Friday, February 15, 2019

Exercise and Meditation Influences on the Immune System

Both meditation and exercise are useful ways to get stress under control. They also seem to have an effect on the immune system. In a recent attempt to tie these issues together, researchers in Norway investigated the effects of long-term meditation on the immune system before, during, and after exercise.
What was the research about?
Twenty runners in a half-marathon race participated in the study. One group in the study consisted of 10 runners who had practiced mediation for a long time. The other group in the study consisted of 10 runners who did not practice meditation. Blood samples were taken from the participants before, immediately after, and 2 hours after the race to determine the number of immune cells in the blood stream.
The results showed that certain types of immune cells were much higher after the race, regardless of whether participants practiced long-term mediation.
Why should it matter to me?
Exercise can help people avoid getting sick by boosting the immune system. Moreover, using relaxation techniques like meditation do not interfere with this exercise-related benefit.
Source: Solberg, E. E., Halvorsen, R., & Holen, A. (2000). Effect of mediation on immune cells. Stress Medicine, 16, 185-190.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Marijuana Use and Depression
Although marijuana is illegal in the US, some people still use it. Among those who do, some use it to try to cope with stress and others just use it for the "high." Besides the legal consequences of being caught with the drug, some studies have found evidence suggesting that marijuana use may be associated with depression. Other studies have contradicted these findings, suggesting that marijuana is not related to depression. So, is marijuana use related to depressions, and if so, does it matter why a person uses the drug? A recent study by researchers from The Ohio State University and Kent State University provided some answers to these questions.
What was the research about?
The data for the study came from the 1985 portion of the Young Men and Drugs Survey, which involved face-to-face interviews with thousands of men over several years. The men who participated in the survey were a good representation of 30- to 40-year-old men in the general US population during 1985. The participants were asked questions about marijuana use, educational attainment, employment and marital status, other drug use, and depression.
The results showed that marijuana use, stress, and depression were related in a complex way. In general, men who had used marijuana at some point in their lives, spent fewer years in school, were less likely to be married or have jobs, and used other drugs (e.g., alcohol, tobacco, other illegal drugs) more, which accounted for why they became more depressed than did those who had not ever used marijuana. The frequency of current marijuana use, however, was not related to depression for everyone. Increased frequency of current marijuana use was associated with more depression only for those who used it as a way to try to cope with stress. For those who did not use marijuana as a way to try to cope with stress, increased frequency of current marijuana use was actually associated with less depression. Due to the nature of the study, however, it is unclear whether marijuana can actually cause depression for some people or whether the two just tend to seem related for other reasons.
Why should it matter to me?
People who are depressed probably should not try to use marijuana to cope with their problems because it might actually make things worse. Even though marijuana use may actually lead to less depression for those who do not try to use it as a way of coping, the negative legal consequences of being caught with the drug and the stress that most likely would follow are probably not worth risk.
Source: Green, B. E., & Ritter, C. (2000). Marijuana use and depression. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 41, 40-49.

Friday, February 1, 2019

ChunDoSunBup Qi-Training
The reactions that people have to stressful events are not entirely out of their control. Stress management techniques can help people control how they respond to stressful events. Examples of stress management techniques include meditation, biofeedback, and Tai Chi. One technique that is less well-known is ChunDoSunBup (CDSB) Qi-training.
CDSB Qi-training is a traditional Korean practice that teaches people control over their mind and body. It involves three kinds of activities: sound exercise, motion, and meditation. Sound exercise teaches people to become serene, relax, and concentrate better. Motion enhances the immune system. Meditation assists with self-exploration and increases awareness of mental processes and bodily sensations.
Researchers at Wonkwang University in Korea recently reported the findings from a study assessing whether CDSB Qi-training is related to stress coping ability.
What was the research about?
Over 200 participants were recruited from the ChunDoSunBup Qi-training Centers in Korea. The participants were divided into four groups depending on whether they had 0, 1 to 4, 5 to 12, or over 13 months of training. Participants responded to a questionnaire measuring symptoms of stress, the extent to which they experienced stress responses like anxiety, depression, anger, and muscle tension.
The results showed that people who had more CDSB Qi-training had fewer symptoms of stress. They were better able to cope with stressful events.
Why should it matter to me?
CDSB Qi-training has less research to support its effectiveness than the more common stress management techniques do, but it may be a worth a try. In particular, people who have not had much luck with some of the more common stress management techniques may want to consider trying CDSB Qi-training.
Source: Lee, M. S, Ryu, H., & Chung, H.-T. (2000). Stress management by psychosomatic training: Effects of ChunDoSunBup Qi-training on symptoms of stress: A cross-sectional study. Stress Medicine, 16, 161-166.