Mind-body therapies and control of inflammatory biology: A descriptive review

Brain Behav Immun. 2016 Jan:51:1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2015.06.012. Epub 2015 Jun 23.


The use of mind-body therapies, including Tai Chi, Qigong, yoga, and meditation, has grown steadily in recent years. These approaches have been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms and improving quality of life, and research has begun to examine the impact of these therapies on biological processes, including inflammation. A review of 26 randomized controlled trials was conducted to describe the effects of mind-body therapies (MBTs) on circulating, cellular, and genomic markers of inflammation. This qualitative evaluation showed mixed effects of MBTs on circulating inflammatory markers, including CRP and IL-6, and on measures of stimulated cytokine production. More consistent findings were seen for genomic markers, with trials showing decreased expression of inflammation-related genes and reduced signaling through the proinflammatory transcription factor NF-κB. Potential mechanisms for these effects are discussed, including alterations in neuroendocrine, neural, and psychological and behavioral processes.

Keywords: Inflammation; Meditation; Qigong; Review; Tai Chi; Yoga.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / therapy*
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Male
  • Meditation
  • Middle Aged
  • Mind-Body Therapies*
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Tai Ji
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Yoga
  • Young Adult


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • C-Reactive Protein