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One of the most interesting phenomena in life is the power of synergy. Here is a simple explanation of what synergy is when 1+1 equals not 2, and much more. With regard to our health, studies have shown a synergistic effect between diet, lifestyle, attitude and dietary supplements.

Synergy looks absolutely logical, but it is often difficult to accurately measure the degree of influence of two or more factors. Rutgers University scientists convincingly demonstrated the enhancing effect of combining regular physical exercise and meditation. They decided to evaluate these two types of lifestyle changes in the context of improving mood and enhance brain activity, as previous studies have shown that each of them proved to be very effective for individual use. During this study, for the first time, attention was paid to the combined use of these two types of therapy, and the results were very impressive.

Natural treatments of depression

In the conventional medicine today is a real revolution on how best to treat depression. Since the advent of antidepressants, especially selective inhibitors of serotonin reuptake (SSRIs) and similar drugs, the main focus was on the use for mood enhancement. However, there is increasing scientific evidence that these medicines in many cases do not show sufficient efficiency, even when a positive effect is observed, it is not a long-term, and almost all patients relapse.

In the treatment of depression some natural methods have proved very effective in not only improving mood but also in overall improvement in the functioning of the brain. Health food, medicinal herbs, different forms of psychotherapy and lifestyle changes — all of this has shown positive results.

With regard to regular exercise and meditation, both individually demonstrated in clinical studies the effect of mood elevation. Demographic studies have shown that they correlate with greater confidence, elevated mood and self-esteem, and are also associated with other factors positively influencing the quality of life.

Exercise and meditation

Research at Rutgers involved 52 people aged 20 to 40 years, 22 of which suffered from clinical depression. The volunteers participated in an eight-week exercise program consisting of 30 minutes of meditation two times a week, and then required 30 minutes to run on a treadmill. During meditation, participants focused on their inner world, and then paid close attention to the breath. The first 5 minutes on the treadmill served to warm up the muscles, followed by running enough speed to keep my heart rate at 50-70% of maximum.

According to reports of participants, who suffered from clinical depression, at the end of the eight-week program they have observed much less symptoms of depression, anxiety and negative thoughts, especially obsessive thinking about the past. The total level of reduction of depression according to these reports was 40%. Other participants also reported fewer symptoms of depression by the end of the program.

All participants improved the results of testing cognitive functions, and increased the level of brain response to external stimuli.

The results of this study are of great importance. Scientists believe that a combination of exercise and meditation involves a variety of mechanisms, leading to improved brain health, including the development of new nerve cells — neurogenesis.

The approach includes work with food

So, physical exercise combined with meditation can improve mood and brain function. What results could we see if this program also included guidance on nutrition, dietary Supplement, biologically active elements and herbs and other natural ways of treatment? I believe that the results would be unbelievable, and that’s what I see in my clinical practice.

I considered the results of a double-blind study of intake of fish oil as a dietary Supplement by people aged 20 to 40 years, suffering from significant depression. Among those participants who took fish oil (1.4 g EPA+DHA), 67% no longer met the criteria for depression, whereas in the placebo group, only 20% no longer suffered from depression. An impressive result.

There are safe and effective natural treatment approaches. And the more of them it turns out to combine, the better you get the result. Such is the power of synergy.


Alderman BL, Olson RL, Brush CJ, Shors TJ. MAP training: combining meditation and aerobic exercise reduces depression and rumination while enhancing the synchronized brain activity. Translational Psychiatry (2016) 6, e726; doi:10.1038/tp.2015.225

This article was written by Dr. Michael Murray, one of the leading authorities in the field of natural medicine. Over the past 35 years, Dr. Murray has been compiling a massive database of original scientific studies of the medical literature. He has personally collected over 65000 articles from the scientific literature that provide convincing evidence of the effectiveness of diet, vitamins, minerals, herbs and other natural ways of maintaining health and treating disease. It is from this constantly expanding database that Dr. Murray provides the answers on health and treatment on the website DoctorMurray.com. Visit the iHerb page of Dr. Murray by clicking here.