Mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy has been shown to reduce anxiety in a broad range of clinical populations, as reported by the University of Ottawa. Meditation reduces stress and enhances forgiveness, according to a study published by the Journal of American College Health. Meditators have a greater ability to moderate the intensity of their emotional arousal during stressful situations, say the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences.
Studies from Yale and Washington University have shown that mindful meditation increases your brain’s levels of GABA, DHEA, melatonin, serotonin, HGH, and endorphins. Meditation effectively combats the effects of depression by reducing your levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Because meditation increases these beneficial brain chemicals, it is a simple way to combat the effects of depression. It reduces stress, relieves depression and anxiety, and lowers your blood pressure, according to research published by the National Institute of Mental Health.
GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid)
GABA is an important neurotransmitter found in the central nervous system. It inhibits the production of stress-producing hormones, such as cortisol.
Insufficient amounts of GABA in the body are linked to tension, anxiety, insomnia, and epilepsy. GABA supplements help to correct mood disorders.
Sufficient levels of the neurotransmitter are essential for proper brain function. In a Yale study, scientists found that people suffering from panic disorders or addictions have considerably lower amounts of GABA.
Studies show that people who meditate or use binaural entrainment on a daily basis have significantly increased levels of GABA. Researchers at the University of California hypothesize that meditation produces its anxiety-reducing effects by promoting GABA action in specific areas of the brain, via a mechanism similar to the effects of synthetic anti-anxiety and tranquilizing agents.
DHEA is a hormone found in the adrenal gland. Research suggests that DHEA can have a number of health benefits, including:
- alleviating depression
- regulating sleep
- reducing stress
- improving memory
- increasing sex drive
- improving overall psychological health
DHEA deficiency has been linked to obesity and chronic fatigue, as well as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Meditation has been shown to dramatically increase levels of DHEA in the body. According to a study published in Biological Psychiatry, patients who were given DHEA experienced significant improvement in their depression, as well as improved memory performance.
Melatonin is an essential hormone produced by the pineal gland located in the brain. Levels of melatonin in the blood rise at night, allowing for restful sleep. It is also a very powerful antioxidant. Studies at the Washington School of Medicine have discovered that there is a significant link between low melatonin levels and weight gain, especially around the stomach area.
Low melatonin levels severely inhibit your ability to get adequate sleep. Lack of sleep increases the production of hormones such as leptin and cortisol. Too much of these hormones cause you to gain weight, in addition to making it difficult to lose weight.
Practitioners of mindful meditation have been found to have considerably above-average levels of melatonin, according to a study published in Biological Psychiatry.
Serotonin deficiency can lead to a variety of physical and psychological issues, such as:
- mood disorders
- sleep apnea
- migraine headaches
- premenstrual syndrome
Serotonin is a vital neurotransmitter which is needed for proper function of the brain. Serotonin elevates mood and increases energy.
Many medications for mood disorders work by boosting serotonin levels. People who meditate have significantly increased levels of serotonin in their body.
Endorphins are neurotransmitters created in the body to internally alleviate pain. Endorphins are responsible for increased pleasure and an overall sense of well-being. They also lower blood pressure and are believed to fight cancer.
People who consistently practice mindful meditation have been found to have considerably higher levels of endorphins. Aside from meditation, exercise boosts endorphin levels as well, causing the pleasurable feeling you get after exercise.
Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
HGH supplements are becoming increasingly popular, though the risks of taking HGH in supplement form are widely debated. HGH is responsible for facilitating growth during childhood, and it sustains your body’s organs and tissues throughout your life.
As we get older, our ability to produce HGH gradually diminishes. This in turn causes increased body fat, decreased motivation, decreased muscle mass and general body weakness. Research shows that meditation can cause increased HGH levels.
Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the kidneys. Overproduction of cortisol can accelerate the aging process, and over a long period of time has been linked to these ailments:
- increased abdominal fat
- chronic stress
- high blood sugar
- weakened brain function
- decrease in muscle mass
- decreased bone density
- elevated blood pressure
- suppressed thyroid function
- heart attack
- increase of bad cholesterol
- decrease of good cholesterol
Mindful meditation has been proven to decrease cortisol levels in your body. A study published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences in 2004 found that older women who regularly practice meditation may have a reduced cortisol response to stress, and that the longer the women have been practicing, the less likely they are to react to stress with high levels of blood cortisol. In another study conducted at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, 52 males experienced reduced cortisol levels as well as quicker reflexes after practicing Buddhist meditation.