Meditation: A Powerful Natural Medication to Supercharge your Immunity.

In a new study led by the University of Florida, researchers found that intense meditation for 8 days triggers powerful activation of the immune system.

One of the researchers of this study was Vijayendran Chandran, Ph.D. from the College of Medicine and McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Florida. “Yoga and meditation are holistic disciplines,” Said Vijayendran Chandran, “that integrate both mental and physical methods for human well-being.”

This study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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What Was the Study?

In this study, 106 participants, around 40 years of age, took part in an intensive meditation retreat conducted in April 2018 at the Isha Institute of Inner Sciences in McMinnville, TN.

The participants meditated for 10 hours daily for 8 days, remained in complete silence for the entire retreat, ate a strict vegan diet, and followed a regular sleep-wake cycle. Blood samples from the participants were collected at 4 times- 5-8 weeks before the retreat, immediately before and after the retreat, and after 3 months.

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The researchers then performed genomic and bioinformatic analysis of nearly 388 blood samples. The genomic analysis revealed alteration of several immune-related and other cellular pathways after the meditation retreat.

Explore The Findings.

The findings were striking and surprising. The researchers observed an increase in post-retreat activity in 220 genes that are directly related to the immune system. Of the 200 genes, 68 were associated with interferon signaling. This finding that meditation boost interferon signaling was very significant.

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But what is interferon signaling?

It is an integral part of your body’s anti-virus and anti-cancer responses. Interferon proteins unite and rally other parts of the immune response to fight and defend against potentially harmful viruses. Many scientific studies have shown that this interferon signaling is imbalanced in patients with Covid-19.

When the researchers compared interferon activity in the meditation retreat participants and Covid-19 patients, the findings surprised them. Meditation activated 97% of interferon genes, compared with 76% in mild Covid patients and just 31% in severe Covid patients.

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I feel I can read your mind. The question is in the real world, is it possible to undergo such intense marathon meditation.

No! agreed but does it discount the fact that meditation plays an important part in strengthening the immune system.

If short-term meditation for a long duration is not possible, then long-term meditation for a short duration can also improve the immune system. Given the abundance of scientific studies and research on meditation, the benefits on overall health are now well documented.

However, Mr. Vijayendran Chandran can vouch for the benefits. He completed a 48-day program on Inner Engineering doing almost 20 minutes of meditation at home. To begin with, he was skeptical, but thanks to the prodding by his wife, he decided to give it a try. “I tried it and it worked really well.

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I just felt great,” Chandran mentioned. This triggered his scientific curiosity and he decided to launch a study on meditation.

Meditation and Antibodies.

In another research published in the journal ‘Psychosomatic Medicine,’ Dr. Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison conducted a study to measure the effects of mindfulness meditation on the brain and immune function. 25 participants underwent an 8-week program in meditation and another 16 participants were non-meditators.

At the end of the program, subjects in both groups were vaccinated with the vaccine of influenza flu. The findings surprisingly observed that participants who were taught meditation showed a significant increase in their level of antibodies as compared to the other non-meditators group.

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Role Of Antibodies in Immunity.

Coronavirus vaccines largely focus on developing antibodies.

Antibodies are also known as immunoglobulins, hunt for invaders (antigens) such as bacteria, viruses, and germs. Once identified, these antibodies attach themselves to the antigens, which not only reduces the severity of an illness but also block and prevents infection from spreading.

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This level of protection shield is considered the best bulletproof defense system, but normally it requires the presence of large numbers of antibodies to work the best. Concerns that the new variants might be partially resistant to antibodies have led to exploring other immune responses that may protect and further strengthen the immune system.

So, what are the other options? If antibodies are one of the frontline ruthless soldiers protecting your defense castle, then there is another brave warrior who if gets paired up with antibodies can turn your body into a full-proof defense fort.

They are ‘T-Cells’.

If antibodies prove to be less effective, then T cells may save the day.

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The T-Cell Mystery.

Apart from antibodies, your immune system produces a battalion of T cells that directly targets the virus or bacteria.

T cells are a type of white blood cell and play a key role in the enhancement of immune response.

There are two main types of T cells – cytotoxic T cells and helper T cells.

The cytotoxic T cells are also known as ‘killer T cells (or CD8+ T cells) named after the presence of proteins).

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What is cytotoxic?

It simply means that they are capable and able to directly attack and destroy cancer and virus-infected cells. So, killer T cells seek out cells that have slowly turned into virus-making factories and then kill them rather than just killing the organisms. They do so with the help of a special molecule called antigens.

The ‘helper T cells (or CD4+ T cells) unlike killer T cells don’t directly make antibodies or fight the invader viruses themselves. They act as team communicators using chemicals to share information with the other immune cells. This helps the killer T cells and B cells to multiply their production to fight and destroy the infection demon.

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After a killer T cell demolishes a virus-infected cell, the helper T cell sends a message to multiply and copy itself to create an army of killer T cells. Even though T cells didn’t prevent infection, since they get activated only after a virus has crept inside the body, these defense soldiers are a must if the infection needs to be cleared and destroyed.

This property plays an important function in the case of Covid19, as it can kill the virus-infected cells before they start spreading and thus could reduce transmission by curbing the amount of virus circulating in the body. This could mean the difference between a mild infection or a severe infection that may require hospitalization.

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Interesting HIV Study.

These helper T cells (CD4+) get eroded in HIV patients in a big way. In an interesting study, which lasted 8 weeks researchers at UCLA got 50 HIV-positive men to do mindfulness meditation daily for 30-45 minutes.

The observation was striking. The daily practice of meditation not only stopped the decline of CD4+ T cells but also halted the progression of the disease. It was also observed that more the meditation sessions people attended, the higher their helper T cells count became.

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The Final Word.

So, the equation is quite simple. The more meditation you do daily and regularly, the more T cells you’ll have, the better your immunity against foreign invaders.

So, if you are interested in supercharging your body with extra antibodies and T cells, miraculously boosting your immune system, then meditation is the super pill.

So, what are you waiting for?

Meditation won’t boost your immunity unless you actually sit down and start practicing! Just commit yourself from tomorrow and make meditation an integral part of your daily habits and see your immunity skyrocketing.

Over to you now! Kindly connect by commenting and sharing your views, thoughts, and opinions on the amazing powers of meditation.

Happy Meditation and Strong Immunity.

 

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