There’s scientific evidence that meditation can prevent and even reverse cognitive decline. Yay! To those of us with the Alzheimer’s gene this is good news! Since our genes are only potentials that are activated based on lifestyle, my Alzheimer’s gene APO-e4 doesn’t stand a chance of expressing itself.
Meditation is also receiving a lot of attention in the Alzheimer’s community as a technique for lowering many risk factors for the disease, such as hypertension and depression. In 2012, the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation published a report stating that meditation has been shown to lead to enhanced cognitive function, reversed memory loss, reduced cortisol levels and reduced stress. If a pill promised all those things with no negative side effects it would be considered a miracle pill.
In 2014, Frontiers In Psychiatry published a study titled Meditation as a Therapeutic Intervention for Adults at Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease – Potential Benefits and Underlying Mechanisms. The authors, Dr. Kim E. Innes and Dr. Terry Kit Selfe, point out that Alzheimer’s disease develops slowly, usually preceded by signs of cognitive decline, and that this early period offers a potential window for therapeutic intervention. In my own journey with early symptoms of Alzheimer’s I was terrified of the devastating future I imagined based on my mother’s cognitive decline. Regular meditation is one of the first things I added into my life to reverse the memory loss and other signs of the disease. And it worked.
Innes and Selfe reviewed numerous studies involving meditative techniques and their therapeutic effects. They determined that these techniques not only reduce stress, anxiety and depression, they also promote beneficial changes in several neurochemical systems, increase blood flow, oxygen delivery and glucose utilization in regions of the brain associated with mood elevation and memory. In addition, recent research suggests that meditation enhances immune response, reduces blood pressure and inflammation, and improves oxidative stress. The same study reveals that meditation may also affect specific gene expression pathways implicated in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s.
In a 2015 study researchers determined that damage to the hippocampus, which is central in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s, could be prevented or delayed by mindfulness-based intervention. They concluded that meditation showed great potential in preventing the neurodegenerative cascade leading to Alzheimer’s disease.
So what does all this mean for you and me?
For me – wow! This explains why my short-term memory loss and stumbling on words disappeared about six months after I began practicing meditation twice daily. Before I meditated regularly, I had less energy, less vitality, less desire to do anything. My ability to accomplish things has skyrocketed since making meditation a daily habit.
In August 2010, when Dr. Terry Grossman told me that my test showed I have the Alzheimer’s APO-e4 gene, I was not really alarmed. By then I was half a dozen years into my self-developed program to grow younger and the symptoms had disappeared. I knew all about Dr. Bruce Lipton’s work with genes and how the expression of genes is determined by the signals genes get from their environment. I knew that even though I had the gene, as I had suspected, it didn’t have to express, and with my daily practices I was on the right track for keeping my Alzheimer’s gene in the ‘off’ position.
So what does this mean for you? Well, if you don’t already have a meditation practice, I highly suggest you start one now. In addition to all the benefits science has identified through research, the eventual – and sometimes immediate – benefits of peace of mind and a heart overflowing with love are, in my opinion, the nectar of life and the essence of happiness.