Relaxation: What Works
Presently, the largest body of research in
MindBody medicine is in the area of meditation and relaxation, and many of the
studies are on TM. Following are some of the relevant studies.
- In a randomized clinical trial conducted in
Israel by Cooper in 1978, meditation significantly reduced both systolic
(higher number) and diastolic (lower number) blood pressure.
- At the University of Massachusetts, Dr. Jon
Kabat-Zinn conducted a study of patients with a variety of chronic
diseases who engaged in an eight-week program of meditation. Participants
in the program experienced less pain, anxiety, and depression than
patients treated with conventional medications.
- Based on a 1987 study by Dr. David Orme-Johnson,
meditators were found to utilize medical care services 30 to 87 percent
less than nonmeditators.
- From a study by Dr. Charles Alexander and Dr.
Robert Schneider in 1996, meditation lowered the blood pressure of African
Americans, a population at high risk for hypertension.
- Transcendental Meditation was used by Zamara in
1997 among 21 patients with coronary artery disease. After eight months,
there was an improvement in circulation and improved exercise tolerance.
- At the Harvard Medical School, Dr. Margaret
Caudill enrolled 109 chronic pain patients in a ten-session course of
psychotherapy and relaxation techniques, and noted a 36 percent reduction
in their use of clinics during the first year.
- One very significant study was reported by Dr.
Joseph Blumenthal and his colleagues at the Duke University School of
Medicine in 1997. Using a stress management group plus muscle tension
biofeedback with heart disease patients, the results were more effective
than the usual care exercise group. Based on this stress management
program, there were three fewer fatal heart attacks, three fewer bypass
surgeries, and one less angioplasty. This savings of $70,000, or $2,100
per patient, resulted in an estimated return on investment of 7:1. Bear in
mind that these cost savings were attained through the improvement of
health, not the denial of care.
Although yoga will be considered in a later chapter,
it is often included among the meditation and relaxation therapies. In the
November 1998 special issue of the Journal of the American Medical
Association, one study reported that
an eight-week yoga program was more effective than splints in treating carpal
tunnel syndrome, according to a report from the University of Pennsylvania
School of Medicine.
Return to Excerpts List
BEST ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: WHAT WORKS? WHAT DOES NOT? by Dr. Kenneth R.
Copyright © 2000 by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier,
Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster,
Inc., New York, New York.
Return to Top