Harvard Study finds that Meditation Impacts DNA

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A Harvard University study published in 2008 found the first compelling evidence that the Relaxation Response (RR) – the physiological response to meditation, yoga, tai chi, Qi Gong or repetitive prayer – affects our genes.

Nineteen adults were long-term daily practitioners of various RR techniques, 20 were trained in RR eliciting techniques (breathing, mantra and mindfulness meditation) for 8 weeks, and 19 served as controls.

By analysis of blood samples, the study found that 2209 genes were differently expressed (switched on or off) between the long-term meditators and control group. Specifically, 1275 were up-regulated (their activity was increased) and 934 were down-regulated (their activity was reduced). It also found that 1561 genes were expressed differently between the group who did the 8 weeks meditation training, who were considered novice meditators, and the control group. Specifically, 874 were up-regulated and 687 were down-regulated.

In other words, meditation – short or long term – causes hundreds of genes to turn on or off.

Many of the genes were involved in cellular metabolism and in the body’s response to ‘oxidative stress’. Oxidative stress is one of the biological products of mental and emotional stress. It produces free radicals and is known to be involved in a host of disease processes, including atherosclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. It also accelerates aging at the cellular level. Ideally, we want a good response to oxidative stress so that we can prevent the negative effects.

In the study, blood analysis found significant changes in cellular metabolism and response to oxidative stress in the two meditation groups relative to the control group.

The scientists proposed that the Relaxation Response – whether it is induced through meditation, yoga or prayer – may counteract cellular damage due to chronic psychological stress.

People have meditated for years and enjoyed better health (and a slower aging process) but many others have been skeptical as to its benefits. Now, we have solid scientific proof of the positive genetic effects of meditation in that it affects genes that positively influence cell metabolism and the response to oxidative stress.

Here’s the link to the article. You can download the PDF free: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0002576

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13 Comments

  1. Gail Neckel on May 2, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    This article has amazing implications as to what and why we inherit the gene pool we do from our parents!!



  2. Louise Maree on May 5, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Love your work David. I am a huge fan of Dr Bruce Lipton and totally embody the fact that all our thoughts effect or bodies. I live it and use my beautiful body as a opportunity to adjust all my thoughts when it shows me what is out of balance. I deliver a program called Balanceology so that others to learn the art of being in flow. I totally agree that mediation is a key factor to restoring balance through the relaxation process, and if nothing else the relaxation is so worth the outcome. I did your process today BTW LOVE your accent, and it was so clear and incredibly relaxing and divine.
    Keep up the GREAT work and when are you visiting us in Australia?

    xo Louise Maree
    Feminologist



  3. […] the full article here: Harvard Study finds that Meditation Impacts DNA Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Categories: For The […]



  4. […] We also should consider some form of exercise suited to your lifestyle and ability.  Yoga is something that everyone can enjoy with the physical aspect of yoga being the most popular in the west.  Asana (physical form of yoga) has so many benefits that in my opinion you would be crazy to miss it out in your lifetime! It stops or lessens the chitter chatter in your mind, releases blocked energy from muscles and tissues allowing energy to flow freely through your body therefore lessening your chance of disease manifesting in your body, it allows blood flow through your body including vital organs, it detoxifies, it is anti aging, combats stress……the advantages are numerous.  There have actually been studies done that prove that practicing yoga actually changes your DNA! You can view article here…..http://drdavidhamilton.com/?p=180 […]



  5. […] Harvard Study finds that Meditation Impacts DNA | David R Hamilton … […]



  6. see post on July 30, 2014 at 9:24 am

    see post

    Harvard Study finds that Meditation Impacts DNA | David R Hamilton PhD



  7. […] meditation can slow ageing. I’ve written about some of the research in some other blogs. See: (Harvard Study Finds that Meditation Impacts DNA) (Can Compassion Beat Botox in the Anti-Ageing […]



  8. […] it has on our brains and recently I saw an article on how meditation can actually change your DNA ( http://drdavidhamilton.com/harvard-study-finds-that-meditation-impacts-dna/ ).  Without getting to scientific or even to spiritual, I want everyone to understand the basic […]



  9. What truly matters? on December 27, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    […] The list of benefits of meditation is extremely long – it is probably the most rewarding practice you can bring into your life. It will help you at work, at home, and “inside”. Recent research is also now proving that a regular daily practice can influence our DNA, lengthen our chromosomes, and impact our life expectancy, even transmitting to our children, in our DNA, the changes that have happened to us while meditating! Read more about of those extraordinary studies here and here. […]



  10. […] Harvard study even found that meditation can change our DNA, helping us to deal with disease and extending our life […]



  11. […] This is truly mind blowing stuff. The science behind meditation/mindfulness is amazing and indisputable given the visual impact of fMRIs (see our research page). This practice not only alters brain wave patterns but also increases gray matter, significantly reduces the brain’s aging process and has been proven to alter genetic structure. […]



  12. What truly matters? - Gauthereau Group on December 26, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    […] The list of benefits of meditation is extremely long – it is probably the most rewarding practice you can bring into your life. It will help you at work, at home, and “inside”. Recent research is also now proving that a regular daily practice can influence our DNA, lengthen our chromosomes, and impact our life expectancy, even transmitting to our children, in our DNA, the changes that have happened to us while meditating! Read more about of those extraordinary studies here and here. […]