Study Reveals How Meditation Can Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Mindfulness Meditation & Alzheimer’s Disease
“Many people don’t respond to the frontline interventions. Individual cognitive behavioral therapy is helpful for many people; antidepressant medications help many people. But it’s also the case that many people don’t benefit from them as well.
There’s a great need for alternative approaches.”Benjamin Shapero, an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital’s (MGH) Depression Clinical and Research Program.
In recent decades, public interest in mindfulness meditation has soared. Studies have shown benefits against an array of conditions both physical and mental, including anxiety, psoriasis, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Specific studies relating to the benefits of mindfulness meditation programs for patients suffering of depression, chronic pain, and anxiety have shown results similar to other existing treatments.
A recent new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, suggests the practice of mindfulness meditation could prevent at-risk people from Alzheimer’s Disease.
Scientists from Wake Forest Baptist Health in North Carolina looked at 14 adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). This is defined as minor difficulties with memory and thinking, which increases a person’s risk of developing dementia. There’s currently no known way to prevent older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) from developing Alzheimer’s disease.
After eight weeks, the participants who took part in a meditation-mindfulness course scored better on cognitive tests.
“Until treatment options that can prevent the progression to Alzheimer’s are found, mindfulness meditation may help patients living with MCI,” said Rebecca Erwin Wells, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of neurology with Wake Forest Baptist Health and associate director of clinical research for its Center for Integrative Medicine.
“Our study showed promising evidence that adults with MCI can learn to practice mindfulness meditation, and by doing so may boost their cognitive reserve. While the concept of mindfulness meditation is simple, the practice itself requires complex cognitive processes, discipline and commitment,” Wells explained.
“This study suggests that the cognitive impairment in MCI is not prohibitive of what is required to learn this new skill.”
Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment, non-judgmental awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. It involves paying more attention to the present moment, including your thoughts, emotions and the world around you.
This has been linked to improved mental wellbeing.
Researchers study how mindfulness meditation seems to change the brain of depressed patients
What Are The Benefits Of Meditation?
Meditation can be traced back to as early as 5000 BC. It is associated with some philosophies and religions but is practiced as a secular, stress-relieving activity more and more.
Recent studies revealed that meditation can:
- Reduce one’s risk of heart disease by decreasing risk factors that can lead to the illness.
- Lower one’s blood pressure and their anxiety and depression levels.
- Reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which has been known to increase the risk of developing dementia.
- Help people quit smoking.
- Help seniors feel less isolated and lonely, two feelings which lead to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
- Reduce atrophy in the hippocampus, which is shrunken in people with Alzheimer’s.
- Increase cortical thickness and grey matter which slows the aging rate of the brain. Cortical thickness has been associated with decision making and memory.
- Help fight addictions.
- Enhances self-awareness.
- Generate kindness
- Reduce stress levels
Giancarlo is a qualified Usui/Holy Fire® III, Karuna Reiki® Master Teacher and a Healing Consultant of the prestigious College of Psychic Studies in South Kensington, London.
Giancarlo is also a qualified Spiritual Healer of the College of Psychic Studies in London, a Spiritual Counsellor, a Spiritual Mentor and a Past Life Regression Therapist. He teaches courses and workshops in the UK and overseas and also runs a private practice in London.