New study accentuates the impacts of deep reflection on digestive tract health and wellness

Study: Alteration of faecal microbiota balance related to long-term deep meditation. Image Credit: Lia_Tsvet/Shutterstock

In a current write-up released in General Psychiatry, scientists checked out the impacts of lasting standard Tibetan Buddhist reflection on the digestive tract microbiome’s architectural attributes. In addition, the scientists evaluated microorganisms in the digestive tract microbiota for understandings right into their biochemical indices and also capability.

Research: Change of faecal microbiota equilibrium pertaining to lasting deep reflection. Photo Credit History: Lia_Tsvet/Shutterstock


Research studies have actually demonstrated how digestive tract microbiota impact health and wellness via the microbiota–digestive tract–mind axis. Nevertheless, there is a lack of research studies examining the fecal microbiota of people exercising deep reflection over a number of years.

Reflection, a kind of emotional training with origins in old Indian Ayurveda, enables self-regulation of the body, which, subsequently, favorably influences one’s physical and also psychological health and wellness.

Concerning the research

In today research, scientists recommended that deep reflection over an extended period might assist control digestive tract microbiota homeostasis, favorably impacting one’s physical and also psychological health and wellness.

They gathered a total amount of 128 examples, consisting of fecal and also outer venous blood examples from Tibetan Buddhist monks, of which they utilized just 56 examples for the research evaluation (reflection team). They left out 68 examples from topics that ate anti-biotics and also yogurt and also 4 various other examples as a result of low quality. They delivered gathered examples saved at −80 °C to the Shanghai Mental Health And Wellness Centre in China for research evaluation.

The scientists utilized these examples for 16S ribosomal ribonucleic acid (rRNA) genetics amplicon sequencing and also evaluation. They created fastq-files for downstream evaluations from the sequencing result. After removing redundancy from the constructed 16S tags, they gathered tags with greater than one regularity in functional taxonomic systems (OTUs). All OTUs had a depictive 16S tag, to which the group appointed a taxon making use of the Ribosomal Data source Job (RDP) Classifier (self-confidence limit equates to 0.8). The scientists utilized QIIME variation 1.9.1 for OTU profiling and also α- and also β-diversity evaluations.

In addition, the group utilized the t-test and also Mann–Whitney U examines to examine usually and also non-normally dispersed variables. They took into consideration a p-value of <0.05 as statistically significant.

The researchers performed linear discriminant analysis (LDA) to identify bacteria differentially expressed in the two study groups. Finally, they deployed the PICRUSt software to infer the abundance of the Kyoto Encyclopaedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathways. It helped the researchers explore the altered function of fecal microbiota in the two study groups and reconstruct the unobserved states of microbial communities for their phylogenetic examination.

Study findings

The test group comprised 37 Tibetan Buddhist monks, all males, and the control group had 19 age-matched residents, with all having similar diets, smoking, and alcohol consumption. These monks had been performing practices of Samatha and Vipassana for a minimum of two hours every day for three to 30 years, on average for 7.56 years, and all had comparable age, blood pressure, and heart rate.

The study analysis helped identify 803 OTUs after the taxonomic assignment, of which 611 were shared between the meditation and control groups, whereas 91 and 101 were unique. Moreover, taxonomic rank abundance curves exhibited similar patterns of relative bacterial evenness across all samples. However, the α-diversity of the gut microbiome was markedly higher in the controls, per Alpha diversity indices.

The team computed β-diversity, a distance distribution heatmap, ANOSIM, and Principal Coordinates Analysis (PCoA) using the weighted UniFrac method. Its results revealed that the gut microbiome of the meditation group assembled father from the control group. The researchers noted that the meditation group had more microbes from phyla Bacteroidetes and family Prevotellaceae, whereas Firmicutes phyla and families Ruminococcaceae, Veillonellaceae, and Lachnospiraceae were dominant in both groups. At the genus level, the meditation group had higher proportions of Prevotella and Bacteroides than the control group, 42.35% and 6.21% vs. 29.15% and 4.07%.

Also, compared to controls, the meditation group members had significantly higher levels of Megamonas and Faecalibacterium. While studies have associated the former bacterial genera with psycho-cognitive traits, the latter is shown to be associated with a higher quality of life. PICRUSt analysis revealed marked variances in the richness of KEGG pathways between the two study groups. The meditation group had enriched glycan and lipopolysaccharide biosynthesis pathways. Also, they showed significant enrichment in toluene degradation and adipocytokine signaling pathways.

The enrichment of these pathways showed the positive effects of meditation on the nervous system through the gut microbiota. Furthermore, plasma biochemical indices uncovered that the control group had higher total cholesterol and apolipoprotein B levels, which decreased their immune function and increased the risk of heart and lung diseases.


Overall, the gut microbiome in the meditation group substantially varied from the control group. Likewise, several bacterial species differed between the two groups, especially several bacteria associated with decreasing mental illnesses, suggesting that meditation influenced bacteria playing a role in mental health. The study findings further validated that the altered gut microbiota could reduce the risk of depression/anxiety and improve immunity. Together, these results suggested that meditation positively impacted psychosomatic conditions and overall well-being. Therefore, according to the authors, future research must explore the effectiveness of meditation in psychosomatic diseases.

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