It’s that time of year again – flu season. And with all the bugs and germs flying around, you want to make sure your immune system is firing on all cylinders. But there’s one vitamin that might be missing from your cold and flu fighting tool kit – Vitamin M! M for mediation that is!
Regular meditation has been found to reduce the incidence, duration, and severity of acute respiratory tract infections – think coughs, sore throats and blocked noses.
One study compared two groups – one who practiced a daily 10 minute mindfulness meditation, and the other who went on with business as usual. Not only did the group of meditators experience less acute respiratory tract infections, if they did come down with a cold or flu, their symptoms were less severe and they recovered more quickly.
The flow on effect of this meant that the meditators took less sick days and experienced better overall health – just by taking 10 minutes a day to sit down and meditate!
Another study compared the response of meditators and non-meditators to the flu vaccine and found that the meditators demonstrated increased antibodies (a marker of immune response) compared to the non-meditators. This means that regular meditation could increase the effectiveness of vaccines and supports a healthy immune response.
Another study looked at whether meditation can help the immune system recover after strenuous physical stress (like high intensity exercise or an injury) which suppresses the immune response. They found that meditation helped to meditate the effect of the physical stress on the immune system and that participants were able to improve their immune response by meditating after exercise.
For more serious health issues like cancer, a mindfulness-based stress reduction program was found to decrease mood disturbance and stress symptoms in both male and female patients with a wide variety of cancer diagnoses, stages of illness, and ages.
If you’d like to experience these immune-boosting benefits of meditation, try taking 10 minutes every day, sitting in a quiet place with your focus on your breath, or use one of the guided meditation found in our Vital Mind program.
Happy meditating, and stay vital!
Barrett, B., Hayney, M. S., Muller, D., Rakel, D., Ward, A., Obasi, C. N., … & West, R. (2012). Meditation or exercise for preventing acute respiratory infection: a randomized controlled trial. The Annals of Family Medicine, 10(4), 337-346.
Davidson, R. J., Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J., Rosenkranz, M., Muller, D., Santorelli, S. F., … & Sheridan, J. F. (2003). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic medicine, 65(4), 564-570.
Solberg, E. E., Halvorsen, R., Sundgot-Borgen, J., Ingjer, F., & Holen, A. (1995). Meditation: a modulator of the immune response to physical stress? A brief report. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 29(4), 255-257.
Speca, M., Carlson, L. E., Goodey, E., & Angen, M. (2000). A randomized, wait-list controlled clinical trial: the effect of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction program on mood and symptoms of stress in cancer outpatients. Psychosomatic medicine, 62(5), 613-622.