Inflammatory Bowel DiseaseMeditationRheumatoid DiseasesYoga

A new tool to test the biological effects of biofeedback, meditation, and yoga

OK. Stay with me on this.

Kevin Tracey, MD is director and CEO of The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in New York. A well-respected researcher, Dr. Tracey discovered that the brain controls the immune system via the vagus nerve. Now he’s investigating the role of a molecule called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) as part of the immune system’s weapons against foreign invaders. TNF can cause pain and redness to an injury or infection. In excessive amounts, it can also cause shock and death.

What’s this got to do with CAM?

Maybe a lot.

Dr. Tracey discovered that the brain uses the vagus nerve to block TNF release as a way to prevent shock and death. Now he wants to know if biofeedback can be used to control vagus nerve activity.

The implication is that people with inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and peripheral vascular disease might be able to “think” their way to feeling better.

Because vagus nerve activity can be measured, researchers now have a way to scientifically test the effects of many ancient concepts and Indo-Tibetan practices such as meditation and yoga on longevity.

9/21/06 21:44 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.