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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2016 Jun;68:117-25. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.02.013. Epub 2016 Feb 20.

Reduced stress and inflammatory responsiveness in experienced meditators compared to a matched healthy control group.

Author information

1
Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging & Behavior and Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1500 Highland Ave., Madison, WI 53705, USA. Electronic address: marosenk@wisc.edu.
2
Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging & Behavior and Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1500 Highland Ave., Madison, WI 53705, USA; Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, INSERM U1028, CNRS UMR5292, Lyon, France; Lyon 1 University, Lyon, France.
3
Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging & Behavior and Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1500 Highland Ave., Madison, WI 53705, USA; Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1202 W. Johnson St., Madison, WI 53706, USA.
4
Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging & Behavior and Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1500 Highland Ave., Madison, WI 53705, USA.
5
Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging & Behavior and Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1500 Highland Ave., Madison, WI 53705, USA; Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, INSERM U1028, CNRS UMR5292, Lyon, France; Lyon 1 University, Lyon, France; Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1202 W. Johnson St., Madison, WI 53706, USA; Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 6001 Research Park Blvd., Madison, WI 53719, USA.
6
Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging & Behavior and Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1500 Highland Ave., Madison, WI 53705, USA; Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1202 W. Johnson St., Madison, WI 53706, USA; Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 6001 Research Park Blvd., Madison, WI 53719, USA.

Abstract

Psychological stress is a major contributor to symptom exacerbation across many chronic inflammatory conditions and can acutely provoke increases in inflammation in healthy individuals. With the rise in rates of inflammation-related medical conditions, evidence for behavioral approaches that reduce stress reactivity is of value. Here, we compare 31 experienced meditators, with an average of approximately 9000 lifetime hours of meditation practice (M age=51years) to an age- and sex-matched control group (n=37; M age=48years) on measures of stress- and inflammatory responsivity, and measures of psychological health. The Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) was used to induce psychological stress and a neurogenic inflammatory response was produced using topical application of capsaicin cream to forearm skin. Size of the capsaicin-induced flare response and increase in salivary cortisol and alpha amylase were used to quantify the magnitude of inflammatory and stress responses, respectively. Results show that experienced meditators have lower TSST-evoked cortisol (62.62±2.52 vs. 70.38±2.33; p<.05) and perceived stress (4.18±.41 vs. 5.56±.30; p<.01), as well as a smaller neurogenic inflammatory response (81.55±4.6 vs. 96.76±4.26; p<.05), compared to the control group. Moreover, experienced meditators reported higher levels of psychological factors associated with wellbeing and resilience. These results suggest that the long-term practice of meditation may reduce stress reactivity and could be of therapeutic benefit in chronic inflammatory conditions characterized by neurogenic inflammation.

KEYWORDS:

Alpha amylase; Cortisol; HPA-axis; Inflammation; Stress

PMID:
26970711
PMCID:
PMC4851883
DOI:
10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.02.013
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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