation. Family members in particular are often considered to be at risk of stress-related disease and general health decline.
As the U.S. population continues to age over the next two decades, Lavretsky noted, the prevalence of dementia and the number of family caregivers who provide support to these loved ones will increase dramatically. Currently, at least five million Americans provide care for someone with dementia.
Caregivers show higher levels of the biological markers of inflammation
“We know that chronic stress places caregivers at a higher risk for developing depression,” she said in the news release. “On average, the incidence and prevalence of clinical depression in family dementia caregivers approaches 50 percent. Caregivers are also twice as likely to report high levels of emotional distress.” What’s more, many caregivers tend to be older themselves, leading to what Lavretsky calls an “impaired resilience” to stress and an increased rate of cardiovascular disease and mortality.
Caregivers under stress may have an increased rate of cardiovascular disease
Research has suggested for some time that psychosocial interventions like meditation reduce the adverse effects of caregiver stress on physical and mental health. However, the pathways by which such psychosocial interventions impact biological processes are poorly understood.
In the study, the participants were randomized into two groups. The meditation group was taught the 12-minute yogic practice that included Kirtan Kriya, which was performed every day at the same time for eight weeks. The other group was asked to relax in a quiet place with their eyes closed while listening to instrumental music on a relaxation CD, also for 12 minutes daily for eight weeks. Blood samples were taken at the beginning of the study and again at the end of the eight weeks.
Yoga altered inflammatory and antiviral proteins that shape immune cell gene expression
“The goal of the study was to determine if meditation might alter the activity of inflammatory and antiviral proteins that shape immune cell gene expression,” said Lavretsky in the news release. “Our analysis showed a reduced activity of those proteins linked directly to increased inflammation.
“This is encouraging news. Caregivers often don’t have the time, energy, or contacts that could bring them a little relief from the stress of taking care of a loved one with dementia, so practicing a brief form of yogic meditation, which is easy to learn, is a useful too.”
Lavretsky is a member of UCLA’s recently launched Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program, which provides comprehensive, coordinated care as well as resources and support to patients and their caregivers. Lavretsky has incorporated yoga practice into the caregiver program.
Biobehavioral Sciences also researches the holistic health benefits of yoga
Funding for the study was provided by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation in Tucson, Ariz. Other authors of the study included David S. Black, Steve Cole, Michael R. Irwin, Elizabeth Breen, Natalie M. St. Cyr, Nora Nazarian, all of UCLA, and Dharma S. Khalsa, medical director for the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation in Tucson. The authors report no conflict of interest.
The UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences is the home within the David Geffen School of Medicine for faculty who are expert in the origins of and treatments for disorders of complex human behavior. It is part of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, a world leading, interdisciplinary research and education institute devoted to the understanding of complex human behavior and the causes and consequences of neuropsychiatric disorders.
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