According to the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, 90% of all adult illness is due to the degenerative processes of aging. Anti-aging medicine, aiming for longevity and optimal health, is most certainly the â€™specialtyâ€™ of the future and is based on the early detection, prevention and reversal of age-related disease. While science continues to search for answers, research has already revealed that meditation is a potent anti-aging practice that can take years off your physiological age.
Aging is most certainly a complex issue with many factors coming into play, but one thing that researchers do agree on is that stress (mental, emotional, and physical) causes us to age.
Eva Selhub, MD, Medical Director of the Mind/Body Medical Institute says, â€œIf we can affect the stress response, we can affect the aging process.â€ She says â€œThere`s a reason why experienced meditators live so long and look so young.â€ (The Anti-Aging Effects of Meditation; http://www.more.com/2025/2674-the-aâ€¦)
In a recent interview with CNN, Dan Buettner, author of â€œThe Blue Zonesâ€ and researcher into longevity hotspots around the world, suggests small lifestyle changes can add up to 10 years to most people`s lives. He says aging is 10% genetic and 90% lifestyle. Buettner stated that having mechanisms to shed stress, like prayer and meditation, was of high importance in the longevity hotspots he studied and a major factor in long-term health and aging.
Dr. Robert Keith Wallace was one of the first scientists to study the effects of meditation on aging and he published his findings in the International Journal of Neuroscience (16: 53 58, 1982). His research was based on the practice of Transcendental Meditation.
Dr. Wallace found that subjects with an average chronological age of 50 years, who had been practicing Transcendental Meditation for over 5 years, had a biological age 12 years younger than their chronological age. That means a 55-year-old meditator had the physiology of a 43-year-old.
Several of the subjects in the study were found to have a biological age 27 years younger than their chronological age. This study has since been replicated several times. Other studies have also shown the beneficial effects of Transcendental Meditation on the aging process. (The Transcendental Meditation Program; http://www.tmprogram.com.au/book/châ€¦ )
History reveals many examples of seemingly `ageless` saints, dedicated to the practice of meditation, whose lives have demonstrated the enormous capacity of the human body to live much longer than today`s average life span.
Yes, these `ageless` saints and yogis practically dedicated their whole lives to meditation but even we, as average householders, can potentially live much longer, healthier lives. Meditation has revealed itself to be one of the most beneficial practices to relieve some of the stress related to aging.
Bernard Siegel, M.D., Professor, Yale University School of Medicine, wrote in Love, Medicine and Miracles (New York: Harper and Row, 1986): â€œOther doctors` scientific research and my own day-to-day clinical experience have convinced me that the state of the mind changes the state of the body by working through the central nervous system, the endocrine system, and the immune system. Peace of mind sends the body a `live` message, while depression, fear and unresolved conflict give it a `die` message.â€
â€œThe physical benefits of meditation have recently been well documented by Western medical researchers,â€ says Dr. Siegel. â€œMeditation also raises the pain threshold and reduces one`s biological ageâ€¦ In short, it reduces wear and tear on both body and mind, helping people live longer and better.â€ (Paramahansa Yogananda. 1995. The Bhagavad Gita, p 379-380)
Paramanhansa Yogananda. 1995. The Bhagavad Gita, p. 379-380. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship
Meditation may be the Future of Anti-Aging, Part II
Scientific experts now believe we have in-built mechanisms that can fight and reverse the aging process. Innovative research into the reversal of aging is well underway and, while scientists debate the many different theories, research has revealed that meditation dramatically affects the production of three important hormones related to stress, longevity and aging.
Cortisol, DHEA and Melatonin.
Cortisol, the â€™stress hormoneâ€™, is naturally produced by the adrenal glands. Our bodies produce cortisol (and adrenaline) when we react to stress. Long term or chronic stress however means that the body is over exposed to these hormones, and this can lead to increased anxiety, depression, an inability to cope, and ultimately, physical illness. (http://www.antiaging-systems.com/enâ€¦)
David Zava, Ph.D., a biochemist and prominent researcher and speaker on the topic of hormones says, â€œToo much cortisol, caused by stressors, over a prolonged period of time, results in excessive breakdown of all structural tissues of the body including muscle, bone, skin and brain, causing accelerated aging.â€ (http://www.virginiahopkinstestkitsâ€¦. )
DHEA, known as the â€˜youthâ€™ hormone, is also produced by the adrenal glands and acts as a buffer against stress-related hormones (like cortisol). It is a key determinant of physiological age and dramatically decreases as we get older. When DHEA levels are low we are more susceptible to aging and disease. Anxiety and stress lower DHEA levels.
DHEA has extended rodent lifespans by up to 50%. The animals not only lived longer, but they also appeared younger. DHEA levels are directly related to mortality (the probability of dying) in humans. In a 12-year study of over 240 men aged 50 to 79 years, researchers found that DHEA levels were inversely correlated with mortality, both from heart disease and from all other causes.
Melatonin is a key determinant of restful sleep and is known to have a calming effect, improving our mood and feelings of contentment. Current research has also revealed melatonin to be a powerful antioxidant but as we age we create less and less melatonin.
Studies by immunologist Dr. Walter Pierpaoli of the Biancalana-Masera Foundation for the Aged in Ancona, Italy, and various colleagues have shown that melatonin treatments extended the lifespan of mice by as much as 25 percent. Moreover, mice that had been treated with melatonin not only lived longer, but they also appeared younger, healthier, more vigorous, and sexually rejuvenated.
Studies conducted by pioneering University of Texas melatonin researcher Dr. Russel Reiter show melatonin to be the most potent scavenger of free radicals â€“ unstable molecules that promote cancer and heart disease by damaging DNA, cells, and tissue. (http://www.worldhealth.net/news/aboâ€¦)
Dr. Vincent Giampapa, M.D., head of Longevity Institute International and Past-President of the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine, plays a prominent role in some of the latest scientific research into aging. His study, using specific audio technology designed for deep meditation, revealed:
* Cortisol decreased by an average of 46.47%, with positive changes in 68% of the people
* Over 68% had increases in DHEA levels, with an average increase of 43.77%
* Melatonin levels increased an average of 97.77%, with positive changes happening in over 73% of the people
Regular meditation practice brings a whole range of health benefits but the most fascinating, at the forefront of modern medicine, is how it seems to activate the bodyâ€™s natural anti-aging capabilities.
â€œMost people think that aging is irreversible and we know that there are mechanisms even in the human machinery that allow for the reversal of aging, through correction of diet, through anti-oxidants, removal of toxins from the body, through exercise, yoga and breathing techniques, and through meditation.â€ â€“ Deepak Chopra (http://www.peopleandpossibilities.câ€¦)
by: Angela Ekste
About the author
A passionate advocate for organic living and personal empowerment, Angela hopes to inspire others to live a healthy, wealthy life of purpose through her website www.thesoulroom.com