This was the finding of a recent meta-analysis* done by scientists in Iowa and Kentucky.
They dug into 107 good studies on stress reducing training.
“Good” means that in these studies blood pressure was measured many times. Also, subjects were assigned at random to either a stress reducing training or placebo-type control for at least eight weeks. And all data had been published in respected science journals.
The 107 studies included research on TM conducted at five universities and medical schools. (Most of them were funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health).
The bottom line? TM produces a statistically significant drop in high blood pressure. This was not found with the other forms of relaxation, meditation, biofeedback or stress management. And that is why the American Heart Association has just issued a satement for doctors to recommend TM in clinical practice.
Blood pressure changes for TM included mean drops of 5.0 points on systolic blood pressure and 2.8 on diastolic blood pressure. Changes of this size are known to lead to at least a 15% drop in the risk of heart attack or stroke.
According to Dr. James Anderson at the U of Kentucky, the findings of the new review rebut an earlier flawed study. This was the July 2007 report sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the NIH-National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. This flawed NIH study concluded that most research in this area is poor. It found little proof that any stress training effectively lowers blood pressure. This study is cited in Wikipedia to try to show that “independent reviews have not found health benefits for TM beyond relaxation or health education.” But this NIH study was badly flawed by failing to include all good studies published through 2006 and failed to analyse their findings rigorously – which the new study has done.
“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.
According to Dr. Robert Schneider, co-author, this thorough new meta-analysis shows that Transcendental Meditation works. It is distinctively effective compared to other scientifically studied techniques in lowering high blood pressure. It does this without drugs and harmful side effects. Also, related studies show a set of ‘side benefits,’ such as reduced stress, reduced heart disease levels and longer life. Transcendental Meditation restores balance in the cardiovascular system, mind and body.
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