The linkage of the mind with the body is now better understood than before. Stress is one of the major risk factors for the number one killer globally – cardiovascular diseases. Stress is also a risk factor for diabetes and cancer.
Meditation helps reduce stress and thus would help prevent and mitigate many lifestyle diseases.
Let me present some scientific study based evidence that will illustrate the role of meditation in human health management and disease control and mitigation.
One-month meditation practice on people with diabetes shows a reduction in HbA1c (glycosylated hemoglobin) values and individuals’ arterial pressure. All major psychological parameters like depression, anxiety, and general psychological distress decreased by 43%, 37%, and 35%, respectively. (Rosenzweig, S. et al., 2007; Whitebird, R.R., et al., 2009)
Sixty adult patients who had an HbA1c value between 6.0 and 8.0 were subjected to an Ayurvedic diet, meditation training instruction, and given an Ayurvedic herb supplement. HbA1c values in these patients dropped. (Elder, C. et al., 2006)
About 90 patients were organized into weekly meditation groups that lasted an hour and a half for 7 weeks. A total mood disturbance reduction of 65% and a 31% reduction in stress symptoms were observed (Speca et al., 2000).
Another study with cancer patients suffering from mood disturbance and stress symptoms showed a reduction of these symptoms after a meditation-based stress reduction program (Carlson et al., 2001).
As cancer treatment becomes more and more efficient, there is a need to improve such patients’ quality of life. Meditation is increasingly being viewed as an adjuvant to cancer treatment (Biegler et al., 2009).
Another randomized controlled trial to study the impact of a transcendental meditation program on stage II to stage IV breast cancer patients showed significant improvements in overall quality of life and reduced stress (Nidich et al., 2009). Suppressive effects on tumor progression were observed on prostate cancer patients who practiced Buddhist Zen meditation (Yu et al., 2003).
Sleep disturbance is widespread in cancer patients. An 8-week meditation program helped significantly reduce sleep disturbance in 63 cancer patients (Carlson et al., 2005). Similar results and enhanced quality of life, decreased stress, altered immune patterns, and decreased blood pressure were observed in another study (Carlson et al., 2007).
To learn more on the role of meditation in mitigating diabetes and cancer, you can check the following books: