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J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Jan;17(1):5-12. doi: 10.1089/acm.2010.0135. Epub 2011 Jan 5.

Relaxing on a bed of nails: an exploratory study of the effects on the autonomic, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems, and saliva cortisol.

Author information

1
Institute of Psychophysiological Behavioural Medicine, Bergvik, Sweden. erik.olsson@pubcare.uu.se

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

This study investigated subjective and physiologic responses of lying on a bed of nails (BN) called the Shakti-mat and of listening to relaxing instructions and music. The BN has 6210 sharp-edge 5-mm plastic nails about 5 mm apart.

DESIGN:

Thirty-two (32) healthy participants went through four conditions in randomized orders combining BN and relaxing instructions.

RESULTS:

The subjective pain ratings on the BN increased immediately and reached a peak within 30 seconds. The pain then subsided gradually, indicating a habituation effect. Self-rated relaxation increased over time in all conditions. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures were higher, heart rate was slower, and there was more high-frequency power heart rate variability (HRV), and signs of increasing circulation in the back on the BN. The relaxation instruction especially affected breathing and the HRV-indices standard deviations of normal interbeat intervals and low-frequency power, both known to be responsive to slow breathing. There were no differences in saliva cortisol.

CONCLUSIONS:

Healthy participants habituated to the induced pain on the BN and were able to subjectively relax. When on a BN, signs of both sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system activity were observed. The pain may hypothetically have triggered a parasympathetic response.

PMID:
21208128
DOI:
10.1089/acm.2010.0135
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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