The Role of Meditation in Integrative Medicine

Integrative Medicine MeditationIntegrative medicine is an increasingly popular medical specialty that emphasizes using traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine to improve the patient’s body, mind, and spirit. Physicians who specialize in integrative medicine not only treat illnesses and diseases but also work with their patients to try to prevent problems from occurring in the first place, and one of the most common types of treatments that have been recommended for generations is meditation. The problem with meditation in the public eye, however, is that while there has been ample anecdotal evidence that mindful meditation was beneficial, there had been little scientific evidence to back up these claims. That is, until now.

According to a recent study published in Biological Psychiatry successfully showed for the first time that meditation can “change the brains of ordinary people and potentially improve their health.” This is a significant finding because while meditation has generally been accepted to have a salutary effect on blood pressure and heart rate, this is the first time it has been shown to impact the brain and mental health.

Valencia Porter, MD, is the Chopra Center’s Director of Integrative Medicine at the Mind Body Medical Group and Diplomate of the American Board of Integrative Medicine® (ABOIM). As she explains, “long-term meditators have been found to have better preservation of brain regions associated with working member and executive decision making.” In fact, other studies have found that as little as five days of participation in a meditation retreat can have “beneficial changes in mental health and gene expression associated with stress and immune response.”

These findings are extremely important because they validate what proponents of Integrative Medicine, and alternative medicine, in particular, have known for decades: That meditation can have a profound impact on brain, body and mental health.

If you are a physician who specializes in Integrative Medicine and you are interested in exploring board certification in your area of expertise, contact the ABOIM to learn about our Member Board and application process. The ABOIM was developed by the American Board of Physician Specialties® to recognize physicians with extensive experience and a mastery of the core concepts that define Integrative Medicine. The ABPS is the official certifying body of the American Association of Physician Specialists, Inc.®

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