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Explore (NY). 2014 May-Jun;10(3):170-9. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2014.02.002. Epub 2014 Feb 25.

Brief training of psychoneuroendocrinoimmunology-based meditation (PNEIMED) reduces stress symptom ratings and improves control on salivary cortisol secretion under basal and stimulated conditions.

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Italian Society of Psychoneuroendocrinoimmunology (SIPNEI), Roma, Italy; Integrative Medicine Post-graduate Course, Siena Medical School, Siena, Italy; Integrative Stress Management Post-graduate Course, Perugia Medical School, Perugia, Italy.
Italian Society of Psychoneuroendocrinoimmunology (SIPNEI), Roma, Italy.
Private practice, Vicolo Nervesa della Battaglia 10, Padova, Italy.
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Public Health, Polytechnic University of Marche, Ancona, Italy.
Italian Society of Psychoneuroendocrinoimmunology (SIPNEI), Roma, Italy; Department of Earth, Life and Environmental Sciences (DiSTeVA), University of Urbino "Carlo Bo", Via Ca' Le Suore 2/4, Urbino (PU), Italy. Electronic address:



Meditation is proposed as an anti-stress practice lowering allostatic load and promoting well-being, with brief formats providing some of the benefits of longer interventions.


PsychoNeuroEndocrinoImmunology-based meditation (PNEIMED) combines the teaching of philosophy and practice of Buddhist meditation with a grounding in human physiology from a systemic and integrative perspective. We evaluated the effects of four-day PNEIMED training (30 h) on subjective and objective indices of stress in healthy adults.


A non-randomized, controlled, before-and-after study was conducted. Participants (n = 125, mostly health practitioners) answered a questionnaire rating stress symptom before (T0) and after (Tf) a PNEIMED course. In an additional sample (n = 40; smokers, overweight persons, women taking contraceptives, and subjects with oral pathologies were excluded), divided into PNEIMED-attending (intervention, n = 21) and non-meditating (control, n = 19) groups, salivary cortisol was measured upon awakening and during a challenging mental task.


Self-rated distress scores were highly reduced after the PNEIMED course. In the intervention group, improvement of psychological well-being was accompanied by decrease in cortisol levels at awakening. No T0-vs-Tf changes in distress scores and morning cortisol were found in controls. Based on baseline-to-peak increment of cortisol response at T0, 26 subjects (n = 13 for each group) were classified as task-responders. The amplitude and duration of the cortisol response decreased after PNEIMED, whereas no effects were found in controls.


Brief PNEIMED training yields immediate benefits, reducing distress symptoms and adrenocortical activity under basal and stimulated conditions. PNEIMED may represent an effective practice to manage stress and anxiety, particularly among subjects facing a multitude of job-related stressors, such as healthcare workers.


Stress management; Symptom Rating Test; healthcare workers; hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis; mental stress

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