Mindfulness may reduce opioid cravings, study finds

People suffering from opioid addiction and chronic pain may have fewer cravings and less pain if they use both mindfulness techniques and medication for opioid dependence, according to Rutgers and other researchers.

The study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, examined the effects of mindfulness and methadone therapy on 30 patients with opioid addiction and chronic pain. Mindfulness is the meditative practice of focusing on the present moment and accepting one’s thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations, without judgement.

The findings showed that those who received methadone and a mindfulness training-based intervention were 1.3 times better at controlling their cravings and had significantly greater improvements in pain, stress, and positive emotions, even though they were aware of more cravings than those who only received standard methadone treatment and counseling.

Full story at Science Daily

Mindfulness meditation app works — but acceptance training component is crucial

For the millions of mindfulness meditation mobile app users, there is good news: New research shows that they can reduce the body’s response to biological stress.

A Carnegie Mellon University-led study found that one component of mindfulness interventions is particularly important for impacting stress biology. Acceptance, or learning how to be open and accepting of the way things are in each moment, is critical for the training’s stress reduction effects. Published in Psychoneuroendocrinology, the researchers offer the first scientific evidence that a brief mindfulness meditation mobile app that incorporates acceptance training reduces cortisol and systolic blood pressure in response to stress.

“We have known that mindfulness training programs can buffer stress, but we haven’t figured out how they work,” said David Creswell, associate professor of psychology in CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “This study, led by Emily Lindsay in my lab, provides initial evidence that the acceptance training component is critical for driving the stress reduction benefits of mindfulness training programs.”

Full story at Science Daily

Nurses cut stress 40 percent with relaxation steps at work

A study by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that a workplace mindfulness-based intervention reduced stress levels of employees exposed to a highly stressful occupational environment.

Members of a surgical intensive care unit at the large academic medical center were randomized to a stress-reduction intervention or a control group. The 8-week group mindfulness-based intervention included mindfulness, gentle stretching, yoga, meditation and music conducted in the workplace. Psychological and biological markers of stress were measured one week before and one week after the intervention to see if these coping strategies would help reduce stress and burnout among participants.

Results of this study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, showed that levels of salivary [alpha]-amylase, an index of sympathetic activation of the nervous system — also known as the fight or flight response — were significantly decreased from the first to second assessments in the intervention group. The control group showed no changes. Psychological components of stress and burnout were measured using well-established self-report questionnaires.

Full story of nurses cutting stress at work with relaxation steps at Science Daily

How mindfulness training affects health

Over the past decade, there have been many encouraging findings suggesting that mindfulness training can improve a broad range of mental and physical health problems. Yet, exactly how mindfulness positively impacts health is not clear.

Carnegie Mellon University’s J. David Creswell — whose cutting-edge work has shown how mindfulness meditation reduces loneliness in older adults and alleviates stress — and his graduate student Emily K. Lindsay have developed a model suggesting that mindfulness influences health via stress reduction pathways. Their work, published in “Current Directions in Psychological Science,” describes the biological pathways linking mindfulness training with reduced stress and stress-related disease outcomes.

“If mindfulness training is improving people’s health, how does it get under the skin to affect all kinds of outcomes?” asked Creswell, associate professor of psychology in CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “We offer one of the first evidence-based biological accounts of mindfulness training, stress reduction and health.”

Full story of mindfulness and health at Science Daily

Mindfulness protects adults’ health from the impacts of childhood adversity

Adults who were abused or neglected as children are known to have poorer health, but adults who tend to focus on and accept their reactions to the present moment — or are mindful — report having better health, regardless of their childhood adversity. These findings, to be published in the October issue of Preventive Medicine, are based on the first study ever conducted to examine the relationship between childhood adversity, mindfulness, and health.

Led by Robert Whitaker, professor of public health and pediatrics at Temple University, the researchers surveyed 2,160 adults working in Head Start, the nation’s largest federally-funded early childhood education program.

Survey respondents, who worked in 66 Pennsylvania Head Start programs, were asked if they experienced any of eight types of childhood adversity, such as being abused or having a parent with alcoholism or drug addiction. In addition, respondents were asked questions about their current health, as well their mindfulness, meaning their tendency in daily life to pay attention to what is happening in the moment and to be aware of and accepting of their thoughts and feelings.

Full story of mindfulness and adults health at Science Daily