Mindfulness

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What is it?

Mindfulness is a practice used to free the mind of intrusive thoughts. It involves focusing the mind to attain a meditative state. A meditative state is a relaxed or effortless mental and physical state. One popular form of mindfulness is mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR).

Mindfulness is most commonly used for conditions involving stress, anxiety, and pain. It has also been tried for Alzheimer disease, autism, depression, and many other conditions but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

It is effective?
Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

Possibly Effective for …

  • Back pain. Some research shows that a specific type of mindfulness called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) improves back pain in the short term. But the effects don’t seem to last long-term.
  • Fibromyalgia. Mindfulness seems help improve pain, sleep, and quality of life in people with fibromyalgia. Most research shows it has short-term benefit. It’s still unclear if the benefits persist long-term.
  • Headache. Research shows that mindfulness may modestly reduce pain in people with migraine and tension headaches. A specific form of mindfulness called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) seems to work best.
  • A type of anxiety that often develops after a terrifying event (post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD). Mindfulness may improve symptoms of PTSD. Most studies have evaluated a specific form of mindfulness called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). Longer interventions seem to have the greatest benefit.
  • A type of anxiety marked by fear in some or all social settings (social anxiety disorder). Mindfulness seems to reduce symptoms of social anxiety. Both mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and a specific type of mindfulness intervention for social anxiety disorder (MBI-SAD) have shown benefit.
  • Schizophrenia. Early research shows that mindfulness improves symptoms and reduces time spent in the hospital in people with schizophrenia.
  • Stress. Mindfulness seems to reduce stress in healthy people such as students, working adults, and caregivers. Mindfulness also seems to reduce stress related to health conditions such as cancer, organ transplants, and infertility.

Insufficient Evidence to Make a Determination for …

  • Decline in memory and thinking skills that occurs normally with age. Mindfulness might improve memory in older people that have anxiety or depression. But it doesn’t seem to help older people without anxiety and depression.
  • Alzheimer disease. A small study shows that mindfulness might improve thinking skills in people with Alzheimer disease.
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS). Early research shows that mindfulness seems to improve quality of life in people with ALS.
  • Anxiety. Early research shows that a specific type of mindfulness called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) may reduce anxiety and depression. But MBSR is no better than cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • Athletic performance. Early research shows that mindfulness might improve athletic performance in sports than involve precision such as dart throwing.
  • Autism. Early research shows that a specific mindfulness program improves depression and anxiety in people with autism.
  • Depression. Limited research suggests that mindfulness improves symptoms in people with depression.
  • Seizure disorder (epilepsy). Early research shows that mindfulness improves quality of life in people with epilepsy. But it doesn’t seem to reduce seizures.
  • Insomnia. Mindfulness might improve sleep quality and awake-time in people with insomnia. But it doesn’t seem to improve the time it takes to fall asleep or the amount of restful sleep.
  • A long-term disorder of the large intestines that causes stomach pain (irritable bowel syndrome or IBS). Early research shows that mindfulness modestly improves symptoms of IBS.
  • Symptoms of menopause. Early research shows that mindfulness improves symptoms of menopause. It also seems to improve sleep and stress.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS). Early research shows that mindfulness improves depression, fatigue, quality of life when in people with MS.
  • Obesity. Early research shows that mindfulness doesn’t improve weight loss in overweight and obese people.
  • Pain. Early research shows that mindfulness doesn’t improve chronic pain. But it might reduce chronic pain in people with HIV.
  • Parkinson disease. Early research shows that mindfulness doesn’t improve Parkinson symptoms.
  • Fatigue after a stroke. Limited research shows that a specific type of mindfulness called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) may reduce fatigue after a stroke or after a traumatic brain injury.
  • Nerve pain caused by shingles (postherpetic neuralgia). Early research shows that mindfulness doesn’t reduce pain in people with nerve pain caused by shingles.
  • Feelings of well-being. Early research shows that mindfulness improves feelings of wellbeing and reduces anxiety and depression in people with various conditions.
  • Infection of the airways. Early research shows that a specific type of mindfulness called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) slightly reduces the chance of developing an infection of the airways.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Early research shows that a specific type of mindfulness called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) reduces morning stiffness and pain in people with RA.
  • Sexual problems that prevent satisfaction during sexual activity. Early research shows that mindfulness doesn’t improve sexual problems in women.
  • Quitting smoking. Some early research shows that mindfulness might help some people quit smoking. But not all research agrees.
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus). Limited research suggests that mindfulness meditation reduces severity of tinnitus and how much it interferes with activities when compared with relaxation therapy.
  • Alcohol use disorder.
  • Cocaine use disorder.
  • Bipolar disorder.
  • Eating disorders.

More evidence is needed to rate mindfulness for these uses.

How does it work?
Mindfulness is training oneself to be aware of the present moment. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a popular form of mindfulness. This form of mindfulness is practiced over 8 weeks. It involves group classes, group discussions, and home practices.

Is there concern for the safety of its use?
Mindfulness is LIKELY SAFE. There are no known safety concerns. Mindfulness has been safely used in research. There is no known reason to expect any harmful side effects.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn’t enough information to know how practicing mindfulness might affect pregnancy and breast-feeding. But there is no reason to expect it would do any harm.

Are there any drug interactions?
There are no known interactions with medications. Before taking this product, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.

Are there any interactions with herbs and supplements?
There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Are there any interactions with food?
There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

By what other names is the product known?
Mindfulness Meditation, MBRP, MBSR, Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.

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