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Meditation and Immune Function

By Dr. Susan E. Marafino

What does meditation have to do with a healthy immune system? Recent research led by Dr. Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin demonstrated that regular meditation had a positive effect on immune function.

The meditation technique, known as mindfulness-based stress reduction, was taught by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, and was developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. A prior study showed the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation in skin clearing in patients with psoriasis.

The new study divided 48 healthy subjects into a control group and a meditation group. The meditation group received meditation training for 8 weeks: consisting of a weekly class, a one day retreat, and daily home practice. After the 8-week training, both control and meditation groups were vaccinated with influenza vaccine.

Blood draws were taken 4 and 8 weeks after vaccination to evaluate antibody titers. An increase in antibodies is a sign of a healthy immune system, since your body forms antibodies as a defense against disease. The meditation group had significantly higher levels of antibodies compared with the non-meditating control group.

This is exciting news because this research shows that regular meditation improves immune function; and a healthy immune system is key to overall health.

Dr. Susan Marafino is a Doctor of Chiropractic and yoga teacher practicing at Hamilton Chiropractic Health Center. Contact her with comments at 23 Broad Street, Hamilton, NY 13346 or (315)824.2504.

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