Meditation, while not a tool used by most people, can help a variety of health problems such as chronic pain, anxiety, stress, heart health, boost mood and immunity, and pregnancy problems. These are all connected because they are impacted by stress.
Meditation can have a direct and positive correlation to stress levels. Relaxation during meditation helps decrease metabolism, lowers blood pressure, and improves heart rate, breathing, and brain waves. Mentally, it can produce changes in attention, working memory, learning, and conscious perception. It is recommended that you take time to meditate about 15 minutes twice a day, as repetition is needed to produce these positive changes.
Acupuncture is drastically growing in popularity as a medical treatment used by Americans. It can be used to address a wide variety of problems such as headaches, pain, asthma, addiction, stroke, infertility, and much more. Current research is being done to try to understand how acupuncture affects the body, which will help it become a more evidence based practice. They can even do it using electricity for those who are needle shy.
A good night’s sleep is imperative for maximum energy and functioning throughout the day. There are many barriers to proper sleep quality and duration. Some things can’t be prevented such as a waking child or dog, but we need to change the factors that we can control. For example, looking at an electronic device such as a phone, tablet, or TV just prior to bed can actually decrease melatonin, our sleepy time hormone.
Try reading a book, relaxing in a bath, or listening to music to get ready for bed. Avoid big meals, alcohol, caffeine, and vigorous exercise prior to bedtime. Set aside time well before bedtime to try and plan for the next day if worrying is something that keeps your mind going when trying to fall asleep. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization.
Pilates is a century old form of exercise developed by Joseph Pilates. Its’ purpose is to build strength and endurance in the core(abdominals, low back, hips, and glutes) allowing for stability, control, and flexibility. It can be done on a mat on the floor or with equipment such as the reformer machine. Pilates aims to work on breathing, alignment, control, core or powerhouse, balance, and coordination. People who perform Pilates regularly note increased posture, endurance, smaller waist lines, and less pain.
The physical changes that people with Parkinson’s Disease are demonstrate are tremors, slow and small movements, poor flexibility, and balance and gait problems. The studies have shown that physical therapy helps prevent further progression of the disease in the early stages, reduce the amount of medication needed, and improve physical symptoms in later stages. Performing exercises such as walking on a treadmill or biking at speeds faster than desired, produces improvements in many symptoms, including hand tremors. Large movements, outside of the patient’s comfort zone are also important in treating these movement disorders. It is essential for people with Parkinson’s Disease to receive physical therapy immediately upon diagnosis, not just once they’ve fallen or had physical problems, and to continue exercise programs for the rest of their lives.
Meditation has been around for thousands of years. It seemed to be big in the 60’s and 70’s (thanks to The Beatles) and appears to be making a comeback. It is important to know that it is not a cult and religion plays no role. Many celebrities like Howard Stern and Jerry Seinfeld have been practicing it for many years. The movie producer, David Lynch has even started a foundation to teach it to children. Russell Simmons has just written a book about it.
There have been many scientific studies showing how meditating can reduce stress and depression and improve sleep, mental alertness and lead to clearer thinking. Other studies show a decrease in blood pressure and heart disease.
Recently there were even articles about meditating in “Men’s’ Journal” and ‘The Wall Street Journal”.
A great book to read is called “TRANSCENDENCE: HEALING AND TRANSFORMATION THROUGH TRANCEDENTAL MEDITATION” by Dr. Norman Rosenthal, a psychiatrist currently at Johns Hopkins who not only researches it by practices it too.
Many people use meditation in conjunction with other therapies. If you are already taking medications or seeing a therapist, you should not STOP without consulting your physician first.
DEPRESSION AND HEART DISEASE
The Scientific Statement was published online February 24 in Circulation.
We all know that obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, genetics and smoking are the major risk factors for heart disease. But did you know that DEPRESSION is also linked to heart attacks? According to an American Heart Association panel, depressed patients were more likely to get heart disease than non-depressed people. It is hoped that by treating depression, we can help treat/prevent heart disease. We have known for years that all stroke patients benefit from antidepressants whether they are clinically depressed or not. There have also been numerous studies about quality of life in patients who have diabetes, heart disease, cancer or depression. As you can probably guess, the depressed patients consistently score worse than all of the other patient groups!
Even though depression is more widely accepted now than in the past, there is still a stigma associated with depression. Most insurance companies with NOT even pay the physician if a depression code is listed on the bill! And counseling! Forget about it. Insurance companies don’t mind paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for heart surgery, but to pay a few thousand for psychotherapy………..