This study just published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) examined the long-term effects of a regular mediation practice on the gut microbiome structure.
The authors performed gene sequencing on fecal samples of 37 Tibetan Buddhist monks comparing them with those of 19 non-meditating local residents.
The gut microbiota can influence the brain and profoundly impacts mood and behaviour through the microbiota–gut–brain axis.Sun Y, Ju P, Xue T, et al.
The axis consists of two-way communication between the brain and gut microbiota, and it functions via microbial byproducts, immune and inflammatory pathways, neuroendocrine and enteroen- docrine signalling, stress response and the vagus nerve.
Given the crucial role of microbiota in human health mediated via the microbiota–gut–brain axis, the mechanism through which long-term deep meditation influences the gut microbiota is of increasing interest.
The intestinal microbiota of the meditation group was found to differ significantly from the control group. Bacteria found to be enriched in the meditation group (Prevotella and Bacteroides) have elsewhere been found to be associated with lower anxiety levels and associated with a higer quality of life. “Collectively, several bacteria enriched in the meditation group were associated with the alleviation of mental illness, suggesting that meditation can influence certain bacteria that may have a role in mental health”.
The authors concluded that long-term deep mediation may have a beneficial effect on gut microbiota that improves overall physical and mental health.
Long-term deep meditation could profoundly impact psychosomatic disorders by altering the structure of the human gut flora. In particular, with the help of a trained therapist, clinicians can provide improved treatment with earlier remission and overall improvements in patients. Therefore, the effectiveness of meditation in psychosomatic diseases may be a key research avenue in the coming years.Sun Y, Ju P, Xue T, et al.
Read the full article here (PDF): Sun Y, Ju P, Xue T, et al. Alteration of faecal microbiota balance related to long-term deep meditation. General Psychiatry