Tefilin
TefilinISTOCK

A study from the University of Cincinnati found that putting on tefillin has cardiovascular benefits.

The research discovered that Jews who regularly use teffilfin in their religious practice may receive cardiovascular health benefits.

The study, published in the PLOS ONE journal, concluded that the benefits are from reduced ischemic blood flow “preconditioning” which protects against damage caused by heart attacks.

“[Tefillin] is placed on the non-dominant arm around the bicep and the forearm in a fairly tight manner. It is never worn in a fashion as to occlude the blood flow,” said Dr. Jack Rubinstein of the Division of Cardiovascular Health in the UC College of Medicine. “This is traditionally worn for about 30 minutes continuously during prayers which involve sitting and standing resulting in occasional retightening of the strap around your arm.”

According to Rubinstein, the binding of the arm may serve as “preconditioning” and offer a significant degree of protection against the damage that takes place when someone has an acute ischemia (sudden loss of blood flow) or after the supply of blood is restored to an organ after an ischemic event known as a reperfusion.

“Such injuries occur during a heart attack when a section of the heart is deprived of oxygen and then damaged further when blood flow is reestablished,” the research noted.

Rubenstein explained that his team measured baseline data on participants for 10 minutes in the morning and then another data set during and after 30 minutes of wearing tefillin.

The 30 participants, healthy individuals between the ages of 18 to 40, had their heart rate measured before, during and after the wearing of tefillin.

“What we found is that wearing tefillin caused changes to the heart rate associated with lowering of the metabolism as measured via heart rate variability,” Rubinstein said.

“We can measure all kinds of different things from heart rate variability including probably the most important which is parasympathetic tone. Does it relax you and does it cause your metabolism [to] come down?”

Rubinstein noted that the study concluded there is a measurable effect during and after wearing tefillin.

“It means that if we can have people wearing tefillin or a similar device, and they can get themselves to be preconditioned every day, we expect that those people should be protected or should have a decreased amount of damage if they should get a heart attack during the time they are protected,” he said. “This is a low-intensity way of protecting people from heart attacks.”

“You have a very common and very deadly disease. We are showing a path through which anyone can precondition themselves to decrease the amount of damage that they suffer from a heart attack by wearing a very simple device,” says Rubinstein. “This is a potential game changer for how we approach cardiovascular disease prevention. Decreasing the amount of heart attack damage by even just two-fold is something that will change outcomes for millions of people.”