A mind-body technique that produces stress reduction after just five days of practice has received a great deal of attention from scientists who are trying to understand the secret of its beneficial effect.
The technique is called integrative body-mind training (IBMT) and was adapted from traditional Chinese medicine in the 1990s.
Two years ago, researchers from the University of Oregon (UO) noted that practicing IBMT prior to a math test led to low levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, among Chinese students.
The practitioners also had lower levels of anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue than students in a control group.
The scientists believe IBMT alters blood flow and electrical activity in the brain, breathing quality and skin conductance thereby producing such dramatic effects.
"We were able to show that the training improved the connection between a central nervous system structure, the anterior cingulate, and the parasympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system to help put a person into a more bodily state," says UO psychologist Michael Posner, who participated in a new Chinese-American study on brain and physiological changes triggered by IBMT.
"The results seem to show integration – a connectivity of brain and body," he adds.