Calming: Mindfulness can be practised both when walking and sitting
People who suffer from painful conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis could ease their symptoms using a form of meditation, say researchers.
They added that the treatment, known as mindfulness, could prove a cheaper alternative to prescription medicines.
Mindfulness meditation involves 'being present' by focusing on breathing patterns and bodily sensations. This reduces worrying about the past and future and has been shown to be effective at alleviating depression.
The latest study suggested its calming effect could help those with stress-related chronic inflammatory conditions - such as bowel disease and asthma.
It is also a convenient technique as people can do the meditation exercises while sitting down or walking, according to the authors from the University of Wisconsin.
It comes as family doctors in the UK are being told to slash prescriptions of painkillers and sleeping pills amid concerns that patients are becoming addicted.
New guidelines now urge doctors to consider alternative treatments such as physiotherapy and counselling.
Study leader Melissa Rosenkranz, said some people don't benefit from regular medicines with many suffering from negative side effects of drugs or failing to respond to standard treatment.
Ms Rosenkranz said: 'Our study shows that there are specific ways mindfulness (meditation) can be beneficial and that there are specific people who may be more likely to benefit from this approach than other interventions.
'The mindfulness-based approach to stress reduction may offer a lower-cost alternative or complement standard treatment and it can be practised easily by patients in their own homes, whenever they need.'
The study compared two different methods of reducing stress, one related to meditation and the other involving exercise and musical therapy.
The content of the program was meant to match aspects of the mindfulness instruction in some way. For example, physical exercise was meant to match walking meditation, without the mindfulness component.
'In this setting, we could see if there were changes that we could detect that were specific to mindfulness,' Rosenkranz said.
The study suggests gaining 'inner peace' can have a very real outward effect
Cream containing heat from chilli peppers was used to inflame the skin of participants in both groups. Although both groups felt calmer after therapy, only mindfulness proved effective at reducing the inflammation.
Ms Rosenkranz added: 'The study suggests that mindfulness techniques may be more effective in relieving inflammatory symptoms than other activities that promote well-being.
'This is not a cure-all, but our study does show that - there are specific people who may be more likely to benefit from this approach than other interventions.'
Significant portions of the population do not benefit from available pharmaceutical treatment options. Some of these patients suffer from negative side effects of the drugs, or simply do not respond to the standard-of-care for treatment of the disorder.
More information about mindfulness can be found at htttp://www.bemindful.co.uk/
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2263949/Mindfulness-Meditation-ease-pain-stress-related-conditions-like-IBS-arthritis.html#ixzz2IFkZilzN
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