Though there is currently no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are several suggestions for helping to slow the progression of the disease. One of those suggestions is mediation.  How does meditation help slow Alzheimer’s disease?

A recent study by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center divided 14 adults, aged 55-90, into two groups.  One group received regular care with no emphasis on meditation, while the other group meditated and performed yoga at least two hours a week.

Researchers found that the group that practiced meditation and yoga during the week had less atrophy in parts of the brain and better brain connectivity than the group who only received typical medical care.  

Various researchers have found many benefits of meditation on the brain. Here are just a few of these benefits:

  1. Those who practice meditation and yoga have less atrophy in their hippocampus, which is the area of the brain that is shrunken in Alzheimer’s patients.  
  2. Meditation increases our protective tissues in the brain, protecting our brains from degeneration.
  3. Meditation can help one feel less isolated or lonely, which is known to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
  4. Meditation helps increase calm and decrease stress.  Stress is also known to exacerbate Alzheimer’s disease, so the more calming techniques one can employ, the better.  
  5. The stress hormone cortisol is known to increase the likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease, and meditation reduces that stress hormone.
  6. Meditation increases cortisol thickness and grey matter which slows the aging rate of the brain.  Thick cortisols are associated with decision making and memory.

It also seems clear that people who meditate more have healthier lifestyles in general, which lends to the slowed progression of the disease.  Alzheimer’s disease is a frightening and devastating disease.  There’s often not much we can do, but it’s been shown that eating healthy, exercising, listening to music, keeping your brain thinking/moving, and practicing meditation and yoga can do their parts to prevent the onset or exacerbation of the disease.  

For an introduction to mindfulness meditation that you can practice on your own check out UCLA’s free guided meditations at http://marc.ucla.edu/mindful-meditations