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How Meditation May Improve Immunity and the Science Behind It

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

A Look at the Science Supporting a Potential Connection Between Meditation and Immunity

Whether it’s cold and flu season, or you find yourself burning the candle on both ends, you may be concerned about your immune system. There must be something other than meds to help boost your body’s defenses.

You’ve heard about visualization leading to manifestation — could meditation be the trick?

While meditation is not a cure-all for immune system function, it may help.

We take a closer look at what science has to say about the connection between meditation and immune system functions.

Table of Contents

A white letter sign that says Immune System.

Understanding the Main Contributors to a Weakened Immune System

A weakened immune system, also known as immunodeficiency, can result from various factors, both external and internal.

Here are some main contributors to a weakened immune system:

  • Medical conditions and diseases: Autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis cause the immune system to attack the body's own tissues. Chronic conditions such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS also weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infections.

  • Medications and treatments: Long-term use of corticosteroids and other immunosuppressive drugs (often used in organ transplantation) may weaken the immune response.

  • Poor diet: A balanced diet is crucial for supporting a healthy immune system. Malnutrition, whether due to inadequate intake of nutrients or underlying conditions that hinder nutrient absorption, may compromise immune function.

  • Stress: The body's stress response involves the release of stress hormones like cortisol, which, when prolonged, may suppress immune responses.

  • Lack of sleep: Consistently inadequate sleep may disrupt the body's immune responses and increase susceptibility to infections.

  • Substance abuse: Smoking tobacco and abusing substances like alcohol and drugs may impair the immune system's ability to fight infections.

  • Physical inactivity: Exercise has been shown to enhance immune function by improving circulation and promoting the movement of immune cells.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help support a strong immune system.

If you have concerns about your immune health, it's best to consult a healthcare professional.

Does Meditation Increase Immunity?

Meditation is believed to have a positive impact on immune function, although the extent of this impact can vary based on factors such as:

  • Type of meditation

  • Duration of practice

  • Individual differences

While meditation alone might not be a guaranteed way to prevent illness, research suggests that it may contribute to improved immunity through various mechanisms.

Sometimes, one of the best ways to improve your immune system function is through a holistic approach, such as meditation. At Good Bitters, we want to help. Our products are specifically designed to help you recenter, reconnect, and focus on your meditation practice.

Using the herbal benefits and bitter taste of the silk tassel plant, we’ve formulated a candy that can stimulate your brain without overwhelming your senses, helping you stay present and mindful in every moment.

Components of Meditation That May Help the Immune System

Certain components of meditation may account for some of the positive effects on immune system function. When you meditate, you commit time and effort to relaxation, focus, and centeredness.

Some of the key components of mindfulness meditation and immune system benefits include:

  • Emotion regulation

  • Body awareness

  • Reducing negative thoughts

  • Self-acceptance without judgment

  • Staying focused on the now

  • Visualization and imagery

More people are looking for alternatives to medicine, making mindfulness practices an integral part of many people’s daily activities. However, anecdotal proof simply isn’t enough when it comes to our health.

Dr. Masaru Emoto conducted multiple experiments, observing the effects mindful practices had on water crystals as they were forming over ice. The water crystals took on beautiful, symmetrical shapes when responding to positive words or phrases, whereas the crystals that were exposed to negativity took on broken and disfigured shapes.

Our thoughts and intentions may have an impact on our overall health, which is why exploring the connection between meditation and immunity is an ongoing field of research.

A young woman facing away toward a lake sitting in lotus posture.

4 Ways Meditation and Immune System Function May Be Linked

Meditation has been used for centuries to eliminate stress, reduce the stream of jumbled thoughts, and improve mental well-being. Over the years, there has been growing interest in understanding the potential links between meditation and immunity. Here’s what researchers have discovered.

#1: Increased Number of CD-4 Cells

CD4 cells, also known as T-helper cells or T-helper lymphocytes, are a type of white blood cell that plays a crucial role in the immune system. They help coordinate and regulate the immune response by interacting with other immune cells and secreting signaling molecules (cytokines) that direct immune activity.

CD4 cells are also a primary target of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which leads to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Research suggests that certain meditation practices might have a positive impact on CD4 cell counts, although the mechanisms are complex and not fully understood.

While meditation can potentially influence immune function, it's not a substitute for medical treatment, and individuals with compromised immune systems should consult their healthcare providers for appropriate care.

#2: Lower Inflammation Markers

Meditation has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects on the body, which may contribute to improved overall health and immune function. Chronic inflammation is linked to various health problems, including cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, and impaired immune responses.

Meditation may help reduce inflammation markers through several mechanisms, including:

  • Stress reduction

  • Cortisol regulation

  • Modulation of cytokines

  • Vagus nerve stimulation

  • Impact on brain areas

  • Reduced oxidative stress

  • Psychological well-being

  • Mindful eating habits

  • Endorphin release

Integrating meditation into a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, sufficient sleep, and stress management can further support your overall well-being and immune health.

If you have chronic inflammation or underlying health conditions, consult with a healthcare professional to receive appropriate guidance and care.

#3: Increased Telomerase Activity

Telomeres are protective caps located at the ends of chromosomes.

They play a vital role in preserving the stability and integrity of genetic material during cell division. Telomere length is associated with cellular aging and overall health. Shortened telomeres are linked to various age-related diseases and a higher risk of mortality.

While meditation has been associated with potential benefits for overall health and well-being, the direct impact of meditation on telomerase activity (an enzyme that helps maintain telomere length) is an area of ongoing research.

Some studies suggest that meditation and mindfulness practices might have a positive effect on telomerase activity, potentially slowing down the cellular aging process.

#4: Increased Antibody Response

The link between meditation and the enhancement of antibody responses is an area that has been studied, but the research in this area is still evolving and not fully conclusive.

Antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system in response to infections or foreign substances. They play a crucial role in targeting and neutralizing harmful agents, such as viruses and bacteria.

Some studies suggest that meditation might have positive effects on antibody responses, thus improving immune system function.

Supplemental Benefits of Meditation That May Affect the Immune System

Meditation offers several supplemental benefits that may positively affect the immune system. While the primary functions involve stress reduction and relaxation, there are additional ways in which meditation may indirectly support immune function.

Here are some supplemental benefits of meditation that may impact the immune system.

Better Sleep

Meditation may improve sleep quality by addressing factors that contribute to sleep disturbances, promoting relaxation, reducing stress and anxiety, and regulating the body's internal sleep-wake cycle.

Here's how meditation can positively impact sleep:

  • Enhanced sleep environment: Practicing meditation before bedtime may create a ritual that signals to the body that it's time to wind down.

  • Increased melatonin production: Some research suggests that meditation might increase melatonin production, a hormone that plays a critical role in regulating sleep-wake cycles.

  • Improved sleep duration and efficiency: Regular meditation may lead to better sleep patterns, including longer sleep duration and increased sleep efficiency.

  • Better sleep hygiene: Incorporating meditation into a nightly routine encourages individuals to prioritize relaxation and self-care before bed.

To maximize the benefits, consider incorporating meditation into your daily routine, particularly before bedtime.

Reduced Stress

Meditation can reduce stress through a combination of physiological, psychological, and neurological processes. When practiced regularly, various meditation techniques help individuals relax their minds and bodies, promoting a sense of calm and mental well-being.

Here's how meditation works to reduce stress:

  • Activation of the relaxation response

  • Cortisol regulation

  • Autonomic nervous system balance

  • Mindfulness and distraction

  • Neuroplasticity

  • Emotional regulation

  • Deep breathing and relaxation techniques

  • Mind-body connection

  • Focus on positive emotions

The benefits of meditation are often cumulative and become more significant with consistent practice over time. Different meditation techniques may resonate differently with individuals, you might want to explore and find the approach that suits you best.

If you're new to meditation, guided sessions led by experienced instructors may help you establish a solid practice.

Lower Heart Rate

Meditation may lower your heart rate through the activation of the relaxation response and modulation of the autonomic nervous system.

The autonomic nervous system controls involuntary bodily functions, including heart rate, and consists of two branches:

  • The sympathetic nervous system (responsible for the "fight or flight" response); and

  • The parasympathetic nervous system (associated with relaxation and the "rest and digest" response)

Over time, with consistent practice, meditation may help individuals experience a lower resting heart rate and better management of stress-related changes in heart rate.

A group of young men and women sitting in lotus position meditating.

Good Bitters: Products Designed To Help You Reconnect and Restore Balance

At Good Bitters, your health and well-being are at the top of our priorities. We believe that mindful meditation and immunity are closely connected, which is one of the reasons we created Kalm Drops.

Using the silk tassel herb, we created a candy that can help you relax, focus, and bring awareness to your body. Our unique, bitter taste is designed to relax the mind, relieve pain and tension, and balance cravings — all of which can help put you in a better position to focus on mindfulness or meditation.

Try Kalm Drops by Good Bitters today to help you restore a sense of balance in your life, so you can set positive intentions for a healthier future.

The content in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition

Disclaimer: The information on this website is taken from traditional wisdom and modern research/databases and is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to act as medical advice or to replace medical treatment. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The statements and information on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA. Please consult a knowledgeable healthcare provider for your individual needs

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