Mind-body therapy helps ease low back pain

mind body resilience health care


Mind-based therapy programs may help ease chronic back pain, new research suggests.

Patients who took part in such programs were more likely to have noticeable and lasting improvements in back pain than those who stuck to their usual routines, investigators found.

Both of the approaches tested in the study - mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) - can be helpful for people who haven't benefited from other therapies, said lead author Daniel Cherkin, of the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle.

"Maybe it'll make a difference for them," he told Reuters Health.

MBSR attempts to increase a person's attention to thoughts, emotions and sensations in the moment through yoga and meditation, the researchers explain in in the Journal of the American Medical Association. CBT educates people about pain and its relation to reactions and activities. CBT also provides instructions and tools to cope with pain.

While CBT is known to be effective for chronic pain and is recommended for lower back pain, before now only one other study had looked at MBSR for chronic low back pain, the researchers say.

Cherkin and colleagues randomly assigned 342 adults with chronic low back pain to one of three groups. The pain had no known cause and had lasted for at least three months.

One group continued whatever they were doing to manage their pain. A second group also received MBSR and a third took part in CBT.

Participants in the two mind-body therapy groups were offered eight weekly two-hour group sessions. The MBSR group was also offered a six-hour retreat.

The mindfulness group had more improved current and most improved severe pain scores at the six-month point.

Overall, about 54 percent attended six or more sessions.

mind body medicine

Stress-busting mind-body medicine reduces need for health care
 by Daniel Pendick, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch

mind body resilience health care This week, researchers at Harvard reported a potent way to keep the doctor away. And it isn’t an apple a day or a new drug — it’s a life skill called resilience. It’s the adult equivalent of crashing into a hedge during your first bike ride without training wheels, shaking the leaves and dirt from your hair, and thinking, “Okay, that wasn’t too bad. Let me try that again.”.

People tend to think resilience is something that lucky people have and unhappy people lack, but that’s not true. It’s a skill you can learn. Anyone can strengthen their resilience with practice, starting with the relaxation response — a physiologic state of deep rest induced by practices such as rhythmic breathing, mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, or prayer. The relaxation response was first described more than 40 years ago by Dr. Herbert Benson, founder and director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

The power of resilience is at the center of a study published this week in the journal PLoS One by Benson and his colleagues at MGH. People who graduated from a resiliency-boosting program developed by the Benson-Henry Institute used considerably less health care services in the year following the course compared with the year before.

mind body medicine

Optimism is Heart Healthy
 by Rick Nauert, PhD

mind body cancer A new study finds that people who see the glass as half full have significantly better cardiovascular health than those who are more cynical.

The University of Illinois study examined associations between optimism and heart health in more than 5,100 adults.

“Individuals with the highest levels of optimism have twice the odds of being in ideal cardiovascular health compared to their more pessimistic counterparts,” said lead author Dr. Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois.

“This association remains significant, even after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and poor mental health.”

Cardiovascular health was calculated from seven metrics: blood pressure, body mass index, fasting plasma glucose and serum cholesterol levels, dietary intake, physical activity, and tobacco use.

These metrics are used by the American Heart Association (AHA) to define heart health and are the current emphasis of the AHA in its Life’s Simple 7 public awareness (LS7) campaign.

mind body medicine

Complementary Therapy Helps Cancer Patient’s Mind, Body
 by Kenneth Weiss, MD, FACP

mind body cancer Most cancer patients leave their medical treatment plan in the trusted hands of their oncologist. But many want to play an active role in regaining control of their own health and wellness. Complementary therapies allow patients to do that.

Complementary therapies are evidence-based, unlike alternative therapies, and integrated to treat the whole person — mind, body and spirit. This makes them unique in what they offer patients.

Quality of life

Patients find that certain complementary methods, combined with medical treatments, are useful to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

mind body medicine

Interview: James Gordon says mind-body medicine no longer ‘complementary’
 by Eric Nelson

James Gordon Community Digital News PETALUMA, CA – When asked what role mind-body medicine plays in maintaining our mental and physical well-being, the response from Dr. James Gordon is unequivocal: “Fundamental!”

“I think [mind-body medicine] is still regarded as a complementary therapy,” he said during a recent visit to San Francisco, “but what I’m saying is that it’s fundamental. It’s not complementary at all.”

Gordon, the founder and director of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM) in Washington, D.C. and former chair of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy, has been repeating this mantra for years, most recently in a New York Times “Sunday Dialogue” in which he extols the virtue of what he calls “self-care,” including nutrition, exercise and various mind-body techniques like biofeedback, guided imagery and meditation.

“We spend about twice as much as many other industrialized nations on health care, often with inferior outcomes,” he wrote. “Three-quarters of that spending is on chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, depression and chronic pain – exactly the ones for which self-care is best suited.”

Although these statistics may be reason enough for a revised strategy going forward, Gordon was quick to point out the many barriers that remain.

“I think the biggest obstacle is our persistent fear of looking at and understanding ourselves,” he said. “We don’t want to look inside because we might see things that may trouble us.” But he also pointed out the resistance that comes from a medical model that, as he puts it, “believes in, as much as any religious belief does, its own objectivity."

mind body medicine

Environment, not genes, plays starring role in human immune variation
 by Bruce Goldman

genes environment(Stanford) -- A study of twins conducted by Stanford University School of Medicine investigators shows that our environment, more than our heredity, plays the starring role in determining the state of our immune system, the body’s primary defense against disease. This is especially true as we age, the study indicates.

Much has been made of the role genes play in human health. Stunning advances in gene-sequencing technologies, in concert with their plummeting costs, have turned many scientists’ attention to minute variations in the genome — the entire toolbox of genes carried in virtually every cell in the body — in the hope of predicting people’s future health. Such studies have revealed a genetic contribution to health outcomes. But, with some notable exceptions, very few individual genetic variants contribute much to particular health conditions.

“The idea in some circles has been that if you sequence someone’s genome, you can tell what diseases they’re going to have 50 years later,” said Mark Davis, PhD, professor of microbiology and director of Stanford’s Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection. But while genomic variation clearly plays a key role in some diseases, he said, the immune system has to be tremendously adaptable in order to cope with unpredictable episodes of infection, injury and tumor formation.

“The immune system has to think on its feet,” said Davis, senior author of the new study, which will be published Jan. 15 in Cell. Lead authorship is shared by former Stanford postdoctoral scholars Petter Brodin, MD, PhD, and Vladimir Jojic, PhD.

mind body medicine

Depression linked to higher risk of death for patients with heart failure

 Postmedia Network

depression heart failure (Imperial College London) - Prof. John Cleland at Imperial College London and the University of Hull, said, "Patients with heart failure are at high risk of recurrent hospital admissions and death. Approximately 25% of patients admitted to hospital with heart failure are readmitted for a variety of reasons within one month.

"Within one year, most patients will have had one or more readmissions and almost half will have died."

As part of a continuing investigation, Cleland's team asked 96 patients, who had been admitted to hospital with heart failure, a series of questions to assess whether they were depressed, BBC News reported.

Those who showed signs of moderate or severe depression were more likely to have died in the 300 days that followed.

mind body medicine

5 Ways to Think Yourself Well

 by Sara Cheshire, Special to CNN

happy healthy CNN(CNN) -- There wasn't anything that could bring singer Pharrell Williams down in his hit song "Happy." Turns out he was on to something.

Being happy and optimistic can prolong your life, help you manage stress, lower your risk of death from cardiovascular disease and even help protect you from the common cold, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Not bad at all, especially as thinking positively doesn't cost you a thing. There's no better time to try it out than on Positive Thinking Day, which is celebrated each September 13. Here are five expert tips to help you think yourself well:

Be aware of your automatic reactions

Take a look at the following word: opportunitynowhere.

What do you see? Opportunity now here or opportunity nowhere?

"You want to understand what is your go-to, natural way of operating in the world," said Dr. Joffrey Suprina, national dean for Argosy University's College of Behavioral Sciences.

Are you the kind of person who spills your morning coffee or trips on the way to work, and suddenly the whole day is ruined? Or do you focus more on the positive aspects and the lessons that can be learned? Maybe you needed a break from caffeine or a reminder to not stare at your smartphone while walking.

mind body medicine

LOOK: What Meditation Can Do For Your Mind, Body And Spirit

 by Laura Schocker

meditation HuffpostOver the past few years, meditation has evolved from an of-the-moment fad to a legitimate health craze, as research has linked the practice to everything from improved cardiovascular health to cognitive benefits. Science has even shown that mindfulness meditation can affect gene expression.

While the modern-day science behind this age-old practice is still developing, plenty of studies suggest that meditation is about way more than blissing out -- take a look at some of the possible benefits below, and scroll down for more information on each.

Reduces Pain. Several studies have identified a connection between meditation and pain. One Journal of Neuroscience study, for instance, showed that after four 20-minute meditation sessions over the course of four days, a group of volunteers rated the same burning pain as 57 percent less unpleasant and 40 percent less intense, Health.com reported. Plus, a review of 47 studies published in JAMA Internal Medicine earlier this year showed that meditation may be helpful in easing pain (though it was difficult for the researchers to identify exactly what type of pain, according to Reuters).

Researchers speculate that those who practice meditation develop the ability to exert greater control over unpleasant feelings, including pain, by turning them down as if using a "volume knob" in the brain. Boosts immune system. One small 2003 study showed a link between an eight-week mindfulness meditation program and better immune function, and 2012 UCLA research suggested meditation could improve the immune system in older people.

Lowers blood pressure. A study co-directed by Dr. Randy Zusman at Massachusetts General Hospital took patients being treated with typical high blood pressure medication and taught them a technique called the relaxation response; more than half experienced a drop in blood pressure, sometimes even resulting in reduced medication, NPR reported. "I'd been using medications in these patients, they were hopefully following my recommendations," Zusman told NPR. "[But] we still couldn't get their blood pressure under control. And I was somewhat skeptical that meditation could be the key to blood pressure control." What's more, the Mayo Clinic reports that research suggests meditation could be helpful in managing the symptoms of high blood pressure.

mind body medicine

Kids’ Obesity Risk Rises With Parents’ Divorce: Study
 by Steven Reinberg

divorce kids obesity (HealthDay News) — Kids face many challenges when their parents divorce, and their struggles often include excessive weight gain, new research suggests.

Boys are especially prone to excess weight in the wake of divorce, according to the study of 3,000 third-graders in Norway.

These boys were 63 percent more likely to be overweight or obese than boys whose parents stayed married, the researchers found. They were also 104 percent more likely to be abdominally obese.

“Knowing which factors are associated with childhood overweight and obesity is crucial, and is the first step toward being able to prevent it,” said lead researcher Anna Biehl, of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo.