Inflammation,the Microbiome and…Whole Body Vibration? (No, I’m Not Kidding You…)

Several years ago I was in a gym equipment store buying a cross trainer, and spotted a strange looking machine lying on the floor near the cash register.  I asked the assistant what it was:  “That’s a whole body vibrating machine,” he responded, “It’s really good for you.  Great exercise.”  He had me stand on it, hold the  railings, and next thing I know, I’m shaking away.  It felt great, actually, but come on…this is health inducing?  I’m passively standing there being shaken!  I laughed, and walked away.

Imagine my surprise then when I started to see bits and pieces in the lay press supporting its use.  A lesson, yet again, in working to keep an open mind! And then yesterday, I came across a paper in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, attesting to the fact that the literature is filled with studies proving that indeed, whole body vibration (WBV) is as healthy and anti-inflammatory as the assistant at the gym store had said!

In this case, researchers from Ohio State and Augusta Universities looked at its use in treating diabetes and diabetes-related inflammation.[i]  However, the article does state that this is likely to also apply to those with cardiovascular diseases and other inflammation-related illness as well.  (After all, as my old mentor used to say, “Inflammation is inflammation.”)

According to an article I found on World Health Net:

“Small waves of energy are sent throughout the entire body as the machine vibrates, and these small waves of energy force the muscles to relax and contract a couple of times per minute. Proponents of this therapy claim that these vibrations help to reduce back pain, protect against bone loss, improve overall strength, and improve balance in older adults who are not able to sustain long periods of conventional exercise.  his form of therapy is thought to benefit the whole body, and it is commonly used as a preventive treatment and rehabilitation tool for those with sarcopenia as well as being used for those with osteoporosis, chronic back pain, and to improve muscle strength and muscle soreness. A recent study published in Frontiers in Neurology found that long term use of whole body vibration therapy led to significant improvement in gait and balance of older adults as well as improved walking performance in stroke patients and in older adults with osteoarthritis.”[ii]

The authors of today’s paper call whole body vibration an exercise “mimetic” – that is, it actually mimics the effects of exercise in the body, thereby decreasing, “…the inflammatory response and can reverse many symptoms of type II diabetes mellitus…It also significantly improves glucose metabolism…”  It also apparently improves “hepatic lipid content,” meaning fatty liver.  These scientists used a mouse model to try to figure out the mechanism of action. The animals, with diabetes, were subjected to WBV for 20 minutes per day, 7 days a week, for 4 weeks.  Their inflammation was measured in blood samples, and their microbiomes were also analyzed.  They found that the WBV reduced inflammation by reducing pro-inflammatory cells and elevating regulatory ones.  More than that, the microbiome was indeed positively altered by a “massive increase” in Alistipes, which are in the Bacteroidia family, and are ordinarily present in small amounts in weaned mice.  They are big SCFA producers, including butyrate, which as you know from previous posts, are highly anti-inflammatory and capable of “reversing adverse effects of a high-fat diet.”  Liver function was highly improved in the animals as well.

From their conclusion:  “Sustained inflammation underpins a wide range of diseases from cardiovascular and metabolic dysfunction (e.g., cardiorenal diseases, diabetes), cognitive impairment (e.g., dementia) to several levels of neoplastic-dysplastic transformations (e.g., cancer). These current findings support the notion that WBV has the potential to alter the microbiota in a way that triggers innate and mucosal immunity to produce anti-inflammatory responses, down-regulating the hyper-inflammatory state and reversing the adverse consequences.”

CRAZY!

I had a peek and the machines are not outrageously expensive.  Highly rated ones on Amazon, with safety handles, seem to be between $300 and $350.

Were money not quite so tight at the moment, well…I’d be shaking my booty in the near future.  🙂

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[i] Yu, JC, Hale, VL, Khodadadi, H, Baban, B. Whole body vibration-induced omental macrophage polarization and fecal microbiota modification in a murine model. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2020;29(13), 3125. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20133125

[ii] https://www.worldhealth.net/news/whole-body-vibrations-may-reduce-inflammation/

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