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The Evidence of Mind-Body Medicine In Gerontology

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The Evidence of Mind-Body Medicine In Gerontology

In 2019, 22.3% of individuals between the ages of 65 and 74 graded their health as fair or poor, while the figure was higher at 29.3% for those aged 75 and above. Evidence also shows that a majority of older Americans have to deal with at least one chronic ailment, with a significant portion managing multiple conditions, making access to care with various effective treatment options crucial in supporting this population.

The good news is that mind-body medicine offers a viable option to this population that is both effective and less challenging to implement to help address their growing health concerns. Today, many people are turning to complementary practices such as mind-body medicine for the many benefits it can provide. This article will share the evidence surrounding this approach in gerontology.


What is Gerontology?

Gerontology is the scientific study of aging. This health category covers various aspects like biology, health, psychology, society, laws, economy, and politics. In comparison, geriatrics is a medical field focused on diagnosing, managing, and preventing health issues linked to old age.

As we grow older, we face unique challenges that can differ from those of younger individuals. These challenges encompass various aspects such as physical health, mental well-being, social interactions, society's norms, financial matters, and legal considerations.

Gerontology is a broad field that brings together researchers, biologists, doctors, policy experts, social workers, psychologists, and other professionals. Their goal is to improve aging individuals' quality of life and overall well-being.

What is Mind-Body Medicine?

Mind-body medicine connects traditional research with integrative and holistic health. Herbert Benson's research on Tibetan monks demonstrated the mind's impact on the body, as these monks controlled their autonomic nervous system. They were able to adjust their body temperature and respiration rates, achieving a wakeful hypometabolic state. In 1991, other researchers, Ader and Cohen, termed psychoneuroimmunology, where the mind influences the immune system through the autonomic nervous system and the 'fluid' nervous system, encompassing neurotransmitters and neuropeptides. In 2002, another researcher, Pert, further clarified this approach demonstrating how thoughts affect neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, and steroids and linking the connection between mind and body, influencing every cell.

Mind-body medicine entails practices like meditation, breathing techniques, tai chi, and yoga that hones in on the balance of this relationship to improve health outcomes. Research indicates their positive impact on physical and mental well-being. Mind-body techniques can also mitigate chronic stress's adverse effects by lowering stress hormones. These techniques also prove beneficial for various conditions, such as anxiety, irregular heartbeats like atrial fibrillation, cancer, heart conditions like coronary artery disease, chronic pain, depression, digestive issues, high blood pressure, sleep disturbances, and other health issues.

Top Mind-Body Therapies Used For Geriatric Patients

The connection between the mind and body has been indicated to improve overall physical, mental, and spiritual well-being for geriatric patients. Practices like mindfulness-based stress reduction, relaxation therapy, meditation, tai chi, yoga, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can positively affect various common conditions and issues in older adults. For instance, techniques such as CBT, relaxation therapy, and mindfulness-based stress reduction can help effectively manage chronic insomnia. Mind-body exercises like tai chi and yoga have shown positive effects on cognitive performance, memory, and language in older adults. Tai chi is also beneficial as an exercise program to help reduce falls and the associated injuries among this population.

Additionally, mindfulness-based stress reduction and CBT can also help alleviate symptoms of depression and stress. These mind-body approaches, such as tai chi, yoga, and meditation, have even been successful at managing menopausal symptoms in women. These techniques and their health benefits show the significance of the mind-body relationship and its crucial role in well-being as we age.

Functional Medicine Labs Commonly Used in Gerontology To Support Mind-Body Practices

The following are commonly used functional medicine labs that support mind-body practices in gerontology: 

Cardiometabolic Panel

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) continues to be an issue for the aging population, and the numbers keep growing, with the majority of this group experiencing CVD at some point in their life. Although mind-body approaches can help reduce the risk, it's also crucial to perform tests to assess for specific factors associated with this condition. The cardiovascular panel can help evaluate CVD risk by measuring markers like Hs-CRP, an inflammatory marker, HBA1c, which screens for diabetes, and cholesterol evaluations.

Neurotransmitter Panel

Neurotransmitters play a vital role in the mental and overall health of the aging population. These signaling hormones can impact emotions, pain sensitivity, and energy levels. Imbalances in neurotransmitters can lead to various conditions like mood disorders, depression, anxiety, and fatigue. Evaluating neurotransmitter levels can provide guidance and support in treatment options that can coincide with mind-body approaches to address these health issues in gerontology.

Adrenal Stress Test

Sleep disturbances and stress often coincide. Mind-body medicine can be an effective approach to improving stress levels and sleep in the geriatric population. However, at times, other approaches may need to be considered as an addition to improve these symptoms further. The adrenal stress test can provide specific imbalances in stress levels by measuring cortisol levels at different times of the day, so personalized recommendations can be made to improve stress levels and sleep.

Female Hormone Panel

As we know, are hormones will change with age. For instance, menopause can affect the production of estrogen and progesterone in women leading to symptoms such as hot flashes. A female comprehensive hormone panel can be beneficial in conjunction with mind-body approaches to help address the symptoms that are often associated with women going through menopause.

Comprehensive Stool Panel

Digestive issues are common complaints in the aging population, as 40% of older adults have at least one digestive issue. Stress is a main contributing factor that impacts our digestive health, and mind-body techniques can help to improve stress responses, thus improving digestive health. The stool test can be a part of a comprehensive care approach to help identify and manage digestive issues for older adults.



Mind-body practices, such as tai chi, meditation, yoga, and mindfulness, have been growing in popularity as adjunctive therapy to help address age-related conditions…and with good reason. These approaches have been shown to be effective at improving sleep, cognition, mental health, cardiovascular function, pain, and overall well-being in this population. With health issues continuing to increase as we age, options such as mind-body approaches can be utilized in conjunction with other integrative approaches, such as functional lab testing, to provide well-rounded care in gerontology.

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
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