Banish stress
and tension

Transcendental Meditation Helps
Young Adults Cope With Stress

"A recent study found that Transcendental Meditation (TM) helped college students decrease psychological distress and increase coping ability. For a group of students at high risk for developing hypertension, these changes also were associated with decreases in blood pressure. This could be good news for the many students experiencing academic, financial, and social pressures that can lead to psychological distress—especially in light of evidence that college-age people with even slightly elevated blood pressure are three times more likely to develop hypertension within 30 years.

Funded in part by NCCAM, researchers from Maharishi University of Management and American University studied 298 students from American University and other schools in the Washington, D.C., area. The researchers randomly assigned students to a TM group or a control (wait-list) group. They also created a high-risk subgroup, based on blood pressure readings, family history, and weight. The TM group received a seven-step course in TM techniques, with invitations to attend refresher meetings, and kept track of how often they practiced TM. At the beginning of the study and after 3 months, researchers tested all participants for blood pressure and psychological measures. The researchers noted that 30 percent of the participants dropped out before the end of the study.

...According to the researchers, these findings suggest that young adults at risk of developing hypertension may be able to reduce that risk by practicing TM. The researchers recommend that future studies of... Excerpts from Transcendental Meditation Helps Young Adults Cope With Stress, Published on http://nccam.nih.gov On 12/14/2009

Blood pressure decreased in the TM group and increased in the control group, but the differences were not significant overall (TM-control blood pressure differences were significant within the high-risk subgroup). However, compared with controls, the TM group had significant improvement in total psychological distress, anxiety, depression, anger/hostility, and coping ability. Changes in psychological distress and coping paralleled changes in blood pressure.

According to the researchers, these findings suggest that young adults at risk of developing hypertension may be able to reduce that risk by practicing TM. The researchers recommend that future studies of TM in college students evaluate long-term effects on blood pressure and psychological distress.

Meditation May Reduce Stress
and Improve Health

The meditative technique called the "relaxation response" was pioneered in the U.S. by Harvard physician Herbert Benson in the 1970s. The technique has gained acceptance by physicians and therapists worldwide as a valuable adjunct to therapy for symptom relief in conditions ranging from cancer to AIDS.

When our bodies are exposed to a sudden stress or threat, we respond with a characteristic "fight or flight" response. This is sometimes called an "adrenaline rush" because the hormones epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine are released from the adrenal glands, resulting in an increase in blood pressure and pulse rate, faster breathing, and increased blood flow to the muscles.

...Training our bodies on a daily basis to achieve this state of relaxation can lead to enhanced mood, lower blood pressure, and reduction of lifestyle stress... Excerpts from Meditation May Reduce Stress and Improve Health, published on http://medicinenet.com on 09/09/2009

The relaxation response is a technique designed to elicit the opposite bodily reaction from the "fight or flight" response -- a state of deep relaxation in which our breathing, pulse rate, blood pressure, and metabolism are decreased. Training our bodies on a daily basis to achieve this state of relaxation can lead to enhanced mood, lower blood pressure, and reduction of lifestyle stress.

The relaxation response technique consists of the silent repetition of a word, sound, or phrase while sitting quietly with eyes closed for 10 to 20 minutes. This should be done in a quiet place free of distractions. Sitting is preferred to lying down in order to avoid falling asleep. Relax your muscles starting with the feet and progressing up to your face. Breathe though your nose in a free and natural way.

You can choose any word or phrase you like. You can use a sound such as "om," a word such as "one" or "peace," or a word with special meaning to you. Intruding worries or thoughts should be ignored or dismissed to the best of your ability by focusing on the repetition. It's OK to open your eyes to look at a clock while you are practicing, but do not set an alarm. When you have finished, remain seated, first with your eyes closed and then with your eyes open, and gradually allow your thoughts to return to everyday reality.

The technique requires some practice and may be difficult at first, but over time almost anyone can learn to achieve the desired state of relaxation. Dr. Benson, who originally described the technique, recommends practicing the technique once or twice a day. He recommends not practicing the relaxation response within two hours after eating a meal because the digestive process may interfere with the technique. The relaxation response can also be elicited through other meditative and relaxation techniques. No matter how the relaxation state is achieved, the physical and emotional consequences of stress can be reduced through regular practice.

Blood Pressure Response to
Transcendental Meditation:
A Meta-analysis

Background

Prior clinical trials suggest that the Transcendental Meditation technique may decrease blood pressure of normotensive and hypertensive individuals but study-quality issues have been raised. This study was designed to assess effects of Transcendental Meditation on blood pressure using objective quality assessments and meta-analyses.

Method

...The regular practice of Transcendental Meditation may have the potential to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure by ~4.7 and 3.2 mm Hg, respectively. These are clinically meaningful changes... James W. Anderson, Chunxu Liu and Richard J. Kryscio. American Journal of Hypertension (2008) doi:10.1038/ajh.2007.65

PubMed and Cochrane databases through December 2006 and collected publications on Transcendental Meditation were searched. Randomized, controlled trials comparing blood pressure responses to the Transcendental Meditation technique with a control group were evaluated. Primary outcome measures were changes in systolic and diastolic blood pressure after practicing Transcendental Meditation or following control procedures. A specific rating system (0–20 was used to evaluate studies and random-effects models were used for meta-analyses.

Results

Nine randomized, controlled trials met eligibility criteria. Study-quality scores ranged from low (score, 7) to high (16) with three studies of high quality (15 or 16) and three of acceptable quality (11 or 12). The random-effects meta-analysis model for systolic and diastolic blood pressure, respectively, indicated that Transcendental Meditation, compared to control, was associated with the following changes: −4.7 mm Hg (95% confidence interval (CI), −7.4 to −1.9 mm Hg) and −3.2 mm Hg (95% CI, −5.4 to −1.3 mm Hg). Subgroup analyses of hypertensive groups and high-quality studies showed similar reductions.

Conclusions

The regular practice of Transcendental Meditation may have the potential to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure by ~4.7 and 3.2 mm Hg, respectively. These are clinically meaningful changes.

Buffer Against Stress

A study by Dr. Vincent Giampapa, M.D., former president of the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine, found that placing listeners in the alpha, theta and delta brain wave patterns using binaural beat technology dramatically affects production of three important hormones related to increased longevity and well-being: cortisol, DHEA, and melatonin.

...DHEA, another hormone produced by the adrenal glands, is a precursor or source ingredient to virtually every hormone the body needs. DHEA levels are key indicators of physiological age and resistance to disease... Excerpts from The Science Behind Holosync and Other Neurotechnologies Using Binaural Beats by Bill Harris, Director of Centerpointe Research Institute

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, believed to be the major age-accelerating hormone within the brain. It’s thought to interfere with learning and memory, contributing to negative effects on health and well-being.

DHEA, another hormone produced by the adrenal glands, is a precursor or source ingredient to virtually every hormone the body needs. DHEA levels are key indicators of physiological age and resistance to disease. Low DHEA levels occur when the body is more susceptible to aging and disease; when levels are high, the body is healthy and able to fight off disease. DHEA is also known to act as a buffer against stress-related hormones like cortisol.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that "an increase in DHEAS level of 100 mg per deciliter was associated with a 36 percent reduction in mortality from any causes (P<0.05) and a 48 percent reduction in mortality from cardiovascular disease (P<0.05)." (N Engl J Med 1986; 315:1519–24.)

Meditation May Help Fight
Loneliness & Stress

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh found that older adults who participated in an eight-week program of mindfulness-based stress reduction -- which attunes the mind to the present and avoids dwelling on the past or projecting into the future -- reported a reduced sense of loneliness on an established ratings scale. Blood tests also indicated a significant decrease in the expression of inflammation-related genes.

...Previous research has linked feeling lonely to a heightened risk of heart disease, Alzheimer's, depression and premature death, and higher levels of inflammation in the body may play a role... Excerpts from Meditation May Help Fight Loneliness, by Maureen Salamon published on http://healthday.com on 08/24/2012

"I think meditation training can help [people] develop a new relationship to feelings of stress," said study co-author J. David Creswell, director of the Health and Human Performance Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon. "It puts a brake on this process ... and turns down the chronically stressed state people may be in, thereby turning down the pro-inflammatory cascade. I think it may be targeting the stress component of loneliness such that it doesn't blow itself out of proportion." The study appeared online recently in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.
high, the body is healthy and able to fight off disease. DHEA is also known to act as a buffer against stress-related hormones like cortisol.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that “an increase in DHEAS level of 100 mg per deciliter was associated with a 36 percent reduction in mortality from any causes (P<0.05) and a 48 percent reduction in mortality from cardiovascular disease (P<0.05).” (N Engl J Med 1986; 315:1519–24.)

Meditation Reduces Blood Pressure

"Meditation is an intervention for hypertension and prehypertension that is perhaps best characterized as being in its adolescence. There is clearly considerable promise, with a variety of studies demonstrating efficacy in the short-term reduction of BP [blood pressure] similar to that achieved with single-agent drug therapy."

International Journal of Hypertension. 2012; 2012: 578397. Published online 2012 March 5.

Meditation Relieves Workplace Stress

"This study evaluated the effect of brief yoga posture and meditation practice, performed while seated in the office workspace, on physiological and psychological markers of stress. Both yoga and meditation reduced perceived stress versus the control condition (i.e., the continuation of regular office work), and these effects were maintained throughout the 15 min postintervention period... Physiological responses also indicated a relaxation effect during yoga and meditation."

Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2012; 2012: 501986. Published online 2012 January 16.

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