Can meditation empower us to regulate immune system?

London: The power of meditation may be much more than what is generally thought as researchers have now found that with behavioural training like breathing exercises people can learn to modulate their immune system.

The nervous system may exert influence on immune responses, the study indicated.

The research was inspired by the extraordinary feats of Dutch celebrity daredevil Wim Hof who has endured lengthy ice-water baths, hiked to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in shorts and made his mark in Guinness World Records with his ability to withstand cold.

When exposed to inflammation test, participants who underwent training by Hof (which included swimming in frigid water and lying bare-chested in the snow, as well as breathing and meditation exercises) reported fewer flu-like symptoms than those who did not.

Trained recruits also produced lower amounts of several proteins associated with inflammation, and higher levels of an inflammation-fighting protein called interleukin-10.

The findings have raised hopes for patients who have chronic inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, Nature reported.

The results are only preliminary, warned Matthijs Kox, a researcher at Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

The study appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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