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Meditation as medication?

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Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013 4:11 pm | Updated: 4:42 pm, Wed Jul 3, 2013.

Can you use meditation as medication? A federal panel recently released a report with results that might surprise you.

We hear from an expert about how meditation can change your brain.

Patrick Slavens often found himself caught up. "…with the rush of, you know, everyday life."

His ADHD and smoking habit didn't help. Then the former marine tried this. "I never thought I'd end up to be the warm, fuzzy, meditating kinda guy."

"It's the kind of thing that has very, very few downsides." University of Wisconsin's Doctor Richard Davidson has been studying meditation for decades. A friend of the Dalai Lama, he's scanned the brains of Buddhist monks as they meditated. He tells us the brain can actually make new connections, even grow new neurons in this state. It's called neuroplasticity.

He believes with practice, meditation can improve symptoms of social anxiety, phobias, and inflammatory problems like asthma or psoriasis. "My own view is that it's best considered as an adjunct, it shouldn't be thought of as a replacement for conventional treatment."

A government panel just reviewed 34 meditation trials with 3,000 participants and found it can reduce chronic and acute pain. The evidence is weaker on mediation's effects on stress and anxiety, but the committee found there were benefits. "Find a quiet place."

Patrick says thanks to meditation, he's quit smoking and is off his ADHD meds. “It really does work."

Meditation is also being used as treatment in the U.S. military, specifically, the marine corp. They are currently running a pilot program that uses meditation as way for warriors to deal with combat stress, and hopefully prevent PTSD.

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