Clinical Studies (Meditation)
M.D. Anderson Receives $4.5 Million Grant to Study Yoga 2010
In an ongoing effort to scientifically validate the age-old belief that mind-body interventions have a beneficial impact on the health of patients, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has been awarded more than $4.5 million to study the efficacy of incorporating yoga into the treatment program of women with breast cancer. The grant, the largest ever awarded by the National Cancer Institute for the study of yoga in cancer, will allow researchers to conduct a Phase III clinical trial in women with breast cancer to determine the improvement in physical function and quality-of-life during and after radiation treatment. It will also investigate if such stress reduction programs result in economic and/or work productivity benefit. Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor and director of M.D. Anderson's integrative medicine program, will be the study's principal investigator. "Research has shown that yoga and other types of mind-body practices, when incorporated into the standard of care, can help improve patient outcomes---particularly quality-of-life," said Cohen. "However, none have become standard of care, or are on the clinical care pathway for cancer patients. This funding will allow us to definitively determine the benefit of incorporating yoga into the treatment plan for women with breast cancer." A secondary aim of the trial, but one of great importance, stressed Cohen, is assessing cost efficiency analysis for the hospital, and health care utilization costs in general, as well as examining work productivity of patients. "In this age of health care reform, it's very important to determine the cost savings, not only to the hospital, but to also to women's lives and their ability to engage in their work in a productive fashion, whether that's the work of being a mother and running a household or working outside the home," said Cohen. "By including such data as cost-effectiveness analyses, we may be able to change the standard of care and the way women with breast cancer are treated in this country."
Building a Bigger Brain 2009
Meditation can build a bigger brain. That's the finding from a group of researchers at UCLA who used high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of people who meditate. A study in the NeuroImage journal claims that certain regions in the brains of long-term meditators were larger than in a similar control group. Specifically, meditators showed significantly larger volumes of the hippocampus and areas within the orbito-frontal cortex, the thalamus and the inferior temporal gyrus---all regions known for regulating positive emotions.
Immune Boost for Athletes 2008
During intense exercise (like running) the body's immune system can become compromised because the body believes it's in a dangerous "fight or flight" situation. The body gears up for a perceived threat and the mind prepares for potential injuries by releasing stress hormones (such as adrenaline) into the bloodstream. These hormones produce a burst of energy, but also increase the body's immune suppressor T cells in an effort to reduce inflammation. The British Journal of Sports Medicine reports that meditation can actually enhance the immune system of athletes by preventing a large increase in suppressor cell activity during exercise.
Lowering Blood Pressure 2008
Meditation lowers blood pressure without the side effects that can come from medication, according to Dr. James Anderson of the University of Kentucky, who reviewed nine separate studies and found meditation lowered blood pressure an average of 4.7 points on the systolic number and 3.2 points on the diastolic. Anderson claims such reductions could significantly reduce the chances of coronary heart disease.
Multiple Benefits 2008
NaturalNews.com recently reported on two important new studies. The first, published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, found that Yoga postures and meditation improve blood pressure, blood sugar and triglyceride levels and reduced waist circumference. In the second study, University of Karlstad, Sweden researchers concluded that the daily yogic breathing practices of pranayama significantly lowered levels of anxiety, depression and stress in those individuals participating.
HIV Therapy 2008
Writing in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, UCLA researchers concluded that meditation as a stress-management technique can have a direct impact on slowing the progression of HIV while boosting the quality of life for people living with an HIV-positive condition. Researchers found that the more often the volunteers meditated, the higher were their CD4 T-cell counts---the standard measure of how well the immune system is combatting HIV.
Meditation Therapy for Emotions 2008
For years, psychotherapists have worked to relieve suffering by reframing the content of patients' thoughts, directly altering behavior or helping people gain insight into the unconscious sources of their emotional pain. According to Zindel Segal, a psychologist at the Center of Addiction & Mental Health in Toronto, meditation therapies have become useful psychotherapy techniques over the past decade because they help patients successfully catch-and-release their emotions.
Reducing Heart Disease 2008
Robert Schneider, M.D., of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention, recently announced the results of a new study that claims when patients with high blood pressure meditated regularly, they had a 23% lower death rate from all causes and a 30% lower rate of cardiovascular disease mortality (such as heart attacks and strokes).
Students Lower Stress 2008
Dr. Yi-Yuan Tang from the University of Oregon reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that regular meditation can improve attention and lower stress. The study of 40 undergraduates found that participation in twenty-minute meditation sessions over five days showed greater improvement in attention and lower levels of anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue, as compared with students in a control group who participated in relaxation training.
Help for Arthritis 2008
Reporting on an article in Arthritis Care & Research, CBS News announced that new research indicates meditation may help people cope with rheumatoid arthritis. In a new study, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients reported less psychological distress after practicing meditation for six months, compared with RA patients who did not receive meditation training. Meditation didn't cure RA or erase the physical symptoms, but it appeared to help the patients deal with those symptoms.
Mayo Clinic Program 2007
According to Dr. Amit Sood, director of research at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, both meditation and yoga are used in their complementary medicine program. Meditation is used to treat anxiety and high blood pressure and to help people quit smoking without medication. Mayo reports their studies have found that meditation helps patients cope with epilepsy, premenstrual syndrome, menopausal symptoms, autoimmune disease and the anxiety experienced during cancer treatment. When Mayo Clinic patients used yoga, it was found to be effective for stress relief, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, anxiety and depression. Patients with heart disease and diabetes who practiced yoga breathing techniques and postures had significant improvement in total cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Help for Athletes 2007
Many people know that meditation can strengthen areas of the brain involved in attention and sensory processing, and that it is more energizing than a nap. But now a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine finds that meditation also significantly lowers blood lactate levels. This is good news for athletes. It means that after a workout, athletes who meditate are less prone to physical soreness and injury.
Prenatal Study 2007
A new study conducted by the Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation in India indicates that a daily yoga and meditation practice during a woman's pregnancy appears to improve birth weight, reduce prematurity and diminish overall medical complications for newborn babies.
Reducing Hot Flashes 2006
A study in The Journal of the North American Menopause Society suggests that a regular meditation practice may ease hot flashes and improve the quality of life among menopausal women. The stress-reduction program included mindful yoga stretching, seated meditation and body scan visualization. At the conclusion of the study, participants reported that the rate of hot flashes was diminished by 39% while the severity of discomfort decreased by 40%. The women also reported a 28% improvement in the over-all quality of life.
New Veterans Study Verifies Mantra Benefits 2006
A San Diego Veterans Affairs study found that a majority of participants using a mantra could cope better with stressful issues including traffic, work, insomnia, and undesirable thoughts. According to project researcher Jill Bormann, PhD, RN, "Mantras are nonsectarian, portable, invisible, always available, inexpensive, non-pharmacological, and nontoxic."
Studying Early Alzheimer's with Meditation 2006
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine's Center for Spirituality and the Mind in Philadelphia are examining the effectiveness of meditation on early cognitive impairment. The study, led by Andrew Newberg, M.D., will try to determine if meditation can lessen, or even help to prevent, cognitive decline in early Alzheimer's disease patients. According to Dr. Newberg, investigators will prescribe a daily meditation practice as an "exercise for the brain. We hope to strengthen the brain and to battle the unknown processes working to weaken it."
Meditation and Attention-Deficit Disorder 2006
Dr. Alarik Arenander, of the Brain Research Institute claims that (TM) meditation can reduce hyperactivity. The Seattle Times reports that children who practice it twice a day have shown marked improvement almost immediately. Arenander claims "Children don't have to rely on a pill to improve behavior. They realize they now have a tool in meditation that makes them who they want to be."
Meditation Reshapes the Brain and Your Health 2006
A Massachusetts General Hospital study indicates that meditation thickens the brain's cerebral cortex. This reshaping of the brain's outer layer enhances sensory, auditory and visual perceptions, slows aging and retards memory loss. Participants in the study were average, working people who meditated 40 minutes daily.
Helping Your Body Rest 2006
A British research study presented at the Society for Neuroscience indicates that meditation improves a person's attention levels and that a daily meditation practice can actually be restorative--helping to reduce the harmful effects of sleeplessness.
Stress and Disease 2005
According to Stephanie Oakes, an editor for USA Weekend magazine, the National Institutes of Health claims that 80 to 90 percent of all illnesses are caused by stress. In addition, NIH research has found that daily meditation is more than twice as effective at reducing stress than any other form of relaxation. Commenting on the meditation findings, Ms. Oakes observes "Something more than positive thinking, counseling, morale boosters or traditional exercise is needed."
Meditation Extends Lifespan 2005
New medical research indicates that daily meditation can extend the human lifespan. During long-term clinical trials conducted at the Medical College of Wisconsin, in comparison to non-meditators, meditators experienced 23 percent fewer deaths from all causes, 30 percent fewer deaths from cardiovascular disease, and a 49 percent lower rate of death from cancer. According to Dr. Robert Schneider, Dean of Vedic Medicine at the Maharishi University, "Meditation benefits affect lifespan by strengthening the immune system, improving nervous system activity, reducing stress hormones, and enhancing the individual's capacity to make healthier choices."
Lowering Blood Pressure 2005
According to the Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, men and women who practiced meditation were able to significantly lower their blood pressure. The findings, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, revealed that women meditators were able to lower their blood pressure more consistently than male meditators. Although the discrepancy is unexplained, researchers noted that "the women [in the study] did meditate more regularly than the men."
Harvard Study on Meditation 2005
According to WebMD, research (conducted by Dr. David Eisenberg and his colleagues at Harvard Medical School) has recently concluded that meditation is the most beneficial of therapeutic alternatives. And it's no wonder, when you consider the growing body of medical evidence. Focusing the mind continuously on one thought, phrase or prayer for a period of time naturally leads to a "relaxation response," changes in the body that are deeply restorative and which accelerate the healing process. These beneficial changes include reductions in heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, oxygen consumption, perspiration and muscle tension, as well as an improvement in immune function.
Meditation in Public Schools 2005
A University of Michigan study concludes that two, ten-minute meditation sessions per day in a public school setting reduces stress in children and teens and promotes emotional stability. Participants within the study group were found to exhibit less verbal aggression, anxiety and loneliness. Based on this study, a growing partnership of Detroit area parents, teachers and physicians are now calling for schools around the country to offer meditation breaks each day. "It wouldn't be difficult," a spokesperson said, "and it requires no expensive equipment, no special outfits or footwear." Since meditation is not a religion, proponents claim that meditation would be an appropriate stress reliever in the schools.
Newsweek Touts "New" Old Science 2004
Newsweek magazine claims that meditation can take you on a mini-vacation from your habitual thoughts and emotions. In meditation, you're not battling your mind in the boxer's ring––you're watching, with interest, from the stands. The detachment doesn't lead to passivity, but to new, creative ways of thinking. In a recent study conducted by University of Toronto psychiatry professor Zindel Segal, 66 percent of those who learned to practice meditation experienced no relapse of depression over a year, compared with 34 percent in a control group. Now Segal has a $2.1 million grant from the NIH to compare meditation against antidepressants as a maintenance therapy after relapse.
Prostate Cancer Study 2004
ABC television's World News Tonight recently reported that the University of Massachusetts Medical School is conducting a study on a new, alternative therapy for men who have had surgery or irradiation to remove prostate cancer, but who still show signs of the disease. Preliminary findings indicate that when spouses and their husbands meditated together regularly and both ate a mostly vegetarian diet, PSA numbers slowed down their level of increase––and some actually went down. "In eight out of ten patients we had a response," said urologist Dr. Robert Blute Jr. "In two of the patients it was dramatic." All the participants of the study indicated that they felt better about themselves, were less anxious and suffered significantly less depression.
Boosting Immunity 2004
For the first time, meditation has been shown to produce lasting beneficial changes in immune-system function, according to Dr. Richard J. Davidson of the University of Wisconsin. The study, which looked at a group of 25 biotech workers who underwent an eight-week meditation training program, is the latest in a growing body of research into the mind-body connection. Toward the end of the eight-week study, flu shots were given to the employees and a group of 16 other employees who did not receive meditation training. When researchers checked for antibodies to the vaccine at one month and two-month intervals, the meditators had significantly higher levels than the non-meditators. On average, the meditators had a 5 percent increase in antibodies, but some had increases of up to 25 percent.