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J Altern Complement Med. 2005 Apr;11(2):275-84.

The effects of meditation and visual imagery on an immune system disorder: dermatomyositis.

Author information

1
Department of Neurosciences, Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield, WI 54449, USA. collin.michael@marshfieldclinic.org

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To analyze the relationship between a patient's "spontaneous recovery" from dermatomyositis and her practice of transcendental meditation and visual imagery without confounding effects of conventional therapies.

DESIGN:

Study of time-varying relationships between (1) measures of arm strength and skin condition (rash and pain) and (2) mind-body interventions-controlling for psychologic stress-in a patient with dermatomyositis, using regression analysis to determine half-lives of treatments and stress.

SETTING:

Institutional referral center.

INTERVENTION:

Transcendental meditation and visual imagery (no drugs).

OUTCOME MEASURES:

Daily measurements of arm strength and skin condition over 294 days. Events producing psychologic stress were also rated using a numerical scale.

RESULTS:

The patient recovered, which is a low-probability event without conventional therapy. Regression analysis of time dependence between measures of arm strength, rash, and pain and application of mind-body treatments revealed statistically significant relationships for both meditation (p values 0.02 to 0.001) and visual imagery (p values 0.02 to 0.002). Stress had a significant negative impact on skin symptoms but not arm strength. Beneficial effects of meditation had half-lives of 48-59 days for skin condition and no detectable decay for arm strength. Benefits of visual imagery were more transient (half-lives 4-18 days). The effects of stress had half-lives of only 1-3 days.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results demonstrate a statistically significant relationship between mind-body therapies and the patient's recovery from dermatomyositis, possibly mediated by influences on the humoral immune system. A key factor in the recovery was the slower decay rate of meditation and visual imagery compared to stress. As dermatomyositis is a humorally mediated immune microvasculopathy, the benefits of meditation and imagery in our patient comport with a growing body of evidence showing that these techniques influence immune system function.

PMID:
15865493
DOI:
10.1089/act.2005.11.275
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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