Harvard Women's Health Watch

Research We're Watching: Mindfulness meditation for arthritis

Practicing mindfulness-based meditation might help reduce inflammation in people with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, finds a study published in January in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. Stress is a key component in these diseases. Mindfulness meditation is a stress-relieving technique that induces relaxation by focusing awareness on breathing, thoughts, and body sensations. The study included 49 people, most of them women, who took part in either mindfulness meditation or a general wellness program for eight weeks. The researchers then placed the participants in a stress-inducing situation. When the researchers measured markers of inflammation and stress, people in the meditation group had less of an inflammatory response than those in the wellness program group. Mindfulness meditation is not a cure for stress-related inflammation, but it may offer an addition to standard treatments, and it's easy for people to practice.