Lowering Cortisol and CVD Risk in Postmenopausal Women: A Pilot Study Using the Transcendental Meditation Program

Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention, College of Maharishi Consciousness-Based Health Care, Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield, IA 52557, USA.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 4.38). 01/2005; 1032(1):211-5. DOI: 10.1196/annals.1314.023
Source: PubMed


Unlike younger women, the risk of cardiovascular disease in older women matches or exceeds that of men. Excessive cortisol may play a role in this increased risk. Here we explore the possibility that the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program may reduce the cortisol response to a metabolic stressor as a way of reducing disease risk in older women. Data from 16 women who were long-term practitioners of transcendental meditation (mean = 23 y) were compared with data from 14 control women matched for age (mean = 75 y, range = 65-92 y). Data on demographics, disease symptoms, and psychological variables were collected, and cortisol response to a metabolic stressor (75 g of glucose, orally) was examined in saliva and urine. Pre-glucose levels of salivary cortisol were identical for the two groups. Post-glucose cortisol rose faster in the controls and was significantly higher than that in the TM women (P < 1 3 10(-4)). Urinary excretion of cortisol during this period was 3 times higher in controls than in the TM women (2.4 +/- 0.17 and 0.83 +/- 0.10 microg/h, respectively; P = 2 x 10(-4)). In addition, the number of months practicing transcendental meditation was inversely correlated with CVD risk factors. Lower cortisol response to metabolic challenge may reflect improved endocrine regulation relevant to the disease-preventing effects of transcendental meditation in older women.

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    • "One that examined nondepressed HIV+ patients reported that a stress management intervention designed to increase spiritual growth led to an increase in lymphocyte proliferation and a 3-fold increase of INF-γ [104]. Likewise, Eastern spiritual meditation has been shown to increase antibody response to influenza vaccine [105], alter the ratio of pro-/anti-inflammatory cytokines [106, 107], increase NK cell activity [107], reduce cortisol [107–110], and decrease catecholamine [111, 112] levels (and in one study, there was a trend toward superiority over conventional CBT [113]). "
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