Both singing and meditation have long been used to help relieve stress and blow off steam, but revolutionary scientific research conducted by the Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation (ARPF) www.alzheimersprevention.org, in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania, shows that they can possibly prevent the development of Alzheimer's Disease. The study shows that completing a meditative memory exercise called Kirtan Kriya for just 12 minutes a day for 8 weeks can reverse memory loss and enhance brain function in individuals at risk for developing the disease.
"Kirtan Kriya is scientifically proven to boost blood flow to critical brain areas and increase mental energy, sharpen concentration and improve focus," explains Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D., Medical Director of the Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation based in Tucson, Arizona.
It is estimated that 5.2 million Americans will suffer with Alzheimer's this year alone. 5 million of whom are aged 65 or older, and the remaining 200,000 will be individuals younger than age 65 who will develop younger-onset Alzheimer's. Currently Alzheimer's is being diagnosed at the rate of 1 person every 68 seconds. By 2050 it is estimated to be diagnosed at the rate of 1 person every 33 seconds, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
However, because of is demonstrated health benefits, Kirtan Kriya has been vigorously studied by the ARPF in concert with scientists from top medical schools such as UCLA, UCSF, and the University of Pennsylvania, and findings have been published in prestigious medical journals such as the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
"As a result of the extraordinary findings of these studies, Kkirtan Kriya has been endorsed by the ARPF as a way to prevent Alzheimer's Disease," continued Dr. Dharma.
According to Dr. Dharma, Kirtan Kriya (pronounced 'Keertun Kreea'), is a type of meditation derived from the Kundalini yoga tradition, which has been practice for thousands of years. This meditation is often referred to as a singing exercise, and it involved singing the primal sounds 'Saa', 'Taa', 'Naa,' and 'Maa', along with repetitive finger and thumb movements, or mudras.
"The current recommendation for practicing Kirtan Kriya was developed by combining thousands of years of ancient techniques with millions of dollars of scientific study," says Dr. Dharma. "The number one fear among adults is losing their mental faculties. It is important that people understand that by taking preventative measures and making lifestyle changes, such as incorporating Kirtan Kriya exercises into a daily routine, we can reduce the number of people developing Alzheimer's by as much as 50 percent."
It is believed that the placement of the tongue on the roof of the mouth while carrying out Kirtan Kriya chanting sounds stimulates 85 acupuncture points on the upper palate, causing a beneficial biochemical transformation in the brain. Additionally, research has revealed that utilizing the fingertip position in conjunction with the sound enhances blood flow to particular areas in in the motor-sensory part of the brain. The exercise increases brain blood flow to critically important areas and promotes greater attention, concentration, focus, improved short term memory, and better mood.
"Our research revealed a reduction in inflammation, less depression and a 44 percent increase in the enzyme known as telomerase, which is a breakthrough anti-aging discovery," explained Dr. Dharma. "Essentially when you have more telomerase you live longer in better health and with an improved memory."
Telomerase is an enzyme produced by the body and is believed to slow the effects of the aging process as well as the onset of conditions such as dementia. Further research performed by ARPF revealed that after performing either Kirtan Kriya or a relaxation technique for 12 minutes a day for 8 weeks there was a 43 percent increase in the enzyme telomerase in the Kirtan Kriya group, as opposed to only a 3.7 percent increase in the relaxation group, which was the largest increase in telomerase ever reported and is considered a landmark discovery. Telomerase allows for replacement or lengthening of DNA telomeres, which are shortened in Alzheimer's patients, and can slow down or reverse the progression of the disease.
In addition to Kirtan Kriya's effect on telomerase activity, studies have found that it also causes significant increases in brain activity, especially in the posterior cingulate gyrus, or PCG. Since the PCG is the first area of the brain to decline with memory loss, Kirtan Kriya works to reactivate it.
"12 minutes a day of daily meditation is really not a lot to have to do when you consider the fact that it could boost your brain and memory for a lifetime," added Dr. Dharma.