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Study: How Yoga, Meditation Boosts Gut Health By Altering Genetic Signals

By Robert Harrington | Natural Society


You may not know it until you try it, but meditation or yoga can bring about some amazing health benefits. One recent study even shows how meditation can actually help with the gut disorders, irritable bowel syndrome and irritable bowel disease, by altering genetic signals.

“The study looked at people who had either irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or irritable bowel disease (IBD). It found that doing yoga and meditating regularly for two months eased the symptoms associated with the two gut disorders, the researchers said.” [1]

What’s particularly noteworthy about this study is that this mind-and-body intervention seemed to work by inducing genetic changes in the body. That such a positive self-healing dynamic of the mind-body connection has been scientifically documented is quite extraordinary. These claims have been made by Ayurveda practitioners for decades, but have waited for scientific verification.

There is a growing body of evidence which points to this relationship going in both directions. Just as the relaxation benefits of meditation can change gene expression for the better, intense and prolonged psychological stress can cause genetic damage. The various diseases and medical conditions which are directly related to those stresses will likewise worsen and be mitigated accordingly.

“Although IBS and IBD can be mistaken as the same condition, they are actually very different, and IBD is much less common. Unlike IBS, IBD involves chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. The two main types of IBD are ulcerative colitis, which affects the colon, and Crohn’s disease, which mostly affects the intestines, but can also occur anywhere in the digestive system.” [1]

The bowel is generally reactive to overwhelming and continuous stress in anyone’s life. Both IBS and IBD usually take years to develop due to the mismanagement of that stress. Of course, there are usually other cofactors which will contribute to their advancement, diet being the most prominent one.

Various food allergies and sensitivities, for instance, can have a significant impact by exacerbating irritable bowel symptoms when left unidentified and therefore not properly addressed. Gluten sensitivity and allergies to dairy products are two of the more common found to be present in those individuals with bowel dysfunction. Both of these food groups, along with other proven food allergens, have been shown to consistently increase the inflammatory response in those with IBS and IBD.

The GI tract, especially the colon, can be quite sensitive to the emotional state and psychological state of individuals who are genetically predisposed to bowel conditions. When there is a history of bowel disease in a family, perhaps one of the best ways to break the generational cycle is to engage in a daily meditation practice.

In this way, not only will the periods of regular relaxation short-circuit the body’s continual injurious stress response, they will also create the internal environment for self-healing to take place.

“There was one inflammation-related gene, called NF-kB, whose activities were suppressed in both groups, according to the study. This indicates that meditation and similar practices can offset stress and inflammation, the researchers said” [1]


The ramifications of the aforementioned study are both profound and far-reaching. In view of the dramatic positive results, there is every reason to believe that mediation and similar yogic practices can alter the bodies reactions to other stress-related ailments.

There is a school of thought which acknowledges that the human body conducts most of its healing during the hours of sleep, particularly deep sleep. It is during that time that the body is in the deepest state of relaxation.

There is also the understanding within Ayurveda that healing can be greatly accelerated while in silence — not only the silence found within a quiet and peaceful environment, but also when the mind is silent without so much mental chatter.

In this manner, there is considerably less stress in both mind and body so that more energy can be directed to the functions of repair and rejuvenation.


[1] Live Science


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