The relaxation response, which can be produced by practices such as meditation, deep breathing and prayer can not only alleviate the symptoms of psychological disorders, such as anxiety, but has also been found to affect heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen consumption and brain activity. Now researchers from the U.S. have found that it can also affect the way in which genes work. The study compared trained practitioners of relaxation techniques with inexperienced controls who then underwent training in relaxation. The study showed that the relaxation response altered the expression of genes involved with processes such as inflammation, programmed cell death and free radicals. The changes in gene expression were the opposite to those produced, to harmful effect, in conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
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