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Context: Persons using one group of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) may differ in important ways from users of other CAM therapies. Objectives: The aim of this study was to characterize the United States (US) adult population using exclusively mind-body medicine (MBM) and to determine if their characteristics differed from those using exclusively non-vitamin natural products. Design/Setting: Using the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and its periodic supplement on CAM use, descriptive characteristics of exclusive MBM users, as well as those using exclusively non-vitamin natural products were identified. Patients: A total of 75,764 persons completing the 2007 NHIS with adults aged 18 years and older. Main Outcome Measures: Characteristics of MBM users, prevalence of MBM use, and characteristics of exclusive MBM users compared to exclusive non-vitamin natural product users. Results: Among CAM users (N = 83,013,655), 21.8% of the adult population (age 18 or older) reported using exclusive MBM therapy. In multivariate models, exclusive MBM use was associated with female gender, higher educational attainment, younger age, residing in Northeast US, being Asian or black race, and a current smoker compared to those using exclusive non-vitamin natural products. Using bivariate comparisons, individuals that exclusively used MBM were more likely to be white females (60.5%), in a younger age category (18-39 years), educated beyond high school (68.3%), and more likely from the Southern US (32.4%). A greater level of depression in MBM users was noted compared to non-vitamin natural product users (6.6%).

Human attention selectively focuses on aspects of experience that are threatening, pleasant, or novel. The physical threats of the ancient times have largely been replaced by chronic psychological worries and hurts. The mind gets drawn to these worries and hurts, mostly in the domain of the past and future, leading to mind wandering. In the brain, a network of neurons called the default mode network has been associated with mind wandering. Abnormal activity in the default mode network may predispose to depression, anxiety, attention deficit, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Several studies show that meditation can reverse some of these abnormalities, producing salutary functional and structural changes in the brain. This narrative review presents a mechanistic understanding of meditation in the context of recent advances in neurosciences about mind wandering, attention, and the brain networks.