Impact of Meditation on Default Mode Networks

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Source: Dr. Riccardo Cassini and Dr. David Bercelli @ http://www.tre-webinar.com/p/tre-webinar-interview-with-dr-cassiani-about-the-nervous-system-and-tre

Defined as per Wiki:

“The default mode network (DMN) is most commonly shown to be active when a person is not focused on the outside world and the brain is at wakeful rest, such as during daydreaming and mind-wandering. But it is also active when the individual is thinking about others, thinking about themselves, remembering the past, and planning for the future. The network activates “by default” when a person is not involved in a task. Though the DMN was originally noticed to be deactivated in certain goal-oriented tasks and is sometimes referred to as the task-negative network, it can be active in other goal-oriented tasks such as social working memory or autobiographical tasks. The DMN has been shown to be negatively correlated with other networks in the brain such as attention networks.”

Impact of meditation:

“… Results indicate that meditation is associated with reduced activations in the default mode network relative to an active task in meditators compared to controls. Regions of the default mode showing a group by task interaction include the posterior cingulate/precuneus and anterior cingulate cortex. These findings replicate and extend prior work indicating that suppression of default mode processing may represent a central neural process in long-term meditation, and suggest that meditation leads to relatively reduced default mode.”

Source: NCBI- “Meditation leads to reduced default mode network activity beyond an active task”

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All content is for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical practitioner before attempting any therapeutic, nutritional, exercise or meditation related activity.

Association of vitamin D deficiency and breast cancer

Vitamin D ( along with A, E and K) is a fat soluble vitamin which is absorbed in the intestines along with fat. It needs a protein carrier. Vitamin D is stored in the liver and can be eaten in large amounts periodically.

Vitamin D in it’s active form is one of the most powerful hormones in the human body.  Deficiency in Vitamin D leads to increased levels of parathyroid hormones and osteomalacia.

There are some studies showing association of Vitamin D levels with incidence of breast cancer:

Study:

  • “Many observational and cross sectional studies reflect that deficiency of vitamin D is commonly found in patients with breast cancer. Some studies have also demonstrated a protective effect of vitamin D on breast cancer risk. Several studies have shown a negative relationship between sunlight exposure and breast cancer risk. Proposed mechanism for this negative association is sunlight induced dermal synthesis of vitamin D, which evidence suggests, can reduce the risk of breast cancer.”

Source: NCBI “Association between Vitamin D deficiency and Breast Cancer”

Other sources:

  • “We know Vitamin D controls more than 200 genes (directly or indirectly), and has an impact in reducing many chronic illnesses. Cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, autoimmune disease, common cancers, glucose imbalance, inflammation, poor muscle performance, mental illness and more are influenced by its activity.
  • It seems high circulating serum levels of Vitamin D, measured as 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD), are associated with a decreased risk of deadly cancers and other diseases.
  • Those living at higher latitudes where Vitamin D exposure is lower, are at increased risk for many of these diseases–Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cancers of the colon, pancreas, prostate, ovarian and breast, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

Source: Montclair Breast Center.

DISCLAIMER

All content is for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical practitioner before attempting any therapeutic, nutritional, exercise or meditation related activity.

Wonder why Ayurveda likes Sesame Oil?

Here’s some recent work on it:

  • “Sesame oil(SO) research shows promise in decreasing high levels of cholesterol and inflammation, lowering risks of atherosclerosis, and delaying the onset of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Since SO is very inexpensive and natural, progressing research on SO to someday implement SO as a good pharmaceutical treatment would be an investment, especially when SO has yet to show adverse effects. However, SO has not had many clinical trials, and the benefits relative to other oils and medications still need to be investigated. This literature review found that the benefits of SO vary between studies due to the methodology of SO product, dose dependence, and examination of different variables.
  • Many of these studies are limited because they do not isolate the benefit of SO in humans alone and because there are different concentrations of SO used in each study. Future studies should examine the different concentrations of SO and its effects on humans with hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus in a dose-dependent manner relative to the patient’s body habitus.
  • Future studies can also look at synergism by comparing patients treated with differing combinations of medication, such as nifedipine, statins, metformin, with different concentrations of SO relative to the individual’s saturated fat diet.”

Source: NCBI :”Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Effects of Sesame Oil on Atherosclerosis: A Descriptive Literature Review” Editors:Alexander Muacevic and John R Adler.

Another study:

  • “Sesame ingestion significantly decreased concentrations of plasma TC by 5% and LDL-C by 10%
  • Sesame lignans were found to have a γ-tocopherol sparing effect by inhibiting CYP activity. Our study showed increased serum levels of γ-tocopherol, similar to 2 other trials in humans.
  • The estrogenic effects of flaxseed lignans in postmenopausal women include decreasing plasma levels of estrone sulfate and estradiol (39) and switching estrogen metabolism from 16α-hydroxylation to a less carcinogenic pathway (2-hydroxylation).”

Source: The Journal of Nutrition: “Sesame Ingestion Affects Sex Hormones, Antioxidant Status, and Blood Lipids in Postmenopausal Women” by Wen-Huey Wu Yu-Ping Kang Nai-Hung Wang Hei-Jen Jou Tzong-An Wang

DISCLAIMER

All content is for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical practitioner before attempting any therapeutic, nutritional, exercise or meditation related activity.

Pranayama in the Gita

अपाने जुह्वति प्राणं प्राणेऽपानं तथापरे |
प्राणापानगती रुद्ध्वा प्राणायामपरायणा: || 29||
अपरे नियताहारा: प्राणान्प्राणेषु जुह्वति |
सर्वेऽप्येते यज्ञविदो यज्ञक्षपितकल्मषा: || 30||

 

apāne juhvati prāṇaṁ prāṇe ’pānaṁ tathāpare
prāṇāpāna-gatī ruddhvā prāṇāyāma-parāyaṇāḥ
apare niyatāhārāḥ prāṇān prāṇeṣhu juhvati
sarve ’pyete yajña-vido yajña-kṣhapita-kalmaṣhāḥ

Literal translation:

“Still others offer as sacrifice the outgoing breath in the incoming breath, while some offer the incoming breath into the outgoing breath. Some arduously practice prāṇāyām and restrain the incoming and outgoing breaths, purely absorbed in the regulation of the life-energy. Yet others curtail their food intake and offer the breath into the life-energy as sacrifice. All these knowers of sacrifice are cleansed of their impurities as a result of such performances.”

Gita Chapter 4, verse 29 and 30

Source: Gita

DISCLAIMER

All content is for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical practitioner before attempting any therapeutic, nutritional, exercise or meditation related activity.

The challenge of proving causation

Although experimental “interventionist” studies ( as in placebo vs. experimental treatment) are generally considered the most powerful  research design, “observational” study data (as in Ecological populations, Cross section studies, Case control studies and Cohort studies)  is much easier to come by,  often due to cost alone.

In the circumstances it becomes very important to distinguish between association and causation. Some observations on these topics:

1)”Because observational studies are not randomized, they cannot control for all of the other inevitable, often unmeasurable, exposures or factors that may actually be causing the results. Thus, any “link” between cause and effect in observational studies is speculative at best.”

2)”Readers of medical literature need to consider two types of validity, internal and external. Internal validity means that the study measured what it set out to; external validity is the ability to generalize from the study to the reader’s patients. With respect to internal validity, selection bias, information bias, and confounding are present to some degree in all observational research.

  • Selection bias stems from an absence of comparability between groups being studied. Information bias results from incorrect determination of exposure, outcome, or both.
  • The effect of information bias depends on its type. If information is gathered differently for one group than for another, bias results.
  • By contrast, non-differential misclassification tends to obscure real differences.
  • Confounding is a mixing or blurring of effects: a researcher attempts to relate an exposure to an outcome but actually measures the effect of a third factor (the confounding variable). Confounding can be controlled in several ways: restriction, matching, stratification, and more sophisticated multivariate techniques.

If a reader cannot explain away study results on the basis of selection, information, or confounding bias, then chance might be another explanation. Chance should be examined last, however, since these biases can account for highly significant, though bogus results. Differentiation between spurious, indirect, and causal associations can be difficult. Criteria such as temporal sequence, strength and consistency of an association, and evidence of a dose-response effect lend support to a causal link.

Source 1: Healthnewsreview.org

Article: “Observational studies: Does the language fit the evidence? Association vs. causation”

Source2: NCBI.org

Article: “Bias and causal associations in observational research.”

DISCLAIMER

All content is for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical practitioner before attempting any therapeutic, nutritional, exercise or meditation related activity.

Sensitivity vs. Specificity of Tests

This is for those who face critical choices about the course of treatment when deluged with  data by medical practitioners, find out what the statistics relate to sensitivity or specificity?

“Sensitivity measures how often a test correctly generates a positive result for people who have the condition that’s being tested for (also known as the “true positive” rate). A test that’s highly sensitive will flag almost everyone who has the disease and not generate many false-negative results. (Example: a test with 90% sensitivity will correctly return a positive result for 90% of people who have the disease, but will return a negative result — a false-negative — for 10% of the people who have the disease and should have tested positive.)

Specificity measures a test’s ability to correctly generate a negative result for people who don’t have the condition that’s being tested for (also known as the “true negative” rate). A high-specificity test will correctly rule out almost everyone who doesn’t have the disease and won’t generate many false-positive results. (Example: a test with 90% specificity will correctly return a negative result for 90% of people who don’t have the disease, but will return a positive result — a false-positive — for 10% of the people who don’t have the disease and should have tested negative.)”

Source: Healthnewsreview.org

Article: “Understanding medical tests: sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive value”

DISCLAIMER

All content is for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical practitioner before attempting any therapeutic, nutritional, exercise or meditation related activity.

Investigations into genetic basis of Ayurvedic dosha classifications

Extracts from a recent study published in Nature magazine investigating this topic:

“Concept of Prakriti in Ayurveda and its relationship with genomics was hypothesized over a decade ago. Subsequent studies have attempted to correlate Prakriti classification with genetic information and association of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in HLA-DRB1, CYP2C19, EGLN1, inflammatory and oxidative stress related genes, CD markers for various blood cells, DNA methylation alterations and risk factors of cardiovascular or inflammatory diseases have been reported. While these studies have shown the association of specific genes with the phenotype of a particular Prakriti, the association of genomic variations with Prakriti classification was lacking. This is the first attempt to classify the Prakritis using genome-wide SNP markers and to provide a scientific basis for Prakriti classification……..

We found that PGM1 correlates with phenotype of Pitta as described in the ancient text of Charaka Samhita, suggesting that the phenotypic classification of India’s traditional medicine has a genetic basis; and its Prakriti-based practice in vogue for many centuries resonates with personalized medicine………..

In Ayurveda, characteristics of Pitta include digestion, metabolism and energy production. Interestingly, we found PGM1 gene is in the center of many metabolic pathways i.e. glycolysis or gluconeogenesis (hsa00010); pentose phosphate pathway (hsa00030); galactose metabolism (hsa00052); purine metabolism (hsa00230) and; starch and sucrose metabolism (hsa00500). Our finding suggests that the function of the gene directly correlates with the role of Pitta in metabolism as described in Ayurvedic literature………

In conclusion, our preliminary study suggests that the Prakriti classification, as a foundation for the practice of Ayurveda, has a genetic basis and does provide clues for further studies.”

Source: Nature.com

Study: Genome-wide analysis correlates Ayurveda Prakriti by Periyasamy Govindraj and others.

Single nucleotide polymorphism explained

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All content is for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical practitioner before attempting any therapeutic, nutritional, exercise or meditation related activity.

So what is Sudarshan Kriya?

Let’s explore Sudarshan Kriya, one of the well known popular paynayama “packages” there:

“Sudarshan kriya yoga (SKY) is a type of cyclical controlled breathing practice with roots in traditional yoga that provides relief for depression, and it is taught by the nonprofit Art of Living Foundation. It has four distinct components.

Detailed descriptions of the four main SKY breathing techniques are as follows.

  1. Ujjayi or “Victorious Breath”: This involves experiencing the conscious sensation of the breath touching the throat. This slow breath technique (2–4 breaths per minute) increases airway resistance during inspiration and expiration and controls airflow so that each phase of the breath cycle can be prolonged to an exact count. The subjective experience is physical and mental calmness with alertness.
  2. During Bhastrika or “Bellows Breath,” air is rapidly inhaled and forcefully exhaled at a rate of 30 breaths per minute. It causes excitation followed by calmness.
  3. “Om” is chanted three times with very prolonged expiration.

Source: NCBI

International Journal of Yoga: Sudarshan Kriya yoga: Breathing for health

by  Sameer A. Zope and Rakesh A Zope.

DISCLAIMER

All content is for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical practitioner before attempting any therapeutic, nutritional, exercise or meditation related activity.

Pranayma breathing: bodily impact

At it’s essence Pranayama is a mechanism that involves control of breath as a prop to eventually gain  control the mind and the thought process.  However, rather than delving into brain MRI and “thought” scans it may be less daunting to just see the impact of controlled breathing on physiological processes.

This is from a recent twelve week study published in the International Journal of Yoga:

  • “Slow and deep breathing is efficient as it reduces the ventilation in the dead space of the lungs. Shallow breathing replenishes air only at the base of the lungs in contrast to deep breathing that replenishes the air in all parts of the lung. It decreases the effect of stress and strain on the body by shifting the balance of the autonomic system predominantly toward the parasympathetic system and improves the physical and mental health
  • Heart rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and perceived stress scale decreased significantly (P < 0.05) in the study group following 12 weeks slow breathing exercise training, while no significant change (P > 0.05) was observed in body mass index  and waist hip ratio. There was no significant change in the control group.”

Source: NCBI

Effect of Modified Slow Breathing Exercise on Perceived Stress and Basal Cardiovascular Parameters by G.Sunil kayak, G.S Gaur, G.K Pal

DISCLAIMER

All content is for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical practitioner before attempting any therapeutic, nutritional, exercise or meditation related activity.