An Update from the Research Team – November 2023
The year in review…
The land down under is open to visitors! Do we do research in Australia? This was the topic of conversation for most of January/February for the research team. As this was the first big international event in a while, and I had a long-time (20+ years) research collaborator on the Gold Coast, it made sense to undertake a research study in Australia. We launched the Deep micrObiome With laNguage Use aNalysis to Determine hEalth Resilience (DOWN UNDER) Study to see if there is a link between the words/facial features/sounds you use and make with your biology and health. We had an overwhelming interest and response from the Aussies, with over 250 participants enrolled and over a 90% response rate on every aspect of the study.
While engaged in discussions about research and in looking at the events calendar for the remainder of the year, we came to the realization that Dr. Joe would be on three continents in under 6 months doing Week-Long Advanced Retreats. An opportunity was identified….
April – August
The DOWN UNDER Study evolved into the Gut and Language multi-cOntinent Based Analysis to change Life (GLOBAL) Study. The same goals were retained, but there was now an expansion on specific things we could evaluate. The GLOBAL Study went on a roadshow to Nashville in April, Cancun in June, Denver in July, and then finally Vienna in August. The worldwide scope of the study will allow us to do the following:
1) to assess the impact of culture on the biological response, 2) to consider genetics in the cultural response, and 3) to assess the impact of a single intervention across the globe on many diseases in diverse populations.
The study enrolled around 1600 individuals across the globe. As Vienna ended, the work of organizing and analyzing this extensive study began. We have written code to extract the transcriptions of each of the videos, organized them by day and location, and will soon share the raw data with Dr. Jeff King to start the AI analysis of the text. Code has also been written to process the videos, which will be divided into video and sound files for analysis. The microbiome samples are being prepared to send off for metagenomic sequencing. The surveys are undergoing clean-up and analysis. The findings from this study are highly anticipated and expected to shed important global insights into the impact of Week-Long Advanced Retreats on diverse individuals.
April through August were filled with many other activities at the events as well. Nashville was a busy event as we had three additional ongoing studies (MILK, MYSTIC, and PAIR). Nashville was the pilot for the Partnering Age groups Into Resilience (PAIR) study, which then expanded in full force during the Denver event. PAIR looks at what happens to young and aged individuals who are either paired with each other or not in terms of their biology. The preliminary data is astonishing, showing that both young and aged individuals that are paired have brain electrical activity (alpha and gamma) that is significantly above those that are not paired and that there is a functional consequence to this, both paired individuals, irrespective of age, start to perform better on cognitive tests. We are excited to see if biological vs. chronological age is impacted in the blood testing that we will be doing. We have a few tweaks underway in this study, and a few more iterations will be done in 2024 to complete it.
The big news in Vienna was the world release of the meditation/Covid paper (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWyXIRQW6f0 ). It was hard to keep quiet about the big news as I had found out about the acceptance of the manuscript by Brain, Behavior, & Immunity: Health at the beginning of the Vienna retreat, and I surprised Dr. Joe and the rest of the world with the news during my first presentation. This feels like a significant achievement by the research group; this manuscript has been the most downloaded manuscript for this journal over the last three months. We expect this is just the start of a long string of significant peer-reviewed publications that deepen our understanding of the mind-body relationship.
September came with a unique experience with the near back-to-back scheduling of a Week-Long Advanced Retreat and an Advanced Follow Up at the same location. This warranted a special study, one I have been “dreaming” up for a while. We launched the Does meditation-induced Regenerative slEep Augment Me (DREAM) Study in Marco Island, where we recruited 16 individuals who went through an extensive collection of samples and qEEG recording for 5 nights. Most meditation studies, including ours to-date, focus on brain activity during the meditation. The idea behind this study was that there may be a lot of processing that goes on in the brain after an intensive day at the event. We are the first to explore this and see what and how the mind is processing during sleep to change in the body. We also tested continuous glucose monitor (CGM) devices on these individuals. Many individuals report intense food cravings or loss of appetite at these events, and the biochemical and molecular data we have so far suggest changes in biological fuels and metabolism. This device allows us to get a continuous measure of an important fuel (glucose) the body uses and correlate this to signatures such as EEG and HRV. This was an intense study, but one expected to lead to important insights.
October was a well-deserved break for the research team, which continues to expand. With the release back in May of the news that InnerScience Research Fund will support the research at UC San Diego, I have had several students and faculty reach out to me for collaborations. These interactions have led to some amazing people joining the research group in various capacities. The diversity of backgrounds, thoughts, and ideas is amazing and expected to bring continued rigor to our studies.
Just around the corner is the November Orlando Week-Long Advanced Retreat and the final study for the year. We will go deep into the MYSTIC Study (Mind Yielding Signals Transforming Internal Components), recruiting nearly 250 subjects, more than we have ever done for this study. The goal of MYSTIC is to brain and blood map 1000 unique individuals during one meditation and then build a feature map of how brain electrical activity connects to acute and chronic changes in blood markers. Can we start to predict biological responses from what we see in the brain activity? If we can, we get one step closer to providing biofeedback to the individual to help evolve their experience. We expect this to unravel how meditation, specific brain activity, and specific individuals affect a biological change.
Finally, over the year, we have been involved in numerous remote coherence healing studies. We completed another double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover-design remote coherence healing study with the official Coherence group focused on PTSD. The findings were quite striking with nearly a 90% beneficial effect on the healees. We go beyond surveys to also look at changes in the microbiome and epigenetic factors in these individuals, as all the healees were mailed kits to ship back to us. We had a strong return rate and will soon begin processing the samples. For the first time, we will start linking remote healings to biological changes. The double-blind nature of these studies refers to the fact that both the healers and healees involved do not know when they are healing “real” individuals or being healed. This then allows us to consider the placebo effect. The crossover design refers to the fact that every month the groups change (some undergoing healing, others not) over three months.
I hope this recap of the year gives you perspective of what we have been able to achieve with your support. Thank you for your continued support of InnerScience Research Fund, which allows for this groundbreaking research; we are excited at the limitless possibilities that exist to empower, heal, and allow every individual to thrive.