Scientific Research on Transcendental Meditation: National Institutes of Health

The National Institutes of Health of the US Department of Health and Human Services has granted more than $24 million over the past 20 years to study the effects of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program and other related programs on cardiovascular disease.

The following is a summary of findings of the published research as well as a listing of universities where recent studies have been conducted.

Reduced Blood Pressure (Current Hypertension Reports, December 2007)

This meta-analysis of 17 published studies from the medical literature (selected from over 100 published studies for their careful experimental design utilizing randomized controlled trials) reported on the effects of stress reduction techniques on elevated blood pressure in about 1000 subjects total.  The treatments employed included simple biofeedback, relaxation-assisted biofeedback, progressive muscle relaxation, stress management training, and the Transcendental Meditation program.  The results of statistical analyses showed that none of the first 4 treatment approaches demonstrated statistically significant reductions in elevated blood pressure, while the Transcendental Meditation program showed both significant clinical and statistical reductions in blood pressure. Full Article

Improved Quality of Life for Congestive Heart Failure Patients (Ethnicity and Disease, March 2007)

This study examined the effects of conventional health education and the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique on measures of heart failure severity and quality of life in a randomized controlled trial of twenty-three older African American men and women with congestive heart failure (CHF). The results indicate that the use of the TM technique may be effective in improving the quality of life and functional capacity of heart failure patients. Full Article

Reduced Metabolic Syndrome (American Medical Association’s Archives of Internal Medicine, June 2006)

This 16-week, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 103 coronary heart patients found that the Transcendental Meditation technique improved blood pressure and insulin resistance components of the metabolic syndrome as well as cardiac autonomic nervous system tone compared with a control group receiving health education. These results suggest that the TM technique may modulate the physiological response to stress and improve coronary heart disease risk factors. Full Article

Enhanced Longevity (American Journal of Cardiology, May 2005)

This study was a first-of-its-kind, long-term, randomized trial. It evaluated the death rates of 202 men and women, average age 71, who had mildly elevated blood pressure. Subjects in the study participated in the Transcendental Meditation program; behavioral techniques, such as mindfulness or progressive muscle relaxation; or health education. The study tracked subjects for up to 18 years. The study found that the TM program reduced death rates by 23%. Full Article

Reduced Blood Pressure and Use of Hypertensive Medication (American Journal of Hypertension, January 2005)

This long-term, clinical trial evaluated 150 men and women, average age 49, with stage I hypertension (average blood pressure 142/95 mm Hg). Blood pressure in the Transcendental Meditation group reduced by nearly 6 mm diastolic pressure and by 3 mm systolic pressure. In contrast, blood pressure in the progressive muscle relaxation group and conventional health education classes reduced by 3 mm diastolic pressure, with no change in systolic pressure. Use of hypertensive medication was also found to significantly decrease in the TM group in comparison with controls. Full Article

Reduced Blood Pressure in At-risk Teens (American Journal of Hypertension, April, 2004)

This $1.5 million, four-year, randomized, controlled study found that adolescents at risk for heart disease experienced decreased blood pressure as a result of the daily practice of Transcendental Meditation.

Reduced Atherosclerosis (American Journal of Cardiology, April 2002)

This study found that subjects with multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease substantially reduced atherosclerosis through a multi-modality treatment program derived from a system of traditional medicine that included the daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique. In the study, 57 adults were randomly assigned into three treatment groups. After one year, the ceratoid intima-media thickness decreased significantly more in the subjects who were randomly assigned to the TM group.

Regression of Atherosclerosis (Stroke, March 2000)

A well-designed, randomized, controlled clinical trial found that the daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique was associated with or reduced narrowing of the arteries in the heart and brain in high-risk hypertensive adults, thereby decreasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. After six to nine months, carotid artery wall thickness decreased in the TM group compared to matched control subjects. This regression was similar to that achieved by some lipid-lowering drugs and extensive lifestyle changes. Full Article

Relaxation of Blood Vessels (Psychosomatic Medicine, July 1999 and January 1999)

A study of middle-aged adults reported that the Transcendental Meditation technique reduced blood pressure by reducing constriction of the blood vessels (vasoconstriction), thereby decreasing the risk of heart disease. A separately published study on adolescents with high normal blood pressure found that randomly assigned subjects who practiced the TM technique exhibited greater decreases in resting blood pressure, vascular resistance, and stress reactivity from pre-to post-treatment, compared to controls.

Reduced Blood Pressure: Comparisons with Other Procedures (Hypertension, November 1995 and August 1996)

Clinical studies of older African Americans found that the TM program was 1) as effective as antihypertensive drugs in reducing blood pressure, 2) twice as effective as progressive muscle relaxation in lowering hypertension, and, 3) significantly effective in reducing blood pressure for both men and women in all five major risk categories, including obesity, high alcohol use, low exercise levels, psychological stress and high salt intake.

Universities Conducting NIH-funded research on Transcendental Meditation

University of Pennsylvania

Effectiveness of Transcendental Meditation on Functional Capacity and Quality of Life of African Americans with Congestive Heart Failure

Published in Ethnicity and Disease, Winter 2007 Full Article

Cedars-Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles

The effects of Transcendental Meditation on cardiovascular disease in coronary heart disease patients with metabolic syndrome

Published in the American Medical Association’s Archives of Internal Medicine, July 2006 Full Article

University of California, Irvine

The effects of Transcendental Meditation on brain functioning, stress, and pain as shown by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Published in NeuroReport, August 2006 Full Article

Howard University School of Medicine, Washington, D.C.

Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta

The effects of Transcendental Meditation in older African American women at risk for heart diseaseFindings presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, March 2006
University of IowaThe effects of the multimodality approach of the TM technique and Ayurvedic herbal preparations on coronary disease

Findings presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, March 2006

The Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

(1) A study on the effects of Transcendental Meditation on the prevention of hypertension in African Americans; and (2) A study on the effects of Transcendental Meditation on morbidity and mortality in African Americans with heart disease.

Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles

(1) A study on the mechanisms of atherosclerosis—the effects of Transcendental Meditation on the sympathetic nervous system and the functioning of the arterial endothelium in African Americans; and (2) The effects of Transcendental Meditation on carotid atherosclerosis.Published in the American Heart Association’s Stroke, March 2000 Full Article

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