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Review
, 24, 134-140

Chromosomal Processes in Mind-Body Medicine: Chronic Stress, Cell Aging, and Telomere Length

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Review

Chromosomal Processes in Mind-Body Medicine: Chronic Stress, Cell Aging, and Telomere Length

Tobias Esch et al. Med Sci Monit Basic Res.

Abstract

Stress affects cellular aging and inflammatory and chromosomal processes, including telomere length, thereby potentially compromising health and facilitating disease onset and progression. Stress-related diseases and strategies to manage stress usually require integrative or behavioral therapeutic approaches that also operate on cellular levels. Mind-body medicine (MBM) uses the interaction between the mind, body, behavior, and the environment to correct physical and psychological malfunctions, thus ameliorating disease states and improving health. The relaxation response (RR) is a physiological opponent of stress and the stress response (SR) (i.e., fight-or-flight response), also invoking molecular anti-stress processes. Techniques that elicit the RR are at the core of practically all MBM interventions. We surmise that these techniques can also affect chromosomal and telomere processes, molecular aging, and the modulation of inflammatory states on cellular levels.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflicts of interest

None.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Brain-Gut Coupling and Insular-Vagal Integration. It has become apparent that the molecular and biochemical integrity of interactive families, genera, and species of human gut microflora is critically linked to maintaining complex metabolic and behavioral processes mediated by peripheral organ systems and central nervous system neuronal groupings [49]. In addition, the vagus nerve may be the primary route through which gut signaling and pathological triggers such as alpha-synuclein travel from the intestines to the brain. Here, limbic autoregulation would integrate afferent peripheral inputs with central interoception, insular cortex activity, and emotion/emotional contexts. Accordingly, with mental training and MBI, i.e., cognitively induced health behaviors, the brain (via its motivation and reward circuitries, imbedded in the limbic system) may downregulate upstream (hyper-) activating processes [,,,–51].

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