Effectiveness of meditation: the proof in our hair

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  • Effectiveness of meditation: the proof in our hairEffectiveness of meditation: the proof in our hair

According to a new study conducted by the Max-Planck Institute for Neurology and Cognitive Sciences in collaboration with the University of Dresden in Germany, the regular practice of meditation reduces stress in the long term. The proof is in our hair.

According to a recent OpinionWay survey from October 2021, nine out of ten French people experience stress and one out of two French people feels particularly stressed. However, it is now well known that chronic stress can promote a number of pathologies, both physical (heart disease, diabetes, ulcers, shingles, etc.) and psychological (depression, anxiety, burn-out). Fighting against stress has therefore become a real public health issue. While more and more studies are looking at non-drug methods such as meditation to reduce stress, many come up against methodological biases that are difficult to overcome.

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Indeed, in this research framework, participants are generally asked to self-evaluate their level of stress before and after meditation sessions by answering questionnaires. However, this subjective self-assessment can sometimes produce a biased view of the actual effectiveness of the therapy being tested. Through his latest study, published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicinethe Max-Planck Institute sought a parade these biases by analyzing the composition of the participants’ hair roots, which store a large number of substances circulating in the body (medicines, pesticides, drugs, heavy metals) or hormones such as cortisol.

Cortisol in our hair

Over nine months, three groups of approximately 80 participants completed three meditation training modules in a different order: one focusing on mindfulness and mindfulness methods, another on social-emotional skills such as compassion and gratitude, a last on so-called “socio-cognitive” skills (in particular the ability to take a step back from one’s own thoughts and those of others). After three months of a daily practice of thirty minutes, the amount of cortisol, the stress hormone par excellence, present at the base of the patients’ hair had slightly decreased. After six months, the researchers found a decrease in cortisol amounts by 25% on average.

At the end of this experiment, the cortisol concentration in the hair root had stabilized to remain at a low level. Another interesting observation: no significant difference was observed between the three meditation modules, confirming the idea thatthere is no “one right way” to meditate, the important thing being to take time every day for this self-reflection. So we inhale, we exhale, and we go for it.

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Source :

Contemplative Mental Training Reduces Hair Glucocorticoid Levels in a Randomized Clinical Trial,” Psychosomatic MedicineOctober 2021.

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Effectiveness of meditation: the proof in our hair

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