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George B. Stefano, Tobias Esch, Richard M. Kream
(Department of Psychiatry, First Faculty of Medicine Charles University in Prague and General University Hospital in Prague, Center for Cognitive and Molecular Neuroscience, Prague, Czech Republic)
Med Sci Monit Basic Res 2019; 25:8-14
The objective of our concise review is to elaborate an evidence-based integrative medicine model that incorporates functional linkages of key aspects of cortically-driven mind-body training procedures to biochemical and molecular processes driving enhanced cellular bioenergetics and whole-body metabolic advantage. This entails the adoption of a unified biological systems approach to selectively elucidate basic biochemical and molecular events responsible for achieving physiological relaxation of complex cellular structures. We provide accumulated evidence in support of the potential synergy of voluntary breathing exercises in combination with meditation and/or complementary cognitive tasks to promote medically beneficial enhancements in whole-body relaxation, anti-stress mechanisms, and restorative sleep. Accordingly, we propose that the widespread metabolic and physiological advantages emanating from a sustained series of complementary mind-body exercises will ultimately engender enhanced functional integration of cortical and limbic areas controlling voluntary respiratory processes with autonomic brainstem neural pattern generators. Finally, a unified mechanism is proposed that links behaviorally-mediated enhancements of whole-body metabolic advantage to optimization of synchronous regulation of mitochondrial oxygen utilization via recycling of nitrite and nitric oxide by iron-sulfur centers of coupled respiratory complexes and nitrite reductases.