From the Sydney Morning Herald: ‘What researchers at Harvard Medical School discovered is that, in long-term practitioners of relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation, far more ”disease-fighting genes” were active, compared to those who practised no form of relaxation.
In particular, they found genes that protect from disorders such as pain, infertility, high blood pressure and even rheumatoid arthritis were switched on. The changes, say the researchers, were induced by what they call ”the relaxation effect”, a phenomenon that could be just as powerful as any medical drug but without the side effects.
”We found a range of disease-fighting genes were active in the relaxation practitioners that were not active in the control group,” Dr Herbert Benson, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who led the research, says.
The good news for the control group with the less-healthy genes is that the research didn’t stop there.
The experiment, which showed just how responsive genes are to behaviour, mood and environment, revealed that genes can switch on, just as easily as they switch off.
”Harvard researchers asked the control group to start practising relaxation methods every day,” says Jake Toby, hypnotherapist at London’s BodyMind Medicine Centre, who teaches clients how to induce the relaxation effect.
”After two months, their bodies began to change: the genes that help fight inflammation, kill diseased cells and protect the body from cancer all began to switch on.”
More encouraging still, the benefits of the relaxation effect were found to increase with regular practice: the more people practised relaxation methods such as meditation or deep breathing, the greater their chances of remaining free of arthritis and joint pain with stronger immunity, healthier hormone levels and lower blood pressure.’