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Medical experts explain how Transcendental Meditation reduces blood pressure

Ask the Doctors    Translate This Article
25 June 2011

Neurologist Gary Kaplan, MD, PhD* and researcher Vernon Barnes, PhD** describe how the Transcendental Meditation Technique reduces stress and promotes lower blood pressure. Their discussion is featured on the website Ask the Doctors.

This article, the first in a series, features Dr Kaplan and Dr Barnes answering questions about blood pressure.

Q: Is there evidence that the Transcendental Meditation program alone can lower high blood pressure? 

Dr. Kaplan:
Several studies on both teenagers (American Journal of Hypertension, 2004) and elderly adults (Hypertension, 1999) have demonstrated that high blood pressure is reduced even after a few months of twice-daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique. The need for antihypertensive medication is reduced and sometimes eliminated. Anyone on medication who starts practicing the TM technique should follow up regularly with their physician to monitor this positive effect on blood pressure and the need for continued medication.

Q: How does the Transcendental Meditation technique lower blood pressure? 

Dr. Barnes:
Stress has been implicated in the development of hypertension. This has been documented through epidemiological blood pressure studies; naturalistic studies of the relationship among blood pressure, psychology, and everyday life events; and experimental studies of cardiovascular and neuroendocrine responses to behavioral stimuli.

The mind and body are very intimately connected. The subjective experience of the Transcendental Meditation technique is one of mental relaxation and peacefulness combined with inner wakefulness. The meditation response is very rapid, and the most clear-cut effects have been seen after 15-30 minutes of practice. The mental relaxation elicits physiological relaxation; that is, when the mind settles down, the body gains deep rest.

Click here for more about Transcendental Meditation and blood pressure, including related research showing the effects of the technique in reducing stress, promoting faster recovery from stress, and reducing blood pressure.

*Gary P. Kaplan, M.D., Ph.D., is a neurologist and Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology at Hofstra University School of Medicine. He is also a recipient of the Albert H. Douglas Award from the Medical Society of the State of New York for outstanding achievements as a clinical teacher interested in promoting and improving the medical education of physicians.

**Vernon Barnes, Ph.D., is a researcher at the Georgia Prevention Institute of the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, which received $1.5 million from the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to study the effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique on African American teens at risk for high blood pressure.

© Copyright 2011 American Association of Physicians Practicing the Transcendental Meditation Technique

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