03. November 2016 · Comments Off · Categories: Immune System, Stress, Wellbeing

 

A UK study has found that group drumming produces significant changes in well-being, including improvements in depression, anxiety and social resilience. Researchers enrolled 45 adults, who were already recipients of mental health services but not receiving antidepressant medications, in a 10 week programme of either weekly 90-minute group drumming sessions or community group social activities (such as quiz nights, women’s institute meetings and book clubs). By week six, the drumming intervention group showed decreases in depression and increased social resilience, while at 10 weeks they reported further improvements in depression alongside significant improvements in

anxiety and mental wellbeing. These changes were maintained at three-month follow-up. The drumming intervention group also saw their immune profile shift from a pro-inflammatory towards an anti-inflammatory response. (Effects of Group. Drumming Interventions on Anxiety, Depression, Social Resilience and Inflammatory Immune Response among Mental Health Service Users. PLoS One. 2016 Mar 14;11(3):e0151136).

______________

 

Singing in a choir can reduce stress, improve mood and boost levels of immune proteins in people affected by cancer, suggests a study carried out in Wales. A single-arm preliminary study assessed the impact of singing on mood, stress and immune response in 193 people belonging to three populations affected by cancer: carers, bereaved carers and patients. Participants were all regular participants in five choirs across South Wales and took part in one hour of group singing. Before and after singing, visual analogue mood scales, stress scales and, saliva samples were taken. Across all five centres and in all three participant groups, singing was associated with significant reductions in negative affect and increases in positive affect, as well as significant increases in cytokines (including GM-CSF, IL-17, IL-2, IL-4 and sIL-2ra). In addition, singing was associated with reductions in cortisol, beta-endorphin and oxytocin levels. (Singing modulates mood, stress, cortisol, cytokine and neuropeptide activity in cancer patients and carers. ecancermedicalscience, 2016; 10 DOI: 10.3332 / ecancer.2016.631)

Swiss researchers have found that tai chi practice can reduce psychobiological stress reactivity in healthy subjects. A group of 70 healthy men and women were randomly assigned to either tai chi classes or a waiting list. After three months, participants underwent a standardised psychosocial stress test, combining public speaking and mental arithmetic in front of an audience. Compared with controls, tai chi participants exhibited significantly lower stress-induced increases in heart rate and levels of salivary cortisol, as well as lower salivary a-amylase levels. The tai chi group also reported a smaller increase in perceived stressfulness and maintained a higher level of calmness in response to induced stress. (Taiji practice attenuates psychobiological stress reactivity–a randomized controlled trial in healthy subjects. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2012 Aug;37(8):1171-80).

A study by US and UK investigators suggests that high levels of stress le- ay reduce the chances of a woman conceiving during the fertile days of her monthly cycle. The team looked at 274 healthy women aged between 18 and 40 who were trying to become pregnant. During the study, the women provided saliva samples to test for levels of the stress hormone cortisol and alpha-amylase (an indicator of adrenalin levels). They found that those women with high levels of alpha amylase (but not cortisol) across their fertile window were less likely to succeed in conceiving. The results showed that the chances of getting pregnant for women with the highest levels of alpha-amylase were roughly 12% lower than the quarter of women with the lowest levels of alpha-amylase. The authors comment that their findings support the use of relaxation techniques, counselling and approaches such as yoga and meditation to increase the chances of conception. (Stress reduces conception probabilities across the fertile window: evidence in support of relaxation. Fertil Steril. 2010 Aug 5. [Epub ahead of print]).

A prospective longitudinal pilot study of tai chi for young adults, carried out over 18 weeks, found that their subjective health increased. Stress, measured both subjectively (by questionnaire) and objectively (by measurement of salivary cortisol levels) was also found to decrease during tai chi practice. (Mind/body techniques for physiological and psychological stress reduction: Stress management via Tai Chi training – a pilot study. Med Sci Monit. 2007 Nov;13(11):CR488-497).

Researchers in the USA measured foetal responses to a guided meditation designed to induce maternal relaxation during the 32nd week of pregnancy. The 18-minute guided imagery intervention generated significant changes in maternal heart rate, skin conductance, respiration period and respiratory sinus arrhythmia. Significant alterations in foetal behaviour were also observed, including decreased foetal heart rate (FHR), increased FHR variability and suppression of foetal movement. Significant associations were found between measures of maternal stress and foetal heart patterns, between lower umbilical and uterine artery resistance and increased FHR variability, and between declining maternal salivary cortisol and foetal activity. (Fetal responses to induced maternal relaxation during pregnancy. Biol Psychol 2007 Aug 31 [Epub ahead of print]).