Yogic meditation reduces inflammation and boosts the immune system of people caring for relatives with dementia.
The carers themselves are at high risk of inflammation, heart disease and depression because of the stress of their work.
Now a study has shown that Yogic meditation can reduce inflammation and improve their immune systems.
The incidence of depression among people looking after a family member with dementia approaches 50pc.
Carers are also twice as likely to report high levels of emotional distress.
In many cases they tend to be older themselves and so are more prone to a higher rate of heart disease and health decline.
Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA, Dr Helen Lavretsky, in a study of 45 carers looking after a family member with dementia found that Yoga influenced 68 of their body’s genes and reduced inflammation.
One group was taught a 12 minute yogic practice that included Kirtan Kriya Meditation (KKM) which was performed every day at the same time for eight weeks.
The other group was asked to relax in a quiet place with their eyes closes while listening to instrumental music on a relaxation CD. They also did this for 12 minutes a day for eight weeks.
Blood samples were taken from the two groups. The aim was to determine if yogic meditation might alter the activity of inflammatory and antiviral proteins that shape the immune cell gene expression.
“Our analysis showed a reduced activity of those proteins linked directly to increased inflammation.
“This is encouraging news. Caregivers often don’t have the time, energy, or contacts that could bring them a little relief from the stress of taking care of a loved one with dementia, so practicing a brief form of yogic meditation, which is easy to learn, is a useful too.”
The study is published in the current online edition of the journal of Psychoneuroendocrinology.