Empowering the Immune System: The Impact of Intense Meditation

Researchers conducted an in-depth genomic investigation on how meditation affects biological processes involved in disease development and found that just eight days of intense meditation led to significant immune system activation.

Meditation’s positive effects are well known; however, less is understood regarding its genetic and molecular effects. Genetic profile samples were taken from 106 participants prior to and following participation in an “Inner Engineering” retreat focusing on inner well-being through yoga and meditation programs; participants must remain silent for 8 days while meditating over 10 hours daily, eating vegan meals daily, and adhering to a strict sleep schedule in order to attend this program.

Blood samples were taken from those taking part in the meditation retreat 5 to 8 weeks beforehand, just prior to and just after it started, as well as three months afterwards for analysis. This revealed changes to immune-related and other cellular pathways following meditation retreat participation; additional analysis identified elevated activity after each retreat for 220 genes directly involved with immune response processes.

This data revealed increased activity in 68 genes associated with interferon signaling – an essential aspect of your body’s anti-cancer and anti-virus responses – after attending the retreat. Furthermore, researchers concluded that its improvement is predominantly attributable to meditation rather than gender differences, sleep patterns or diet.

Blood samples provided over 70 million data points that allowed researchers to discover that Inner Engineering practices significantly activated multiple immune-system genes.

Researchers found that meditation’s gene activity increase was particularly notable, particularly the increase in interferon-signaling genes. Interferon proteins help other immune system parts defend against viruses; some studies have even identified an imbalanced interferon signaling system among individuals suffering from severe COVID-19 infections. They found that meditation utilizes a coordinated gene network and regulators in order to positively influence the immune system.

According to researchers, their results could also prove beneficial for treating multiple sclerosis and COVID-19; meditation boosts activity of 68 interferon-related genes while those suffering severe COVID-19 have low interferon activity that prevents them from fighting viruses effectively.

There was a striking disparity in interferon gene activity between those participating in the retreat and individuals severely ill with COVID-19; interferon response genes were activated 97% with meditation compared with 76% activation for individuals with mild COVID-19 and 31% activation in severe cases of COVID-19; inflammaging signaling genes showed the opposite trend with considerably high levels being present among severe individuals versus mildly ill ones with no change occurring due to meditation.

Meditation was found to produce beneficial gene activity comparable to conventional interferon treatments administered to individuals living with multiple sclerosis. Researchers concluded their results support the concept that meditation may play an integral part in improving multiple health conditions.

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