The link with science

In yoga, meditation & Ayurveda we make intensively use of our breath or the prana (life force energy) to enter the deepest levels of our (sub)consciousness or the mind.

Also in Western medicine there is still a lot of research ongoing to unravel the function of our brain. In 2012 the ‘glymphatic system’ was discovered by the Danish researcher Maiken Nedergaard.

This system is called the brain’s ‘washing machine’ or a cleaning system. It is composed of a network of drainage channels surrounding blood vessels (perivascular) along which cerebrospinal fluid recirculates through the brain, facilitating the clearance of waste products.

The glymphatic system mainly functions during sleep and cleanses the toxins that are accumulated in our brain during daytime. Yet, the mechanisms facilitating cerebrospinal fluid influx are poorly understood. This glymphatic system will be key for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease where accumulation of toxins occurs in the brain.

In 2016 a similar perivascular system was also discovered in the human optic nerve by Dr. Psychiatrist Peter Wostyn. This ocular glymphatic clearance system is one of the key mechanisms behind glaucoma and behind the eye diseases developed by astronauts who spend extended periods in microgravity. This is intensively investigated by NASA.

Fluid dynamics. The lymphatic pathway (black arrows) clears waste from the brain parenchyma. Reprinted with permission from Tarasoff-Conway, J.M. et al. Nat. Rev. Neurol. 11, 457-470 (2015), Springer Nature. Click image to enlarge.

Link with science

  • It might be possible that practicing yoga, meditation and even certain ayurvedic treatments (e.g. Shirodhara) effect the cleansing of the brain and optic nerve as well.
  • So most probably before Elon Musk sends his astronauts to Mars, they will have to get trained in yoga, meditation or undergo some Ayurvedic treatments. 😉
  • Ayurveda is a traditional Indian system in medicine that is more than 3000 years old, consisting mostly of a specific diet, oily infusions mainly in the area of the head, enemas, medicinal plants and yoga. Ayurveda has been practiced very successfully in India but so far it has only been insufficiently appreciated by Western medicine.
  • Many global diseases like burn-out, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome, obesity, chronical pains,…could get treated by Ayurveda. This is supported by biomedical research papers published on Pubmed, a database with more than 30 million citations and abstracts of biomedical literature. 

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