But besides being great for you in general, it also has some specific, chronic conditions that it fixes or reduces. So, without further ado, here are five health issues that meditation manhandles into submission:
1. High blood pressure
First, the bad news: High blood pressure has been called "the silent killer" that claims many people every year. It affects one in three American adults, and having high blood pressure leads to a greater chance of heart attack and stroke.
For most people, asthma is just something they live with, but unfortunately, it is sometimes deadly—in 2013 it was the cause of nearly half a million deaths. While asthma is caused by a variety of factors like air pollution, allergens, stress, and certain medications, it is the body's inflammatory response to these things that's the real problem. In a recent study, meditation was compared to a program of nutrition training, exercise, and music therapy. The results were clear: Meditation led to a greater reduction in the inflammation response.
3. Irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease
Rarely fatal on their own, IBS and IBD make it difficult to live life to its fullest and can sometimes lead to embarrassing situations.
IBS and IBD are also examples of chronic conditions that are caused by an excessive inflammatory response. A pilot study with 48 participants showed meditation has a significant positive impact on this. After a nine-week intervention that included 15 to 20 minutes of daily meditation, participants had reduced symptoms, reported less pain, and had significantly improved their quality of life overall.
4. Rheumatoid arthritis
Many people believe that rheumatoid arthritis is a joint disease that happens to only the elderly. So, it might surprise you to know that while the chance of getting it increases with age, it can manifest any time after the age of 15 (a few rare cases have occurred before 15 too). It doesn't just appear in the joints, either: Arthritis can affect the lungs, kidneys, heart, and blood vessels.
Fortunately, meditation helps with this condition too. While meditation was not found to cure arthritis, it did have a significant impact on symptoms in this study. Participants went through a 10-session mindfulness-based group intervention and were assessed 12 months later. The result? Reductions in psychological distress, symptoms, and fatigue along with improvements in emotional processing, self-care ability, and overall well-being.
Characterized by widespread pain and a heightened sensitivity to pressure, fibromyalgia does not naturally improve over time. Like rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia affects women at a much higher rate—7 to 1.
Mindfulness meditation significantly improved the health of people over an eight-week study. Participants reported reductions in stiffness, anxiety, and depression as well as a reduction in the number of days they missed work because of fibromyalgia. Also, improvements were seen in the areas of pain and fatigue, but these weren't large enough to be statistically significant.
If you didn't have enough reasons to meditate, hopefully now you have that extra push you needed to start. If you know anyone who suffers from these conditions, please share this with them!