Researchers from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) found in their work with 45 family dementia caregivers that 68 of their genes responded differently after Kirtan Kriya Meditation (KKM), resulting in reduced inflammation.
Kirtan Kriya is a type of meditation from the Kundalini yoga tradition sometimes called a singing exercise, as it involves singing the sounds along with repetitive finger movements.
The new findings were published online in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.
Caregivers show higher levels of the biological markers of inflammation. Inflammation, if constantly activated, can contribute to a multitude of chronic health problems.
Family members in particular are often considered to be at risk of stress-related disease and general health decline.
"We know that chronic stress places caregivers at a higher risk for developing depression," Dr Helen Lavretsky, senior author and a professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior said in a statement.
"On average, the incidence and prevalence of clinical depression in family dementia caregivers approaches 50 per cent. Caregivers are also twice as likely to report high levels of emotional distress," she added.
In the study, the participants were randomised into two groups. The meditation group was taught the 12-minute yogic practice that included Kirtan Kriya, which was performed every day at the same time for eight weeks.
The other group was asked to relax in a quiet place with their eyes closed while listening to instrumental music on a relaxation CD, also for 12 minutes daily for eight weeks. Blood samples were taken at the beginning of the study and again at the end of the eight weeks.
"The goal of the study was to determine if meditation might alter the activity of inflammatory and antiviral proteins that shape immune cell gene expression," said Lavretsky.
"Our analysis showed a reduced activity of those proteins linked directly to increased inflammation," she added.
The researchers had published another study six months ago that said practising a certain form of chanting yogic meditation for just 12 minutes daily for eight weeks can lead to a reduction in the biological mechanisms responsible for an increase in the immune system's inflammation response.