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QUESTION: Are type A's the only blood type that benefits from meditation and yoga?
ANSWER: Of all meditation techniques, 'TM' or transcendental meditation is the best studied for its anti-stress effects. Studies have shown that the amount of catecholamines in the urine decreases during and following TM meditation. (1)
This would be of advantage to blood type O. However, of probably more significance, particularly for blood type A and B, it appears that regular practice of TM results in lower resting basal cortisol levels for many practitioners. Evidence indicates cortisol decreases during meditation, an effect especially evident in long-term meditators. However, the responsiveness of cortisol to stressors increased in the TM group when compared to control subjects. The combination of lower resting levels of cortisol, and better cortisol responsiveness to stress is a good indication that meditation practice can help move someone away from maladaption to stress. (2-4)
It is quite likely that these anti-stress results of meditation are available from other forms of meditation as well. As an example, a form of Buddhist meditation has also been studied for its effects on stress hormones. It was found that after meditation, this type of meditation significantly reduced serum cortisol levels as well. (5)
Meditation and visualization appear to be especially effective in type B and AB individuals, though it can be practiced by all blood types if they don't add an additional layer of stress by being concerned if visualization doesn't come readily.
The combination of music with guided imagery appears to be a very useful method for lowering high cortisol. Unfortunately, the one population segment that might actually get the least benefit from music are professional musicians. When researchers have compared the stress effects of the same music on biology or music students' levels of the stress hormones norepinephrine and cortisol, the results were quite fascinating. Irrespective of musical preferences (in fact the biology students actually did not like some of the pieces that the music students preferred), results showed that the cortisol levels were significantly higher for the music majors, while they were lowered for many of the biology students. It appears that the music majors listened to the music more critically and analytically, and that this actually promoted stress. The biology majors, not having many of the distinctions that the music majors have, allowed the music to work its magic.
1. Gallois P, Forzy G, Dhont JL. Hormonal changes during relaxation. Encephale 1984;10(2):79-82 [Article in French]
2. MacLean CR, Walton KG, Wenneberg SR, et al. Effects of the Transcendental Meditation program on adaptive mechanisms: changes in hormone levels and responses to stress after 4 months of practice. Psychoneuroendocrinology 1997 May;22(4):277-95
3. Jevning R, Wilson AF, Davidson JM. Adrenocortical activity during meditation. Horm Behav 1978 Feb;10(1):54-60
4.Infante JR, Peran F, Martinez M, et al. ACTH and beta-endorphin in transcendental meditation. Physiol Behav 1998 Jun 1;64(3):311-5
5. Sudsuang R, Chentanez V, Veluvan K. Effect of Buddhist meditation on serum cortisol and total protein levels, blood pressure, pulse rate, lung volume and reaction time. Physiol Behav 1991 Sep;50(3):543-8