MIND-BODY THERAPIES AND ITS EFFECT ON THE IMMUNE SYSTEM IN CHRONIC DISEASES: A LITERATURE REVIEW

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Carolina Santiago
Shadi Khadijeh Gholami
Vijayalakshmi Sitanadhi Bhojaraja
Michael Yang Song Lim
Ammu Kutty Radhakrishnan
Darshan Hemendra Mehta

Abstract

Mind-body therapies (MBTs) such as mindfulness, yoga, qigong, tai chi, meditation, and many more have become very popular in the last few decades as useful tools to reduce stress and improve health. These methods are non- invasive and cost-effective. There are several reports that infer MBT can modulate the host immune system in many diseases. Although there are some discrepancies in the reported effects, the majority imply favourable effects of MBTs. This review summarizes the effects of MBTs in various chronic disease including cardiorespiratory conditions, metabolic diseases, cancer, HIV, gastrointestinal diseases, and depression. The results from most studies show that MBT reduced stress and anxiety; whilst improving sleep and overall quality of life. These observations were coupled with a decrease in cortisol level, an increase in glucocorticoid receptors, modulation of the autonomic nervous system, and changes in oxidative stress pathways, which may have resulted in improved immune functions. Furthermore, interactions between different parts of the brain such as the limbic system and hypothalamus upon exposure to MBTs can lead to reduced sympathetic nervous system outflow, which can improve the function of different organ systems resulting in the favourable host immunological responses observed in these studies.

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Research article
Author Biographies

Shadi Khadijeh Gholami, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Hypertension, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Hypertension, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115

Vijayalakshmi Sitanadhi Bhojaraja, Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, Perdana University-Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland School of Medicine, MAEPS Building, 43400 Serdang, Selangor.

Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, Perdana University-Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland School of Medicine, MAEPS Building, 43400 Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia.

Ammu Kutty Radhakrishnan, Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Monash University Malaysia, Bandar Sunway.

Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Monash University Malaysia, Bandar Sunway, 47500 Subang Jaya, Malaysia.