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More evidence that Transcendental Meditation helps the heart

November 18, 2009 |  6:00 am

Meditation Transcendental Meditation has been around for many years and is perhaps the most scientifically tested of all forms of meditation. Two studies presented this week add to the evidence that this form of stress reduction benefits people with heart disease and those at high risk for it.

One study, presented on Monday at the American Heart Assn.'s annual meeting, found that heart disease patients who practice TM have almost 50% lower rates of heart attacks, stroke and deaths compared to similar patients who don't practice meditation. The study was funded with a $3.8-million grant from the federal government and was conducted at the Medical College of Wisconsin in collaboration with the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, a major center of TM research.

The study followed African American men and women over nine years. The participants were randomly assigned to practice the stress-reducing TM technique or attend traditional health education classes on heart disease prevention.

The results of TM were so striking, it was as if the participants who meditated were taking a new class of medications, the authors said.

"Previous research on Transcendental Meditation has shown reductions in blood pressure, psychological stress, and other risk factors for heart disease, irrespective of ethnicity," the lead author of the study, Dr. Robert Schneider, said in a news release. "But this is the first controlled clinical trial to show that long-term practice of this particular stress reduction program reduces the incidence of clinical cardiovascular events."

In the second study, published today in the American Journal of Hypertension, researchers found that TM was an effective tool to reduce blood pressure, anxiety, depression and anger among college students at risk for high blood pressure.

Scientists at American University in Washington, D.C., and Maharishi University randomly assigned 298 students to either learn TM techniques or remain on a waiting list for the class. After three months, the students practicing TM had reductions of 6.3 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) in systolic blood pressure and 4.0 mm Hg in diastolic. The reductions translate to a 52% lower risk of developing hypertension in later years. The students also showed improvements in psychological distress and coping.

-- Shari Roan

Photo: The meditation room at UCI Medical Center. Credit: Bob Chamberlin  /  Los Angeles Times

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Comments (18)

Really interesting and important that these effects do, in findrxonline logically indicate that this study significantly advance science to improve the human body, really interesting and excellent information.

Do-it-yourself cardiology-- I love it! Really we have so much to thank Obama for-- fewer and later mammograms, the scarcity of H1N1 vaccine, and now and OHM a day will keep the doctor away!
Hey, LAT, your big fat WE ARE APOLOGISTS FOR THE ADMINISTRATION sign is showing.


Anyone know a good website or place that describes how to meditate? I've practiced it on and off for years, but its all based on a stuff I heard here or there, never any good unified practice.

I'm a 56 years old african american male, and been practicing meditation for over four years now. You immediately notice the difference in your consciousness awareness, health and just overall peace within.

This is a real no brainer. Everyone from Asia has known this for years. Tae Kwon Doe usually has meditation, and most involved with Tae Kwon Doe are in great health. Wushu, Yoga, Japanese Karate all have meditation, and definitely produces a healthy population and a more respectful population. So when will the United States bring These forms into the public school system so that people become more stable and well rounded. Stop eating fast food, meditate every day, exercise, and do not eat four hours before you got bed and you will get much healthier. Stop eating hamburgers which are filled with fat. End of story. You will become healthier and be less reliant on medical professionals.

50% lower rate of death...
Long live TMers!!

I can't believe that the A.H.A. has accepted the data claimed by the TM movement. This is a religion-based agency that regularly publishes "breakthroughs" of this nature, always appealing to the most urgent of peoples needs, and later being revealed - through attempted replications - to be spurious. When will the public - or the A.H.A - learn to beware of papers turned out by devotees of some ancient sect? This is alarming news. The public will be clamoring to sign up for a notion that accompanied ayurvedic "medicine" of 200 years ago... Read the history of TM and learn...

Meditation is the process of focusing our energy inward-- to 'The Kingdom of God' within. The Bible tells us not to worry or be anxious...but to seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33)-- which is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).

Transcendental Meditation is a Biblical concept-- in that we are instructed to not be conformed to this world, but to be 'transformed' by the renewing of our minds. (Romans 12)

Taking time to meditate/think on things that are 'true, right, pure, lovely and praise-worthy' helps with mental and physical health (Philippians 4:8). It's important to remember that we are Spirit-beings housed in physical body.

Regarding James Randi's comment, I suggest he reread this article. These studies were collaborations, and I think the researchers at the University of Wisconsin and American University might take exception to the claim that they're devotees of a religious sect. And I suggest he look at a science index to get a sense for the breadth of the research, and the over 200 institutions where they've been conducted. The research has been replicated many times. There are, I believe, 12-15 randomized controlled trials related to Transcendental Meditation and cardiovascular disease. I would consider that replication.

Let's see now. I have a choice of accepting the results of research performed by two independent universities and reported in the LA Times or the emotional criticism of James Randi the magician? Hmmmmmm.....

Randi's opinion that TM is a religious sect is baseless. Millions of people from all professions & religions (or no religion) do TM. The technique is plainly secular & non-religious, as is the non-profit TM organization. Why is Randi startled that the AHA published this? They've published several TM studies, as have 150 other peer-reviewed journals, on research done at 250 institutions & medical schools. Contrary to Randi's beliefs, not once has a journal later identified any of this research as "spurious" (they continue conducting research & publishing studies—the NIH keeps granting research funds—now $26 million).

Does my heart good--no pun intended--to see info this useful in print. When you consider that we spend $475 BILLION a year on coronary heart disease, the value of a program that reduces the ailment by 50 percent is pretty clear! However, noteworthy though this finding is, it's no surprise. There have been several studies on the effect of TM practice on health care costs, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion (1996, with followup study in 2000) and the American Journal of Managed Care (1997), among others. They found a 50+ percent reduction in the need for medical care IN GENERAL, covering the whole gamut of illnesses.

The Transcendental Meditation Technique resulting in an almost 50% reduction in the incidence of clinical cardiovascular events proves as powerful as any new class of heart disease medications entering the market. Statin drugs taken to reduce cholesterol levels only lessen the risks of heart disease by 30 to 40 percent relative to existing treatments. Common blood pressure drugs reduce these outcomes by only 25 to 30 percent.

A new scientific research study conducted at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine provides further evidence that people with high blood pressure can find relief through meditation—but the study also found that not all forms of meditation are equally effective. The study compared findings from research on several well-known types of meditation and relaxation practices, and found that the only mind/body practice that produces significant changes in blood pressure is the Transcendental Meditation technique. 
According to a definitive new meta-analysis of 107 previous studies on stress reduction programs and high blood pressure, published in the American Journal of Hypertension (Vol. 21, 3: 310-316), the Transcendental Meditation technique was found to produce a statistically significant reduction in high blood pressure—an effect not found with other forms of relaxation, meditation, biofeedback or stress management.

Commercial skeptics such as Randi who comments above are a peculiar species. Professional debunkers sometimes function within a paradigm so bias and rigid that it impedes the normal process of critical thinking. It seems Randi fell prey to a knee-jerk, preconceived response to Transcendental Meditation that he based on his personal belief system, as opposed to actually considering the data and examining it objectively. TM is not a religion, it is a technique, and the organization that teaches it is not a sect but a respectable non-profit educational organization. As a philosopher and teacher of science, this is my perspective. (Full disclosure: I have been practicing TM for 12 years and love it!)

I find it very encouraging that mainstream research universities are collaborating on natural modalities to bring relief to weakness, ill-health and suffering. The emerging generations of thinkers and doers will be grateful that the current generation of scientists and health practitiioners did due-diligence--leaving no potentially healing rock unturned. Thanks for the good news!

Mr. Randi's comments are, unfortunately, unfounded and misleading. As others have posted, the data from this study is actual quite solid.

Mr. Randi is a magician and escape artist who challenges folks to think critically. That is a wonderful endeavor.

I would submit, however, that he should take his own advice. He commits the logical error here of "Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc." That is, just because the study is associated with Transcendental Meditation, an "ancient sect" as he calls it, does not in any way mean that the data is not valid. Furthermore, Mr. Randi commits the error of an Ad Hominem logical fallacy. In other words, Mr. Randi has made an attack on the system of TM rather than the study itself as a way of supporting his evidence against the data.

Mr. Randi's comments, although compelling, have zero substance.

The proper course of action for Mr. Randi would be a full exploration into the study design as well as a meta analysis of all data related to the subject.

This is a wonderful study, and wonderful news. I think it is especially exciting as we look into the face of a massive health care cost crisis. Applications such as these have measurable positive health benefits, decreases overall health costs tremendously (need I remind you that the leading cause of death in the USA is Heart Disease), and improves patient's sense of empowerment and quality of life.

Kudos LA Times for a nice find.

I very much appreciate the profound physical and psychological benefits I have derived from my own 39 years of TM practice. So it is nice to see the high quality of research by Dr. Schneider and his associates to document the value of this priceless meditation practice. And I especially appreciate that Shari Roan and the LA Times were able to provide a straightforward, professional report of this research.


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