People with high blood pressure may find relief from Transcendental Meditation, according to a definitive new analysis of 107 published studies on stress reduction programs and high blood pressure, which was published in the December issue of Current Hypertension Reports.
The Transcendental Meditation technique produces a statistically significant reduction in high blood pressure that is not found with other forms of relaxation, meditation, biofeedback or stress management. The new analysis reviewed randomized, controlled trials of all stress reduction and relaxation methods in participants with high blood pressure that have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
Blood pressure changes for the Transcendental Meditation technique included average reductions of 5.0 points on systolic blood pressure and 2.8 on diastolic blood pressure, which were statistically significant, according to the review. The other stress reduction programs did not show significant changes in blood pressure.
Blood pressure changes associated with Transcendental Meditation practice were consistent with other controlled studies showing reductions in cardiovascular risk factors, improved markers of heart disease and reduced mortality rates among participants in the Transcendental Meditation program.
The new study was conducted by researchers at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and at the NIH-funded Institute of Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management.
Dr. James Anderson, professor of medicine at the University of Kentucky and co-author of the new review, said the findings rebut a July 2007 report sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the NIH-National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which concluded that most research on meditation is low quality and found little evidence that any specific stress reduction effectively lowers blood pressure. The new study identified all high quality meditation studies published through 2006 and rigorously analyzed their effects, which the previous government report failed to do.
"The magnitude of the changes in blood pressure with the Transcendental Meditation technique are at least as great as the changes found with major changes in diet or exercise that doctors often recommend," Anderson said. "Yet the Transcendental Meditation technique does not require changes in lifestyle. Thus many patients with mild hypertension or pre-hypertension may be able to avoid the need to take blood pressure medications-all of which have adverse side effects. Individuals with more severe forms of hypertension may be able to reduce the number or dosages of their BP medications under the guidance of their doctor."
Anderson added that long-term changes in blood pressure of this magnitude are associated with at least a 15 percent reduction in rates of heart attack and stroke.
Dr. Robert Schneider, director of the Institute of Natural Medicine and Prevention and co-author, noted, "For those 100 million Americans with elevated blood pressure, here is a scientifically documented, yet simple and easy way to lower blood pressure without drugs and harmful side effects. In addition, related studies show an integrated set of positive ‘side benefits,’ such as reduced stress, reduced heart disease levels and longer lifespan with this technique to restore balance in the cardiovascular system, mind and body."