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Rhonda Patrick: Buffering the effects of stress with meditation


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  • Eustress: Positive stress (like working hard), but taken too far it can create anxiety
  • Distress/Chronic Stress: Rumination about the past or future
    • Associated with very high levels of costisol (stress hormone)
  • Corticotropin mediating hormone: Mediator of stress hormones
    • Released by hypothalamus and has direct effect on brain and increase amyloid beta plaques outside of neurons – breaking breaks between neural connections – cell death
    • Disrupt energy metabolism is neurons/glial cells – release of reactive oxygen species – amyloid beta plaques – cell death
  • Impact on the Gut: Stress has a big impact (along with diet of course)
    • Increase permeability of the gut (via release of corticotropin mediating hormone)
    • Mast cells in gut: receptors to cort. Hormone – activating them as immune cells = war = inflammation (release tnf-alpha, proteases, etc.) — Leaky gut
    • Allow bacteria to cross epithelial barrier leading to more inflammation
    • Inflammation is a key driver of the aging process: Low inflammation found to be the only biomarker of living to old age (association, not causation)
      • Tested in mice and you see that inflammation leads to early death and general health breakdown
    • Accelerated Telomere shortening which leads to aging
    • Weakens Immune System by triaging energy to repair gut/inflammation/etc. so immune system doesn’t have enough energy to fight off actual disease/invaders


  • Mindfulness to focus thoughts/emotions to the present moment
  • Help you be aware of your decisions and why you make them
  • Promote empathy and compassion, because you better understand why people act certain ways vs. ruminations/dwelling on negative issues
  • Rhonda tends to overwhelm herself with work, but also with social experience which mindfulness might help with this
    • Studies have linked meditation to reduced ruminative thoughts and consequently chronic stress (monks claim that it helps love/compassion permeate the mind, Rhonda’s not so sure but does get some clarity of mind)
  • Studies show that normal people who start meditation have reduced stress
  • Effect on brain:
    • Production of gamma waves in the brain – indivative of neural plasticity/ability to learn new things and change/marker of youth (always higher in young vs/ hold)
      • Can be modulated up/down
      • 50 year old meditators claims their brains look like 25 year old (Rhonda is skeptical) – correlation. Not causation
    • Follow-up study: People who have never, go through 8 week mindfulness program – 40 minutes/day
      • 4 brain regions increased in brain volume after just 8 weeks!
        • Hippocampus (learning/memory), Ponds (brain stem creating many neurotransmitters), prioral junction (empathy/compassion), posterior cingulate (mind wandering, self relevance)
        • Amygdala (Fight/Flight/anxiety) was decreased, correlated with reduction of stress hormone levels
      • Slow biological aging: Shortening of telomeres (caps at end of chromosomes to protect DNA in them)
        • As they shorten over time as some of it is not copied during DNA replication (3 prong overhang where a tiny piece does not get copied)
          • So next cell loses just a little bit of the telomere and over the years they shorten/go away then cell either
            • Senescent: sits around doing nothing, but release bad crap that damages nearby cells hurting telomeres of those cells, etc. etc.
            • OR Apoptosis: Cell death pathway, which can be better than senescient
              • But if it’s a stem cell, you get tissue aging as stem cell isn’t around to rebuild your organs
              • Stems cells tend to age more slowly: enzyme called telomerase which can rebuild telomeres (so they tend to be longer than non stem-cells)
              • Sperm/ovary cells also have telomerase
              • But most other cells silence ability to make telomerase is high levels immortalize cells (if they are cancer and immortal is bad…)
            • OR Reactivation of Telomerase: usually in older age, called alternative lengthening of telomeres – cell overrides cell death mechanism = CANCER
              • TAKE precaution on therapies that try activate telomerase (e.g. TA65)!
            • Linked to cv disease, t2d, etc. etc.
          • Chronic stress connected to telomere shortening
        • Meditation can also increase telomere length and reverse shortening by activating telomerase (Elizabeth Blackburn at UCSF)
        • Try meditation: Transidental Meditation, Float Tanks, Guided Meditation (Head Space), yoga, immerse in nature and listen to your mind
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