Mind-Body Medicine Research Group
The Mind-Body Medicine Research Group (MBMRG) at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute (CPMCRI) is a multidisciplinary team exploring the impact of thoughts, beliefs, and worldviews on psychological, social and biological well-being. Using basic science, clinical studies in healthcare settings, and field research in community clinics and social service agencies, this group of researchers is taking an interdisciplinary approach to mapping the healing system.
Recent publications by members of the MBMRG have included studies of the ability of Expressive Arts Therapy to reduce stress for hospitalized children; development and pilot testing of mindfulness-based interventions for addictive disorders, and for pregnancy stress; and the impact of distant compassionate intention on surgical wound healing in women undergoing reconstructive surgery following mastectomy. A randomized controlled trial demonstrated that Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) are more effective at lowering the major stress hormone cortisol than other interventions tested; another study showed that infrasound can enhance the chemotherapeutic effects of certain drugs. The MBMRG has also done significant work with patients with addictive disorders.
In addition to conducting clinical trials and laboratory studies, the MBMRG is contributing to the development of the field by publishing articles on methodological issues specific to Mind-Body research. The MBMRG at CPMCRI has a long and influential history, including early work by Drs. Elisabeth Targ and John Astin on the effects of distant intention on healing for patients with AIDS, and numerous publications co-authored by Dr. Garret Yount addressing methodological issues in biofield research, such as systematic negative controls.
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Leadership of the Mind-Body Medicine Research Group
Garret Yount, Ph.D., Director of MBMRG and Scientist at CPMCRI. Dr. Yount’s laboratory at the Research Institute focuses on the molecular and cellular biology of cancers. In addition, he has conducted an ongoing series of laboratory-based studies assessing biofield therapies in collaboration with biofield practitioners in the U.S. and from other countries.
Cassandra Vieten, Ph.D., Scientist at CPMCRI. Dr. Vieten has focused her research on addictions, mind-body approaches to wellness, the integration of spiritual traditions into clinical practice and research, and mindfulness-based interventions for pregnant and post-partum women.
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Current and Ongoing Projects
Mindfulness Motherhood Study:
The MBMRG is developing and pilot testing novel psychosocial interventions for reducing stress and excessive weight gain in pregnant women and their babies .
The healing power of companion animals is increasingly accepted as a form of complementary medicine. Equine therapy dates back to the 17th century, citing the physical and emotional benefits of horseback riding. Dr. Yount and Research Intern Lorena Benitez initiated a pilot study to evaluate the potential benefits of a six-week equine therapy program for breast cancer survivors.
Results from the pilot study include encouraging data on the effects of equine therapy in reducing cortisol levels in these women. An ongoing clinical trial will expand upon the pilot study and test the effects of equine therapy on breast cancer survivors.
Collaboration with CPMC’s Institute for Health and Healing (IHH):
Through collaboration with the IHH at CPMC, Dr. Yount is studying physiologic and genomic changes associated with stress reduction and positive emotions, and how these changes are affected by novel interventions including music and Expressive Arts Therapy. Results of a pilot study of the effects of this therapy on hospitalized children showed reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This study is ongoing and published results are anticipated later this year.
Collaboration with the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS):
Through collaboration with IONS, Drs. Vieten and Yount are measuring the change in psychological symptoms and gene expression in war veterans after a series of EFT coaching sessions.
Garret Yount (Ph.D.), Director of the Mind-Body Medicine Research Group
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Articles in PubMed
Publications by Dr. Yount:
- Expressive arts therapy for hospitalized children: a pilot study measuring cortisol levels.
Infrasound sensitizes human glioblastoma cells to cisplatin-induced apoptosis.
- Biofield research: a roundtable discussion of scientific and methodological issues.
- The effect of emotional freedom techniques on stress biochemistry: a randomized controlled trial.
- Evaluation of biofield treatment dose and distance in a model of cancer cell death.
- Evaluating biofield treatments in a cell culture model of oxidative stress.
- Radiation response of cultured human cells is unaffected by Johrei.
- Biofield perception: a series of pilot studies with cultured human cells.
- In vitro test of external Qigong.
- Potential for a stress reduction intervention to promote healthy gestational weight gain: focus groups with low-income pregnant women.
- Recruitment and retention of pregnant women for a behavioral intervention: lessons from the maternal adiposity, metabolism, and stress (MAMAS) study.
- Distant healing of surgical wounds: an exploratory study.
- Genome-wide linkage scan of antisocial behavior, depression, and impulsive substance use in the UCSF family alcoholism study.
- Electrocortical activity prior to unpredictable stimuli in meditators and nonmeditators.
Development of an acceptance-based coping intervention for alcohol dependence relapse prevention.
- Effects of a mindfulness-based intervention during pregnancy on prenatal stress and mood: results of a pilot study.
- The efficacy of distant healing for human immunodeficiency virus--results of a randomized trial.
- Healing HIV: mind, body, and spirit.
- Spiritual correlates of functional well-being in women with breast cancer.
- The efficacy of a mind-body-spirit group for women with breast cancer: a randomized controlled trial.
- Research methodology for studies of prayer and distant healing.
- Prayer and distant healing: Sicher et al. (1998).
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