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January 2013

Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction May Reduce Inflammation

A new study suggests that mindfulness-based stress reduction may reduce inflammation.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a standardized approach for teaching stress reduction through mindfulness meditation, yoga and body-awareness techniques. MBSR teaches the use of focused attention on only one target at a time. MBSR also encourages focusing on the present moment, rather than the future or the past. This practice has been shown to be effective in certain clinical applications, such as chronic pain.

The recent study included 49 healthy individuals. Participants were randomly assigned to the MBSR or a Health Enhancement Program (HEP) that included exercise, education on nutrition and music therapy. A licensed professional taught MBSR and HEP weekly for two and a half hours, and participants were instructed to practice MBSR and HEP daily at home.

To cause psychological stress, participants gave an impromptu speech and performed mental math. Then, researchers then used a cream to provoke inflammation in the skin of the forearm. These procedures were repeated both before and after the study.

Eight weeks into the study, the MBSR group and the HEP group had a similar reduction in stress hormones after giving the speech and performing mental math. However, the MBSR individuals had a significantly lower inflammatory response from the cream.

The authors concluded that MBSR may be beneficial to individuals with inflammatory conditions. Further research on this topic is warranted.

For more information about mindfulness-based stress reduction, please visit Natural Standard's Health & Wellness Database.


  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 
  2. Rosenkranz MA, Davidson RJ, Maccoon DG et al. A comparison of mindfulness-based stress reduction and an active control in modulation of neurogenic inflammation. Brain Behav Immun. 2013 Jan;27(1):174-84. 

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