Relaxation response affects gene activity, from Harvard’s Stress Management Special Health Report

Published: April, 2011

Stress management techniques can have a host of health benefits such as better mood and lower blood pressure, but relaxation response techniques may also alter the body at a deep, fundamental level — by influencing the expression of certain genes. Harvard Medical School's recently updated Special Health Report Stress Management: Approaches for Preventing and Reducing Stress explains how this is possible and also how a person can learn to identify stress warning signs and develop new tools to better manage stressful situations.

The genetic changes associated with the relaxation response were identified several years ago. A study examined the effects of the relaxation response on certain sets of genes and found that the relaxation response can turn certain genes on and off. The genes were involved with controlling how the body handles free radicals, inflammation processes, and cell death. While further research is needed to confirm these findings, the study has enhanced the credibility of the connection between mind and body, and could have important implications for how diseases are treated.

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